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Cast Iron Baseboards Frozen/Exploded

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ashleyarcane
ashleyarcane Member Posts: 4
edited February 2019 in THE MAIN WALL
The gas to my first floor apartment was turned off on 1/16/19. The boiler (?) downstairs was turned off on 1/18/19 while investigating loss of heat, and discovered the gas was off. I do not believe the system was drained/winterized at this time. Since then it has been very cold, and the cast iron baseray baseboard radiators against the outside walls have all exploded in various areas. :( I believe them to be steam rads as they have one pipe on the bottom and fins on the back. The water has since been turned off to the heating system; I'm unsure if the drain valve was opened. I'm presently trying to thaw the baseboards but so far have only seen relatively small, constant drips on only two or three of the damaged sections. I have space heaters facing the baseboards in two of the rooms on nearly constantly. I'm wondering how much more water/ice may still be in the rads or how much/how long I should expect to thaw and drain? It is still cold in the apartment though the outside temperature reached 60 today and will be nearly the same tomorrow. Thermostat reads about 60 degrees in the rooms where space heaters are running. I have very limited understanding of these systems; I thought after the steam condensates that the water was supposed to drain back to the boiler when the heat was off, so I am confused/curious as to how they burst. Additionally, my landlord sent a photo to his plumber who estimated $10k worth of damage/repair based on a photo of one of the exploded areas. The gas will be turned on Wednesday and I'm trying to explain to my landlord that the baseboards need to be replaced and the heat can not be turned on as they will spew water. He seems to believe they are modern hot water baseboards where the sections of pipe can be removed and repaired; they are not. The plumber should also arrive at some point Wednesday. I would like to offer recommendations to the landlord. I understand cast iron baseboards repair/replacement and installation is costly (can you offer any idea just how much?), but what other options might he have? There is a total of about 59' of baseboards in the entire ~958 sq ft apartment in various sized sections throughout 4 rooms. There is also a large recessed cast iron radiator in the bathroom that may also be damaged but I've seen no leaks yet. Pending testing, my guess is up to a third of it may be salvageable. I believe he has already converted the second and third floors to electric heat. For additional information, I've lived in the apartment for 6 years and the only other possibly related repair that has been done was a call that the hot water wasn't working and there was water in the basement; this was maybe a month before this incident; other than that, there has been no inspections/repairs to this system at least within my apartment. Thank you in advance for any wisdom or advice you can offer!!!

Here are examples of some of the damage:


Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,415
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    Oops. Well, it would help to know if they were really water or steam; water will have two pipes -- one at each end -- and steam will either have two pipes or one pipe at one end and a vent at the other.

    In any case, at least the ones you have pictured are junk. To be safe, any which may have frozen should be replaced -- if they aren't "really" cracked, they probably are cracked but hard to see the crack.

    Steam should drain completely -- that's the common theory -- but it doesn't, usually -- there is almost always a small amount of water left. Sorry about that.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ashleyarcane
  • ashleyarcane
    ashleyarcane Member Posts: 4
    edited February 2019
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    Thanks @Jamie Hall ! There is a pipe on each end, one side has a valve (is that a vent?) Looks like the diagram.
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,438
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    They are all toast.
    That's a shame...
    At this point it is probably less money to convert the system over to Copper fin tube baseboard.
    It will not feel the same as the CI Baseboard but it will heat the building.
  • ashleyarcane
    ashleyarcane Member Posts: 4
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    @kcopp it is a shame! I feel terrible and it all happened so fast! What might the cost ranges actually look like for a job like this (replace cibb vs fin tube)?
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,605
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    Copper fin tube will be cheaper but we don't know if this is hot water or steam an we don't talk $$$$$ here. Either way your plumber is coming tomorrow so you will know one way or the other.

    Too bad about the base ray it's all shot
    ashleyarcane
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,183
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    Thats a damn shame. Cast iron baseboards are an endangered specie. I doubt that the owner will want to spend the additional money on having new cast iron baseboards installed instead of fin tube. The cast iron baseboards and radiatiors offer superior comfort due to their ability to stay hot for a longer period of time. Fin tube also tends to make the boiler run shorter, more frequent burner cycles, I don't care for this either.

    Why was the gas shut down? It must have been tough trying to keep warm the last few weeks.
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
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    I hope the owner doesn't put in electric heat, like he did in the other units.
    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
    ashleyarcanekcopp
  • ashleyarcane
    ashleyarcane Member Posts: 4
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    SuperTech said:

    Thats a damn shame. Cast iron baseboards are an endangered specie. I doubt that the owner will want to spend the additional money on having new cast iron baseboards installed instead of fin tube. The cast iron baseboards and radiatiors offer superior comfort due to their ability to stay hot for a longer period of time. Fin tube also tends to make the boiler run shorter, more frequent burner cycles, I don't care for this either.



    Why was the gas shut down? It must have been tough trying to keep warm the last few weeks.

    @SuperTech It was unfortunately my fault that the gas was turned off; but the worst part is that there wasn't enough (any) advanced notice to prevent something like this. :( It's sure been chilly!

    The gas was reconnected today and the landlord turned on the heat despite my objections and strangely some of the burst baseboards held? The first loop(?) on the system had the most damage and started leaking almost immediately though. Thankfully I was home to tell him to turn it back off in a matter of minutes. Awaiting the plumber now...
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,183
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    Good luck with it! It's awful to have the gas shut off during the coldest days of the year, I agree that some notification should have been given prior to shutting it off this time of year.