Our house has hot water heat. Unlike a forced air system, there are no ducts to collect dust and mold. It provides a nice consistent comfortable heat. And it is more efficient than a forced air system as water retains heat longer than air.
Unfortunately, our system isn’t working properly. The previous owner had added a couple of radiators in the basement but did not plumb them properly. I had hired a plumber myself a few years ago to bypass the radiators on the second floor so they could be removed during renovations. He didn’t understand the system either.
Bottom line: there were a number of days last winter when the temperature in the house failed to get above 54 degrees despite the boiler running constantly.
The first estimate
A couple of years ago, we had a plumber who specialized in hot water heating come out and take a look at our system. He recommended that the plumbing be completely overhauled. When I heard that, a bulb went off: why not have multiple zones like I’ve seen numerous times on This Old House? So I never bothered getting a price on just redoing the system as a single zone. No. We were definitely going to upgrade.
I never did get a written estimate. I asked the plumber if we were looking at around 5 grand. He replied that it would be more like 5 digits
We didn’t have $10,000 lying around so I put off having the work done.
For the next couple of winters, we lived in a cold house as our heating bill sky-rocketed and I realized that the money we were wasting money that could be invested in the upgrade.
So here we are.
The new estimate
The plumber returned this week to examine our system and draw up the rough plans for the upgrade, including all new plumbing and zone controls. He also broke the news to me that the price of copper had doubled since the last time he was here. He said it would take about a week to prepare the estimate and I know it ain’t gonna be pretty!
Update: June 18
The estimate came in and it is right in line with what I expected it to be. Not only is it higher than it would have been a couple of years ago because of the higher cost of copper, but we also wasted money in higher heating bills because the system wasn’t functioning properly. It was a mistake to delay this project. But at least it’s getting done now.