Replacing fins in a baseboard (forced hot-water) heating system?

Moved into a house that has baseboard heating: forced hot-water from a oil furnace.
In trying to clean up pet smells and left-overs (hair!) I pulled out each baseboard cover and vacuumed all the hair, but the fins themselves are so dirty - black (soot?) - that I think they must not be efficient any more.
Second, I noticed before we got the house painted, in one room there were black streaks on the walls for a short distance starting at the baseboard and ending say 6" or so above it. I would hate for that to happen once we start using the heat this winter!
I cleaned off the black stuff of backs of the baseboard covers, but like I said, fins are still pretty dirty. Is there any way to replace the fins without draining the pipes, cutting them, replacing the fins, and soldering the pipes again? If that's going to be done in the entire house (4 rooms + kitchen) then that might be quite expensive.
Any suggestions to keep the heating efficient and keep the paint new?
Thanks.
-- Himanshu
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I'd call that a boiler. That being said, people east of the Mississippi call the thing that moves water a pump and the same thing west of the Mississippi a circulator.

If you cleaned them and got all the 'stuff' off of them, I'll almost guarantee the efficiency is close to the origonal.

Check this link out. http://www.heatinghelp.com/newsletter.cfm?IdY

I really can't think of a way to do that, especially since I can't see it.

Keep the heating efficient? Get your boiler checked out by someone that knows what they're doing. Keep the paint new? If I knew the answer to that, a lot of painters would be out of business!
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On Mon, 04 Oct 2004 04:17:34 GMT, Himanshu

You wouldn't replace the fins, you'd just replace the baseboard element (pipe + fins). In any case, there's no need. While a little gunk on the fins may slow down heat transfer, it doesn't really affect efficiency, at least not enough to worry about. Any heat that isn't transferred from the water to the air just stays in the water for the next time around the loop. The place to address efficiency, as HeatMan said, is at the boiler; have it checked for proper operation and adjustment. That will do more for efficiency by far than cleaning the fins.
If you are really worried about it, and have time on your hands, you can use any household spray cleaner (put down plastic first), scrub with a long bristle brush, and rinse with water.
The streaks above the radiator are caused from the normal air currents as the warm air rises from the radiator. Often the wall is cool and moisture from the warm air condenses a little on it, making it ever so slightly damp. Then dirt particles in the air passing over it collect forming the dark streaks. Even if the wall is warm enough so no moisture forms, the steady air currents in that area will build up dirt faster than other areas. Just keeping a clean house so the air is as clean as possible will minimize the problem, but you will never eliminate it. Some radiators have baffles you can set to help direct the air out into the room away from the wall. That can help too.
If you repaint the wall, consider a semi-gloss paint that is easier to clean than a true flat paint. And the smoothness of the gloss reduces how fast the streaks build up as well.
HTH,
Paul
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Paul Franklin wrote:

<snip>

Heatman & Paul,
Thanks for your replies. So far I've vacuumed the fins and cleaned the baseboard covers to remove all the black deposits.
I came across this page which seems to say that the black stuff might be deteriorating metal from fins (look at section "Other Sooty Stain Sources" near the end of the web page)
<http://hem.dis.anl.gov/eehem/98/981108.html
My symptoms are almost exactly like the pictures shown in the article.
Here are pictures from my house in case you want to see:
<http://hgohel.home.comcast.net/house/
The bottom-most picture is of the original dirty baseboards, and the top-most is after the vacuuming and cleaning.
-- Himanshu
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On Sun, 10 Oct 2004 16:38:16 GMT, Himanshu

I've found these stains to be worst in homes where people use candles a lot. Those things really put out a lot of invisible soot. Invisible at least till it sticks to the walls.
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