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how to heat my basement

Good afternoon,

I live in New England so it can get pretty darn cold outside.  So can my basement.  It's an old house (1920) and about half of the foundation is above ground.  I think this is a big reason that the basement is so chilly....the other being the drafty bulkhead which I will adress later.  Assume that the temp in the basement is about 15-20 degrees colder than the heated part of the house (e.g. 68 in the living room and 50ish in the basement)

I understand the best way to use my steam boiler to heat the basement would be to add a forced hot water loop using boiler water.

Since I don't want to spend much money I was also thinking about installing a radiator on the wet return.  Condensed boiler water enters the radiator at the top of the rad and then drains back to the boiler from a connection on the other end of the radiator at the bottom.

I swear I've even seen pics of this setup....but the question is how bad of an idea is this?  Or maybe it's not such a bad idea?  I'd be sure to pipe it so that the radiator could be easily flushed out on occasion.

What the worst thing that could happen?  Clogged radiator?  Would the temp of the condensate and the amount be enough to sufficiently heat a radiator?  Basement is only about 25x28

I don't believe there enough clearance to put a radiator on the ceiling in case you were going to suggest that!



  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,448
    before you....

    start thinking of different ways to heat.... insulate, insulate, insulate. You may very well find that that alone will do the trick. 2" of Styrofoam behind a stud wall will be plenty to raise the temp up at least 10 degrees.
  • Pumpguy
    Pumpguy Member Posts: 669
    one thing...

    I would be concerned about is any restriction across the radiator in the return line.  You wouldn't want it to be so small that it would restrict the flow of condensate to the boiler.
    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
    Website: www.nashjenningspumps.com

    The first step in solving any problem is TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,333
    It can be done

    just not that easy to control the amount of heat you get from it. A fan coil unit can be used too if the basement is open in design.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520

    I second the vote to insulate, just be sure to use fireproof insulation or 1/2 drywall over the foam. You also might want to try insulating between the joists where the wall meets the ceiling (there's a name for that space, somebody help me). This prevents a chimney effect sucking all the warm air around the perimeter of your house between the walls as opposed to inside your house, where you want it. It worked wonders for my own. I''l let the experts advise on actually heating the space.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • JeffBrown
    JeffBrown Member Posts: 67

    I don't disagree with the insulation part the issue is that the logistics of my basement are not condusive to adding insulation and walls with some serious effort.

    Things like stairs, wires, and pipes essentially make it impossible to put a stud wall around the perimeter foundation.  So that leaves me with applying foam insulation panels directly to the foundation walls and leaving them exposed....which I could do in certain areas but not others.  Probably wouldn't look so nice, and the walls can be a little wet in the summer so not sure how long they'd actually adhere once glued on.

    I've done my best to stop air movement between the inside and outside so that's helped some...but still have that pesky bulkhead door to deal with.

    My goal is not a finished basement but warm enough so I'm not paranoid about frozen pipes during really cold spells
  • JeffBrown
    JeffBrown Member Posts: 67
    also I should add

    that for unknown reasons my basement has a full plaster lathe ceiling....which doesn't help with insulating the ceiling which I had wanted to do.  I'm thinking maybe doing blown in cellulose or something.

    What has happened is that when the house was rewired and repiped all those systems were installed on the underside of the ceiling so they are all exposed.  So I've got big bundles of romex running along the sill plate on all 4 sides of the basement....and potable water piping...and gas lines.

    technically nothing wrong with what was done it just makes it difficult to install walls or to access the joist bays!
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
    Basement heat

    How much heat could you expect to get from a rad that has no forced flow through it. Also it is my understanding that it is best to keep your condensate as hot as possible to keep it from reabsorbing carbon dioxide and forming carbonic acid.
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,448
    Stiil pretty

    easy to insulate... Stud it out 24" on center, on flat and spray foam it out.... or just foam it... a few feet down.... other wise any heat you put down there will just fly out the uninsulated walls. By the energy code I don't believe you are supposed to add heat to an area that has no insulation.
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