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where to begin?

I live in southern Maine and my husband and I purchased a house from my husband's grandfather about 5 years ago. It needs alot of work and we are not sure where to begin.. update insulation in walls, attic and replace windows, update electricity or replace the heating unit which is a XXth Century Warm Air Furnace Model OZ LEU 168 that is attached to the origional oil storage and duct work for the forced hot air system in this 1939 cape. What type of system should we be looking into to replace the old burner system?

Re: where to begin?


I would recommend updating the insulation as a first step, installing more heat-efficient windows would be an important 2nd step.

This has to be done BEFORE you can order a new heating system, since better insulation will have a direct bearing on the amount of heat loss that the house experiences.

In other words, if you substantially tighten the house with addeed insulation and tighter windows, much less heat will escape through the walls, attic and windows, and thus you can order a much smaller heating unit.

Heating units (furnaces) are rated by btu output; thus, for most residential homes, a furnace heat output of between 50,000 btu/hour and 100,000 btu/hr would be needed.

Sizing a heating unit is a simple math calculation that takes into account every square foot of heated space in the building, and calculates the amount of insulation in the walls & attic, window condition, location, cellar/crawl space construction, and many other factors.

The free slant/fin site below will give you an idea of how many btu's/hour are bleeding out of your home on a cold day---this is how the size of the new furnace is calculated.

Also Google "heat loss calculation" for other methods of determining heat loss.

In most cases you would have to consult the Yellow Pages under "Insulation" to find a company that blows in cellulose insulation for the exterior walls & attic.

The process is rather simple & done completely from the outside of the house, usually within one day---small pieces of siding are temporarily removed here & there & small holes drilled; a hi pressure hose then blows in the insulation, the holes are sealed & siding replaced.

This process is strongly recommended as the best way to reduce heating bills, as well as summer cooling bills--the cost is usually a moderate $300-$500.

Window replacement is somewhat more expensive, but equally as important as the insulation---if you're handy, it's a good diy project, as windows can be replaced one at a time & are widely available at HD/Lowe's or elsewhere.

Also important, you will probably see a 30% drop in fuel usage when you buy a new heating unit--the reason for this is that design improvements have been incorporated into new equipment so that they are much more efficient than heating equipment that is decades old.

Most people don't realize how much fuel is being wasted by holding on to older, outdated equipment, so it is important to make the improvements as soon as possible.

You should perhaps stay with oil-fired forced hot air since you already have the ducting system in place & you would have to replace just the furnace itself.

I like Carrier/Bryant, Trane, American Standard, Heil, Rheem, York, Thermopride and Weil-McLain---the process (once the insulation is installed) is to contact (Yellow Pages) heating contractors to give you an estimate for a new unit---get at least 5 estimates, as the $$$ quote and the choice of equipment will vary widely.

Don't ignore fuel oil dealers for your estimates, they often charge less for an install.

I don't know if you need AC in southerm Maine, but these are usually incorporated as a package deal in furnace systems.

Hallowell low-temp heat pumps in Bangor have been making a favorable impression in the heating industry---they are designed for areas like Maine that experience Near-zero and below-zero winter climates.

Google "hallowell heat pump" for further info---the install cost for these units is considerably higher (around $15k) than you would pay for a furnace replacement, but they have an application where elec. rates are low, since no other fuel is needed.


Re: where to begin?

I Agree with Nashua Tech. But certainly think that if your wiring is very old it needs to be looked into as well by a qualified electrician as a newer heating systems will probably need heavier wiring. Not to mention all of the things todays modern household uses such as computers, televisions etc.
Also if you do improve your insulation, which I agree is very important, you will need an air to air heat exchanger as your house will then be tighter and it has to have some way to breathe. This will be especially true once you replace your old drafty windows with newer better windows. Good luck and please keep us posted.:)

jim hankinson
Re: where to begin?

If the furnace is in reasonable condition I'd put that down near the bottom of my list. XXth Century is a cast-iron furnace that is extremely quiet, very efficient and generally holds up very well. I installed a few back in the 80's and was very satisfied with them. I don't believe you'll save as much fuel as anticipated when you replace it.

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