Help! I think we need baseboard heating.

Reply Sat 25 Nov, 2006 03:45 pm
Could someone tell me about baseboard heating? We are going to need a new heating system. We currently have forced-air heating and airconditioning (gas pack) which uses DUCTWORK to distribute the warm and cool air throughout the house. Well, let me tell you there's nothing nastier than ductwork, and it doesn't matter what kind of furnace filters you use. All the dust, dust mites, dirt, mold and particulates of dead-critter carcasses (roaches, lizards, etc.) which accumulates in ductwork, just continues to be recycled and recirculated around and around through the ductwork and back into your living space. Achoo! Homes with ductwork are perpetually dusty.

I want to get rid of the ductwork and go ductless baseboard for heating and use window units for airconditioning.

Years ago when I lived in Idaho, I rented a house with baseboard heating. I never paid much attention to it at the time but I remember it was always comfortable and there was never any dust in the home. I think it was a hydronic (hot water) system, as I can recall seeing somekind of boiler in the utility room.

I live in a temperate climate where baseboard heating (except for new homes being built) is not very popular. There are no contractors who install baseboard heating in this town but there are some in a city about 150 miles away which are installing baseboard heating in new homes in smaller towns in the region.

I'd like some personal opinions about the matter before I contact a contractor. I've looked around on the net and of course all the manufacturers say it's just wonderful (and it may be, compared to forced-air). But I'd like to hear from actual homeowners who have had experience with baseboard heating. I understand the installation is expensive but the heating bill is no higher than any other kind of heat.

Would surely appreciate any comments. Smile
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Shelby Griggs
Reply Sat 25 Nov, 2006 05:04 pm
I am no expert, but have lived in homes with both types of heating, and I very much prefer the forced air route. What you need to do is get the ducts cleaned and then add an electronic filter system to the furnace system. Just my $0.02, but I think since you already have the forced air system in place this will be a much better solution, and from my experience they are more even heating and cooling, PLUS way cheaper to operate.

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Reply Sun 26 Nov, 2006 10:29 pm
Retrofitting an existing home to use hydronic heating isn't an easy chore to do, is expensive and, to be honest, I don't think there is any real difference in dust levels. I think you see dust more with forced hot air systems because it is getting redistributed and disturbed more often. With hydronic systems the dust just builds up into thicker layers wherever the fewest drafts are.

IMO, hydronic heating is more "even" (i.e. evenly distributed around the room and a better regulated room temp.) but it does take longer to to increase/decrease a room's temp. Forced air systems are faster if you change the thermostat settings but not as consistant throughout the day. Hydronic systems aren't usually installed where you have a slab foundation (not sure what you have) because the pipes need to run under the floor between rooms and the piping is usually copper which gets eaten quickly when in direct contact with concrete. When that happens the only way to repair it is to jackhammer out the concrete to find the leak and replace that section of pipe. People generally don't like those sorts of repairs inside their home. The "fins" within the baseboard units are also notorious collectors of dust which robs them of efficency.

Window A/C units will also cost you more to operate than a central air system will unless you decide not to cool all of the rooms. It is a much less efficent way to cool a house.

If your primary concern is dust then I'd suggest you take the money you'd spend on a conversion and have someone come in twice a year and clean your ductwork to remove any dust/critters. The conversion cost would probably be more than 70 or 80 years worth of cleanings.
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