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.

What is this radiator cover insulated with?

Options
The other day, my electrician was helping me move a radiator cover so that we could access the wall behind it. He expressed a hypothesis that I did not like: this radiator cover, and all my other radiator covers, had a big fat slab of asbestos on top.

Is that really what is shown in the picture below? If so, should I do anything about it? If every other steam-heated house has had these in there for the past 80 years, the numbers suggest this is not a particularly imminent threat. If, on the other hand, this is unusual, I can't really say that for sure.


Comments

  • david_and_heather
    david_and_heather Member Posts: 28
    Options
    PS: I think I posted this in the wrong category; my apologies.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,741
    Options
    I think I would be more annoyed someone insulated the heat emitter.

    Looks like some kind of old foam product to me.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 355
    Options
    Isn't that cork?
    mattmia2
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,741
    Options

    Isn't that cork?

    I thought that too, but it doesn't seem dense enough for cork. A lot of "holes" there.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
    Options
    Bulletin board material for push pins?
    ethicalpaul
  • david_and_heather
    david_and_heather Member Posts: 28
    Options
    My first thought was also cork. I've been googling for "asbestos radiator cover" and there's not a lot. This is in northern NJ. House was built in 1923, but I have no particular reason to believe that the radiator covers are original (or that they are not).
  • david_and_heather
    david_and_heather Member Posts: 28
    Options
    KC_Jones said:

    Looks like some kind of old foam product to me.

    KC_Jones, any idea what they might have used to make foam back in the day?

    I might send this crud in to an asbestos lab. I did that once for some sketchy fireblock in my utility room. It turned out not to be asbestos, which gave me peace of mind as I insulated my boiler.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
    Options
    Does the box have any plywood in it...not around in 1923.
    Same for Philips head screws.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,433
    Options
    95% sure that that's cork. Why they would have done that is anyone's guess... not going there. As asbestos slab would be hard -- no way would it have the swiss cheese effect.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul
  • david_and_heather
    david_and_heather Member Posts: 28
    Options
    Is there any rationale for having it there, aside from making it more comfortable for my cat?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,741
    Options
    Is that top steel? Maybe to make it feel and sound more substantial? Looks like cork to me. maybe it is pieces glued together, but i have seen bulletin board/decorative tiles like that.

    is there some way for the heat o get out? Was it to intentionally reduce the output?
    ethicalpaul
  • Gsmith
    Gsmith Member Posts: 433
    Options
    I think cork, put there so things that could be damaged by heat could be placed on the rad cover (plants, candles, etc.).
  • Barnago
    Barnago Member Posts: 2
    Options
    Covered Radiator With a radiator cover lined with foil insulation, you can reflect the radiant heat away from the exterior wall, and throw it further into the room.
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
    Options
    Just wondering where in New Jersey ,it may have been the same home where I had seen your basement radiator ,if so I think we replaced the boiler maybe 10 years ago or so maybe longer ? Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,883
    Options

    The other day, my electrician was helping me move a radiator cover so that we could access the wall behind it. He expressed a hypothesis that I did not like: this radiator cover, and all my other radiator covers, had a big fat slab of asbestos on top.

    Is that really what is shown in the picture below? If so, should I do anything about it? If every other steam-heated house has had these in there for the past 80 years, the numbers suggest this is not a particularly imminent threat. If, on the other hand, this is unusual, I can't really say that for sure.


    That's Cork. Seen it in old walk ins from the 60's
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,731
    edited November 2019
    Options
    Cork. Sold for pushpin bulletin boards. I had some in my room in the 70s. See:

    www.pinterest.com/pin/330522060122917227

    Possibly to reduce oversized EDR.

    It's a great way to get the EDR to what it should be with today's insulation, better windows, and closed windows (!)

    If you don't want to replace the radiators, just cover some of them up and then get a boiler sized to the newly-reduced EDR
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • mikeg2015
    mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,194
    Options
    It must be cork. Nothing else looks like that.

    Radiator covers are nice because you get the mass of the full EDR for less swing between cycles, but it reduces the actually heating output.

    A previous home I owned had them on every radiator. The home must have had over 800 EDR installed... on a home that needed 70k at design with good storm windows and dense multilayer plaster/bead board/shiplap/stucco wall assembly with a 4” air gap. Steam system had already been torn out. I can’t imagine how it would have cooked it. Gas line was 1-1/4”.