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Ventilation Openings Under Radiators
I'm working on a building with a two-pipe steam system. Underneath each radiator in the building is an opening directly to the exterior. I've attached an file showing two images - the left image is an infrared shot of a radiator from the interior, showing heat loss through the opening; the right image is a photo of the ventilation openings from the building exterior.
The building is in a cold climate, so these uncontrolled openings seem like a source of heat loss and a waste of energy. A few questions:
1. Is there any reason NOT to seal these up? I've been assuming that, historically, these openings are just to help bring in fresh air in the winter, but is there some other purpose for these that I'm not aware of?
2. Any suggestions on how to seal these up? They could brick them up from the exterior, but the brick would have a different color. And they're hard to access from the interior with the radiator in place. Batt insulation? Spray foam? Any thoughts? I'm also wondering if these openings have dampers in them; if they do I couldn't find them.
Has anyone come across this before or have any suggestions?
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