Combo heating/cooling system brings modern comfort to 19th century house

P> LANCASTER, PA. Mitch and Annie Huber purchased their home about 20 years ago and have deeds for their property dating back to 1816. The secluded historic farm is nestled upon 11 acres of agriculturally zoned land that features woods and a picturesque, man-made pond. Although improvements have been made over time, they've strived to keep the integrity of their home intact. Exposed, original logs

P> LANCASTER, PA. — Mitch and Annie Huber purchased their home about 20 years ago and have deeds for their property dating back to 1816. The secluded historic farm is nestled upon 11 acres of agriculturally zoned land that features woods and a picturesque, man-made pond.

Although improvements have been made over time, they've strived to keep the integrity of their home intact. Exposed, original logs throughout the home and a chestnut staircase are just a few of the features of the two-bedroom, one-bath structure.

While the Hubers had long considered a modern heating/cooling system, it was during an expansion to gain more living space a couple years ago when they decided to commit themselves.

"We thought that while the floor was all ripped up, now was the time," Mitch Huber said.

The Hubers contacted builder Wayne Lefever of Holtwood, Pa. They described to Lefever in detail what they had in mind for the two-floor building addition.

Furthermore, the Hubers wanted to fully excavate the basement crawl space, an area roughly measuring 17 ft. by 30 ft. by 5 ft. For the space to become usable living area, at least 3 ft. of dirt needed to be dug out so the height of the room would measure a little more than 8 ft. Now that the building addition was set in motion, it was time to plan for the central heating and cooling system.

The builder recommended heating/ cooling specialist Alger Oil in Rising Sun, Md. Glenn Spangler of Alger said he worked with manufacturers representative Dave Raabe of Quality Equipment Sales in Pottstown, Pa., to specify a system.

With no standard ductwork in place, Spangler said he selected the Pavilion IAQ System. Using compact duct and flexible 2-in. branch ducts, the Pavilion system would meet both the heating and cooling needs without sacrificing

headroom and wall space for conventional ductwork, he said. Because the high-velocity system can be installed in attics, crawl spaces, closets or basements, Spangler said it gave him greater flexibility for the installation.

Not that the work was a walk in the park.

"To get that ductwork under the main part of the house from which the high-velocity tubes could be run up to the second floor was more of a challenge than putting the heating system right in the middle of the living space under the original part of the house," Huber said.

A Pavilion No. 70 air handler was installed in the basement for cooling and dehumidification of both the basement and first-floor areas. A Pavilion No. 50 air handler was installed in the attic to provide heating and cooling for the second floor. Both Pavilion units were paired with Tempstar outdoor condensing units. A Peerless Boilers Series WBV-03 hot water, oil-fired boiler was chosen as the primary heat source.

The installation cost the Hubers about $18,000. In the new system configuration, hot water from the boiler is transferred to the hydronic coils located within the two air-handling units. Instead of radiators or baseboard, the system uses vents mounted in walls, floors and ceilings throughout the house to circulate the heated boiler water. The vents are small and unobtrusive and come in a variety of colors and styles to blend with a home's décor.

The newly excavated crawl space was turned into a finished basement with an additional 18 ft. by 20 ft. of space that became three new rooms: A second living area, full bath and guest room, all with radiant floor heat. A tekmar thermostat with a slab sensor controls the Roth Industries radiant tubing installed in the basement slab. The sensor allows parameters to be set based on the temperature of the slab, ensuring comfort year round. The boiler provides heat for the radiant panel as well as for a Peerless Partner PP-40 indirect water heater for domestic hot water.

Mixing for the basement radiant zone is accomplished through a tekmar 356 mixing control that uses a variable-speed circulator as the mixing device. The control allows for outdoor reset to the radiant floor based on outdoor air temperature. A tekmar 260 boiler control provides outdoor reset to the boiler and air-handler zones and controls the indirect-fired water heater.

The installation of a combination of a boiler with a high-velocity mini-duct system was a first for Alger Oil, Spangler said. He noted that the project was unique given the challenges this old house posed but added that much was learned from the job.

"We were able to stick with our original system design, however, space constraints and the attention to aesthetics resulted in some changes," Spangler said.

The Hubers have been enjoying the past two winters with the new system.

"It's an adjustment for me, having burned wood for as many years as I have," Huber said of the former primary heat source, a wood-burning stove.

Now they've gotten the balance between wood heat and oil heat right, they call their radiant-heated basement a real joy.

" This system has given us the comfort and quality of life we've dreamt of for two decades," Huber said, "all the while maintaining the historic charm of our home."