WARM AIR || FLOOR FURNACE || GRAVITY
STEAM || RADIANT
FURNACES || GAS & OIL SYSTEMS || AIR FILTERS
Heating system advances and concepts of comfort outdate the heating systems in most old houses. Central heating with heat piped to all rooms is considered a requirement in all but very small houses.
An open fireplace may be romantic, but it is not an efficient way to heat your home. A fireplace draws air from the room into the firebox where the fuel is located to provide the flame with the oxygen it needs to burn. The result is the generation of heat, but much of it is drawn up the chimney. To make matters worse, if there is another source of heat in the home, then some of that warm air is drawn into the fireplace and it, too, is lost. The efficiency of a typical fireplace is between 5 and 25 per cent.
Gravity warm air systems are common in older homes. Some gravity warm air furnaces may heat a house relatively well, but it is doubtful that the temperature control and heat distribution will be as good as with a forced-circulation system.
If a warm air system is exceptionally dirty, there may be bad smudges above the registers. This will require some repair work. If the furnace is old, it may need to be replaced. Rusty ducts may need replacement.
Warm air floor furnaces are usually adequate for only very small houses.
One-pipe gravity steam heating systems are common in older homes. The system is similar in appearance to hot water. This is an extremely simple system and, if properly installed, it will provide adequate heat. It can be modernized without basic changes.
A two-pipe steam system can be modified to a circulating hot water system. Circulating pumps must be added but this results in greater speed of heat distribution and excellent control.
Radiant heat from hot water flowing through coils embedded in concrete floors or plastered ceilings is less common but may provide excellent heating. Such systems may become air locked and require an expert to restore proper operation. Breaks in ceiling coils can be repaired fairly easily but repairing breaks in floors is extremely difficult. If floor breaks are extensive, the system will probably need to be replaced.
Estimated life expectancy of various heating systems:
HEATING AND COOLING
Burners and heat exchangers should be checked at least once a year by the gas company or oil dealer. Probably the best time is just prior to the heating season. Minor adjustments and cleaning can save hundreds of dollars in fuel that would have been waster through inefficient burning.
A dirty air filter that you can replace for a few dollars, can cost you an additional 10 to 20 percent monthly on your heating and cooling bill. Dirty air filters can actually destroy an air conditioner compressor, heat pump, or a heat exchanger in a gas or oil fired furnace.
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