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Baseboard fin surface temp.

mikemac52 Member Posts: 47
What approximate temperature will the fins on hydronic baseboard reach assuming 170 average water temp?
Do baseboard heaters wear out? If so, how do you know?

I'm in discussion with tenants who say the baseboard is worn out and needs replacing. Their bills are quite high.

Thanks for your time,
Mad Dog_2


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,650
    Baseboards don't wear out. There are, after all, no moving parts to wear. However, they can be damaged -- the fins can be bent and bashed. This will reduce the heat output -- but not much. What can reduce the heat output is if they aren't allowed to have air circulate. This can be as simple as failing to clean them now and then, or as stupid as pushing a deep pile carpet up against the cover to stop air circulation.

    But they don't wear out, and they don't need replacement with time.

    The surface temperature of the fins will approach the temperature of the water within, though it will never be quite as high.

    The tenants' bills being high has nothing to do with the baseboards. It might be an inefficient boiler. It might be keeping the thermostat high. It might be leaving a window open...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    bburdMad Dog_2
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,167
    edited May 2023
    Baseboards will probably wear out after hundreds of years of use, if the building lasts that long. What can go wrong is that the fins get blocked by dust bunnies and lint. A careful vacuum cleaning of the underside of the fins will remove the blockage. Another issue can be incorrect installation of the fins, I have actually seen installers place the element on the supports at 90 degrees to the intended design installation. On some of those fins there is a small support bend on the vertical edge of the fins. By turning them 90 degrees, the structural bend acts like a closed damper, blocking air flow through the fins.

    Another common problem is caused by wall to wall carpet with thick padding installed under the cover of the radiator. This often blocks the bottom air inlet, substantially reducing the air flow thru the enclosure. Another observation would be to look at the conditions of the aluminum fins. Have they been bent or otherwise damaged to cause a reduction of the air flow thru the baseboard enclosure? If that is the case, then replacement is often the only option in most cases. Which brings me to the final thing to look for: Are all the baseboard covers in place? if there are covers missing, then the enclosure design is compromised. Without the enclosure and front cover, the air flow across the fins will be dramatically reduced. Reduces air flow equals reduced heat output.

    Hope this helps

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
    Copious amounts of dust..Shop Vac time .Mad Dog
  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 506
    edited May 2023
       Someone did mention a damper. Is it possible the dampers are closed? 
       Was on a remodel job recently where the painters painted the baseboard including the dampers in the closed position. It took several hours to cut through the cured paint to release them.