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Heating in Basement

nycpa Member Posts: 108

I have a steam heating system with a McClein boiler.  I have a finished basement with no heating in the basement.  Since its cold there during the winter, my plumber told me he can install baseboard heating by circulating the water from the boiler around the 2 rooms that I want heated.  Since the basement isn't used that often, do you guys think that it will cost me extra to heat the basement?  If so, how much more?  The plumber said it shouldn't cost me extra because its just circulating water that's already in the boiler.

Second question is, anything negative with circulating steam boiler water for the basement?  Like the baseboard pipes clogging from the brown water that accumulates from the steam system?

Your opinion are appreciated.      


  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    Free lunch...

    If you install hot water baseboard to heat the basement, the heat will certainly not be for free. The heat has to come from somewhere, namely the fuel burned in the boiler. The burner will have to run additional time to provide that heat.

    Having said that, the additional fuel use will only occur when you are actually heating the basement. If you turn down the basement thermostat so that no heat is provided, there should be no additional fuel costs.

    If properly done, a basement hot water loop off a steam boiler should be trouble free. Just make sure a bronze oil lubricated pump is used for the circulator, as they can more easily handle the rather nasty water found in a steam boiler.

  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666

    They have to run that baseboard enough to keep it from freezing though, right? In other words, heat the basement to at least 32F? Of course, that should not be all than much heat.
  • HenryT
    HenryT Member Posts: 128
    do not mean to highjack thread

    but what if your boiler is oversized and already producing enough steam to accomodate more convectors (in this case the basement).

    if this is the case, we shouldnt be seeing an increase in gas usage and gas bill right?

    or is it way more complicated for my simple mind?

    Im looking to heat my basement as well so just trying to verify this info.

  • free lunch?

    if you add extra radiators, or a hot water loop, then at each firing, the boiler will then run a little longer [even if over-sized].--nbc
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,039

    The proper way to size a steam system with s hot water loop is generally to ignore the loop when doing the calculations.   The loop will take its heat from the system's pickup factor, which usually adds 30%-50% of the boiler's capacity when sizing. 

    If you add capacity for the loop, you'll wind up with a boiler that produces too much steam or steam at too greater velocity for the system. 

    Since the steam mains and runouts are often in the same space heated by the loop, they often add much heat to the area, which minimizes the use and operating cost of the heating loop. 
  • nycpa
    nycpa Member Posts: 108

    Thanks for all the replies guys
  • Shuttle
    Shuttle Member Posts: 24
    Condensate Heat

    What would happen is say (For Instance) your have a copper return line and You cut a section of pipe and replace it with a Slant/Fin Element (Basically a Copper pipe with aluminum convection fins attached), would that produce any heat? would that heat up a space? (at least partially) 
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    would that produce any heat?

    Provided the temperature of the condensate is higher than the room -- say higher than 120F, I think it would provide heat to the room. However it is still not free. It would lower the temperature of the water returning to the boiler, so it would take more energy to boil it again. Also a risk of returning the water too cold and producing condensing in a non-condensing boiler.
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,039
    Maybe, but...

    We see this done from time to time.  There are several problems with this arrangement. 

    Condensate files through returns one drip at a time, so there is little flow through a return.  This will make the element heat very slowly, or not at all in mild weather.  You can test this by seeing how hot your returns get. 

    The reduced diameter of the baseboard element may enter some resistance into the system and may be prone to clogging.  Most returns are sized at least 1" to prevent this. 

    The cooling of the condensate will create more acids in the water, increasing system corrosion, at least in theory.  That is why returns should be insulated. 

    And, as mentioned above, the cooler condensate will have to be reheated by the boiler. 

    None of these are deal-killers,  but, combined with the lack of control, make the arrangement less than ideal. 
This discussion has been closed.