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Old 10-30-2012, 08:40 AM   #1
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Best duct-less heating options?


Along with flooring and painting, this is our 3rd question we have to figure out before moving into our new home in a few weeks. It's a cement slab home, and right now it has baseboard heating units in the 3 bedrooms and living room, and what appears to be a gas forced air unit in the family room (converted 1-stall garage) and another giant one in the living room as well. Both of those units look to be pretty old, and all the baseboard heaters need to be replaced (30+ yrs old and falling apart). Since it's a foreclosed home and no one has actually been in it with the utilities on in awhile, we really have no idea how well anything works, or if the giant units in the two living spaces are actually set up for gas or electric (the govt. description of the home (HUD) states only one as gas, and the appraiser listed both as electric, though both have gas pipes and external venting).

We kind of like the idea of zoned heat, we do keep our house around 65-68 in the winter, we just have to make sure the babies are warm enough. We have a VERY limited budget to work with, and already have several other repairs that need doing before moving in, as well. We've read some about the mini-split heat pumps, but don't understand enough yet about costs of those to know if they'll be in our price range. At the same time, we don't have any clue if replacing all the baseboard heaters will be enough, either, or how much that will all cost us by the time we figure in the heaters, the thermostats, and the cost to run them. The home is 1660 sq. ft and we live in Door County, WI. We just moved here, so I can only go off of the weather.com averages, but it says Dec.--Feb. the average low is 10-20 degrees F, the rest of the year above 20.

Any ideas? Thank you!

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Old 10-30-2012, 09:23 AM   #2
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Best duct-less heating options?


Mini splts are great but not so sure it would be the best way to go in your case.
#1 With that many sq, ft. you would need at least a 4 ton unit and have to run more then one zone.
#2 The colder it get the less efficient a heat pump is. Once it hits a certain temp. the back up heating coils kick in and the meter really starts spinning.

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Old 10-30-2012, 07:19 PM   #3
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Best duct-less heating options?


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Mini splts are great but not so sure it would be the best way to go in your case.
#1 With that many sq, ft. you would need at least a 4 ton unit and have to run more then one zone.
#2 The colder it get the less efficient a heat pump is. Once it hits a certain temp. the back up heating coils kick in and the meter really starts spinning.
Good to know, thanks! Do you have any other ideas on what would work best, then? Is the zoned electric (baseboard) heat the best option for the situation? It just seems like it must not have been enough for them to need to put in a giant heater in the living room. It looks like a metal monster taking over the room, I would love to get rid of that thing!
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Old 10-30-2012, 07:33 PM   #4
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Best duct-less heating options?


No fireplace? It may be worth it to you to install a gas fireplace for the living room / main room area. Simple and it will allow you to think about the next step. With a slab you really can't do anything from beneath. Is a unit in the attic an option? I'm surprised there isn't heat immedded in the floor. Slabs are great for radiant heat. Think about your future plans before you jump the gun. Ductless split systems are great for additions and some remodels but not often installed as the primary heating system.
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Old 10-30-2012, 08:05 PM   #5
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No fireplace? It may be worth it to you to install a gas fireplace for the living room / main room area. Simple and it will allow you to think about the next step. With a slab you really can't do anything from beneath. Is a unit in the attic an option? I'm surprised there isn't heat immedded in the floor. Slabs are great for radiant heat. Think about your future plans before you jump the gun. Ductless split systems are great for additions and some remodels but not often installed as the primary heating system.
Oh, don't worry, I'm driving my husband crazy trying to plan every step from now to four years from now! And we don't plan to be in the house longer than 4 years, so we're trying to plan from a resale value, too. Would radiant heat in the floor be enough to heat the entire house? I thought that only heated the floors, but wouldn't "extend" past that...?
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Old 10-30-2012, 08:55 PM   #6
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Best duct-less heating options?


We live in different areas but I can tell your our experience so far. (We have gotten as far as getting bids, haven't purchased yet.)

To replace our ancient gas unit we were given a good, better, best option.

To get ductless (only heating and cooling half the house with two units) it was about the same price as the "better" option would would have taken care of our WHOLE house.

If it were me, I would get a service guy to come check them out. See if they are safe to use then move in. Within a month (for that season anyway) you'll at least be able to better understand what your problem areas are. Then get bids for both a central system and the ductless system.

As for resale, which we are looking at as well, keep in mind while ductless systems may be gaining popularity they are still not the "norm." Unless you can show a significant advantage to the system, they may hurt your resale.

But that's just my opinion, I'm not a professional.
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Old 10-30-2012, 10:13 PM   #7
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Radiant heat works fine in retrofit. In your case it would be applied to the existing floor and a new floor over it. Not a cheap way to go but it works well. If you were going to redo your entire floor then it would be a consideration.
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Old 10-30-2012, 11:55 PM   #8
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Radiant heat works fine in retrofit. In your case it would be applied to the existing floor and a new floor over it. Not a cheap way to go but it works well. If you were going to redo your entire floor then it would be a consideration.
And this would work directly on top of the cement? We will be re-doing all the floors anyway, so I'd love to look into it more....do you know of a good website that explains the concept all in more detail? I can only seem to find websites trying to sell the product (unless you know of one of those that would be reputable). Thank you so much!!
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:00 AM   #9
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Radiant heating installation manuals-easy to understand, pictures and diagrams.


Sure. Start here and look around. Just keep in mind that with radiant heat you will need something alternative for cooling.
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:31 PM   #10
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Radiant heat works fine in retrofit. In your case it would be applied to the existing floor and a new floor over it. Not a cheap way to go but it works well. If you were going to redo your entire floor then it would be a consideration.
Thanks again for all your help! I've been looking at that website and reading up more online and I guess I still have some more questions. Maybe this should be obvious---but after we pull up the stinky carpet and have just the slab to work with--what would we need to do from that point to add radiant heat? Do we have to raise the floor to fit it all in? Do we need to add some type of insulation on top of the cement slab before adding the heating elements? Does it limit the types of flooring we can put over it? I've found plenty of info about installing it in new construction, or with a crawl space, but not much out there about an existing cement slab.
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:39 PM   #11
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Best duct-less heating options?


It's great to have questions. What can be done is to install sleepers on the existing slab and then the radiant tubing will be run directly on the slab while a new floor will be installed over the tubing and attached to the sleepers. This is what is needed when an existing concrete floor is in place. You will need to make adjustments at the doorways and all the trim will need to be removed and possible replaced. (if it's not too damaged)
Other ways of installing it are possible including laying the tubing down and pouring a slurry over it of thin, lightweight concrete. Not really a homeowners job. I'll look around for some more sites and include them on future posts.
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:46 PM   #12
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http://www.uponorpro.com/~/media/Extranet/Files/manuals/QuikTrak_InsG_9-00.asp

....and you can look here as well.
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:32 PM   #13
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Best duct-less heating options?


Okay...so I've been reading about radiant heating so much now that I'm dreaming about it. While I think we'd love that type of heating system someday, doesn't look like it'll work for us this time around. We're on a bit of time crunch to move in and too many other things yet to do (and pay for!) to try and retrofit the whole house.

So...our best option would be replacing the electric baseboard heaters and finding some way to supplement in the living and family rooms? Right now there are only baseboard heaters in the 3 bedrooms and the living room. There isn't any heat in the kitchen/dining or the family room addition (former garage).

If we replaced all those, would a mini-split system work well as supplemental heat in the living and family rooms? Or maybe the only heat in the living room and just leave baseboard in the bedrooms? If we weren't trying to use the mini-split to heat the entire house, would that work better? Or is it still just an issue of it not handling cold climates well?

Would installing one of those radiant floor "mats" in the bathroom be enough heat for a small bath? There currently isn't any heat in there now, and it's isn't big at all.

Sorry if those are dumb questions, my head is just spinning from all the options out there!

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