Greetings all - I'm a homeowner that's been lurking here for a few months...you all seem to be very knowledgeable and helpful.
After a bad experience with a HVAC contractor in my prior home, I decided to get more "involved" in the selection of a new system in my new home. I have a few questions and would appreciate any advice. Nothing technical, just conceptual, as we will be using a contractor for the installation.
1700 sq ft ranch in central NJ, built 1958
Full finished basement
A/C - window units
Heating - Hydronic system with 3 yr old Burnham boiler (nat gas) with old copper piping and old fin-type radiators.
Summer temp - 90's
Winter temp - 20's
My wife and I want to replace the window A/C units with central, and figured it might be a good idea to evaluate the heating system since the pipes are very old. As a matter of fact, there's evidence that one pipe burst and was replaced prior to us moving in last year. Replacing the pipe is not an option due to the high cost. These pipes are behind soffits and are not easily accessible.
Normal ducts will not be possible, so I've settled on a HV system. I'll use Spacepak as an example here since I've read every piece of documentation published on the web.
Spacepak makes a hydronic coil add-on that bolts to the air handler.
Question #1 Does anyone with HV/Spacepak system experience know if this add-on coil can handle heating an entire home efficiently, or is it designed to be an emergency backup for heat pump systems?
Question #2 Given the increased efficiency with modern heat pumps, would a Spacepak/heat pump with hydronic emergency heat be a viable alternative?
Any comments/advice is appreciated.
Personnaly I would keep the boiler with the fin tube baseboard. It is alot more comfortable than any warm air system.
"Replacing the pipe is not an option due to the high cost."
If so why do you want to replace the entire system?
"If so why do you want to replace the entire system?"
Well, I figure that I already have to buy an air handler and compressor for the A/C, why not just run new pipe from my existing boiler to a hydronic coil which is attached to the air handler. I don't want to replace the boiler since it's new, but the old pipe worries me, and the radiators look old as well. So, rather than replace pipe and radiatiors, I figured I'd just get the hydronic coil and add it to the new air handler while using the same hydronic boiler. I was given a very high quote to replace just the pipe - due to the lack of accessibility to the pipe, and the sheet rock/drop ceiling repair and painting after it gets ripped up to gain access to the pipe. Add in some more money to replace the radiators, and I'm looking at almost as much as a new HV system with heating coil added.
Keep the hydronic system
Hi, I just a homeowner but I would like to emphasize something already said. Hot water radiator system are a lot more comfortable than warm air systems.
I live in central Texas and we have the typical warm air/AC system that you see all the time here.
My son lives in Connecticut and has pretty much the same system you describe: hot water/radiators with window units. We visit them mostly at Thanksgiving. Their heat is wonderful compared to ours. Now our A/C is much, much better than the window units. But that hydronic system is so comfortable, you hardly know the house is being heated; its just warm inside, no noise, no drafts, no moving air. I would put one in except no one in 300 miles would know how to install or fix it.
Having seen both systems my advice is to keep the radiators and add the AC as a separate system.