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Radiator in unfinished attic

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Shahrdad
Shahrdad Member Posts: 120
One of my friends was touring an 1892 mansion in St. Louis, and he noticed these radiators in the attic. They look at lot like radiators used in indirect radiant heating systems, but from what I know, these were always placed in the basement, which would then allow the hot air to rise. Why would similar radiators be in an unfinished attic?



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  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,835
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    good question. who knows what they were originally trying to do. Those look like indirect heathers to me.
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 933
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    The only thing that comes to mind is offsetting the heat loss through the roof. I have seen this in places like pre-war museum buildings with large skylights.

    Bburd
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 17,006
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    Was there ductwork coming to these units? They may have been to cause a natural draft in a ventilation system.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
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    mattmia2
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,105
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    Get the snow off of the roof?
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 863
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    An antique form of "ice dam removal"?
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    There may have be an open expansion tank in that attic space. The exposed radiator would have kept it from freezing. 
    Retired and loving it.
    Charlie from wmassGGrossmattmia2
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    Yes. Domestic water. That’s why the radiator is there. 
    Retired and loving it.
    PC7060Pammyhammymvickersmattmia2
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 863
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    Our 1860's farmhouse in Michigan had a large domestic water tank in the attic that was filled by a ram-pump placed in a flowing stream 1/4 mile away. Tank maintained a constant outflow. The house also had cisterns in the cellar that were filled by the wooden rain gutters for soft water. Hand pumps at the sinks for cistern water.
    Pammyhammy
  • kmj
    kmj Member Posts: 3
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    Guessing: preventing ice dams
  • rberq
    rberq Member Posts: 6
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    A guess -- Some coal-fired boilers had (still have) a "dump zone" to absorb excess heat, because the mass of burning coal can not be turned off instantly like an oil or gas flame. Normally no water at all circulates in the dump zone, but the system is there in an emergency, as an alternative to get rid of heat before resorting to pressure-release venting. So these radiators may be a holdover from that type of system???
  • Adk1guy
    Adk1guy Member Posts: 68
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    Yes. Domestic water. That’s why the radiator is there. 

    That makes sense, is that not a steam vent upper left in pic indicating a steam system? I love the simple hefty pipe supports.


    mattmia2
  • stm212
    stm212 Member Posts: 1
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    They actually look like sections of a cast iron boiler. The nubs on the face would be to increase surface area as flue gas passed between sections.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,956
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    kmj said:

    Guessing: preventing ice dams

    It will create ice dam's!
    rberqmattmia2MarjPinard
  • mvickers
    mvickers Member Posts: 30
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    Storing the water that high as kinetic system pressure + aux heating
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,331
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    I don't think so but those radiators,when empty, make an excellent expansion tank. Again I don't think so but they can be a condenser/air vent for steam heat.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,792
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    pecmsg said:

    kmj said:

    Guessing: preventing ice dams

    It will create ice dam's!
    Not if it keeps it so warm up there that the snow immediately melts!

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
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  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    I have heard tale that durning the depression in a near by early 1900 community that after the stock market crash that money was such a concern that in fact the wealthy had the servants finished 3 floor living quarters removed to lower the property taxes .supposly they would completely unassembly the old slate roofs ,rafters everything remove the outside walls and put the roof back on . I was not only told this by a old timer but had been in a few attics where in fact not only radiators but also sinks ,tunes and toilets where stick in place no wall but tile still on the floor. I guess labor was beyond cheap and every body needed to work . Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • gassyman
    gassyman Member Posts: 5
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    I am with PECMSG on this one, ice dams are created when heat migrates through the roof and melt the snow which then runs down to the overhang portion of the roof which has no such heat, and freezes there. Other than ice-melt cables, the cure for ice dams is more insulation in the attic to prevent melting on the roof... until ambient temperature allows it to melt off of the eaves as well.
    As to the radiators, I trust Dan. :)
    MarjPinard
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,331
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    gassyman said:

    I am with PECMSG on this one, ice dams are created when heat migrates through the roof and melt the snow which then runs down to the overhang portion of the roof which has no such heat, and freezes there. Other than ice-melt cables, the cure for ice dams is more insulation in the attic to prevent melting on the roof... until ambient temperature allows it to melt off of the eaves as well.
    As to the radiators, I trust Dan. :)

    How about sheet metal to conduct heat from warm part of roof to overhang? One problem with unheated attic is too much snow buildup.
    MarjPinard
  • CLamb
    CLamb Member Posts: 298
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    Perhaps it is to discourage penguins from nesting in the attic.