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The Great Convector Replacement Caper

So here's my quandry:

I have a replacement convector in my living room which has some problems, 1) generally overheats the room 2) pinprick leak somewhere (no evidence of water, but you can hear a subtle hiss) 3) copper return line that squiggles - this is just the section from the end of the convector element that runs under it back into the wall and ties into the main return 4) no access to trap (two pipe system) which is inside the wall behind the metal casing and 5) it's ugly. The original register is visible above it and I'd like to return to the original concealed convector.

What do I need to to calculate to assure that I get the right size? Since I need to do some demo (the flooring actually runs over the "legs" of the box) it's a long term plan, but I want to get started on planning. I was thinking in addition to the damper in the old register of putting a TRV or other valve on it so I can shut it down if I want to use the fireplace.

This may all be moot if the original convector element is hiding behind the new one and I can reuse it. I suspect the replacement was done because someone felt "cold" during the dark days of no storm windows or poor system maintenance.

I've attached a picture showing what I've got (and yes, this was before I painted, so now I have an ugly blue convector in a white room) currently with the original register and damper above it. The supply riser and return riser are both on the left hand side. As far as I can tell these are Trane Concealed Heaters and work well in the rooms where they are in, more or less, original condition. I'll get some more photos tonight.

Comments

  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,047
    yeah, what i'm seeing doesn't make alot of sense. I think i would take out the crappy convector and see whats up with the original. Maybe it just has a bad trap or something like that..thats goofy the way they added that convector in front of it..i always find the closer i can get something to its original form, the better everything works cause the old timers knew exactly what they were doing.
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    If I'm seeing what I think I am, it effectively turns a significant portion of one wall into a giant radiant panel. Sweet!
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 327

    works cause the old timers knew exactly what they were doing.

    I'd beg to differ in some cases - the heat in our bathrooms was totally insufficient (its sufficient with modern windows, but not single glazing) and had to be supplemented with one pipe radiators tapped into the supply of the "convective" heating there, but that's a future topic. But otherwise it works ok.
    SWEI said:

    If I'm seeing what I think I am, it effectively turns a significant portion of one wall into a giant radiant panel. Sweet!

    The walls heat up, but not as much as you'd expect.

  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 327
    Here are some more pictures. As you can see the return is copper and you can sort of catch a glimpse of the trap hidden inside the wall.
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    Completely off topic: that is a gorgeous room! Are those the original old cork floors or am I imaging that? The solarium of my last house had them...the best floors ever. They would in ratty condition, but I refinished them just like wooden ones Can't do that with the new laminates.
    Reviving the Trane recessed rad will be icing on the cake.
    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
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 327
    Thank you! Yes, original cork floors everywhere, even in the bathrooms (only one now, the other has ACT from the 50's, I assume the kitchen also had cork). There is a darker, albeit faded, border around the outside of the room. My unit is the most original in the building as far as I can tell. Here is an "after" - you can see why I want it recessed, along with a picture of a typical base cover.
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    Nice! Where do i sign? :) It's amazing to see those Tranes in their original condition. I have an old Trane Vaporvacuum system with rads. Seems they were always upping their game at that time.
    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
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,354
    It's hard to stop a Trane....sorry couldn't resist that one.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 327
    edited October 2014
    vaporvac said:

    Nice! Where do i sign? :) It's amazing to see those Tranes in their original condition. I have an old Trane Vaporvacuum system with rads. Seems they were always upping their game at that time.

    Probably one of the reasons Trane was chosen originally - the architect (who lived in and developed the building) was initially a car maker/designer. He used the concealed system in several buildings though others had cast iron radiators. Their post WWII projects used hot water radiant heat. From what I can tell our boiler also provided hot water via a massive heat exchanger.
    KC_Jones said:

    It's hard to stop a Trane....sorry couldn't resist that one.

    I'm glad you beat me to it! I'm a train nerd and one of the members on a site I frequent is an HVAC guy whose name is Traneman and he got that comment too!

  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 327
    So if I can't reuse the original convector element if it is missing or leaks, would I be able to find something to fit the existing space? I think the cavity is only 4" deep and the original convectors are "double-decker" for lack of a better term, with the supply and condensate connections at the same end. I've got the Trane brochure with capacities floating around which talks about the chimney or flue stack (chase really, not a flue), but I'm not sure it spells out the convector element capacity on it's own.
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 327
    After what, five years I finally got around to this project... So my plans were foiled and stymied! I finally got Big Ugly Blue Convector out of my living room - it looked like there had been a convector when I peaked down from the register, but just a big empty cavity.

    My question is what would you experts recommend for a replacement convector? Cast iron? Steel?

    Sorry for the poor picture quality, I'll take more later.


    Here's the big gaping hole in my living room.


    The supply and return (with plugged trap).


    The innards of the chase showing the entry of the supply line from the riser. I assume that's all original since the wall is plastered up.


    The opposite end of the aperture/niche for the convector. Apparently the Trane convectors had the connections at both ends (and I'm kicking myself for not getting over to the cousin building to mine which was gutted and snagged some old convectors and dampers for reserve for our building). And yes, those are clay tile flues....

    The chase actually kind of notches into the space behind the chimneybreast/chimneypiece there and then jogs over to be centered in the wall space between the fireplace and the wall.


  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 7,156
    That chase looks like it is just structural clay tile. It was a common building material in the lat 19th and early 20th century for commercial buildings. My basement that was built in 1924 is made out of it.
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 327
    That's actually the party wall, the exterior walls are that as well, with brick veneer outside. The interior walls are all gypsum block, except at heating units which are plaster on metal lath or plumbing "walls" which are a mish-mash of clay tile, common brick and whatever the heck the contractor used (no proper plumbing chase's - just brick right up to the pipes - this building was built as "affordable" housing for middle income folks in the late 20's so not top quality construction in some regards. The other part, which surprised me a bit, was that the clay tile flues were part of the party wall (I don't think anybody lower down uses, oh, wait, second floor does sometime, their fireplaces). The chase itself is sheet metal lined and clad with plaster on the room side