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.

Baseboards for steam heat

Hello guys

Recently bought a house. It has steam heat.
Ground floor has heating radiators inside the walls. I do not know whether they are cast iron or not.
Upstairs, radiator/baseboards are outside but are not the typical cast iron standing radiators. They may be huge baseboards or something else. They are 1 pipe.

I want to replace those old broken things with something else.

Can I use steam baseboards? If yes, then which ones? The biggest room upstairs is 192 sq ft with 2 external walls and 3 windows. How big of a steam baseboard I will need?
Can you suggest companies or models?

I tried to look at home depot or Lowes but did not find any thing.

Any suggestions?

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,117
    Slow down. First thing to do is to take a look at those "old, broken things" and find out if they really are broken. If they are one pipe, and don't heat, the chances are that the vent is malfunctioning -- which is an inexpensive replacement. If they are grubby, they can be cleaned and repainted. But take a good look before you leap -- but radiators very rarely "break".

    In fact with any heating system -- but perhaps particularly with steam -- the very first thing to do is to go over the system carefully, and do the maintenance needed to make it work the way it was intended to work. Then you can figure out what you need to do to make it work the way you want it to work, if it doesn't satisfy already.

    That said, if you decide to replace them, the first thing you need to do is an make an accurate calculation of the heat loss of the space, so that you will replace with enough radiation, but not too much. There are good calculators for that purpose -- Slant/Fin has one.

    I like Home Depot and Lowe's as well as the next person, but you won't find anything like what you might need -- even for repair -- at either one.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    kevinjames79
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,457
    post some pictures so we can see what you have. baseboards are not the best option for steam. the length required is not conducive to getting enough pitch unless the are hooked up two pipe which isn't an option on the 2d floor
    kevinjames79
  • kevinjames79
    kevinjames79 Member Posts: 76
    edited August 2017
    All Heating units upstairs are 1 pipe. But they definitely are not Cast Iron Radiators. They look like big sized fin type units.

    I am more concerned about the bedrooms where these heating units are very big and are away from the wall.

    I have attached the pictures.

    Please check.

    Thank you.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,999
    Despite not having a microscope, I can tell those are "convectors". If you can remove the front of the housings and post some pics that are larger, it would help.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    RomanGK_26986764589
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    The housing on these convectors can be fixed up, reattached to the wall and squared up. If the emitters othrwise work fine, only question is if you would rather want a different look. This is all beyond big blue and big orange home improvement stores' inventories. Were you planning on hiring out the work or doing it your self? If self, depending on the scope, you'll need to educate your self on the system and implications of the replacement route. If hiring it out, in short, you want someone who knows the stream.
  • kevinjames79
    kevinjames79 Member Posts: 76
    edited August 2017
    > @Steamhead said:
    > Despite not having a microscope, I can tell those are "convectors". If you can remove the front of the housings and post some pics that are larger, it would help.

    If these are convectors.... Can u suggest something to replace the upstairs big units?
    What can go there if we get something new? Do I need cast iron radiators? Or cast iron convectors? Or simple baseboard convectors will work?

    Please suggest.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited August 2017
    One additional thought: in steam systems, total combined radiator EDR load needs to match the boiler EDR capacity. IF the boiler is sized properly, you must match your replacement rad EDR to your current convector EDR output. That EDR should be close to your space heat loss on the design temp day. Etc.

    If you have no idea what all this means, Google all the terminology, or better yet, get a book from this site, called "We Got Steam Heat". Then, you may want to get the "Lost Art of Steam Heating". It will serve you well to be familiar with YOUR steam system as many contractors out there are not (referring to contractors who are not here on the Wall). Being familiar with your heating system will save you a lot of grief down the line. It being a lost art, steam heating is now a part of your life. Whether you bargained for that or not, with purchasing a house with steam in it, you became a pupil in this field, if for no other reason, then to prevent from being taken for a financial ride by hvac pros uneducated in steam systems. On the other hand, it's a fascinating field, simple and elegant once it is undetstood.

    Also, this site has many good people very generous with their time, so ask away!
    kevinjames79
  • kevinjames79
    kevinjames79 Member Posts: 76
    This is the image of the heating element when I removed the big cover.

    Could you plz tell me what this is? Convector? Or what?
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited August 2017
    Yes, this is a convector. I'll let the pros chime in what kind exactly, but to me it looks like 1950s water system convector that I have in one of my rental buildings with a hot water boiler.

    Go to slant-fin website, or download their app for heat loss calc. Once you figure it out, divide btu heat loss for the room by 240. This will give you EDR for the rad - can be any rad you want as long as it's giving you the necrssary btu output or edr. I prefer cast iron as it gives off residual heat much longer than convector or steal rad. But this is a matter of personal taste and preference.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,117
    Convectors like that can be calculated. Measure the total area of a single fin -- counting both sides. Count the number of fins. Multiply and divide by 144. That's your EDR rating for that unit.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    MilanD
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,247
    What make vent is that ? ... Looks like an float bleeder ..
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,999
    Big Ed said:

    What make vent is that ? ... Looks like an float bleeder ..

    It's a Gorton.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,034
    Is that just a hydronic convector converted for steam use? Plug one side? I've never seen that in a steam application.
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,247
    The last of the Moheagans residental steam installs used fin and tube convectors .. They have the same shot gun effect as baseboard .. Do you see the brick chucking up the one end , that was normal .. They should have been installed 2 pipe as well , with the tall cabnet we were able to get away with an brick :)
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • kevinjames79
    kevinjames79 Member Posts: 76
    Thank you very much guys for your input.

    So after looking at the pictures. What do you think i should get here? Plz give suggestions.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    MilanD said:

    Yes, this is a convector. I'll let the pros chime in what kind exactly, but to me it looks like 1950s water system convector that I have in one of my rental buildings with a hot water boiler.



    Go to slant-fin website, or download their app for heat loss calc. Once you figure it out, divide btu heat loss for the room by 240. This will give you EDR for the rad - can be any rad you want as long as it's giving you the necerssary btu output or edr. I prefer cast iron as it gives off residual heat much longer than convector or steal rad. But this is a matter of personal taste and preference.

  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    OR
    MilanD said:

    The housing on these convectors can be fixed up, reattached to the wall and squared up. If the emitters otherwise work fine, only question is if you would rather want a different look. This is all beyond big blue and big orange home improvement stores' inventories. Were you planning on hiring out the work or doing it your self? If self, depending on the scope, you'll need to educate your self on the system and implications of the replacement route. If hiring it out, in short, you want someone who knows the stream.

  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited August 2017
    Look for rads on Craigslist, or contact local boiler distributors and ask them (our in Cincinnati carries used CI rads). You can also search online for rad manufacturers that will ship them to you. There is www.ecorad.com, as there are others. Question is how much $$ you want to spend.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,999
    Note that fin-tube convectors have a radically different thermal behavior pattern than cast-iron radiators. Cast-iron will continue giving off heat for a while after the boiler shuts off, but your low-mass fin-tube cools off almost immediately. Mixing the two can cause unbalance, i.e. some rooms are colder than others.

    Somewhere there is a diagram of how to hook up a 2-pipe fin-tube convector to a 1-pipe riser, piping the return end back into the riser with a check valve to keep the steam from short-circuiting thru it. I remember Dan made a pop-quiz out of this some years ago, but can't find it quickly now.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    MilanD
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,068
    Steamhead said:



    Somewhere there is a diagram of how to hook up a 2-pipe fin-tube convector to a 1-pipe riser, piping the return end back into the riser with a check valve to keep the steam from short-circuiting thru it. I remember Dan made a pop-quiz out of this some years ago, but can't find it quickly now.

    I think I've even seen unit heaters connected to only one pipe.