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hi
I just made an offer on an ok 1972 ranch home in a spectacular location for $225 which is underpriced for the area. The inspection is taking place on Saturday. The house has radiant heat built into the ceiling, individual thermostats in each room. Ceiling is heavy popcorn and probably insulated with asbestos. It also seems quite low to me. I did some research and found out these ceilings are considered "safe" unless they are crumbling or not sealed properly. However, one site said they tend to wear out after 30 something years.
This form of heating obviously is not optimal for air circulation as well, although it is quiet compared to forced air. Other cons are that is has cold spots and is not really efficient.
I can't imagine what it would take to environmentally remove the ceilings, replace the heating system with forced air, and finally, replace the ceilings. Cheap way to go could be to ignore the whole thing and have base board heat installed. (more expensive in long run).
Any thoughts? I would not be doing any of the work myself. Would it be worth even buying a house that has these problems? Even though I love the location (it feels like its in a park and has a lot of land, very private).
thanks
marlaf
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If your popcorn ceilings aren't falling down, you don't have to worry about the asbestos. If you want, you can paint over the popcorn to seal it further. There is a tremendous cost associated with removing asbestos-laden popcorn though, because the environment has to be completely sealed and tested, and you have to pay for proper disposal of the material once it's down.

Anyway, it's one of those things where you can just leave it alone if it's in good shape. The only time it's dangerous is when the small particles get airborne.

Why exactly do you think you might have to actually remove the ceilings? Are you talking just scraping off the popcorn?
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I can't imagine why you'd make an offer on a house before the asbestos question was thoroughly understood with all of its ramifications.

I haven't run into any houses in my work that have that kind of heating. Since it would be working against nature (i.e., hot air rises), it seems pretty obvious why radiant ceilings wouldn't have caught on. But with ceiling fans circulating air vertically I can see that such a system would have some advantages.

There have been a few recent threads on the topic of popcorn ceilings/asbestos. You can read those for some ideas, but the long and short of it is that you need to determine first and foremost if those ceilings are asbestos (they most likely are), in which case it will be very expensive to remove. I think the easiest and most cost effective would be to cover it up, either with some nice fir planks of some sort (rustic V-groove or the like) or a layer of 1/4 drywall.

If you are lucky enough not to have asbestos, removing the popcorn is not technically difficult, but it's a tough job physically (BTDT), because your arms are working above the level of your heart, and you get surprisingly tired really quickly. It's a good workout for your shoulders to remove the popcorn and put on a smooth coat.

I have no specific knowledge of how safe your current setup is, but in general asbestos is not a problem unless you tear it up and start getting it in the air. Obviously you don't have to use the current heating system. You can just abandon the pipes in the heating system and put something else in, if it turns out you don't want to risk using what you've got. But call your local asbestos inspectors first to get a sense of what you're dealing with. And if you'll need to put in another heating system of course you need to factor that into your bid.

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Are you sure you have your facts correct?

I have never heard of radiant heat in the ceiling. The one I have heard about have all been in the floor.

Greg
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Here's a link to an article on radiant heat in the ceiling. It can also be in the walls.

http://www.dulley.com/docs/f778.htm

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Are you sure you have your facts correct?

I have never heard of radiant heat in the ceiling. The one I have heard about have all been in the floor.

Greg


Greg,

I have seen radiant heat panels installed in suspended ceilings in a factory area where workers were near exterior doors that were opened frequently. Their bodies absorbed the heat and were kept reasonably comfortable.

sonrol
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Here's an article that explains how it works and why you have to make sure your house isn't drafty for it to be effective:

http://www.clarkpublicutilities.com/Residential/TheEnergyAdviser/Archives2003/03_06_29
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I think you may have determined why the house is "underpriced."
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I have never heard of radiant heat in the ceiling

I lived in an apartment in Idaho ~25 yrs ago that had radiant heat from the ceiling. It was quite efficient and comfortable (for a 2nd story 2-bedroom apartment). It was often below 0 degrees, and sometimes as low as -20.

Mike
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Watty:

Same here.

We had radiant heat installed under the FLOORS of our new addition here. Fascinating, with tubing running back and forth between floor joists -- 2 tubes every space. We love it! Always warm underfoot, etc. And, with a 14-ft cathedral ceiling in the living room, the heating contractor pointed out that it tends to be more efficient in that, since the heat is coming up all around you, gently, and not coming from a FEW specific heat elements, it does its job on the way up instead of rushing to the ceiling.

I cannot comprehend heat in the CEILING, though -- except to heat the UPPER story! Cannot offer help or advice on that!

Vermonter
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Marlaf,

You need to check with a local heating contractor that understands radiant ceiling heat.

Chances are that the home does not have asbestos in the popcorn.

Back in the mid 60's and early 70's when electric heat was becoming popular, (Flameless Electric Heat, My dad sold it :); THere were baseboard electric and the new ceiling radiant.

The ceiling application was in new, well insulated construction. The heat tape was applied to the ceiling with the expectation that the normal convection of air thru the room would give an acceptable temperature thu-out.

Since your body "feels" heat the most at your head, you are warm.

Now, back to the asbestos.

Why do I say your ceiling popcorn is not asbestos?

Think about this:

Asbestos is a great insulator. Used on heating pipes for steam systems where there are very high temperatures. If you touch the asbestos on a hot system, you do not get burned.

Now why would you put heat cable on a ceiling and then cover it with asbestos? Very little , if any, heat would get thru!

Of course, just my opinion!

Your best resource may be the local electric utility. Dad worked for them when selling the heat systems

HTH

JeffreyDB

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