Replacing electric baseboard in flip house

20 Replies

Hi everybody, I recently purchased a home with electric hot water baseboard heat with an arv of $140,000 and was wondering if I should replace it with a natural gas or oil furnace? 

What have been your experiences with selling flip homes with electric heat? Will converting it actually add value or help my home sell faster?

Many of the homes I looked at had electric heat that were reo's as well.

@Dave Smart  

 Please clarify.  Do you have electric heat?  or hot water baseboard?  

sorry about that the furnace is electric from 1991 and the radiators are hot water baseboard

It sounds like the OP has hydronic baseboards with an electric fired boiler.   The electric boiler is basically a beefy, in-line hot water heater which, being in a closed system, does not have as great of a temperature lift from source water to output as a DHW inline heater would.

If gas is more affordable in your area, then rather than ripping out all the existing supply lines and trying to install ductwork for a furnace - which can become expensive quickly, particularly if multiple levels or stories are involved - you could simply replace the boiler with a high efficiency (95% AFUE) gas fired boiler.

Thanks Roy that's exactly what I was looking for. I appreciate the responses.

If the electric heater is in good shape, I'd leave it alone.  I know this is a flip, so rental considerations may not matter here but I find a lot of people actually prefer "all electric" because it means one less account setup/bill/deposit to worry about.  Gas may be less expensive but if you don't have any other gas appliances it may not be worth the trouble.

That is a very good point Andrew and all the hvac including the furnace is in very good shape I am just a bit worried about the negative connotations that come with electric heat.

Connecticut isn't North Carolina.  For confirmation, simply look out your window.  You are quite right to be concerned about the electric boiler being viewed dis favorably by prospective buyers in Connecticut.

Plus, it is more than 20 years old.

I would do as Roy suggests.

Couple things to consider, I recall the first hotwater heat system we decided to keep, boiler was newer, appeared in 

good condition, wanted to save some money. But when we tested the system water lines were busted everywhere apparently 

not to well winterized, after two weeks and two different heating contractors about 4,000 later it was up and running. 

For the next five years I always replaced them with a central system heat and air. This summer I bought one with hotwater heat, . Good condition, house didnt need a lot of work decided to keep it, about 15 people through the first two weeks, two didnt like the busy street, the other 13 liked the house but not the fact it didnt have central air. 20 some people through in four weeks, ended up selling for 8k below original list. If I had central air, it would likely have had multiple offers the first week. 

Our typical costs to install new central system with ductwork, high efficiency furnace, central air is under 6k, most convoluted system to date cost us 6,500 some. We have done at least 10 in the last 5 years, I wont put another house on the market without central air, your market may be different. But here anything over 100k I would not put on the market without central air.,

@Dave Smart   Definitely do what you can to replace the electric heat. It is a huge turnoff to home buyers in CT.  Did you account in your budget for it to be replaced? 

The only reason I ask is we have flipped SFRs in CT with a 140k ARV and the numbers were tight.

Outside of 1 bedroom apartments we see major push back to electric heat.  Where is the house located in the state if you do not mind me asking? 

Michael, the house is located in torrington and my original budget was 15k but it looked like I can get away with 10k Before changing the furnace

Does this property have access to Natural Gas?  If not consider Propane as well.  Even oil is more desirable than electric heat. I would keep the hot water lines if they are in good shape.  It should save you a little there.

If you want AC put a air handler in the attic and run ductwork from there. 

This is what we do in our Flips.  

thanks for the advice George. I am not sure yet if I have access to natural gas, I still have to call Yankee gas but it is a relatively new development so I am hoping so. I didn't even think of using propane but that option does interest me.

Originally posted by @George Paiva :

Does this property have access to Natural Gas?  If not consider Propane as well.  Even oil is more desirable than electric heat. I would keep the hot water lines if they are in good shape.  It should save you a little there.

If you want AC put a air handler in the attic and run ductwork from there. 

This is what we do in our Flips.  


Propane will likely be more expensive than electric.

The desirability of oil will really be dependent on the market.   There is also the added factor of storing several hundred gallons of fuel oil on-site and the liability that goes with it which turns folks away from oil these days.

As for AC, or any HVAC, it is better to keep your air handler in a conditioned space it at all possible.  Placing an air handler in the attic lowers the overall efficiency of the system as it will force your AC (or heating) system to work harder than necessary to achieve the cooling or heating load desired.

Electric heat only works in the Northeast if you are jumping the meter

Propane will likely be more expensive than electric.

Like you said all depends on the market.  Here in Connecticut we have one of the highest electricity rates.  Most folks if they have no choice and have to decide between oil or electric.  Many are starting to install propane as the alternative.  I too thought it was expensive as well but many are doing so instead of electric. 

I probably would not, unless all the baseboards needed to be replaced anyway.

If you decide to replace the system, make sure it is factored in the budget BEFORE you buy.

As a side note:  Personally I'm still convinced solar-powered electric heat is the future of heating systems ..

@phil z. So you think it would be ok leaving the electric heat? I have an extra 5k in my budget I was trying to save for profit as the kitchen was much cheaper than expected but I'd rather keep it unless I get a good roi on converting the heat.

A friend of mine is an hvac guy and I'm waiting for the attorney to close so I can bring him to the house and see what he has to say as far as the price goes

@Dave Smart  

If the rest of the hydronic system (lines & radiators) are in good condition, swapping out the electric boiler for a direct vent, high-efficiency gas unit is pretty easy.  You could leave it as is and, offer it as an option (for say 3K - 5K depending on whether you need to bring gas to the house) to the buyer if they really want gas.

I was just informed that natural has is not available at the house so I might just leave it. Im not too sure what to do since it will be tough to get an oil tank in the basement and am not sure if the subdivision allows propane tanks

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