Old house with no heat, need advice.

ungers_houseJuly 30, 2009

Hi, my husband and I purchased a old house that was 85% gutted at the time we purchased it. We got the house in to a semi-liveable condition in order for us to move in. We have some places that are insulated and some places that are not. We do not have a heating source and we have to revert to using space heaters in the winter. We live in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia and it does get very cold here. We can not afford to do ductwork in our home at this time. We have about 2000-2200 sq. ft. of living space on 3 floors. Does anyone have a suggestion about a heating source for our home? I was thinking about a ductless heating system, but how big would the unit(s) have to be do heat my home to a not so cold state?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much,

Ann U.

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Any HVAC company will gladly come to your home and give you a quote for whatever type system you want.

If you have a working chimney, you might consider a wood stove.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 4:52PM
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I don't know the heating/cooling hours where you live, but one consideration would be to only heat the areas that have plumbing in adjacent walls. Just shut off the other rooms and live cozy this winter. Or, get an HVAC person to show you a mini-split AC system, including a heat pump. Mini-splits are ductless. I believe heat pumps are only cost effective to use down to about 35F, but that would cover you a lot of the time, and then you could use the space heaters only in the cold snaps. i have no idea if this is good advice or not for your situation, but it may be something to consider. And you'd get AC to boot, who-hoo! And the system might be eligible for some sort of green tax credit.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dept. of energy on ductless heat pumps

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 5:03PM
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mini splits can be up to 3 tons with 3 seperate air handlers, still going to cost a pretty penny though.
have you thought about heat pump window units
or heat pump p-tacs, p-tac is thru the wall install
whereas window units don't require any capentry work.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 5:39PM
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Hi neighbor! I'm in jefferson County, myself. If you are looking for HVAC contractor reccomendations for this area met me know. I have an old house with oil boiler(s) and hot water heat. It's an old system that's been upgraded throughout the years, it once was coal. The old rads give a very even heat but the oil prices lately are killer. IMO, having lived with a) forced air/oil, b) forced air/natural gas, and c) Hydronic/oil, I prefer what I have now. It is the quietest and most dust-free kind of heat due to there being no air being blown about. For AC, I have been using widow units, and take them back out every fall. My plan is to eventually add a gravity AC in the attic to cool the bedrooms individually and dump a lot of cold air down the stairs. There would be no decicated/installed ductwork for the first floor.
A house I'm working on has a high-velocity system installed; when it gets powered-up, I'll let you know if it works.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 7:12PM
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I had a wood stove in a three-bedroom 1000 sf cottage with virtually no insulation. Toasty warm on sub-zero F. weeks on end; and a thousand-year supply of free fuel on the two uncleared acres surrounding it.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 7:24PM
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if you don't need such a big space, consider closing off rooms until you have the money to work on them/heat them.

We have a 2600 2 fl house, and one of our rooms doesn't have a heat run (it's my bedroom, and I like it on the cool side!) but it doesn't get COLD. You will need to heat any walls with plumbing in them, as well as the "wet" rooms unless you run pipe heat tape on the pipes. We have a heat pump and the ductwork utilizes existing chimneys for the runs. If you have inexpensive electricity (we do here in S. Indiana, I assume you do in W Va) the heat pump is a good option.

Our house got instantly toastier when we blew in cellulose insulation for our attic. You can get a tax benefit this year as well!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 11:04AM
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These suggestions are only for temporary / work envirnments and not meant to be for a habitable

What do you think of wood stove heating?

I would suggest that you try this for your 1st step.

1. Go to Google's Alerts. It gives you 3 fields to fill.

A What to look for -
B. Your email
C. How often to send you updates.

In the what to look for I would suggest you use a trick
that google offers. Here's how it works.

site:houston.craigslist.org "wood stove"

Type that into google and test it to see that it works.
You should see links to people selling wood stoves.*

Make sure you then actually go to craigslist.org and find
out the real url (address) for your area. Tip:It won't
be Houston.

Once you figure out the right Clist address for your location then type that into the Google alert for the
'thing' that you're looking for. The idea is to search only
craigslist for your area. You can use that trick for any
website. So if you have a newspaper classified locally
use their addess for a separate Google Alert.

I used "wood stove" as the search term because if
someone were selling a wood chair and they also were selling a gas stove then putting in just

site:houston.craigslist.org wood stove

would find hits on the ads that aren't necessarily selling
only 'wood stoves' (dont' use the plural in the search)

Try other combinations of words. If your local people
have a different way to say 'wood stove' then use that
instead. You might want to consider a "pellet stove".

Ok . That will get you on track for locating a wood stove
for the right price.

Wood in your area according to your neighbor(above)
seems like a good choice. If you want some other
source of heat you still have that tool I gave you.

Re: ducting.

Let's say you find some kind of heat source and want
to install some kind of duct to get heat around the house
just because you don't want 6 stoves.

1. You could use , for $60, the following.

A. A 4" plastic drain pipe without holes
B. A leaf blower
C. A dimmer switch.

Connecting the 4" pipe ($20 / 100 feet home depot)
to the output or the input of the leaf blower and
using the dimmer on the leaf blower to adjust the
speed will get you air movement into the areas
you want. How you route it is up to you.

I sense you are working in a temporary environment
and that is a temporary solution. What you learn
by tinkering a bit will be useful.

I say input or output because the blower will work better
on one side or the other. Just set it a the lowest setting
and put it , input or output (blowing) , to test which way it
works best. It will be quieter if you put it as outupt because the blower will be far away. But it could be more
efficient as 'input' (sucking air) and you might get by
with a very low setting.

Note: I have built this for myself and it works fine.
How you collect the heat to get it into the blower is
going to be up to you. I assume that if you suck warm
air from the ceiling of one room that will be warm enough
to help warm an adjacent room. It was in my case.


2nd idea

Small gas stoves were used everywhere in the 1900's.
They connected to natural gas and you had an open
flame. They are probably illegal due to CO gas. But
if your house is not especially well sealed they're as
safe now as they were in 1900.

And you can vent many of them to the outside as the
ones I've seen have a hole for the vent if you choose.

Most are about 2' high or less and have a metal burner.
They put out about 10,000 btu. That is equal to 2
electric heaters. They all say what they output in
BTU. 1 electric heater is 5280 BTU.

Buy a CO detector if you go that route. Get one with a
digital readout and take enough readings to understand
how much, if any, CO accumulates. Once you know
you can expect it to stay the same until you change
something like insulation of the room.

Use blankets with the heater OFF when you go to sleep.

Good luck

These suggestions are only for temporary / work envirnments and not meant to be for a habitable

Last point - Don't kill somebody.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 1:38AM
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