Author Topic: "Outside of the box" furnace replacement ideas!  (Read 1595 times)

BigBigote

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 43
"Outside of the box" furnace replacement ideas!
« on: April 22, 2017, 11:19:59 AM »
We recently bought a house in Portland (yay!) and we built a small kitchenette in the basement laundry room and are renting out the basement. The furnace (which is 17+ years old and definitely dying) will need to be replaced in the next year - quotes are coming in around $4000 - youch! It's an eyesore in the kitchenette & takes up a huge amount of space, plus, it only heats a small portion of the house since much of the house has in-floor heating! It feels like a poor investment to replace the furnace and maintain two separate heating systems, but in-floor heating isn't an option everywhere.

I thought the mustachian community would be frugal, creative, and handy enough to come up with some alternatives!

- the only spaces in the house without in-floor heating are the basement laundry room, main floor living & dining room, and main floor bathroom. The living/dining areas have beautiful oak floors and the basement is finished so I don't think in-floor heating is a cost-effective option to install here.
- My ideal situation would have us replacing the furnace with a gas fireplace in the living room to heat the main area, and in-floor heating in the laundry room and bathroom and ditching the furnace all together. Are there any gas fireplaces that can be set to a thermostat temperature and self-regulate?
- Any other ideas/alternatives?

Thanks!

waltworks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4374
Re: "Outside of the box" furnace replacement ideas!
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2017, 09:26:52 PM »
How cold does it actually get in Portland/in your house? I'd try just... not heating those areas. Wear thick socks and a hat?

You could conceivably (assuming the in-floor stuff is running hot water from a boiler that can handle a bigger load) install a few pipes and radiators. I don't know if that would be practical from a cost or aesthetics/space standpoint, or if your boiler could do it, but you could look into it. Not going to be cheap to do, though, unless you are very handy.

Otherwise, I'll be honest - there is not a heating system of any useful kind out there that will cost you less than just replacing the furnace, even in the short term (unless you want to just plug in half a dozen space heaters all the time or something silly like that - which would be cheap up front but NOT cheap in the long run).

This is part of owning a house. $4k is not much in the world of house-owning. Sorry.

-W

Coach Carson

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 15
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Clemson, SC / Cuenca, Ecuador
    • CoachCarson.com
Re: "Outside of the box" furnace replacement ideas!
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2017, 10:22:36 PM »
What about a couple of gas wall heaters in the rooms you need them in? If you already have gas to the house, you (or plumber) would just have to run a couple new branch gas lines. Then you would buy and install the heaters. Here is an $89 ventless heater on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/MR-HEATER-10-000-BTU-VENT-FREE-NATURAL-GAS-RADIANT-HEAT-2-PLAQUE-SPACE-HEATER-/122457585912

BigBigote

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 43
Re: "Outside of the box" furnace replacement ideas!
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2017, 10:27:13 PM »
Thanks for the reply and input, waltworks & Coach Carson!

The in-floor heating is electric, so I may look into that for the bathroom. Laundry room / kitchenette could probably just go unheated since it's adjacent to heated areas. Or there is gas running to the laundry room, so maybe the ventless heaters could be good there! Portland isn't supposed to get too cold, but this winter it was cold enough that some glass broke in our house when we left the heat off, so I think we need some type of heating. Good to know that just replacing the furnace may be the way to go, or looking at more individualized heating options - appreciate your advice!

I'll report back if I come across any fireplaces that can be set / regulate ambient temperature!

Kroaler

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 923
  • Age: 29
  • Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Re: "Outside of the box" furnace replacement ideas!
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2017, 06:53:05 AM »
What about a couple of gas wall heaters in the rooms you need them in? If you already have gas to the house, you (or plumber) would just have to run a couple new branch gas lines. Then you would buy and install the heaters. Here is an $89 ventless heater on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/MR-HEATER-10-000-BTU-VENT-FREE-NATURAL-GAS-RADIANT-HEAT-2-PLAQUE-SPACE-HEATER-/122457585912

@ Coach Carson :

I did not know you were on MMM forums.  Very cool.  I'm a big fan!
« Last Edit: April 23, 2017, 06:56:15 AM by Kroaler »

waltworks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4374
Re: "Outside of the box" furnace replacement ideas!
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2017, 08:27:16 AM »
Off topic a little, but how does glass break because it's cold? You can have, say, a beer bottle (don't ask how I know, sob) break in the freezer if you forget about it, but that's because of the water expanding as it freezes, not the glass itself having a problem.

Electric heat *sucks* (because it costs a fortune). I'd look at replacing the whole heating system (if possible) to run off the (new) furnace. That's probably your long-term most frugal option assuming you need to heat the house a lot. Why on earth did someone put in electric heat when the house has gas?

Of course, running the ductwork to do that might not be possible. What a cluster, sorry for your situation there.

-W

Thanks for the reply and input, waltworks & Coach Carson!

The in-floor heating is electric, so I may look into that for the bathroom. Laundry room / kitchenette could probably just go unheated since it's adjacent to heated areas. Or there is gas running to the laundry room, so maybe the ventless heaters could be good there! Portland isn't supposed to get too cold, but this winter it was cold enough that some glass broke in our house when we left the heat off, so I think we need some type of heating. Good to know that just replacing the furnace may be the way to go, or looking at more individualized heating options - appreciate your advice!

I'll report back if I come across any fireplaces that can be set / regulate ambient temperature!

Papa bear

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1562
  • Location: Ohio
Re: "Outside of the box" furnace replacement ideas!
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2017, 10:19:10 AM »
You could go with the wall unit heat pump systems or a ceramic electric radiant heat unit.

Here's a site for the electric radiant heat.

http://electricheat.com/?fullsite=true


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

BigBigote

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 43
Re: "Outside of the box" furnace replacement ideas!
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2017, 07:28:35 PM »
Fair question on the glass @waltworks - all I know is that we left the heat off one cold night and it got way cold in the house, and the light fixture in the bathroom broke. Best guess - it contracted and fell out of the lighting unit and broke when it hit the ground? It just made us realize that the pipes could have burst if it got that cold in the house so we shouldn't be so bold about leaving the heat off completely downstairs. We had the in-floor heating on upstairs at 58 degrees so we weren't frozen.

The in-floor heating is nice, but yes - super expensive to run. I think it's very efficient, but the electric bills hurt. If you're curious: http://www.heatizon.com/products/radiant-floor-heating?gclid=Cj0KEQjwxPbHBRCdxJLF3qen3dYBEiQAMRyxSzgQuth1vsprBLRa8mapv-Si4FgY9fxGcTEcegW4YjgaAslo8P8HAQ

I think running new ducting would be a deal breaker, but worth thinking about. Appreciate all the input!

Off topic a little, but how does glass break because it's cold? You can have, say, a beer bottle (don't ask how I know, sob) break in the freezer if you forget about it, but that's because of the water expanding as it freezes, not the glass itself having a problem.

Electric heat *sucks* (because it costs a fortune). I'd look at replacing the whole heating system (if possible) to run off the (new) furnace. That's probably your long-term most frugal option assuming you need to heat the house a lot. Why on earth did someone put in electric heat when the house has gas?

Of course, running the ductwork to do that might not be possible. What a cluster, sorry for your situation there.

-W

Thanks for the reply and input, waltworks & Coach Carson!

The in-floor heating is electric, so I may look into that for the bathroom. Laundry room / kitchenette could probably just go unheated since it's adjacent to heated areas. Or there is gas running to the laundry room, so maybe the ventless heaters could be good there! Portland isn't supposed to get too cold, but this winter it was cold enough that some glass broke in our house when we left the heat off, so I think we need some type of heating. Good to know that just replacing the furnace may be the way to go, or looking at more individualized heating options - appreciate your advice!

I'll report back if I come across any fireplaces that can be set / regulate ambient temperature!

J Boogie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1385
Re: "Outside of the box" furnace replacement ideas!
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2017, 08:47:25 AM »
I'd second Waltwork's idea to just go without heat, with one important addition. 

Hyperinsulate to near passivhaus standards and get an HRV/ERV (if ducting is a possibility).  If ducting is not a possibility, get a ductless minisplit heat pump like papa bear said.  You can locate it between main floor living/dining and main floor bath.  The kitchen in the basement should be fine if they cook/bake enough and the insulation is good there.

Insulation is often the best route as it doesn't require maintenance/replacing and it doesn't cost money to operate. 

Bobberth

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 318
Re: "Outside of the box" furnace replacement ideas!
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2017, 10:35:08 AM »
What about running electric baseboard heat? It would add to your electric bill but electrical wires would be easier to run to all areas that need heat than gas lines.