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Topic Title: E&T Letter - warm air central heating
Topic Summary: why don't more houses have it?
Created On: 30 March 2010 05:03 PM
Status: Read Only
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 30 March 2010 05:03 PM
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The correspondent queries why more warm air ducted heating systems were not installed in the UK.

Well here is a list to start with:

Retro fitting of ducting into existing houses is difficult so that when central heating started to become commonplace in the UK a radiator based system was the only option to install in existing housing stock and so it became the favoured system of choice , economies of scale arrived,...etc etc etc.

There is no requirement for summer air conditioning in the UK - which is a major advantage of air based systems: ie they can cool as well as heat.

UK homes rarely have basements are for all the ductwork/equipment

What about domestic hot water: you are need another boiler for that anyway so makes sense to have one do both: and you would need space for two boilers.

Problems of noise due to the amount of air that needs to be moved..... and draughts - probably due to crap designed systems
Build up of dust/muck in the ductwork: which then gets blown round the house: 'cos the filters are never changed.

Different ground floor construction of UK houses c.f USA houses for instance where such systems are more common makes such systems difficult to design into UK houses.

Warm air systems cannot be extended easily when house is extended - as they always are: - the house that is.

Proper systems need a flow AND return duct system. Many just have the flow and rely on grills in doors for the return: what a bodge up.

No ability to dry clothes on radiators which aren't there anymore!

Warm air systems do heat the place quicker - but in the modern world most people seem to have the heating on full blast most of the time so the ability to "heat a room" from cold quickly is not required
Actually they are also more suited to conversion to ground source heat pumps etc rather than higher temperature water based systems.

I'm told that warm air system really do need an annual maintenance visit while water based system can mange without: but have no personal experience of this.
As for the inability to paint behind the radiator. Simple: you switch off both valves at either end, loosen the pipe union nuts to drain the radiator, disconnect unions completely and then take said radiator off the wall: not difficult innit.

That's a 5 minute reply with some suggestions - anyone got anymore.................
 30 March 2010 06:01 PM
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Just to note that you can read the letter online if you wish to join this discussion.


David Rossall
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
 30 March 2010 06:56 PM
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Painting behind radiators is easy if the original installation had valves at both ends of the radiator. My system which was fitted when the house was built was obviously cost reduced, along with the whole estate, having a valve at one end and an elbow at the other. This meant draining the whole system to take off a radiator. Not a 5 minute job!

Had the system changed last year so can remove radiators more easily.

Clive Maude

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