The furnaces and heating systems in old houses in Dallas can be deceptive. They may look and even sound antiquated and appear in need of replacement. But a careful check of the system may reveal that it is more than adequate, or that by replacing the burner or a pump, the furnace can go right on producing heat throughout your building. If that is the case, don’t be too quick about replacing the entire system. Heating systems are expensive to buy and even more costly to install.
Old homes may have one of three types of heating systems; a hot water or steam system, both of which require pipes leading up from the furnace to each radiator in the house; or, one that uses forced warm air, which is pushed through ducts that end in grills in each room. The forced- air systems are what most contractors install in new construction, but older homes usually have a steam or hot water system.
The problems with steam and hot water systems are the noise they make and the unsightly radiators all over the house. The noise is not a function of the fact that the system has been in function for 30 or 40 years; it is caused by the water in it being heated and then cooled, and being forced up pipes and then rolling back down. There is not much you can do about the hissing, rattling, radiator clanks, and gurgles.
You can replace unsightly radiators with modern baseboard units that are about 12” high, 4” thick, and as long as you want them to be (they are sold in 2- and 4- foot sections).
Presuming that you elect to save your money and spend it on other renovations, you may still have the problem of getting a radiator into any new room you have constructed. It is possible to extend a heating system the same way a plumbing system can be extended — by adding more pipes that end in more radiators. However, heating systems are carefully designed (even if they are old) and balanced to allow them to operate with equal efficiency in all parts of the house. You could throw that balance off by haphazardly adding two or three more radiators here and there around the house. So even if you plan to install the new radiators yourself, have their locations evaluated by a professional heating engineer before you do any work.
If the rooms you want to heat cannot be sustained by your existing system, you have a couple of options. You might install a space-heating system for the new space. Conceivably, if you have a natural gas system for your cooking and clothes drying, the space heater, which could be recessed in a wall, might be gas-fired. Or you could consider electric baseboard heaters. Electricity provides a clean, maintenance-free heating system that can be installed just about anywhere. But in most parts of the country they cost an arm and a leg to operate.
If you must replace the furnace or the boiler, or both, you are in for $2,000 to $3,000 in expenses, no matter what fuel the unit uses. However, some old furnaces can be converted from one fuel to another at considerably less expense, and there are now a number of heat-saving devices that can be added to different types of furnaces to get a little more efficiency out of an existing system.
Exactly what you need to do with the particular system you have can only be decided when you have specific information in hand. To get that information, call in an expert and by a report from him. IN many communities, the gas company will provide a free inspection and evaluation, not only for an existing gas furnace, but for making the conversion from oil to gas. One of the things you ought to find out from whatever experts you talk to is what the price of gas, compared to oil, will be in the near future. There is no longer a federal ceiling on the price of natural gas. It will very likely be just as expensive as oil in the near future, if it is not already there.
No matter what you decide to do about your heating system, decide to do it before you take on any renovation in the house. It may turn out, for example, that you need to run some more pipes or ducts through the house, and these will have to be hidden in the walls. Obviously, it is less expensive and infinitely easier when some or all of the walls have already been opened or are not yet closed. Contact us today for all your AC repair and heating needs!