Here’s What to Know About the Historic Home Radiator Modernization Process

Modernizing an old home’s heating system doesn’t have to be a scary experience. Working with a professional heating company like The Earth Heating ensures that you’ll know all of the costs and project steps before any renovation begins.

You likely chose your historic home for all of its charm and that design that you just can’t find in modern homes. With that, there are likely a number of outdated home systems that were great 70-90 years ago, but just don’t make sense for modern living.

One of the most common is the old hot water or steam-powered radiator system and it may be the result of many renovations over time or simply the first system that was put in and never changed. Here in the Pacific Northwest, these renovations and modernizations tend to be fairly straightforward as long as you as the homeowner understand all that’s involved.

Step 1: Deciding on the New Heating System

The first decision you’ll need to make is whether to restore the steam system or replace it with a brand new hot water-powered system. The former is a much cheaper option, but the latter is more efficient and more attractive for potential home resale. The latter also has more flexibility in temperature and is more adjustable based on the needs of the home.

The third option is to do a complete transition to a forced-air HVAC system, which ends up blowing drier air into the home, so pairing with a humidifier is often a good choice.

Step 2: Replace or Keep the Old Radiators?

Some people like the aesthetic of the old cast-iron radiators, so they choose to keep them. A good heating company can update and modernize them while keeping the style and design intact. However, if they’re in bad shape, it’s probably best to replace them. Some modern companies also offer old-school styles in slimmer shapes to fit in smaller spaces or windows.

Step 3: Floor Refinishing and Wrap-Up

The nice thing about radiator modernization is that it can be built into a broader renovation plan fairly easily. Transitioning or updating to a new system can be a step in-between replacing floors or finished and be the special touch that brings a space or entire home together.


If you’re in an old home and are considering upgrading your current heating situation, it’s best to consult a professional Portland-area heating company to get an accurate and clear quote before making any decisions. Homeowners have trusted The Earth Heating for more than a decade with their heating needs – no matter how big or small. Call (503) 788-7777 to learn more or to schedule a free estimate.

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