Install a Heat Circulator for Cold Upper Floors
LESLIE: We’re going to talk heat pumps with Guy in New York who listens to The Money Pit on WABC. How can we help?
GUY: Yeah, hi there. I have a house; an old house in Long Island. It’s oil heat and the heat system is – oh, it’s water; circulating water. But I have three floors and it takes, literally, hours for the heat to rise to the third floor. And even though I may have the system set on 70, it cuts down a lot because the water in the tank gets up to about 190 and it cuts down. So I’m just trying to figure out if it’s better to go buy some kind of pump – circulating pump – which I’ve been told would allow the heat and the water to circulate faster and warm up the house.
TOM: You have an old boiler with a gravity system?
TOM: OK. Absolutely you need a circulating pump on that. You’re going to be amazed at how fast your house will heat up with it.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Things are going to heat up after that.
TOM: Yeah. You know, these old homes with very, very large pipes basically worked on the principal that hot water rises. And so as the water heated it would work its way up. But as you say, Guy, it takes forever for that to happen. So no, I think you definitely need a circulator on there.
Now, is this home zoned, Guy, or just all on a single zone?
GUY: It’s all single zone.
TOM: Aagh. It’s going to cost …
GUY: The house is about 99 years old. It has very good insulation …
GUY: … but – and when the heat goes off, it stays at whatever temperature it is for hours.
TOM: Yeah, I would suggest you put a circulating pump on that. And also, make sure you have a clock setback thermostat so you really have the opportunity to control it. And thirdly, make sure that the heating pipes are insulated; especially down in the basement. You may have asbestos on those pipes. Do you now?
GUY: I actually – when I bought the house, I had – an engineer came in and checked that the previous person had removed the asbestos.
TOM: OK, now here’s the question. Did you ever put insulation back on those pipes?
GUY: They had insulation. The guy actually took apart the insulation to see that that what was put on was not asbestos.
TOM: So it is insulated now?
GUY: Correct. It’s insulated.
TOM: OK, good. Because very often, you know, owners over the years will take off the asbestos but then leave it off and …
LESLIE: But not replace it with anything.
TOM: … you know, besides the fact that it was bad for you it actually did serve a purpose and that was to, you know, stop you from losing heat before you should lose it. You want to keep the heat in the pipe until it gets up into your house. So as long as it’s insulated then you’re OK.
Yeah, I think you put a circulator on there, Guy, you’re going to be a lot more comfortable.
GUY: Thank you very much. I’m going to go out and talk to somebody now about that.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.