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keano016 11-30-2009 12:11 PM

Which heatings system should I go with?

Little background on the house. 2,800 sq ft 4 level house in Massaschusetts. Current set up

Basement finished (800sq ft) - hot water loop
1st floor (1,000 sq ft) steam radiators with additional 300sq ft of family room hot water loop
2nd floor (1000 sq ft) steam
Attic finished (600 sq ft) steam

My steam boiler is old utica system (30 yrs) and runs on Oil. The house has old single pane windows, with storm windows, and no insulation in walls/roof). The oil cost to heat this house with the last owners was $3000. But I have small kids and I am afraid my cost will be $4-5k. That is crazy money.

I am considering several opetions.

1. Replace the boiler with a new boiler that will use gas ($6,600).

I will have to pay about $4,000 for boiler replacement, plus $600 for hot water boiler replacement, but I would have to re-line the chimney $1,500, plus above ground oil tank removal $500. For a total cost of

If I go with this option I would end up with a 80% efficient system, banging in the pipes, uneven heat, and no separate zone set up so at night I would be heating the whole house.

2. Replace the entire system with hot water baseboard
$3,000 labor, $2,000 boiler, $3,500 parts and supplies for a total cost fo around $9,000
I would get an goof efficient boiler in the 90%. If I get one with 95% I would get the tax credit. Will get several zones in the house, even heating. No banging in the pipes when heat it on.

3. Install a Central Heat and air

This was our preferred option, but the estimates came around $20,000 to $25,000 for a two zone, two furnace system. They said lot of carpentry work escalates the project since the attic and basement are finished. I recently discovered that there is room in my attic to run duct so I am hoping this would cut some of the cost down. I am puzzled what exactly drives the cost for this instalation so high. I glanced on a website that shows furnace prices and saw that a 3.0 ton 15 seer double stage Diamond Air furnace with Condenser, Gas Furnace, Cased Evaporator coil, primary drain pan costs $2,300. Two of those with shipping would be $5,000. Let's add another $2,000 for parts, gas line run, electrical work. How much could duct work cost? $3000? Still, that makes us at $10,000. Is somebody charging me $10,000 for labor?

I think that if I can get the central air and heating system for $15,000 that would be ideal, but otherwise I am leaning on having a hot water baseboard system, although that means installing a whole new system.

Any thoughts?

beenthere 11-30-2009 04:30 PM


Before you go and change out your system. MAKE any and all other home improvements you can to your homes insulation and weather sealing. It really very wastefull to upgrade your heating system. With your homes current insulation and weather sealing.

Add insulation any where you can. Replace all worn or damaged door seals. And recaulk around all windows. Plus seal all receps and switches.

This will lower your heat loss and save you more money then changing out your system.

Then, have a load calc done to see what size equipment you really need.

PS: 2 men at 50 bucks an hour each, for 40 hours a week for 2 weeks is 8,000 dollars. And that would be fairly cheap labor.

Online equipment usually doesn't come with an installer warranty. So the equipment a contractor provides cost more.

Scuba_Dave 11-30-2009 04:37 PM

I agree, do upgrades 1st
How old is the house ? Mine is from the 50's
I have 2 built in 14k AC's that I used Maybe 7 days this past year for maybe 4-5 hours
I just can't see central AC where I am...not sure what part of MA you are in

I have about 1500 sq ft I am heating, more once the 2nd floor is renovated
I put in new windows, upgraded insulation, new doors, sealed & insulated the rim joist all the way around, upgraded 2nd fl insulation from R7-25 up to R30 & R38

We went from 3 tanks of oil the 1st year to maybe 1 to 1.5 tanks of oil in a cold winter
I also heat with wood some of the time - Fall & Spring when its warmer

keano016 12-01-2009 07:48 AM

This is near western mass. The house is built in 1915. I will be replacing the windows soon, but insulating the hosue iwll be difficult. There is still some knob and tube and they will not blow insulation there there is some, so I guess unless I replace the entire siding and re-wire I can not insulate the house.

Scuba_Dave 12-01-2009 08:05 AM

It would be well worth the $$ to upgrade the wiring & insulate
You pay for heating costs every single year
I have saved the cost of my windows & insulation in lowered heating bills the past 4-5 years

beenthere 12-01-2009 02:53 PM

Do your wiring upgrades and insulation and windows before changing out your heating system.
This will allow you to get a smaller system right away. And save far more money then just a new system That would end up being oversized if you get it before making the improvements. And still use more fuel then needed..

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