The Cross House
Last January, I finally, finally, got the radiator system of the Cross House up and running.
Long-time readers will recall some, ahh, mishaps during the process but after some ado the miles of pipes filled with hot water, the many radiators filled up, and slowly the huge house responded and….warmth was my reward. It was glorious.
Today, the temperature plummeted to 23 degrees. I arrived at the house around 2PM, and opened the door.
And the house was warm. The thermostat is set at 63, and I walked over to it. I could tell the boilers were off (as they were silent) and the house was quiet. The inside temperature? Exactly 63 degrees. Just as it should be. I walked over to a radiator. I expected it to be be hot. But it was barely warm. Was it not working? I walked over to several more. All were barely warm.
Yet the house was at exactly the temperature it was supposed to be. And the boilers were off.
I shrugged, and went to work.
The boilers kicked on after a while. Then they went silent again. The radiators never got hot.
How is possible that such a huge house, with zero insulation and zero storm windows, can be kept at 63 degrees on a 23-dregree day with barely warm radiators?
Yes, I have worked hard to seal the house up, and 85% of the windows are now sealed, and countless cracks have been sealed. This is massive improvement from 2014 when the house was terrifyingly porous. While there are still some windows to be sealed, and some other issues to be addressed, the Cross House was comfortably warm today with barely warm radiators and mostly silent boilers.
I am baffled. Delighted, too.
I do know that plaster retains heat. Are all the plaster walls and ceilings retaining the heat generated by the barely warm radiators and radiating this back out? If so, this would be hugely compelling reason for people to stop gutting old houses to the studs. That old plaster is important.
I also know that my installing a return air system has made a huge difference. All the heated air rises to the second-floor, where much of it is captured, sucked down, and blown out through the supply ducts in the basement and first-floor. Without this endless loop, the heated air would rise, rise through the second-floor ceiling, and vanish from the house. The boilers, thus, would be working constantly to replace the endlessly lost heat.
The previous owner reported that on cold days, with all the boilers running, and the radiators hot to the touch, he never got the house above 50 degrees. So, today? Wow.
By the end of 2019, I should have complete all the remaining issues on my Tight Punch List, and plan to do a pressure test to see what I missed. While the house will never be super-tight (and nor would I want that), I am, so far, cautiously optimistic that the Cross House can be warm (something I have never been sure was possible), and warm in an affordable way (something I was even less sure of).
So, today, I arrived at the house around 2PM. I opened the door. And the house was warm.