Many first-time home buyers can only afford an older home, as their price tends to be less than new constructions. However, a lot of these homes use hot water for heating via radiators, and buyers can be reluctant to purchase a home with this kind of heat. Hot water heating has many benefits over forced air heating. For example, other than the occasional hiss or sound of the boiler rumbling, hot water heating is much quieter than forced air heating. And once room gets warm, it will stay warm as the radiators do what they are supposed to — radiate heat out into the room. However, forced air heating can also cause drafts.
But hot water heat also has distinct disadvantages, too. Perhaps the biggest negative is you must deal with big, unsightly radiators in each room. These can take up a lot of floor space and ruin the aesthetics of a room. Additionally, air conditioning cannot be incorporated into a hot water heating system. Another disadvantage is safety concerns. While a hot water radiator heating system is safe overall, small children can be burned if they touch a radiator or be seriously hurt if they trip and fall into it, even when it isn't heating season. For these reasons, people often want to switch over to forced air heating, and there is no better time than summer to get it done. Here is what to expect when you have a residential heating system replacement and make the switch to forced air from radiators.
Your HVAC contractor will begin with draining the boiler and removing the radiators and all associated piping. If you have been using oil to heat the boiler, common in the northeastern part of the United States, and will be switching to gas or electric, the oil tank will be drained and dismantled as well. Once the radiators are removed, the flooring damage will need to be repaired.
Retrofitting ductwork in an old home that never had it previously is a big job. After determining the location of the new furnace, the HVAC contractor will begin making the ductwork in the basement or crawlspace. In order to put in new ductwork and the floor or baseboard vents, they're going to have to do some demo work. Ideally, this is done during other home renovations projects, but either way, expect to need plaster/drywall repairs in each room.
When the ductwork is in place, it's time to set up the system. The HVAC contractor must make sure the furnace as well as the central air conditioning unit is functioning properly before any repairs are made.
If switching over to a forced air system sounds like a lot of work, you have other options. For example, your HVAC contractor may recommend simply removing the radiators and switching over to a ductless split heating and cooling system instead.