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Best heating option for a small room

Jane_D Member Posts: 14
Hi everyone,

I recently had a problem with an old convector radiator that now appears to be solved. The problem led me to examine the radiators in another room in the house. The room is 156 square feet, and has two radiators (or what I’m calling radiators). Basically, in that room, the old cast iron convectors had been removed and replaced with what is pictured. I have no idea what you call the things that they replaced the convectors with. Baseboard element maybe? I live in an old house, with a 2014 gas boiler, with a mixture of old cast iron convectors, and these baseboard element things. The replacement in this particular room does an extremely poor job of heating the room. It is always about 4 degrees cooler than the rest of the house. Each element is about 34” long, and each row is 2.25” high. The recessed area where the element is located is about 39” wide, 27” high, and about 5.5” deep. I am also including a picture of the cover that goes in front of the element.

My question is, what can I do so that the room is warmer/closer to the temperature in other rooms in the house? As the pictures show, there are two rows of heating elements. Could a third or even fourth row be added? Since I don’t know what that thing is called, I cannot figure out how to look for it on the internet to see how much it would cost. I did find a place that does have some old, cast iron convectors that would fit in that space (it’s a reputable place that tests the radiators before selling them and accepts refunds if there is a leak). Would that be a better heating option than adding additional rows elements (if that is even possible)? I am familiar with Governale convectors, but my understanding is that they are fairly expensive and someone in another discussion had had several problems with them cracking.

I appreciate any advice that anyone has.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,607
    Those are fin tube units -- copper. You can get sections just like that and have someone plumb them in for you.

    Got to run -- more later.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    That's just the heating element (AKA Fin-Tube) pulled from a standard hydronic baseboard radiator found at HD/Lowes, etc..
    j a_2
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,607
    @NY_Rob beat me to it. Any reasonably competent plumber should be able to get a couple of similar elements and pipe them in in that space.

    Be aware, however, that while fin tube elements heat up faster than cast iron, they also cool off faster -- a lot faster -- and you may not get the same feeling or evenness of heat.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Jane_D
    Jane_D Member Posts: 14
    Hi @Jamie Hall and @NY_Rob

    Thanks for the responses. Could a plumber add 2 additional elements to each radiator (so that each cabinet has 4 elements)? Or would that be overkill? Assuming that I could get 2 old convector cast iron radiators for the same price as adding additional elements, which would be better for warming the room? I assume that the fact that the elements cool off more quickly means that the room could get cold every time the boiler reaches its set temperature and turns off?
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    edited January 2018
    The metal enclosure look like they could be limiting output. Doubling the amount of fintube in the enclosure won't double output. If the room is much colder, cast iron radiators sized to fill the opening with the enclosure cover removed, will provide more heat output than adding fintube to the existing enclosures.
    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:
    System Photo:
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,766
    Try OCS or Governale. They should be able to supply the proper cast-iron replacement elements. That style of fin-tube will never work right in that enclosure.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Jane_D
    Jane_D Member Posts: 14
    edited January 2018
    Hi @Brewbeer

    I hear you, but the entire house has convector cast iron radiators recessed in the wall with those covers on it. In another discussion, I was told that they put off quite a bit of heat when the cover is on the compartment they are in. I’m not sure I understand why that is – maybe someone could explain to me why the cover doesn’t end up blocking the heat? The room is relatively small, and the space is narrow, so a traditional radiator would really stick out . . .

    @Steamhead I have read about those companies here on the forum. Others have said that OCS quality isn’t great (perhaps made in China?) and I thought I remember more than one person on the forum complaining about Governale leaks. I also read that they are very costly (Governale wouldn’t give me a price over the phone). Is it reasonable to buy a cast iron convector from a store that sells used radiators?
  • Mike
    Mike Member Posts: 94
    Adding more find tube in the enclosure will help, but probably will not solve your problem. A cast iron convector, sized to fit snugly in the enclosure is the way to go. What is happening now, is the air entering the bottom of the enclose, is only being heated in that 21/2 inch space of the element. The rest of the air is room temp. If you can block off the sides of the elements it will help. But providin enough heat?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    If you can buy a used cast iron radiator or convector that has been pressure tested and comes with a 30 day return policy, if it leaks, yes, it is reasonable to buy one.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,686
    Convectors deliver warm air by the air passing thru the fins.
    This is a gravity chimney effect of air flow. If the cover is say 5" deep and the fins are only 2 1/2" deep you will not get the max air flow thru the fins which deliver the heat to the air.
    So the fins need to be contained in a narrow box to get the air moving. Some simple sheet metal baffles may work.

    If the back of the fin tube is almost against the back wall you could cover the front with tin foil and possibly feel the improvement in air flow.
    Also the taller the convector cabinet the more air flow will be achieved. (taller chimney)