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Using vertical pipes as heat

Long time member but infrequent poster here, except when my plumber starts asking me a bunch of questions about how to change my one-pipe steam system.

I'm reconfiguring some rooms on the first floor, leaving them without radiators. There are, however, some vertical pipes that run through the space to feed 2nd and 3rd floor radiators. My contractor suggested just leaving those pipes exposed (they are currently covered by a soffit). Assuming it's enough heat, Is there anything wrong with that? Will there be too much heat loss through the pipe before it gets to the radiator? I see it all the time in NYC apartment buildings.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,415
    There won't be that much heat loss, although the upstairs radiators will need rebalancing, as they will be slower to get heat than they were. There also won't be much heat from the pipes into the rooms, either: if we suppose that they are around 2 inches in diameter, you are looking at around 100 BTUh per foot of pipe. A 100 watt light bulb comes in at around 300 BTUh... so for an 8 foot ceiling you get a little less heat than 3 100 watt light bulbs.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England