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Looking for a facelift...Trying to swap old style steam radiators with a new look.

ChrisF
ChrisF Member Posts: 46
I have these convector style, steam heat radiators and covers, but am wondering if these can be swapped out for something that looks a little more modern and cosmetically appealing? I will be gutting an original 1956 built bathroom, and in my opinion, it would look a lot nicer if I could replace the convectors and covers with something more up-to-date. Does a baseboard style, steam radiator exist, or anything else that is smaller? Has anyone done this kind of replacement?, and if so, please offer some direction. Thank you


Comments

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,089
    I would call yours "new style steam fixtures" and I would look to Craigslist for the older cast iron radiators to replace them.

    A lot of the cast iron radiators have a very "modern" (design modern) design.

    Or search "cast iron steam radiators" on google shopping to see a variety of current models. Baseray are very modern and clean if you have two-pipe which it appears you do.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    ChrisF
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,461
    Two things:
    1. Whatever you choose, you need a radiator designed for steam.
    2. You need to find out the EDR of the existing convector so that you know its output and select the new radiator with at least that much output.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    ChrisF
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,089
    @Ironman would your point #2 apply even if the existing convector was making a space too hot?
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    ChrisF
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,461
    Yes, but proper venting or a TRV could Usually solve that.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,089
    Well sure, but if you are replacing the radiator anyway, it's the perfect time to size the new one to the heating requirements of the space. Smaller radiators even cost less!
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • ChrisF
    ChrisF Member Posts: 46
    @ethicalpaul @Ironman Thank you for those answers. Another option I am considering is to just custom build a wood cover to replace the current metal one on there, but not sure if that would create any issues.
    Something similar to this here, but a little slimmer profile...


    mattmia2New England SteamWorks
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,672
    Yes you can build enclosures. Just make sure enough air can get in the bottom and heated air out the top or front.

    Enclosures may reduce the heat output some what
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,089
    The comfort and "temperature leveling" effect of cast iron is worth a look over those fins IMO
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,461
    The cover must come in contact the edge of the coil so it separates the top from the bottom in order to create a "chimney effect" so air is drawn through the coil.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    ChrisF
  • ChrisF
    ChrisF Member Posts: 46
    @ethicalpaul Thanks. I'm sure the cast iron would be better, but I just don't want to add anything bulkier in size.
    What I really would prefer is a regular baseboard option similar to this, but unfortunately, it doesn't seem like anything like that exists for one pipe steam heat.

  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,461
    Baseray cast iron baseboard can be used with steam. It's just gonna take a lot more lineal footage to get the same output as that convector.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    ChrisF
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,672
    I have seen copper fin tube use on one pipe steam. I would not do it unless you can add a return line or loop seal it back into the supply
    ChrisF
  • adrian123
    adrian123 Member Posts: 24
    Governale makes a baseboard cast iron radiator, https://governaleindustries.com/products/gov-board/.

    At the plumbing supply place where I’ve bought a radiator, Wallington Plumbing Supply, they sell them in 2 foot sections for about $100.

    ChrisF
  • Jakek
    Jakek Member Posts: 40
    This is a thread in which I ask for advice on removing an in-wall radiator and show the finished wall with the new rad installed. It might be useful to you. These radiators are not cheap but look pretty sharp for single pipe steam.
    ChrisF
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,843
    If you're replacing emitters I would say a manual J is in order, not matching what's there. 

    At the same time I would look at the size of the boiler and it's piping to see what can be changed to match the new system and improve things.

    Charging things just for cosmetics and matching what's there seems nuts to me especially if it's known to be wrong.  If your going to do it, do it right and do it once!

    Chances are you could get by with lower EDR which could mean a smaller boiler down the road.  

    Please share some pictures of the boiler and it's piping just out of curiosity.  Let's start at the beginning.

    For a heat loss slantfin has a decent app that's free.  Take your time and do it as accurate as you can.


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,661
    The cover might be your best option. That was my first thought was if someone made a more modern cover that would fit it, but making one out of wood would also work. The Baseray is about the only thing that would be less noticeable unless you had the space underneath to make an indirect radiator and the parts to do it are still available.
    ChrisF
  • motoguy128
    motoguy128 Member Posts: 355
    How old is the boiler? You might take the opportunity to replace the boiler at the same time and size it correctly for radiators, that are sized for the current heat loss of the house. Also insulate the main if it isn’t; already and tighten the pickup factor.

    That being said, convectors were not typically oversized much.
    ChrisF
  • ChrisF
    ChrisF Member Posts: 46
    @adrian123 Thank you. Would you know if I could replace with the cast iron baseboard using the same linear feet as the existing convector?
  • ChrisF
    ChrisF Member Posts: 46
    @motoguy128 Thank you for that information. The boiler isn't that old. It was replaced by the previous homeowner 8 years ago. As it is, I believe the boiler is oversized, at 160,000 btu, and the heating area of the house is under 1800 square feet. It would be nice to replace everything and do it the right way, but cost is definitely a factor.
  • ChrisF
    ChrisF Member Posts: 46
    @Jakek Thank you! That is an awesome job you did there. Was that the only radiator in the house that you replaced like that?
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 193
    One thing to keep in mind is that radiators in bathrooms were typically oversized by 10% or so. Most people like a bathroom to be fairly warm.

    Bburd
  • Dave T_2
    Dave T_2 Member Posts: 64
    From the original picture posted, looks like the convector is a finned tube - my guess aluminum and copper.If thats true and all the other heaters in the house are the same then it is not proper to mix in a cast iron radiator as cast iron heats slower and holds heat longer. Not many would recommend copper finned tube baseboard on a steam system BUT this is one application where it may work? Ask an experienced heating person to look at the whole system and decide.

    As for installing a different size (likely a heat loss would point to a smaller heater), Because all the heaters are heated on a single zone, by a single thermostat, I would try to keep the same balance. If all the heaters are oversized and in this new room you install a small one, the zone may not cycle as often as the small heater wants in cold weather, result is this room cools off more than rest before heating again.
  • Everything old is new again. You might just want to have the cover sandblasted and refinished in a perfectly coordinated color. Or in a wildly extravagant or exotic finish. 
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • lockdown_lou
    lockdown_lou Member Posts: 15
    I have Charleston Pro steel steam radiators in a recently renovated master bed and bath.   Maybe 20 feet of them.  They look great mounted on the wall in a slick gray powder coat.   They all have 1” risers, heat smoking hot super fast and cool down the instant the boiler shuts off.   Makes for some challenging balancing when the rest of the house has original American Radiator dual-column Victorian style monsters. 
  • mikespipe
    mikespipe Member Posts: 21
    When redoing a bathroom I always like to install electric radiant heat while leaving the existing steam or hot water. I find it lets me not heat the house on days when the call for heat would be marginal and yet it makes the bathroom one of the most comfortable rooms in the house. if the heat in the house is on full blast the electric does not need to run. and the electric uses a very small amount of power to heat the floor. the customizing of the cabinet is probably the way for you to go for esthetics.