Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Baseboard heat quality diminishes every year

Dooma00 Member Posts: 24

We have a 1500 square-foot house in Pennsylvania. Purchased four years ago the baseboard heating work very well. I have noticed over the past four years that the system seems to struggle to get to 68° . Each year it takes longer and longer until last year it would only get to maybe 64 or 66 without the help of a electric space heater.

Furnace is well-maintained, oil, and I've had multiple people out to look at it. Nothing is changed with a system in this time. One person mentioned that the anti-freeze may have gone bad, and possibly that is the cause of the problems. But when I discuss this with multiple plumbers they all discounted it.

I understand the potential issues from bad anti-freeze and corrosion, but in your opinion is it possible that bad anti-freeze could affect the heating qualities of a baseboard system overtime?


  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 930
    Did you put new thicker carpet in you house. Some times with new thicker carpet put in the air can not go into the bottom of the baseboard and out the top. When not having proper air flow over the copper element there is not enough heat transfer to heat the house. Is the copper element installed the right way for proper air flow. If some are turned on its side the air does not go through the element and you do not get the proper heat from the baseboard. Are some of the dampers on the baseboard closed. If so open them up. Do you have furniture right in front of the baseboard? Do you have drapes that go to the floor covering part of the baseboard? You said you have a oil boiler did the contractor that cleaned the boiler put the right size nozzle in when it was cleaned? What is the water temp leaving the boiler and what is the water temp coming back into the boiler?
  • John Mills_5
    John Mills_5 Member Posts: 946
    You sure there's anti freeze in there? Not common at least in our parts.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,840
    And why is your house starting from such a low temperature? Got major set backs in your thermostat programs? Outdoor reset and deep set backs do not play well together...

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Dooma00
    Dooma00 Member Posts: 24
    Thank you for the responses. Laminate flooring, if anything there's more space than before. I confirmed it with the installing company, it was put in the system probably eight years ago.

    It is a vacation home so when we leave we put the heat down and then we then we turn the heat up the day we arrive. I usually keep the heat around 45 degrees and in the past the house will heat up in 2 to 3 hours, but now it would take 12 hours plus just to get to the low 60's.

    What has me questioning the antifreeze in heat I am seeing over the years, there have been no changes to the system during that time.

    Unfortunately I am NOT at the house to measure the temperature is but when I brought this to other plumbers attention they seem to think that everything was adequate.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,409
    What kind of service are you having done on the oil burner? Are they doing a thorough cleaning? Are they doing a full combustion analysis and giving you the printout of the analysis? For the pros, is it possible that the combustion area is cruddy and slowly cutting down on the heat transfer from year to year?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Dooma00
    Dooma00 Member Posts: 24
    I am getting a cleaning. Nothing printed out, I am lucky to get someone to show up in my area.
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    Are the baseboard emitters collecting dust and debris? If they are clogging, this will reduce the amount of heat they put out.
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
  • Dooma00
    Dooma00 Member Posts: 24
    Wife is at the house and she visually inspected fins and claims they look nice and clean to her. I will be back in a couple of weeks and will take a look myself.
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    I am betting on an improperly serviced boiler.
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,721
    HDD 2013 , Harrisburg 5,215 Dec - Nov
    HDD 2014 , H Burg 5,753 Dec - Nov
    HDD 2015 , H Burg 5,445 Dec - Nov

    40* something degree setpoint is a terrible thing to do , especially where there is a chance of freezing . You need antifreeze because of that type of system operation . Antifreeze takes longer to heat up and longer to transfer heat . Not that after 8 years there is anything left that we could call antifreeze .
    The heating degree day phenomena may also have a bit to do with your situation also though .
    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
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,128
    Are you sure there is enough water in the system?
    What's the pressure (confirmed with another gauge)?
    Are the radiators getting nice and hot (air bound)?
    Are you sure the circulator is working properly?
  • Dooma00
    Dooma00 Member Posts: 24
    Sounds like I need to get someone more thorough to look into this at the house. I have been using local guys. I am going to try to get someone lined up in a couple weeks and will reply with some answers. I appreciate all the help. Next is my newly purchased 1886 with single pipe steam.
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,721
    Where are you located ?
    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
  • Dooma00
    Dooma00 Member Posts: 24
    Hawley, PA. About 40 miles east of Scranton.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    Paul48 said:

    I am betting on an improperly serviced boiler.

  • 4Johnpipe
    4Johnpipe Member Posts: 479
    Water quality issues usually show up as a gradual degradation of the heating system...
    Considerate People, Considerate Service, Consider It Done!
    email: [email protected]
  • Dooma00
    Dooma00 Member Posts: 24
    "Water quality issues?" Knowing that we had antifreeze added years ago would that make sense. When we had an issue and had to drain some fluid front he system it was reddish, which I believe I sign of bad antifreeze. Should I just have it drained and replaced with new water?
  • jpcallan
    jpcallan Member Posts: 15
    A lot of speculating going on.

    Have you taken any water temperature measurements with the system operating on a cold day? If not, get a contact digital thermometer and a contact probe or bead probe (I use a Fluke model 54 with two channels). You can use an infrared thermometer, but the temps will often be off due to emissivity differences if the pipes are painted. Press the probe against the supply pipe leaving the boiler and record the temp. Do the same to the return pipe. How hot is the supply water? The return temp?

    If the two temps are close, the baseboard emitters are probably full of pet hair, dust bunnies, etc. and all the baseboards need a thorough cleaning. This is an all to common fault, but the fix is entirely DIYable at no cost.

    Is the system running continuously or does it cycle on and off? What are the supply and return water temps just as it cycles off?
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 19,263
    A good hydronic antifreeze should last 10 - 15 years or more. What causes pre-mature failure is a dirty system when the fluid was first added, frequent overheating, or continuous O2 being allowed into the system.

    The fluid color really doesn't mean much.
    A harsh acidic smell or ph below 8 or so would be an indicator of an fluid that needs replacing. If that is the case you really need to run a hydronic cleaner in the system, flush well and start with new fluid.

    If the system has had glycol for 10 years and it heated without problems, I'd be more inclined to look at the boiler output as others suggested, or the load on the home has increased. has the circ pump been changed? Up to a 66% increase in pumping power is required with a 50% glycol solution.

    Look for, leaking windows, bad insulation detail, higher than normal infiltration.

    But to check any or all of these you need some gauges, meters, tools, analyzers, etc. Also you need to know how to interpret the readings.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 930
    Call Steve's Oil Burner Service at 484-560-0341 he lives in Kunkeltown PA and does work in the Pocono area. He should be able to help you out.
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,052
    Air elimination? Drift in water temperature control? Have you been reading water temperature?
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
    Could we start with the basics. Has anyone done a room by room, zone by zone heat loss, compared the loss to the existing board after an inspection of it? Has anyone done any boiler/zone supply/return delta-t readings? Seems, like 1st thing I'd do after all that is simply drain down the system, fill it 100% water and see what the outcome is. Hasn't been that cold where you need to worry about freezing. Heck lucky if it hit below 30 once or twice so far. Don't get why you need the antifreeze anyway. Hate systems with it, such a waste. The cost to have it put in is more then the cost of a variable speed circulator for god sakes.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • vibert_c
    vibert_c Member Posts: 69
    It is a vacation home so when we leave we put the heat down and then we then we turn the heat up the day we arrive.
    @dooma00 Get real basic here. Check the chimney flue with a mirror looking for a squirrels nest causing a partial blockage.