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Ancient ducted convectors on steam system

These are two of about eighteen enclosures that are ducted to each room of a 100+ year old house. An ancient steam boiler is supplying a radiator in each enclosure.

The system seems to work pretty well. My question is what provision would normally be made for return air? As in the two in the picture, the others had the bottem cut open and peeled back, leaving sharp, pointed edges. It almost seems like they were cut open as an afterthought. Would this be typical? There was a louvered door at the top of the cellar steps.



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