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Converting steam baseboard to....

Hey All,

So here's my newest idea…and pls forgive me if I've posted this in the wrong place..

I've pretty much decided that I'm going to do away with the baseboard steam heating (not only bc of the annoyances of click and clack here and there) were also doing some other renovations and it makes sense to switch to either hot water baseboard or Central Heat. (I'm pulling more toward water baseboard).

So here are the questions…

My basement is fully finished (sheetrocked ceilings) I know I know…anyhow……would it be possible to just disconnect the steam heat say remove the baseboards upstairs and with minimal disruption to the basement ceiling run the copper wiring through the basement ceiling and make it come up to where the old steam connection was? This way I'd just have to switch the actual baseboard upstairs to a water base.

(Oh, I'll also be getting a new boiler since it's quite old)

So in other words, I'd be leaving most of the old steam pipes in place (in the ceiling) and just running the new thin copper around them.

Any reason why someone would remove all the steam heat pipes?

Thanks in advance


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,837
    The simplest thing to do

    would be to get some properly-sized radiators and have them installed. This way, piping changes would be minimal. You would just hook them up to the existing steam lines. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Read "Greening Steam"

    Hi- I would strongly suggest before you make any decisions that you study steam a bit more.  I was about to change over my steam system a few years ago and am now very glad I didn't. You might want to read: "Greening Steam"

    Most steam systems either haven't been maintained or have had idiots work on them over the years so that they are now not running to their optimum capacity. It's a lot easy to just fix them than it is to replace them.  After hearing from the local "Heating Experts" about how my steam system was "obsolete and old fashioned" and I needed to "modernize",  I luckily found this website and with the help of Dan's steam books and the steam pros on this site got my steam system straightened out. I now have a very comfortable and economical heating system. If I'd had changed over I'd have spent a lot of bucks and I very much doubt if I would then have had a satisfactory heating system. A hot water system done from "scratch " is one thing. "Mickey Mousing" a steam system over to hot water is something else.

    - Rod
  • SteamNovce
    SteamNovce Member Posts: 8

    Thanks for the comments!

    I figure while we'd be doing the contruction/modifications on the upstairs...and being that the boiler is quite old I would just take advantage and redo all the heat.

    Question, when you mention mickey mousing the system...are you referring to converting the steam boiler to water? I'd actually be getting a new water based one, have heard from many such as yourself that if youre going to hot water...dont convert the boiler get a new one.
  • Use Caution!

    There a lot more to consider than just swapping boilers.  If you want any hope of it succeeding you really need to do your homework. To produce the same heat as steam system, the radiators need to be about 23 percent larger. If you are using the same radiators there is the danger of them springing a leak as with the steam system, they were operated at under 2 PSI but with Hot Water the pressure will now be far greater. One can go on and on.  That's why I said you're okay only if you start from "scratch" (nothing) and design and install a complete new Hot Water system. I'm not saying that it can't be done just that there are far more pitfalls than most people realize.

    Here's a link to a good article on converting a steam system to HW:

    You didn't mention what type of steam system you have. A two pipe system is easier to convert than the one pipe though I'm not sure why any one would want to covert a two pipe as they can be made very efficient as steam units.  I also might mention that there is a method to run a hot water radiator(s) off a regular steam system. People quite often do this for an new addition or as Steamhead mentioned, it isn't that hard to just install a few more steam radiators.

    - Rod
  • SteamNovce
    SteamNovce Member Posts: 8

    Hey Rod,

    Thanks again for the info!

    You're not in the NYC tri state area, are you? :)

    Anyhow...I guess I'd sorta be starting from scratch as we'd be removing the current steam radiators in place, and adding new water based ones, obviously a little larger/longer than the ones there.

    The only thing is that we'd be leaving the steam pipes in the ceiling, and I assume they'd run that Pex cable to the new radiators.

    Oh, currently I have a one pipe steam system.
  • HW Ideas

    Okay - It sounds like you are on the right track. It's when you mix different systems and old and new, you get into problems. There are a lot of new interesting things in the HW end of heating. You might want to take a look at modcon boilers and controls with outdoor reset.  Tekmar has some really interesting units.

    TRVs (Thermostatic Radiator Valves)might also be of interest to you as they allow you to control the temperature in each individual room.

    Actually I'm from Maine but since I'm now retired, We move around a lot in the winter, on the way to Utah at the moment to visit family.

    - Rod
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