The forced air option allows you to install humidifier for the winter,and
central AC for summer. If the cold air doesn't get to the 3rd floor, you can
use duct booster fans, or a couple window units on the back side.
If you redo the boiler, please consider using iron pipe, so that doesn't get
Christopher A. Young
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In a thread that I started on 12/03/2012 (with the subject line "Main Water
Supply Line freeze protection"), I wrote about an empty "shell" home that I
own that recently had all of the copper pipes stolen by thieves. The
property has a full basement (with high ceilings and a ground level walk-out
in the back), and 3 floors above that. The entire house is completely empty
and gutted throughout. All that is left is the exterior walls (which are
masonry/stone), and the floors and stairs. All that is left of the interior
walls and ceilings is the open framing. None of the interior walls are
load-bearing, so all of the wall framing that is left can easily be removed
without creating any problems. Nearly all of the wiring is gone (it was knob
and tube anyway) except for a new main service panel in the basement and a
couple of circuits for the heater, an outlet or two, and a temporary
lighting circuit for the basement. All of the kitchen and bathroom fixtures
and plumbing are already gone (all of that was already gone before the
So, it is now essentially a blank slate -- meaning that I can design all of
the rooms and future layout however I want it to be, but taking into account
where the stairs are located and where the exterior doors and windows are
located. The first floor and second floor have full-height ceilings
throughout. The third floor is large, but it has some sloped ceilings due
to the roof above. And, I should add that the plan includes that all of the
exterior walls will be framed out on the inside of the building and
insulated since the exterior walls are just masonry/stone right now. And,
of course, all new frame-out windows will be put in since all of the
interior window trim was already removed in anticipation of that.
The house has (or, should I say, "had") hot water cast iron radiator heat.
All of the cast iron radiators are still in place, with any iron piping that
goes to the radiators still there. The gas boiler for the cast iron heating
system is only a few years old (I had it put in when I bought the place and
converted from oil to gas heat). There is no central air conditioning.
My decision now is:
1) Do I design the whole new house layout based on using the existing gas
boiler and keep the hot water cast iron heating system (which would mean
running new copper lines to the radiators)?; or,
2) Should I just take out the existing gas boiler and start over with a
gas-fired forced air central HVAC system?
I don't know the cost of installing a whole new central HVAC system
including all of the duct work throughout the whole house. And, I am
wondering if a central HVAC system will have any issues pumping enough air
(especially the AC air) up to the third floor.
Of course, I can have a couple of heating/HVAC contractors look at the shell
and give me their opinion and a rough idea of the comparative costs -- and I
probably will be doing that anyway. However, since I don't even know what
the room layout of the house is going to be yet, the most that I could
expect from them right now is a very general idea of the pros and cons of
I'm leaning toward going with a whole new gas-fired forced air central HVAC
system and using the theft of the copper pipes as an "opportunity" to switch
to a central HVAC system rather than to try to restore to old hot water cast
iron heating system.
Any ideas, thoughts, or suggestions that others here may have about which
way to go with this would be appreciated.