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Help! At a loss about how to improve heating (and add cooling)

9 years ago

Hello there-

Newbie here. We're trying to fix a very badly designed heating system for our two-story 1918 house.

The situation: Oil heat, relatively new boiler. Nice old cast iron radiators in 2/3 of the house. However, the 2-story addition in the back of the house (family room and master bedroom) has aluminum baseboard heaters and they're all on the same zone! That's right: a single-zone house on oil heat with baseboards and big old radiators. You can imagine the heating bills. And the house has hot and cold pockets and it's generally a mess.

We don't know how to fix this. We've had several plumbers come to the house and they all give different advice. Because both floors have a mix of radiators and baseboards, it doesn't make sense to simply create an upstairs and an downstairs zone. And it also doesn't make sense to create a "baseboard zone" and a "radiator zone," since we'd still be heating the first floor at night unnecessarily.

Ductless a/c and heat pumps won't work, given the layout of our house.


Step one seems to be to switch to natural gas. But from there, we're stumped.

Option 1: Rip out the radiators and baseboards and do a hydroair system (we'd also like to have central air and there is no ductwork). But isn't it a bad idea to try to heat the second floor from ducts installed in the ceiling from the unit in the attic? And I love the heat that the radiators give off.

Option 2: Replace aluminum baseboards with modern cast iron radiators or cast iron baseboards. Create 2 zones (upstairs, downstairs). Add central air via the attic and the basement.

Maybe there are other options, but we haven't heard any others that make even a little bit of sense.

If you've made it this far, thank you for reading! And thanks for any advice you have.

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