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Old 06-05-2010, 09:58 PM   #1
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Starting heating plan from scratch - what would you do?


Well, I'm in a bit of an interesting position in that I've bought a house with basically no heating. There is a woodstove which the previous owners used as really the only source of heat, but my family isn't really into that situation, so we want to add something. We will still be using the woodstove as a primary source of heat, but we need something else to even out the heat through the house and also for when we go away for a few days (so the pipes don't freeze).

I've been mulling over various options, but I really know little about it and it's a bit confusing and daunting, so I thought I would ask here for some general advice ideas.

- I live in Canada, near Toronto, so it gets pretty cold.
- We like wood heat, and will use it a lot.
- The house is about 1500sqf and there are some rooms fairly far away and through several angles from the woodstove
- There is a basement a furnace could go into
- The electrical is 100amp, and I don't know how loaded it is right now to be honest, not entirely sure how to calculate that.
- Windows are good, insulation I'm not positive
- I'm definately on a budget - I want to do as much of the work as I can myself and am willing to learn, but am only a mildly capable diy-er.
- There is a propane tank outside, and a line running into the house, but it's cut off.
- There is no ducting
- I've already ripped off one ceiling and am not opposed to ripping out walls/ceilings if it is the best way to get the job done (ie for ducting)
- I intend in the future (near future) to add a 900sqf addition which will need heat. I don't have any idea if it should tie into current heat or what, but should be kept in mind i guess.

What would you do?
My first thought was to do electric baseboards, but I'm not sure the electrical system can handle it and upgrading to 200amp would be pretty expensive on top of everything else.
I then thought about picking up a used propane furnace (can be had for $500 or so) and running my own ducting. My issue with that is I have no idea how - I don't know if that is a reasonable project or not. If it is, I'll take it on and do it.
There are always various deals out there for used oil/propane tank/furnace/hot water heater combos from people who have switched to another source for cheap ($800 range) - I like the idea of getting one of those, running my own ducting, and then maybe paying someone to do the final hookup of furance to ducting.
I've also thought of a propane in-wall furnace in another section of the house - we would basically have two space heaters, but it might do the job.

So to anyone still reading - what would you do? What should I be considering? Is running ducting a reasonable job to take on? Is it a good option? What kind of price range should I be looking at all together?

Thanks anyone and everyone for advice, I'm just a bit overwhelmed right now with it.

Edit: Just came across "comfort furnace"...any experience with these?
https://www.comfortfurnace.ca/comfor...ed-heating.htm


Last edited by Dragonfly; 06-05-2010 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 06-06-2010, 02:44 AM   #2
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Starting heating plan from scratch - what would you do?


Propane is costly. So is ductwork, especially if you don't lay it out correctly. Based on what little we know, I would look at increasing the service panel and going with baseboard heaters. Lots of variables, is this going to be a full time residence for you?

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Old 06-06-2010, 05:14 AM   #3
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Starting heating plan from scratch - what would you do?


Whats is your electric rate.

I wouldn't get a used furnace.

Actually. A 2 stage furnace would be more appropriate for your house. Since your adding/might be adding a 900 sq ft addition some time down the road.

The new addition. Being smaller, and better insulated won't require near as much heat as the current 1500 sq ft.
So a 2 stage can be installed. And most if not all of the time it would be used. It would run in first stage. Until the addition was built. Then after the addition was built. It would go to second stage when needed.

The furnace and duct work can be installed in the basement.

Will the addition be a second floor, or the same level.
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Old 06-06-2010, 06:21 AM   #4
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Starting heating plan from scratch - what would you do?


Ayuh,... I'm quite literally in the Same Boat,...

I'm going with Hydronic Radient heating...
Oil fired Boiler/ wood backup boiler...
In my mind, water is a Better way to move Heat,...
And,...
AC isn't needed around here very often, especially living On the water....
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Old 06-06-2010, 08:50 AM   #5
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Starting heating plan from scratch - what would you do?


Fortunately I live in the Great White North and have a pretty good idea what you need to heat your house. How much do you pay for electricity (cents/kwh off your elec bill). You will need about 20 kilowatts to heat the first house and another 10-15 kw for the addition. Will need a 200amp or larger panel for the first part and another for the 2nd part. One 20 kw furnace has a 150 amp or larger breaker so you can see where I am going. Would need a professional electrician to give you proper advice. Propane is ridiculously expensive due to the tank rental, delivery charge etc so I would get some advice from Ontario Hydro as to the cost of different heating methods. They usually have engineers who can give that advice free. Mb Hydro does. I doubt if you can figure out proper duct sizing and install it yourself. Do you want air conditioning in the future? if so you will need ductwork. Sounds to me like electric baseboards are your best bet now. That comfort heater is a one room heater/expensive and only 1500 watts. You will need a dozen of them and bigger wiring to the rooms and a larger panel. Good for a den as it gives you radiant heat like a fireplace which is comfy. Not meant to do a whole house.
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Last edited by yuri; 06-06-2010 at 08:54 AM.
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Old 06-19-2010, 10:39 PM   #6
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Starting heating plan from scratch - what would you do?


Well, I finally got an electrician in, a good one, and he basically said he really wouldn't go electric. Prices on the rise, cost of installation and upgrading the panel and all that, he strongly urged me not to. Even sat in the truck for 15 minutes leafing through the yellow pages and giving me names of inexpensive and good heating contractors.

I'm at a bit of a loss. I had only budgeted $5k for this and I know now that was silly...but man...I have no issue with a fixer-upper but sometimes it's stressful. I really want to get as close to that $5k as I can. So now I'm thinking of getting a fairly new used furnace (being a cold area, people area always changing out services/selling furnaces) and getting just a few ducts installed to the main floor rooms and not upstairs. I'm hoping that with minimal ductwork only going through basement ceiling into floor, and the used furnace, I can keep my costs low. This should do the job for me - I will be using the woodstove a lot but need backup/additional heat for when we go away for the weekend, 6:00am etc...

I really hope this doesn't turn into $10k, that would ... hurt.
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Old 06-19-2010, 10:40 PM   #7
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Starting heating plan from scratch - what would you do?


Another idea i had was 2 or 3 propane wall furnaces - maybe 2 on main floor and 1 upstairs. Anyone have experience with these?
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Old 06-19-2010, 11:02 PM   #8
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Starting heating plan from scratch - what would you do?


I would try to get a rough figure for the cost of ducting, and the cost of baseboard heaters and decide based on the prices. Keeping in mind that the baseboard heaters will probably cost near 2x then a forced air gas furnace would cost to run.

Also with a forced air system you can then add AC later on. It gets really hot in Toronto so it's almost a must have.

edit: bad wording

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Old 06-20-2010, 07:03 AM   #9
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Starting heating plan from scratch - what would you do?


1) Most gas inspectors seriously frown on installing used furnaces as they may be unsafe. They may want it inspected and certified by a licensed gas fitter and most won't hang their ticket on a used unit, I won't. The logistics of getting it approved could be difficult and expensive.
2) LOTS of used furnaces are damaged, unsafe from overheating and lack of maintenance, have problems (thats why they are for sale). If it has a bad circuit board or heat exchanger it may be junk or cost more to repair than its worth. They cannot be tested unless connected to ductwork and a gas line, not in some guys garage.
3) We cannot buy any mid efficiency furnaces anymore in Canada and I doubt they will let you sell or reinstall one.
4) Contractors make their $$ on furnace markup and it won't be cheap to get it installed as their labor will be high to compensate for the lack of sale of the furnace.
5) Our gas co has a 5 yr financing plan and it may be better to finance one and get a good new unit. You don't necessarily have to buy the most expensive brand. AireFlo or Ducane makes a good decent economy unit.http://www.aireflo-hvac.com/
http://www.ducanehvac.com/
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Last edited by yuri; 06-20-2010 at 07:12 AM.
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:45 AM   #10
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Starting heating plan from scratch - what would you do?


Thank you for that info Yuri - depressing, as I seem to continuously head towards screwed on this, but good info, thank you.
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Old 06-22-2010, 07:33 AM   #11
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Starting heating plan from scratch - what would you do?


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