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Basement Heat and Toilet

Btg Member Posts: 3
Considering finishing out my basement. Three quick questions:

1. We already have a couple of electric wall heaters installed in the basement but would rather add salvaged cast iron radiators to match the rest of the house (gravity feed, water based system). What's a good rule of thumb to consider when shopping for the old radiators at salvage shops??

2. Since we're adding radiators to the same level as the boiler (i.e. no verticle rise), would the gravity feed system still work or is it time for a circulator modification??

3. The bathroom we're planning to add is conveniently right next to the 4 in. verticle drain pipe that accesses the upstairs baths. All research I've done shows that adding the bath would entail busting up the concrete floor to add the horizontal drain pipe for the bath. Is there anything wrong with just elevating the toilet up a couple of steps, and running the drain just under that raised level?? (plenty of clearance to the ceiling).



  • Brad White_9
    Brad White_9 Member Posts: 2,440
    Some Thoughts:

    1) Costs and prices are not discussed here for a variety of reasons. Any of us could shoot off a price and be totally wrong for your geographic area and other market forces. Best bet is to contact a salvage yard and ask. There are some links via this site which may direct you.

    2) Tread carefully here... Lower level add-on radiators and the circuits that feed them have to be taken into account with the entirety of the system. Installing a circulator if done should be accomplished by a true primary-secondary means, maybe even de-coupled directly from the boiler. Many variables so call a pro who can give you tangible options.

    EDIT: Take Mike T's advice. What he said.

    3) Raising the WC: Done all the time. You have the height, it is close to the stack. A professional plumber knows the code.
    Another good thing about elevating it: The better to call it a "throne". :)
  • Guy_6
    Guy_6 Member Posts: 450

    Ahh, the memories of entering a basement for the first time and seeing the throne prominently displayed in the wide open space. No walls, no curtain.
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928

    It's possible to have a radiator in the basement with a gravity system. Attached is an example and some instructions. Essentially, you supply the basement radiator via the return from a significantly higher radiator.

    Note however that the return from the basement radiator MUST still be higher than the return connection into the boiler! Wall-hung radiators would likely be best suited. They can be somewhat difficult to find in salvage, but new wall-hung steel panel radiators are certainly available. (Flow restriction may well be a problem with modern radiators however.)

    While I don't believe that an overhead system (as shows in the illustration) is a complete requirement, I would pay careful attention to this statement from that page. "These lower radiators are at a decided disadvantage unless so piped as to make use of the operating head of radiators on the upper floors." In other words, with a conventionally piped system (without the big "express" risers of an overhead system), I would ONLY do this by tapping into the return of a radiator on at least the 2nd floor above the boiler. If you try with the first floor above the boiler you'll probably slow or even disrupt flow through BOTH radiators.

    Depending on your system layout, the piping requirements may make doing this via gravity impractical and or extremely disruptive and expensive.

    The bypass line around the upper radiator is not an utter requirement, but without the bypass shutting down or throttling the flow through the upper radiator will also affect the lower.

    To have much chance, you'll want to use the return from an upper floor raditor that is fairly close to the boiler AND VERY close to the place you want to mount the new basement radiator. You would disconnect the return (probably by cutting unless you want to start at the upper radiator and work down). Then plug the return connection at the main. I would then IMMEDIATELY size the pipe UP one size! Run to the supply connection of the basement rad, then (continuing with EVERYTHING in the ONE LARGER PIPE SIZE) bring your return into the return mains as they "dive down" into boiler. The new return piping MUST HAVE A SLIGHT AN CONTINUOUS PITCH DOWNWARDS FOR ITS ENTIRE LENGTH UNTIL IT CONNECTS INTO THE RETURN MAIN. Tapping into the return main will probably be the most difficult part of the job! Use as few fittings as humanly possible for ALL of this piping with preference given to two 45s instead of a single 90 and "swing joints" using 45s or 22½s (usually two) instead of multiple 90s.

    Even with conversion to forced flow basement radiators must be carefully and considerately piped to ensure the absolute ability to remove air that WILL get trapped in those radiators and their piping. This involves some extra valves and bleeders up high in the branch piping so that you can force water through (thus air out) in BOTH directions--e.g. either via the supply OR via the return.
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928
    For Gravity Basement Rad

    You MUST supply at the top of the radiator and return from the opposite bottom as illustrated in the attachment!!!

    Any other way and you will NEVER be able to purge air naturally when filling and effectively when it collects!!!
  • Dale
    Dale Member Posts: 1,317
    safety tip

    Although always a good safety item the low water cut off is required by codes if radiation is added at or below boiler level.
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