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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Merrimack Valley, MA
    Posts
    105

    Interesting HVAC system (at least to me).

    My sibling and family recently bought a home needing a bit of TLC. It's a basic colonial. The home is served by two systems - one in the basement for the first floor, one in the unconditioned attic serving the 2nd floor. The home will be moved into when some work inside in complete.

    The basement system is a gas-fired boiler which heats a radiator of sorts in an air handler. Is this common in the northeast? Any pitfalls or benefits to it versus a furnace with an air handler? I've never seen such a system, but that doesn't mean much. The filter box is 1", lies horizontal under the blower motor. The boiler burner is Burnham, it vents directly outside through the wall. The pipes are all heavily corroded. The plenums are all corroded, too.

    The attic system I didn't get a good look at other than the flex duct runs all over the place looking like a giant octopus and making the opportunity to finish the attic space much more challenging. It does not sit on a large drain pan. It provides A/C (when working). I think it also provides heat (considering there are no ducts along the bedroom baseboards, only ceiling ducts and supposedly the A/C was added at a later time). I haven't seen the system in action.

    Both systems were installed in '93 and have received no maintenance at all. I don't have access to model numbers right now. Any general thoughts considering the age and brief visual descriptions? I believe solving the humidity issue in the basement should be a high priority - it will effect everything long term.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    18951
    Posts
    1,593
    That’s a pretty typical system for the first floor, except that the boiler should vent into a masonry or stainless steel chimney. The attic system probably doesn’t have a coil from the boiler like the first floor system has, because it could freeze. If the attic system heats also, then it might be a heat pump with back up electric. I've seen these systems installed with air conditioning only on the second floor. They rationalize that "heat rises", and "we like it cooler when we sleep". The entire attic system should sit on an auxiliary drain pan. Get a qualified HVAC contractor in to go over both systems.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Landisburg,PA
    Posts
    69
    very common system where i live in central PA. the company i work for has put tons of them in. it should be pretty good system if it was installed properly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Ma.
    Posts
    108
    I've seen a similair set up in New engl;and, they ran hot water piping up to unit in attic, air handler had a hot water goil in it and it had a A coil for cooling as well.
    Feed from boiler in basement , was a two zone system.
    My friend just bought a house a year to two ago and he has a similar situation as well.
    Boiler feeds unit5s with hot water coil in basement and in attic for second floor.
    However they do have pans under them.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,081
    Semi common.
    Probaly has another hydro coil in the attic unit.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Merrimack Valley, MA
    Posts
    105

    Belated thanks for the replies.

    I appreciate the replies. I believe the system is more like what bobb25 mentioned. I believe the systems have been looked over, but my confidence level isn't particularly high. For house as young as this, it's disappointing that the HVAC systems appear to be such a kluge.

    Again, thanks.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    35
    Is it possible that the AHU in the basement heats the whole house and the unit in the attic is A high-velocity space pac that is just for cooling? I don't know how common these systems are in the northeast, we have a few of them in WI.

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