Installing central air in a 3-storey home with radiators

krawdonMarch 29, 2013

Hi everyone. I used to be active on Gardenweb but haven't been in a long time. Now, I'm looking to buy a house (after selling my old house with massive garden and then renting an apartment for 6+ years).

The house I am currently most interested in is a 3-storey Victorian twin (or semi-detached, depending on your preferred lingo). It has radiator heat, which I LOVE. But what I don't love are Philadelphia-area summers without air conditioning. It is very importantly to me to be able to have or install central a/c in any house that I buy. I know that there are small-vent systems available for older homes without the standard metal duct work.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has installed one of these alongside radiator heat - and hear about benefits, frustrations, how well these systems work, and COST. I'm also wondering if it will be difficult to install in a 3-storey house - there's obviously no attic or basement next to the middle storey, and I don't know if that would be a problem. It's also important to me that any a/c system *really* cools the entire house. Because I hate hot weather. Did I mention that?


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Find an experienced Unico designer/installer and have at it.

It may take two units (one high one low) to do three stories depending on how the large trunk lines can be run (they are around 10 x 10 inches in ductboard).

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 4:26PM
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You heat with oil boiler or nat gas boiler?

Post back.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 5:16PM
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This house in question has gas heat. Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 5:45PM
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When you say 'gas heat', you mean that a gas furnace is already in place with blower and vents? Or when you say 'gas heat', do you mean there is a gas-fired boiler with radiators in place?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 6:21PM
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No, read post. OP has radiator heat fueled by nat gas which is great. Homeowner has boiler not a forced air system.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 6:52PM
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Yep - gas boiler with radiators.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 9:35PM
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Have you considered mini-splits? You can install several types of heat exchangers on the inside:
1)most common is high wall. They are least expensive and most efficient
2)ceiling units
3)floor or wall mount
4)find space for very small air handlers with minimal duct runs.

Is this a roomy home? You could install something pretty conventional in the top and bottom floors with something else in the middle.

I spent some time in Philly. I used to think it was awfully hot and humid there on the coastal plain.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 6:56PM
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Hi krawdon ,

Jonized has given good suggestion.

Are you looking for centralized AC systems also.

Here is a link that might be useful: Residentail Air Contitioning Units Now on Sale

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 11:00PM
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Hi everyone, thank for all of the suggestions! It was really very helpful. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) that particularly house fell through, so I'm not currently trying to figure out a/c issues.

On the other hand, I *did* put in an offer on a house that needs some basic and major kitchen reno, so.... I'll no doubt be asking questions around on that topic. :-)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 9:31AM
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If you do buy that house get a 203K mortgage and roll the renovation costs into the mortgage

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 1:48PM
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I actually looked into that for another house that needed truly extensive renovation - it's a great option. But the interest rates are a bit higher, so if I can avoid it, I will. For such a small renovation (literally one kitchen wall, 8' long - but with the all-important oven and sink) I think I can swing the expense, and then save up money for more extensive reno later.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 3:19PM
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This is also good idea to adjust the budget, and I also would do same for me.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 11:12PM
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Everyone want to enjoy summer with cooling surrounded and which is only possible through branded A/C. I would like to suggest some branded Air Conditioners of the world:

Blue Star

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 10:49PM
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Hi Friends,

I am glad to share that my friend lives in Centerville- USA and using Goodman Air Conditioner from last 5 years. He did not face any problem so far and suggested me to use this brand.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:40PM
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