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Adding Heating Zones to an old Victorian house

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Aug 12, 2013, 03:41 PM
Adding Heating Zones to an old Victorian house
I have an old Victorian home that is heated by natural gas. Very shortly I plan to install a new boiler for a forced hot-water system. I thought this would be a good time to consider making the house multi-zoned. The problem is the way the house is plumbed. The pipes in the heating system branch off several times and travel up and down different floors in a number of ways. Thus, there isn’t a continuous loop running on either the first or second floors.

I had one plumber look at the branching pipe connections and he said that I have old styled piping (or valves). He said if he simply rerouted the piping in the cellar to get two zones I would get uneven heating throughout the house. Instead, he said if he got the job he would run a (pex) line to the second floor and run that whole floor from one baseboard to another on one loop. And then, he said he would work with the existing pipe for the first floor. This seems to make sense to me.

Another plumber said he would cut into the existing piping down cellar and create two zones all from the cellar. He said it wouldn't create uneven heating to do this.

And, a 3rd plumber said he didn’t think it was feasible to make the house 2 or more zones. He may be right, but I’d really prefer making this house multi-zoned. It gets pretty warm upstairs in the winter while the downstairs stays comfortable.

I’m confused as to which plumber to believe. I have a link to some pictures I took of the cellar pipes and boiler. Feel free to check them out. I plan to buy a similar boiler with 85% efficiency.

My question is, which plumber do you think has the most feasible solution/response?
Aug 12, 2013, 05:48 PM
As a general rule zones work best if divided by floors. From your description, it sounds like the guy who will run new pex to isolate the second floor is on the right track. If your uneven heat issue can be defined by floors, then he's probably right. In his system, you can put less heat upstairs so if upstairs is currently staying too warm in relation to downstairs the zone will work.

If your uneven heat issue is in different rooms on different sides of the house on the same floor, then his plan will not help too much.