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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    Default heating basement alternative

    i have a customer who wants heat in their basement but has forced air and the unit is not big enough for the basement. He also doesn't want electric baseboard. he would like radiant heat. Is it possible to use a seperate water heater to do this?

  2. #2
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    Aug 2007
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    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
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    Default Re: heating basement alternative

    There is or was a builder in the Chicago area, by the name of Bigelow, that was building houses so energy tight, that the entire house was being heated by a water heater that was feeding hot water to a heat exchanger. I seem to remember that they were profiled on TOH a few years back. At he time they were guaranteeing that your gas bill wouldn't be over $200 per year.

    Some European RV's also utilize the onboard gas water heater to supply water for the radiant heat exchangers. The advantage for RV's is a more constant heat without the on/off cycling of force air furnesses. It is also much lower on battery draw when you are "dry" camping.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: heating basement alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by ordjen View Post
    There is or was a builder in the Chicago area, by the name of Bigelow, that was building houses so energy tight, that the entire house was being heated by a water heater that was feeding hot water to a heat exchanger. I seem to remember that they were profiled on TOH a few years back. At he time they were guaranteeing that your gas bill wouldn't be over $200 per year.

    Some European RV's also utilize the onboard gas water heater to supply water for the radiant heat exchangers. The advantage for RV's is a more constant heat without the on/off cycling of force air furnesses. It is also much lower on battery draw when you are "dry" camping.
    what would be the purpose of the heat exchanger? if i set the temp to my desired number i see no need for one.

  4. #4
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    Jul 2009
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    143

    Default Re: heating basement alternative

    I do not accept the statement that "the forced hot air unit is NOT BIG ENOUGH FOR THE BASEMENT".

    One of the most exciting recent developments in forced hot air heating has been the various advancements in ZONING the existing forced hot air ducting thru thermostatically-operated zone ducts where (in this example) the main house & the basement can be separated into 2 separate zones, & only the zone needing heat at a given time will send a thermostatically-controlled signal (by low-voltage electricity or forced air tube) to open the ducts on that zone (main floor or basement) that is "calling for heat"; the "zone" calling for heat is satisfied & the T-stat shuts off the furnace & closes that zone's supply ducts.

    This system has been widely used for years to control zones on hot water heating systems, & now it is successfully being introduced into forced hot air heating systems----it means the same furnace that was designed to heat a main floor can be used to heat other parts of the house, so long as the supply ducts are mechanized to open & close by dedicated electrical or pneumatic zone valves via thermostatic control.

    The homeowner is allowed to use the same furnace for the heating modification, the real cost comes in how much it will cost to have each supply duct in the main house modified, plus the expense of adding ducting & controllable zone ducts to the basement area.

    The site below illustrates a forced air zone system using small diameter pneumatic air tubing; others use small electric motors & low voltage to open & close the supply ducts; consult the Yellow Pages under "heating contractors" to find a local contractor who can give you a quote on one of these zoned furnace modifications.

    Also Google "zoned forced hot air residential heating system" to get additional articles on how these systems work, and the various motor-driven & air suction-driven ducting used.


    http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/vide...292832,00.html
    Last edited by Pelton; 12-20-2013 at 08:23 PM.

  5. #5
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    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
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    Default Re: heating basement alternative

    Ihatewinter,

    For whatever reason, that builder wanted forced are heat, probably due to air-conditioning reasons, but you are right in that you can merely route the hot water through conventional finned radiators.

  6. #6
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    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
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    Default Re: heating basement alternative

    Pelton,

    My original thought was that the furness could probably carry the whole house even without setting up zoned areas. After all, how much heat is a deep basement going to lose. Most of the heat will be going upwards and helping to heat the living areas above, especially if the basement walls are well insulated.

    My original home had a deep basement. I cut addtional vents into the main trunk line. An additional return was cut into the return line. The basement stayed perfectly comfortable even though I never did get around to finishing and insulating the walls.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2013
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    Default Re: heating basement alternative

    I'm not an hvac guy I'm just telling you what a local hvac company told the home owner. The homeowner came from a house that had old steam radiators. He doesn't care for the forced air. He also has diabetes so he has issues with his feet. I was going to suggest that he put down warmboard. Fastening it right down to the concrete with a vapor barrier underneath.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
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    Default Re: heating basement alternative

    If I understand the situation correctly, the customers goal is to have warm floors and he thinks the only way to achieve that is to heat the basement. He has forced air heating in the house now.

    Maybe there is a way to accomplish this without the expense of heating the whole basement. Radiant floor heat would be one option. But how about this.

    Nail 2x4's perpendicular to the floor joists. They can lay flat and nailed to the bottoms of the joists. Heavily insulate the rim joists and sill area, then put foam boards under the 2x4's. The foam boards need to be taped and sealed so they are air tight. This will allow warm air to circulate under the floors. Now where the ducts go to the registers in the floors, but a small hole in the ducts just under the registers, about a 1" hole should do so that when the heater runs, it also circulates warm air in this floor cavity.

    The holes in the ducts need to be as close to the bottom of the cavity as possible. Because warm air stratifies, and rises, it will stay at the top of the cavity keeping the floors warm.

    Radiant heat may be less expensive though, you would have to do estimates for both. The foam boards do not need to be very thick as the warm air rises. It mostly needs to just keep cooler air from below circulating up to the floor. Acoustical ceiling tiles may work just as good as long as they are fastened to the 2x4's and not suspended as they usually are. Plastic sheeting between the acoustical tiles and the 2x4's would be enough in this case.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    4

    Default Re: heating basement alternative

    He would like heated basement floors

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
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    2,510

    Default Re: heating basement alternative

    You can also use electric floor heating. Round these parts its very efficient.

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