Keep radiator heating with new AC?

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Topic: Keep radiator heating with new AC?

Home and Garden October 11, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Keep radiator heating with new AC?

We are renovating our Petworth row house and hope to put in a new air conditioning system. We like our radiators and in fact just bought a new boiler two years ago, but we are now wondering whether we should keep it or remove it in favor of the forced air system. Would it be weird (and impact property value) if we have both systems? Thanks in advance!

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It’s definitely not weird to keep the radiators. I kept radiators in addition to central AC. I’m not sure about generalizations for property value, but I have a preference for houses with radiators. I think they also retain a neat historic look if you refinish them nicely.

Definitely keep your radiators (assuming they work properly). That’s the best heat you can have in a house IMO, and you can’t really get ’em anymore. Forced air makes everything static-y and dry by comparison. We have central A/C with a programmable thermostat, and a separate thermostat for heat/radiators — it works great. 

I agree – radiators and central air conditioning are the best of both worlds! I’ve recently been househunting and houses that have both are a definite plus.


It depends on the design of your house. If you’re going for a modern design, radiators get in the way. You can add a humidifier to modern forced-air systems to enhance the feel of heating. Any potential buyer will expect forced air to be in th ehouse if the home design is updated. Modern forced air heating is just as (if not more) efficient as radiators now, provided you have proper home insulation. Having a forced air system will also benefit your home’s value more now that DC property values are rising and renovation is occurring. If your house is in a historical zone, or if you’re looking to keep all original details, then don’t touch the radiators. cheers.

Totally normal to have both, especially in older houses.  It’s a hell of a lot easier to retrofit an AC-only system than to do the whole thing with flexipak ducting and the like.  I disagree that radiators give any significant aesthetic issue – if you don’t like the look, it’s very easy to build covers (or have them built).


It looks like I disagree with most of the other people here.  Cost aside, I’d much prefer forced air (with a gas furnace) over radiators.  Radiators simply take up too much space (and constrain the placement of furniture), especially in smallish DC rowhouses.  We had radiators when we moved in (No central AC) and took them out when we renovated and added central HVAC.  We couldn’t be happer with the decision.  I have no problem with forced air heat.  As long as your vents are properly positioned (in front of windows) you should be fine.


I refurbished and had radiators reinstalled in the basement and first floor of my house and have two gas systems, including forced air, which I hate. Forced air just does not warm a drafty old house like mine as well as radiators. For one thing, my vents are in the ceiling. I’m no HVAC expert, so I wonder if anyone can say why some houses have vents in the floor and others have them in the ceiling.

One more vote for keeping the radiators. We installed the high-velocity A/C (superpak) system and kept our radiators.  Aside from providing wonderful heat, my favorite use for the radiators is warming things on top, like towels or rising bread dough.  Besides, old-fashioned radiators ook cool; it’s one of the charms of living in a 100-year-old house. 

As an Architect, I recommend keeping the radiators. They are better than forced air systems in two ways: 1) they keep moisture in the air better; 2) they are better for people with allergies.

If the renovations are done right, the radiators can actually add value to the home since they provide more old charm character. We are renovationg our Petworth home as well, and we plan to install a spacepak system and upgrade our boiler to a high-efficiency.

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