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  1. #1
    bkromer Guest

    Looking for suggestions for old farm house

    I've got a buddy (we all do). He has asked me to change the oil forced air furnace in his cottage to a propane forced air furnace, no problem. I do have a problem with the way the house is currently ducted. This is an old 1 1/2 story home on a slab. The home has a big room that encompasses the entire lower level with the acception of an additon off one side, also on a slab, that is now the kitchen and mud room. When the house was built there was only a wood stove for heat, hence all the duct work is exposed throughout the house in a very crude manor and the furnace is essentially in the middle of the living room. I want to redo it all. I am a service technician in a metropolitan area, so working with an old farmhouse is new to me. I am looking for suggestions on eliminating this mess at low cost. I was contemplating a boiler, but air conditioning may be desired at a later date. If anyone has installed an hvac system in an old farmhouse, your experience right now is invaluable to me.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,826
    Unfortunately, the forum you're asking in limits what we can contribut. There's no DIY allowed and though you've stated you're a tech, until you can qualify for pro status we have no way of verifying that. Having said all of that, a poor duct system, be it layout or leaks or lack of insulation or all three, is going to drive up the costs of heating no matter what fuel is used. I don't know what the cost of oil and propane are in your neighborhood but in mine that would be an unwise move unless the old furnace is breathing it's last.

    The only way to determine what's most cost efficient for improvements is to explain it all to your friend. Personally, if he's going with gas, I'd recommend a nice dual fuel system to keep the operational costs down, 2 or 3-stage, variable speed blower. That takes care of the equipment. As for the rest of the job, start with a Manual 'J' calc for each room so you know how much air to put in and how much to pull out. Then do a Manual 'D' to size the ducts appropriately. Install using the best trade practices and you've got a job you'll be proud of. Old farm houses where you are may be entirely different from where I am. In fact, where I am all the old farm houses have at least some basement. Additonal equipment options are boiler for heat source and domestic hot water production and a hydro-air system for distribution. Or some radiant heat in choice locations and hydro in the rest. You can zone the hydro if you want so the radiant area doesn't overheat. Or maybe the raidant area needs some supplemental heat in really cold weather. Manual 'J' will reveal all that to you.
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

    If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Poestenkill, NY
    Posts
    769
    Well - everything Skippedover said.

    To me, "old farm house" implies a leaky structure. First line of defense is tightening the building, if saving money and improving comfort are the goals.

    Now that that's covered, I will say this.

    If a home is pretty leaky, forced air can be a so-so choice for heating. Hydronic heating of some kind keeps a warmer feel in the home, because the radiators (whatever they may be) stay warm between heat input cycles.

    If you are a tech, you probably already know much of what I've said.

    As far as suggestions for how to deal with this particular house - who knows, would have to see it, ya know?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Cedar Grove, Wi-Sheboygan
    Posts
    1,582
    I use to own a old farm house and I would definately say seal the house up first before you put to big of a furnace in the house and waste more money. Then do the standard manuals for the entire system. Some of those old farm houses can turn out to be like the one I had which was actually a log home build over 75yrs ago, but that was nearly 20 yrs ago I owned the property. So unitl your buddy opens the walls in the inside of the home and see what he is dealing with it's best to hold off on new equipment.

  5. #5
    bkromer Guest
    For a furnace that will be used for maybe 4 weeks at most during the entire year, none of the above will be done. The heat source that ends up in here is mainly to keep the wife warm while the buddy is hunting. Thanks for the help.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Poestenkill, NY
    Posts
    769
    Quote Originally Posted by bkromer View Post
    For a furnace that will be used for maybe 4 weeks at most during the entire year, none of the above will be done. The heat source that ends up in here is mainly to keep the wife warm while the buddy is hunting. Thanks for the help.
    Ah - thought it was a permanent residence, now it's clearer.

    Sheesh - if that's the case, put in one or two 30 mbh vented space heaters, maybe one in the main rm, and one in the master. Lots of $ to re-duct evrything, no?!

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