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Less obtrusive radiator to replace old cylindrical radiator?

bostondanbostondan Member Posts: 10
Hi all,

Thanks in advance for any recommendations. I was directed here via greenbuildingadvisor.com. We’re hoping to replace our antique cylindrical cast iron radiator with something that takes up less floor space.

We would settle for a more typical rectangular radiator, like the other ones in our home that are up against the wall, but wasn’t sure if there is a better solution for this space.

We currently have steam radiators throughout our first and second floor and the system seems to work reasonably well. However, this radiator is a bit of an eye sore (even if it is an interesting antique!) and we’d like it to blend in a bit more to give us a bit more floor space. Our children also love to try climbing on top of it, which isn't ideal.

I’ve seen some stuff about cast iron baseboard, or low-profile cast iron radiators, but wasn’t sure what would be the right choice here. Someone also suggested that cast iron baseboard might cause water hammer issues, though I didn't fully understand why.

Please excuse the mess in the photo. We just had some work done in that area, including redoing the walls which were old wainscoting that was completely falling apart.

Also, there is fairly easy access to the bottom of the floor in that room (wood floor is directly visible as ceiling in the room below), so that wouldn't be a huge issue.

If anybody knows someone in the Brookline/Boston (Massachusetts) area who would have expertise in this issue to help us that would also be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
Dan



Comments

  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 4,410
    edited June 10
    Looks are a matter of opinion. That radiator is rare and valuable, for me it would be cold dead hands, they don't get much prettier than that one.

    If you find someone who may want that one, perhaps you could work out a trade? I don't think I have any in my house you would want or I would offer to refinish one, deliver it to your house and swap you (I live in PA), yes the rad is that desirable.

    The best place I have seen for rads is Facebook marketplace or craigslist, but I will say Facebook is the go to, there is a mountain of rads on there right now, my wife sends me links all the time.

    Oh I would steer clear of baseboard on steam, it doesn't usually play well with steam.

    Also you mention works reasonably well, are there issues you are having? Steam should be even, comfortable and silent.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • Zipper13Zipper13 Member Posts: 155
    New England Steam Works in RI or Charles Garrity Plumbing and Heating in Springfield (I think) are the local names in steam that I'm familiar with. Both are here on the find a contractor page. Or someone might tag them here. They could offer more leads and services.

    I'm on the North Shore and would love to have that radiator, myself. I'd offer a trade if I was more handy and if these things weren't so heavy!
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,863
    Yes, it would Ryan @New England SteamWorks who would be best for your area, although @Charlie from wmass is just as good -- but slightly farther away (Springfield).

    As to other radiators. Cast iron baseboard, no. It doesn't play well with steam. But there are any number of used and new radiators available which are more conventional -- rectangular plan -- and could go against the wall in that corner quite neatly. Piping them in would be a job for Ryan or Charles, unless you are very handy with threaded pipe...

    And don't junk the existing one! Those things are worth very good money. You just have to find the right person.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • bostondanbostondan Member Posts: 10
    KC_Jones said:

    Looks are a matter of opinion. That radiator is rare and valuable, for me it would be cold dead hands, they don't get much prettier than that one.

    I hadn't realized how much people valued antique radiators! I do see the appeal of it, but I'm ultimately someone who pretty strongly favors practicality over appearance, so being able to push that against the wall and regain floor space would be nice. It takes up more of the room than it looks in the picture because it is reasonably far from the wall. It might be a camera perspective issue that makes it less obvious.
    KC_Jones said:


    If you find someone who may want that one, perhaps you could work out a trade?

    I probably need a professional to deal with this for me since I have very limited knowledge in this area.
    KC_Jones said:


    Oh I would steer clear of baseboard on steam, it doesn't usually play well with steam.

    Thanks. That's the impression I'm getting.
    KC_Jones said:


    Also you mention works reasonably well, are there issues you are having? Steam should be even, comfortable and silent.

    It is silent and fairly comfortable. The only issue is actually that we share heat with the condo above us and they control the Nest thermostat with the temperature sensor in their unit. I think they sometimes open a window while smoking hookah, which leads to the heat running longer than necessary and heating up our unit higher than intended. We've tried turning down the heat via the radiators just in our unit, but then when they DON'T have the windows open our condo ends up colder than desired.

    We've talked to them several times about the issue but nothing has changed. So, the steam radiator system works fairly well, but we just haven't found a way to make it work perfectly when accounting for our neighbors.



  • bostondanbostondan Member Posts: 10

    Yes, it would Ryan @New England SteamWorks who would be best for your area, although @Charlie from wmass is just as good -- but slightly farther away (Springfield).

    As to other radiators. Cast iron baseboard, no. It doesn't play well with steam. But there are any number of used and new radiators available which are more conventional -- rectangular plan -- and could go against the wall in that corner quite neatly. Piping them in would be a job for Ryan or Charles, unless you are very handy with threaded pipe...

    And don't junk the existing one! Those things are worth very good money. You just have to find the right person.

    Thanks for the recommendations!

    How exactly does one sell an old cast iron radiator? Someone above suggested Facebook. Is that the best option? Do I wait until it has been replaced and then work on selling it? Does it have to be refinished in order to sell it?
  • Zipper13Zipper13 Member Posts: 155
    you wont get any insight on labor cost here, but here's an example of high/low price range on new rads:

    I've been intrigued by some of these designs. https://www.castrads.com/us/ but too rich for my blood at the moment.

    prioir owners updated a bedroom and used one that looks identical to these. it works fine, but it's booring to look at if that matters. https://www.afsupply.com/cast-iron-radiator-25-h-4-tubes-4-sections.html?gclid=Cj0KCQjwiYL3BRDVARIsAF9E4Gc1F0G-dUjS53me8W49_9cg9czFRv8pP96M5cDFBHf3NoW_z1aCv_caAolIEALw_wcB
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,318
    edited June 10
    You can put a thermostatic valve before the vent which will stop the radiator from heating if the room is too warm when the heating cycle begins (although it won't stop it in the middle of a cycle). (Assuming this is one pipe steam, I see neither any of the piping or the vent in your picture so I can't tell if it is one or 2 pipe. If it is 2 pipe the valve would go in the supply pipe)
    SuperTech
  • bostondanbostondan Member Posts: 10
    mattmia2 said:

    You can put a thermostatic valve before the vent which will stop the radiator from heating if the room is too warm when the heating cycle begins (although it won't stop it in the middle of a cycle). (Assuming this is one pipe steam, I see neither any of the piping or the vent in your picture so I can't tell if it is one or 2 pipe. If it is 2 pipe the valve would go in the supply pipe)

    I believe it is one pipe. I think we do have thermostatic valves on at least that radiator (the others are harder to access inside their radiator covers). The issue is that by the time we realize the upstairs units have windows open and are overheating our unit, it is too late and the radiator is fully warmed up. Or it happens late at night when we are already in bed and they decide to smoke some hookah.
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,318
    The thermostatic valve would sense room temp and prevent the radiator from venting at the beginning of the heating cycle and prevent it from heating until the the room temp dropped below the setpoint of the thermostatic valve, assuming the sensor for the valve is located outside of the radiator cover where it can accurately sense room temp. It isn't perfect because if it reaches setpoint in the middle of a cycle the radiator will continue to heat until that cycle is completed but it will help keep it in control. This is a valve with a dial that goes between the radiator and vent, not the manual valve at the inlet of the radiator.
  • bostondanbostondan Member Posts: 10
    mattmia2 said:

    The thermostatic valve would sense room temp and prevent the radiator from venting at the beginning of the heating cycle and prevent it from heating until the the room temp dropped below the setpoint of the thermostatic valve, assuming the sensor for the valve is located outside of the radiator cover where it can accurately sense room temp. It isn't perfect because if it reaches setpoint in the middle of a cycle the radiator will continue to heat until that cycle is completed but it will help keep it in control. This is a valve with a dial that goes between the radiator and vent, not the manual valve at the inlet of the radiator.

    There are two valves on the radiator. One seems to be an on/off type of valve, and the other is small and has numbers on it from 1-8. It seems like 1 heats up less than 8, but I haven't noticed it turning off mid-cycle. I might just not know how to use it...
  • bostondanbostondan Member Posts: 10

    That thing is beautiful. It is easily worth whatever marginal floor space it might take up. To me at least.

    Would you like to purchase it from when it gets removed...?

    But seriously, I can definitely see why people are saying it has appeal. In our case it just doesn't fit with the otherwise fairly modern appearance of our condo and takes up floor space in an area that is specifically lacking in adequate space.
    ethicalpaul
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,863
    bostondan said:

    mattmia2 said:

    The thermostatic valve would sense room temp and prevent the radiator from venting at the beginning of the heating cycle and prevent it from heating until the the room temp dropped below the setpoint of the thermostatic valve, assuming the sensor for the valve is located outside of the radiator cover where it can accurately sense room temp. It isn't perfect because if it reaches setpoint in the middle of a cycle the radiator will continue to heat until that cycle is completed but it will help keep it in control. This is a valve with a dial that goes between the radiator and vent, not the manual valve at the inlet of the radiator.

    There are two valves on the radiator. One seems to be an on/off type of valve, and the other is small and has numbers on it from 1-8. It seems like 1 heats up less than 8, but I haven't noticed it turning off mid-cycle. I might just not know how to use it...
    The one which is the on/off type -- is that on the inlet pipe? If so, it must be kept fully open -- otherwise you'll have some odd noises. The other one is an adjustable vent, and yes, it will heat less on 1 than on 8 -- but it won't turn off in mid-cycle. What it will do is let the air out at a controlled rate (slower on 1 than on 8) and then close when steam gets to it.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,318
    There is a version of this valve that can be placed between the radiator and the air vent. The adjustment on the vent itself is just the vent rate and that is to balance the heat between the radiators so they all heat at the same time, larger radiators and radiators further form the boiler need a faster setting, closer and smaller radiators need a slower setting.

    This type of valve between the radiator and vent will stop the heating altogether in an overheated room:

    https://heatinghelp.com/systems-help-center/what-is-a-thermostatic-radiator-valve/
  • SuperTechSuperTech Member Posts: 1,336
    edited June 11
    Damn that is a nice radiator! I would never remove that. I think it would take away from the historical significance of the home and lower the value, but that's just me.

    Does anyone know who made that radiator and when? I've never seen anything like it.
    luketheplumber
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,863
    On selling that radiator. You could try Craigslist, I suppose. Someone might see it. You mention Facebook; I don't know Facebook, so I have no idea.

    Your best bet, though, is going to be to talk to whomever you have do the removal and replacement work. They will have the contacts to handle that.

    It is a valuable antique, not a piece of junk, however much it does or does not fit into your décor.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    Canucker
  • CanuckerCanucker Member Posts: 612
    If I could use that radiator in a hot water system or if I had a steam system, I would gladly take it off your hands. I've always pictured that design of radiator to be a centre piece of the room, like a table in the middle of a walk in closet or the like. Is there no where else in your house that you can use it?
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,610
    bostondan said:

    That thing is beautiful. It is easily worth whatever marginal floor space it might take up. To me at least.

    Would you like to purchase it from when it gets removed...?

    But seriously, I can definitely see why people are saying it has appeal. In our case it just doesn't fit with the otherwise fairly modern appearance of our condo and takes up floor space in an area that is specifically lacking in adequate space.
    I think it has quite a modern look, much more than my more common ones.
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    SuperTechCanucker
  • Zipper13Zipper13 Member Posts: 155
    edited June 15
    I have a few 100 year old lower profile wall mounted rads in my house. I prefer them over the free standing floor ones.
    Quick googling got me here for wall mounted rads:

    https://steamradiators.com/index.html

    can't speak to the quality or or value, but I think these meet the "modern" aesthetic requirement. And they appear to be based in Haverhill, MA.

    What do you all think about steel rads vs cast iron rads?
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 4,410
    Hmmm...
    I do have a wall mount, just needs cleaned and painted and some new brackets fabricated...


    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,822
    @KC_Jones , you can get brackets from OCS Industries.

    @bostondan , I'd simply move that rad over a bit so it sits in the corner.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
    ethicalpaulkcopp
  • bostondanbostondan Member Posts: 10
    Thank you for all the replies. Does anybody have a recommendation for a specific replacement radiator? Ours appears to have 30 cylindrical tubes that are all a bit less than 1.5" in diameter and approximately 30" tall (hard to measure exactly due to the design).

    We'd be looking for something that would be pressed up close to the wall and that could be covered.

    I absolutely appreciate that people are saying our current radiator has antique (or even modern) appeal, but it doesn't really fit into the aesthetics of our house, which is an attempt at being more minimalist and modern. I also know that cast iron steam radiators heat very well, which is why I won't make any attempt right now to change our overall heating system.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,863
    If you can't find a more accurate value from a catalogue or looking in @DanHolohan 's book EDR, the EDR value of that radiator is around 30 square feet.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 4,410
    Also keep in mind, cast iron radiators are supposed to be 2" away from the wall for optimal performance.

    I would suggest thinking of this situation like this.

    You are not going to reduce volume of the emitter. So if you want narrower, you will have to go taller, longer, or both. If you want to go less tall, you will have to go longer, or thicker, or both.

    That is to maintain the output of what you currently have. If you do a heat loss of the area that radiator is heating you may be able to adjust the size smaller, but will then most likely have to adjust the venting. Personally I doubt it's worth the effort for the little bit you may be able to reduce the size.

    If you want it to have a cover, it gets even bigger. Here is some good information about covers.
    https://heatinghelp.com/systems-help-center/radiator-covers/
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
    ethicalpaul
  • Zipper13Zipper13 Member Posts: 155
    Note also that the existing radiator may be over sized now for modern insulation and boilers. I live in your area in a single family from the 20s. Only one of my radiators has ever heated all the way across the top (and even then, the bottom stayed cool). I'm a novice to be sure, so perhaps that could suggest some other problem with my system, but to me, it means that I COULD go smaller when/if I replace my radiators. I suspect that if you're comfortable with your current radiator's capacity, then swapping out for the same capacity is safe, but you may get out cheaper and equally warm with a smaller one
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
    ted_p
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,822
    You can find ratings for this type of rad here:

    https://heatinghelp.com/heating-museum/ratings-for-gold-nason-bundy-and-reed-radiators/

    I'd bet that one's a Nason. Is there any name on it?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,863
    If it's that 30 tube circular Nason… I wasn't that far off, was I?
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • bostondanbostondan Member Posts: 10
    Thanks for the tips. Ryan from Steamworks recommended a used radiator with an EDR of 30, so I guess you guys are correct.

    As one comment above noted, the radiator takes a long time to heat to the top, and sometimes the top doesn’t heat at all. That does make me think we could get away with a smaller radiator, but I don’t know enough about this to really have any idea.
  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 3,499
    You may just need more venting...
  • bostondanbostondan Member Posts: 10
    Any recommendations for where to get a good custom radiator cover in the Boston area that won’t overly impair the function of the radiator?
  • branimalbranimal Member Posts: 115
    If OP were to buy a used radiator, how would he test it? Say it's not heating season or the radiators are in some guy's garage, how would he go about testing for hairline cracks? Can you plug the air vent, and then pump up the radiator full of air using a pressure tester?
  • bostondanbostondan Member Posts: 10
    Ryan from New England Steam Works suggested that a used radiator was fine and that they test it, refinish it, and basically make sure it functions as well as a new one. I questioned whether I should buy a new one, but he said that you just end up paying more for the same product.
    BobC
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,822
    We do the same thing all the time.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
    ethicalpaulluketheplumber
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,318
    There are plenty of used radiators that are far better than new.
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