Another 'house viewing related' question.
Hoping to get a few viewings of potential house purchases in next week,
One of the potential houses has a warm air heating system (by the looks
of the photos the house may date from the 1970/80's but hard to tell.)
Now I've no experience of these things - I assume there is a heater (gas
I would guess) and the air is circulated around the house via ducting.
No, they don't seem that common, which maybe an indicator of something
to avoid - then again some technologies can be perfectly good, but just
don't succeed for fashion or whatever reason.
Anyone have experience of these sorts of systems - good, crap ok?
My aunt's town house was heated this way - probably built in the '70s too.
What I noticed was that there seemed to be very little thermal inertia so
that the heater and circulating fan were cycling on and off most of the
time. Seem to remember some rattles in the ductwork as well.
Worth bearing in mind that if you are sitting in a (even a slight) breeze
you will need higher temperatures than if the air is sensibly still.
Look for dust on surfaces near the vents. How easy is it to get new
filters, and to change them?
I can't answer for old systems apart from a rather inefficient gravity
fed 'Agavector' that my inlaws had in the last house, but I installed
modern stuff upstairs here under modern isulation, and its very very
fast to warm up apart from one room with fairly low power for the
volume and an awkward location (in a recess effectively) .
Modern thermos seem to cycle anyway - leastways with te CH off the
thermos will cycle at or around teh room temp when the tem is not
changing. They have some bimetal strips or summat, and anyway I don't
notice any cycling hwn in use.
I got them after installing air blowers in an office premises we had
once - they wer marvellous for space heating a large space lacking
decent insulation with few cold spots.
I hate rads aesthetically, and the blowers are less obtrusive watt for
The noise is something you get use to - its no worse than the boiler
fan, or a bathroom fan, in a next door room.
After UFH, its about my favorite form of heating really. The very slight
breeze seems to get a btter air mix with fewer cold spots, and it's -
like UFH - not so much 'cosy' as 'comfortable and unobtrusive'. That is
you don't walk in to a room and say 'thats nice and ciosy' you walk in
and don't notice its being heated at all, unless you just came from outside.
If we want 'cosy' we use the aga, or the open fires.
I've lived with gas warm-air heating since the house was built in 1971.
Advantages are almost instaneous heat, cheap to run and very reliable if
serviced regularly. Downside is that, depending on heating unit, thay can
be quite noisy - a large fan drives the air around. Also room temperature
is not as stable as with a wet system. Gets warm when fan is running then
temperature drops gradually until thermostat kicks in. In addition, not all
rooms tend to be heated. You may find that bathroom is not on the system -
we use an electric heated towel-rail.
Quite a few people around us have converted to radiators, but we're quite
happy with our system. Guy who services ours (the very common Johnson &
Starley) reckons newer systems are much better but we'll have to wait until
original heating unit gives up before we can find out!
Crap, had mine replaced with a modern combi system, took months of spare
time to remove all the ducting, flue, asbestos! etc, then repair celings,
floors blah, blah, then redecorate.... End result was worth it though.
So you condemn the whole idea because your system was either installed by a
cowboy, very old, or you didn't know how to use it or maintain it ?....
Perhaps you just like great big sheets of metal attached to your walls
whilst taking up space that could be used for furniture, not to mention the
problems of running pipe work in a 'conversion'.
System was originaly installed in 1969 when the house was built.
I had the original WAU replaced when I moved-in in 1993.
The replacement unit cost a bloody fortune to run and maintain, only one
company in this area had qualified service engineers; I take it you know
there are additional exams required to service/repair WAU's?. The all too
few who are qualified (in this area) charge a bloody fortune to cover the
additional exam costs.
Unless a WAU is fited with dust filters, your ceilings will require
redecoration every few years; ballancing the air flow so one part of the
house is not baking hot while another isn't freezing is a pain in the A.
WAU's are bloody good if they are designed, installed and maintained by
professionals who care, if not, they're crap!
My mum's house still uses this as the main heating. It was built in 1967.
She also has supplemental heating via gas fires in the upstairs bedrooms,
which are not on the ducted system. In her house, the gas heater and fan are
centrally located and blow at floor level into the hall, lounge and dining
From a cold house, turning on the heating seems to warm up much quicker than
our house with rads. The upstairs, of course, relies on the downstairs warm
One of my childhood memories is defrosting my feet sitting by the vent in
the hall after a good snowball battle.
Forced air was the first mass heating system in the UK in the 1950s. Today
well over a million systems are in use. They are now gaining ground again
after a bad image as some systems were just plain bad.
You have no rads on walls to leak water. Johnson & Starley make replacement
units that are state of the art with electrostatic air filters, variable
speed fans, modulating gas burners, sophisticated electronic controls,
electrostatic air filters (recommended for asthmatics) , precise electronic
temp control etc. etc. The modern units are much quieter and do not cause
draughts. You can always add a heat recovery fresh air vent unit too.
Fresh air all the time in the house.
Improved registers and grills are also available to totally revamp the whole
thing. It is usually cheaper to run than boilers systems. J&S have an add
on condensing unit that is inserted into a conventional flue in the loft to
improve efficiency. Some USA units by Lennox and Trane have built in
condensing in forced flues.
It may be worth looking into heat recovery and vent units that integrate
with the system. More expense, but far superior comfort conditions and a
great selling point. Make sure the unit has a summer switch, so the fan
circulates air on hot days. They really do drop the internal house
temperature quite a bit.
So heating, fresh air and cooling.
Warm air was the first in "mass" take up. In the 1950s small bore hearting
systems were introduced by the coal board. Wet systems in homes have been
around for a long time, but they costed a fortune being mainly piped in iron
and many being gravity.
Whole estates were fitted with warm air.
Prolly becaue IMM has worked with these systems.
So you were wrong, the first mass heating system was wet, warm air only came
after the war, mass means that many people have it - perhaps you really mean
popular or affordable ?
IMO the only warm systems you have worked with are one bellow your nose and
the one you sit on !
I have my own thoughts as to just what you know, needless to say, you are
not old enough to have done the above by yourself - you might have helped
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