Plumbing, Electrical & HVAC

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Old House Journal's compendium of articles about plumbing and electrical repair projects for old houses, including sink repairs, toilet repairs and installation, bathroom remodeling, electrical maintenance, light fixtures, HVAC installation and more.    

SEE ALSO: Architectural Salvage Projects |  Construction & Additions |  Restoration Projects |  Tool Reviews |  HVAC and Retrofit Systems Products & Services Directory

slim duct system, mini duct system

Incredible Energy Savings

Innovations in home energy technologies make it easier to find better comfort while saving money on fuel costs.

return with grille

An Experience with Mini Duct Installation

Converting a 1910 Shingle Style house with no air conditioning to one with a whole-house system was not something I took lightly. I have spent my life restoring old houses. If HVAC was in my future it had better be efficient and virtually invisible.

antique radiator

How to Take Care of Your Radiators

Got a burning question about your radiators? We'll take you through the basics and give some sound advice for repairing radiators in old houses.

An arm, part of the center body, and embellishments have been cleaned and are ready for assembly.

Restoring Antique Lighting

Regardless of the condition, restoring antique lighting fixtures is one of the best ways to maintain your old house’s original character. Here we give you an enlightening tutorial about saving vintage fixtures: safety, cleaning, replacing missing parts, and special finishes.

exterior of old house

Efficient Heating in Your Historic Home

Heating a historic home while staying on budget is no easy feat. Making these fixes can save you money and keep you toasty-warm.

old house heating

How to Update a Steam-Heating System

How to successfully add a hot-water zone to a steam-heating system.

Lopi Stoves’ Flush Wood Plus woodburning fireplace insert comes with a patented ignition system that starts the fire without the need to open the door, helping reduce smoke buildup.

Quick Energy Fixes

Thick walls, deep eaves, and high ceilings are all reasons why old houses feel cooler in hot weather and warmer in winter than more recent buildings do. Even so, many old houses lack insulation and central HVAC systems, making it hard to retrofit them with the latest in technological advances.

polyethylene pipes in overlapping loops, slinky loops, geothermal heating

Geothermal Options for Old Homes

Undertaking a major HVAC overhaul, or simply want to keep a lid on future energy costs? Geothermal is catching on with historic-home owners.

OPENER_SpacePak_kitchen_gn2

Old-House Climate Control

Clear guidelines on whole-house systems, heat pumps and minisplits, high-velocity retrofits, and ways to boost comfort.

hot toilet seat

A Fix for a Sweating Toilet

Learn how to solve an uncommon toilet problem.

rusted radiator tops

A Fix for Rusted Radiator Tops

The old radiators looked pristine, and anyway, they’re made of steel! What harm could my little houseplants do?

wood rot

Preventing Hidden Leaks in Outdoor Plumbing

Due to a leak in the outdoor plumbing, the corner of the house had rotted beneath the shingles.

modcon boiler

Cool Ways to Heat Old Houses

Advances in technology are helping to make old houses more energy efficient in an unobtrusive way.

thermals

Stuff Thermals Screwed Up

All about thermal tracking, deposits of soot or dust that circulate in the air and deposited on the walls around heaters, electrical outlets and along studs or joists on the wall surface.

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Hot Water, Cool Savings

Almost every type of water heater now offers improved efficiency—even that dinosaur, the storage-tank heater.

waterproofing a basement

Waterproofing a Basement or Cellar

Whether your house has a basement, a crawl space, or a root cellar, any space below grade is subject to water infiltration and its damaging effects. Let’s look at how to keep the water (and damp) out.

radiator

Radiator Enhancements

Paint them, enclose them, ditch them? You have options.

closed off vents

Closed Off Vents?

"Why would anyone install heat vents on the second floor, then close them off?" —Wendy Kaufman

electrical problem

Forgotten Electrical Arrangement

"We ourselves could have burned to a crisp!" - Ken Mayne

smelly tub

How to Fix Old Bathroom Odors

Smelly old-bathroom odors? We can help.

The LeVines devised a system that would allow them to keep the house's original radiators.

Heating Solutions for a Colonial Revival Addition

When adding on to their 1912 house, Don and Lana LeVine chose a mix of heating systems for ease and efficiency.

Disconnect the old faucet

How To Install a New Faucet

Perk up your bathroom by swapping out your faucet for a retro-inspired one.

vintage-inspired vessel sink

Create a Vintage-Inspired Vessel Sink

A DIY vessel sink that's perfect of old houses.

Products of the Week

Brookside

Pewabic Pottery

Pewabic fabricates heirloom quality architectural tiles for public and private installations, gift and commemorative tiles, vessels, gardenware, ornaments and both reproductions and adaptations of its historic designs and offers classes, workshops, lectures, internships and residency programs for studio potters and other artists.