Some older homes may not be equipped with duct work, especially if they originally relied upon old forms of heat like a wood stove or fireplace. It can seem difficult to modernize the heating systems in these homes, since retrofitting a home with ductwork can be difficult – especially if there isn't a lot of wall space for the installations. The following are a few alternatives to the forced air heating systems, which will allow you to forgo traditional duct installation.
Radiant wall heating
This is one of the quickest and least invasive options. There are a few options with these panels. There are actual panels that are relatively flat that can be mounted to the wall. A more common option, though, are baseboard heaters. These are slightly taller than the average baseboard but are installed in the same location. You can have both types of heaters painted to match your wall. Most wall radiant devices are electric-powered and controlled by a thermostat for each heater or room. You can also get wall heaters that run off other power sources, such as natural gas.
Radiant floor heating
Floor heating is an effective heating option, but not necessarily less expensive than installing duct work. A mat is attached beneath the floorboards of your home. This mat consists of coils of piping where heated water flows, providing the heat to the home. If your floor is easy to access from beneath, such as via a crawlspace or basement, it may be easier to install radiant floors than it would be to knock into walls for duct installation. If you must access the subfloor from above for installation – in other words, tear up the existing flooring – then radiant floors may not be a better option.
Mini-split heat pumps
There are ductless heat pumps available that use a mini-split unit to provide heat to a home with the need for ducts. The air handler, which provides heat to a room, is attached near the ceiling. Then, a small hole is drilled into the ceiling so that the air hose can be passed through to the exterior of the home, where the heat pump is installed. These are not the most efficient heating units, since they must be placed near the ceiling instead of the floor. This means it will be cooler in the lower reaches of the room. You also need an air handler for each room that you want to heat. The benefit is that many of these units are also connected to a condenser, which means they also provide air conditioning in the summer.
Talk to a furnace installation professional like one from Pell City Heating & Cooling Inc for more help.