Architect Homeowner Chooses 95%-Efficient Condensing Boiler for Victorian Rehab

Posted on June 1, 2009 by John OReillyNo Comments

Unlike many homeowners who purchase historical homes, professional architect Frank Shirley knew exactly what he was getting into when he bought his 4,000-square-foot Victorian home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

For starters, it had an inefficient boiler that was over 80 years old and generating more cost than heat.  To make matters worse, the boiler was encased in asbestos, which made replacing it even trickier. The entire three-story home – including a finished attic – was set up as a single heating zone.

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Shirley wanted to make the first and second floors into separate zones, but his budget at that time wouldn’t allow it. “We plumbed the basement to create the opportunity for additional zones at a later date.”

With an eye on future expansion and renovation, Shirley replaced the old boiler with a far more efficient model that was compact enough to fit in the middle of the basement. Measuring only 26 inches H x 17.5 inches W x 12.75 inches D, the compact Munchkin “is so much smaller than the old unit and therefore easier to locate,” says Shirley. “Instead of venting it up three floors and through the roof, the installer tapped through the side wall of a small, unused room in the front of the basement, where it is nearly invisible.”

Frank Shirley is an expert on older homes. He is the author of New Rooms for Old Houses: Beautiful Additions for the Traditional Home published under the imprimatur of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Frank Shirley Architects received the 2008 Best of Boston® Home Award for historic renovations, and Shirley himself won the 2007 Traditional Building Design Challenge competition among architects nationwide.

Read more of the story and see more images.

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