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Old baseboards....Flat with no fins....can't heat house to 67 degrees

I have a single story brick "rambler" built in 1954. With an oil fired Burnham RSM/96 single zone hot water baseboard system.

My problem is that all of the baseboards are hot (HOT!!) boiler gauge reading 170. But the house cant reach the target temp of 67 degrees. I live in MD and this week is extremely cold 15-20 degrees. However It has seemed to have trouble all winter. At the start of the winter I was letting the system drop back. to 65 while we were at work and out of the house and set back up to 70 in the evening. That 5 degree change took 10-15 hours once the outdoor temp was below 40 degrees.

I recently had a Heating tech.come to the house that the "Home Warranty" company called. He informed me of what I sorta knew. There is nothing "wrong" with the system it is functioning correctly..

This is our first winter in the house. MD can get pretty cold in the winter. I can,t believe that the heating system that has been installed for over 50 years cant heat this 1,100s/ft house.

The one thing that sticks out as odd in all of this is the design or style of baseboard. They are about 8" tall, and flat with NO fins. each baseboard is a "loop" with the supply and return poking up through the floor at one end. The water then travels down the length of the baseboard through the 1/4" pipe that is mounted to the back of a front "radiant face" at the end of that section of baseboard the 1/4" pipe makes a u-turn and travels the reverse length of the pipe/ face, Then pokes back through the floor near the supply line and continues to the other baseboards in the house.

I can't find any info on this style of baseboard. they are hot to touch however they don't seem to throw much heat. I really don't know what to do to heat the house correctly with this system. The windows are newer (last 5 years), the attic is insulated, and the first floor walls are plaster board. (no easy way to re-insulate the walls if this is the problem)

Thanks in advance for any help, info, or ideas on this system and my problem.

Thanks again,



  • clkoontz3
    clkoontz3 Member Posts: 2
    My baseboards look like these.

    They look like an old version of these.
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,713
    don't touch hot baseboard

    How about increasing high limit on boiler ? 15° is unusually cold for MD. When weather moderates you can reset limit on boiler. Does your house have storm windows ? Has the attic any insulation ?
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Outside Temperature:

    When you turn the thermostat up and down in a 24 hour period, you are actually manipulating the outside temperature in relation to the inside..

    If your system was designed to maintain 70 degrees inside when the outside was "design day" of zero outside, Call it a 70 degree spread. If you drop your thermostat 10 degrees before you leave for work and it is zero outside, you just raised the outside temperature to 10 degrees. You now have a 60 degree spread. When you come home and turn the thermostat to 70 degrees, you have now dropped the outside temperature to -10 degrees. Because the spread is now 80 degrees.

    The example shown of similar baseboard is probably not what you have. There was some 1950's baseboard that is similar to what you have. It was a heavy metal baseboard with a tube behind. Installed, it looked just like Cast Iron Baseboard. But it was steel.

    Turn the high limit setting on your boiler to 180 or 190 degrees. It will cover your thermostat setbacks, and the house will recover faster.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,576
    edited January 2013
    Base Board

    If you do indeed have the SlimLine baseboards, then someone has more recently installed them. Like Ice said, the weren't available 50 years ago. The SlimLine put out far less btu's per linear foot than what regular baseboards do. If someone replaced them length for length, the house would be under-radiated.

    You also may simply have air in the system that's preventing proper flow. Can you tell us the actual temp of the supply and return pipes? What's the temp reading on the boiler gauge when it shuts off on high limit? What's the pressure?

    Where in MD are you located?
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Cdayton
    Cdayton Member Posts: 10
    Problem heating second level

    I have a split level built in 1957 heated with an oil fired Weil McLain hot water baseboard system. The boiler was installed in 2011 and the family room level has its own thermostat. The lower two levels of the house are comfortable. The bedroom level does not get beyond 68 degrees when temps are moderate outside. On colder windy evenings the temp rides around 66 degrees even when the thermostat for the heat is set at 70 degrees.

    All of the baseboards are hot and there is no air in the system.

    The windows are new double thermopane and were insulated well when installed. The attic spaces have thermal blanket insulation that was installed over the blown in insulation that was in the house.

    At a loss of what the problem may be. Would appreciate any recommendations.
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,993
    Under radiated

    If you have very hot water going in and out of the radiators, I think you are just under radiated. You need to do a heat loss calc on the rooms and compare it to the ratings on the radiators.

    It is likely that you will need to add some radiators.

    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Are base boards

    Blocked by furniture, or is carpeting blocking lower portion from getting air.
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,613
    edited November 2013
    200 BTU per ft

    is what you have at 170* . Take a look at this , have someone perform a room by room heat loss . Looks like someone found something cool looking and clean and installed without ever knowing if it would work . Did you say you just bought this home ?  This stuff should be run with constant circulation at a 10* Delta T and please everyone stop using setback . I DOES NOT I REPEAT DOES NOT save money nor fuel .  4 way mixing valve and constant circulation may get you where you need to go . Or you could replace with Heating Edge baseboard from Smiths Environmental , you will only need to cut out existing and reconnect with appropriate fittings that will give you 813 BTU per ft at 170* and 1 GPM .
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • bet those were

    Bet ya those radiator were replaced by a design engineer... those pitful radiant board can't even produce 250 btu at 190 degrees water... (per foot).. do the heat loss and you'll find that u may have to go back to regular finned baseboard or even better yet, go to castiron baseboard for 2nd best heating comfort.
  • another thing

    Came to mind.. if u have access in basement, you may seen where the opening in floor where the former radatiors was ..
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Hey Guys

    This is a new poster on this thread which originally started back in January 2013 may not have the baseboards the orginal thread poster is showing.

    To CDAYTON are the baseboards you have the same type as the original poster that started this thread describes?
  • Cdayton
    Cdayton Member Posts: 10
    Hey Guys

    Sorry to have jumped into this thread and not have created a new one.

    Issue sounded similar to the original posters in January.
  • Cdayton
    Cdayton Member Posts: 10
    Thanks Carl

    Hi Carl - When the home was built in the 50's the original owner actually had extra radiators added to the home.  In the bedrooms especially there are full wall radiators running under the windows so this seems to be sufficient from what the heating contractor had told me when the new boiler was installed.
  • Cdayton
    Cdayton Member Posts: 10
    Baseboards clear

    All of the baseboards are clear.  There is carpet, but it does not appear to be restricting any air flow.  There are drapes, but all are above the radiators.  Great suggestion though.  Made me double check anyway
This discussion has been closed.