Should I Upgrade to Cast Iron Radiators?


I live on Long Island, in a high ranch style house. The master bedroom is in the back corner of the house, and about three feet of the back of the room is cantilevered out over the backyard. In the winter, this room gets COLD.
I have a hot water system with baseboard radiators (with metal fins around the pipe). In this room, the baseboard is on that back wall (that's cantilvered out). The room is 13x16, with that wall being 13 feet. I have about 11 feet of baseboard on that wall from pipe elbow to pipe elbow. There are no other radiators in that room.
Here's my question. If I remove the baseboard with the metal fins, and replace it with cast iron baseboard, will that make a big difference in how warm the room gets? I don't want the room to get too hot - just warm. Now, it's the coldest room in the house. The room is 13x16, with an 8' ceiling. I have sheetrock walls and insulation in the walls from the 1960s. When I paint (not anytime soon), I intend to rip out the exterior walls and resinsualte and resheetrock.
In the meantime, wil changing the radiators help? Again, I don't want to make the room TOO HOT, just warmer than it is now.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
ftres wrote:

Depends...more area at same temperature would help but if current area is sufficient to cool water passing thru them now for most part then it won't gain much.
You'll need to know what the current entrance/exit temp's are now to tell. What's the plumbing/distribution lines? If galvanized, perhaps there's a corrosion constriction. Or, perhaps the valve to this room radiator isn't fully open. I'd suggest seeing if there's a fixable other problem first before the radiator itself; that's likely not the problem.
As noted, it's quite probable the most cost-effective and overall satisfactory solution may be insulation and storm windows if don't or even replacements if they're old and leaky. Don't forget ceiling/floor insulation, either.
--
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The radiator gets hot now. So do all the radiators on that zone. I added insulation to the attic a few years ago and it helped some. I know the insuation in the walls is old but can't replace it now. The windows are replacement windows.. They seal pretty well - I don't feel too much cold air from them.
In the same exact room, will 11 feet of cast iron do a better job of heating a room than 11 feet of baseboard?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"ftres" wrote

Offhand I will say no. Both are metal and radiate heat. The difference is in the speed they radiate heat at. Once to the same temp, both will act the same but the cast iron will take longer to come to temp, yet provide a longer heat return (basically it will hold the heat longer).
Got a cast iron pan? It doesnt give off 'more heat' than a regular one at the low or medium setting on your stove top, but it gives off a more even one with less heat loss. Although cast iron can take a higher heat load, it's not really relevant that you can get it red-hot in this situation before it melts as you have a fire (grin).
You may get a minimal difference due to it's longer hold, but it's not gonna be much.
Obviously the answer it to find the worst of the heat leaching spots. It sounds like that is the floor part. See if you can insulate that.
Here's some of the less expensive ideas i have, until you can 'fix it right'.
1) if that floor area open below has no wind break, put something up around it (that allows a little airflow so no dampness builds). Like, a 3ft 'wood dogear fencing'. Just adding a windbreak can help if it's a spot prone to being hit by winter wind.
2) if the floor area below allows room, see if you can tuck some of the foam-board stuff used for exterior walls before the siding is added. It's thin and usually blue but some of mine is green (old house, many repairs, I think they changed colors). Ask one of the guys here for more as i've not done that myself, just seen it. They can give details on thicknesses and if there is a color issue I am missing, which you need. I recall it seemed 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
3) Get good insulating curtins for the windows and layer them. Yes, they are 'no see through' but you'll hold heat better even with one layer. I have a large picture window and the addition of even lace curtins behind the vertical blinds, made a notable difference.
4) get a radient 'dish' heater or some other electric or kerosine sort to augment the heat. Be sure if using kerosine, it is rated for indoor use and you'll have to prop a window a little (CO2 detector highly recommended and cheap to get). The electric will cost a bit but if you get a simple portable, they can put out quite a bit of heat when needed and often have settings that shut them off when you hit a certain temp.
Warning on radient heaters. The ones with a dish that look a bit like a rotating fan work best and are quite cheap to run but be sure they are not too close to anything. I have one from Japan (used to live there) with 3 wattage settings which equate to heat output. Don turned it to 'Highest' one day and fortunately caught it as a set of curtins started crisping 15 feet away. He'd set it to not rotate and yes, that much heat from this type is possible but probably not something you'd find in the USA.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Does the pipe get hot now? If not, look into why. Perhaps there's air in the line. Is this radiator on it own zone, or is it shared with other radiators? Check to see what temp is set on the boiler. It should be about 180 deg.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Are you sure the room is cold because it doent get enough heat or because it is losing heat. I would check insulation and air leaks. Infra-red thermometers are fairly inexpensive and make looking for cold spot in the wall,floor and ceiling pretty easy. Bad insulation in my house was costing me over a thousand a year and cost me 4000 to correct. Well worth the price.
jimmie
Jimmie
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
ftres wrote:

I'm not sure of the figures, but it seems you don't have enough baseboard for that size room. Like others said, check if it gets hot, if not then bleed it. If it's the last loop on the line and the baseboard doesn't get as hot as the other rooms, you could have a much longer baseboard installed. Or if there isn't much wall space, depending on how ugly it may look, you can run another baseboard on top of the existing ones and just loop the pipe back again. I thought they made special taller baseboards for this purpose but I don't see them anymore.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It does get hot. The baseboard is mostly the length of that wall so there's no room to add more. Not on other walls either.
Asthetically, I'd rather replace it with cast iron than run a second baseboard on top of the existing one.
My original question still remains: does cast iron do a better job of heating than regular baseboard with the fins? In other words, will 11 feet of cast iron baseboard produce more heat than 11 feet of baseboard with fins (what's the real name for this?) ?
I'm sure there are specs out there that tell you how much of each type of radiator you need to heat a room that's 13x16x8. I also need to make up for the fact that I'm losing heat somewhere (the floor under the cantilever - the radiator sits over this cantilever).
I realize than in the long run, I'd benefit from ripping out the walls and the floor over the cantilever, and insulating EVERYTHING, including the pipes themelves. But since this isn't an option (atleast for the foreseeable future), can I compensate for it by putting in cast iron instead?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Those are not your only options.

Check out this site: http://www.slantfin.com/product-baseboard.html They manufacture both hydronic fin-tube and cast iron baseboard radiator/convectors.
From that page you can see that the cast iron baseboard does not necessarily have a greater output than a fin-tube baseboard. The manufacturer's rating is only part of it, though. Cast iron will take longer to heat up and start radiating heat, but it will also hang on to the heat longer and will radiate warmth after a fin-tube baseboard has cooled down.
This page will give you more information on light commercial baseboard solutions for your situation. http://www.slantfin.com/cgi-bin/specifications.cgi?p=multipak80
Be aware that the heat output of a baseboard is dependent on how it is fed. If your burner is providing water at a relatively low temperature, you will get less heat at the baseboard. Likewise, if the run to the baseboard in question is long and/or at the end of a run, that can be tough to correct.
A 1960's house probably does not have much in the way of insulation in the cantilevered floor. Some people believe that heat only rises and there is little heat loss through a floor. That is not true. It may be worthwhile to open up the soffit under the cantilever and investigate the insulation situation. From what you say that is probably the first line of attack. You can also get some of those stick on thermometers and place them around the area that isn't being heated sufficiently to determine where the cold spots are. You should also check to see if the exposed baseboard copper (basement, hidden behind convector covers) is insulated. The insulation will help the water hang on to the heat until it is delivered where you want it.
R
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
ftres wrote:

Is there any kind of heat control on these radiators? If so, make sure that this one is wide open, and turn down the controls in the warmer rooms. The boiler will run longer to get the other rooms up to temp, and will thus warm this room more.
That, and money spent on insulation (better spent than on radiators) may well solve your problem.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My insulation started paying me back at $80 a month, worked out about the same for heating and cooling, That was 11 years ago, still paying me back. Once verified that it could be significantly improved I would take out a loan on my house to do it. I would pull the trim from around the windows and see how well they were insulated. You can lose a lot of heat there. I made some window panels of rigid foam while living in an apartment, wife covered them in some pretty cloth. We would close them at night and open them in the day to let in the sun. Reversed that in the summer. This made a very noticeable difference in our electric bill. You may want to try putting an electric heater in the room for a while, this could give you an idea of how much added heat it is going to take to warm the room.
JImmie
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 30 Sep 2009 13:01:49 -0700 (PDT), JIMMIE

I added $200 worth of insulation to an attic that was already pretty well insulated. It saved me over $800 in oil last winter. It will continue to give me those savings every year onward. The R.O.I. on insulation is hard to beat.
If the OP is thinking of doubling the output of his radiator to heat one lousy bedroom, he's nuts to consider doing ANYTHING else before addressing the obvious and extreme "insulation problem".
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sep 30, 7:49pm, snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote:

I think he said the floor was cantilevered too. I would close that in to keep the wind out from under it at least for this winter. That may well be where he is loosing his heat. He is going to have to do some investigating to find where the problem..I agree the ROI on insulation is outstanding. Back in the 70s my father in law built a house with 11 inch exterior walls. The ceiling is equally well insulated. The house is 3 bedroom 3 bath 2400 sq ft heated and his electric bill has never run over S100 that was even when he had electric heat. Now with a heat pump it runs about $80 plus the security light fee.
Jimmie
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 30 Sep 2009 18:37:00 -0700 (PDT), JIMMIE

I, too, think it sounds like a cold floor more than anything. If the OP is strapped for cash, he could lay down a temporary floor of 1 inch foil faced rigid foam with cheap carpet over it right over the existing floor, to get through this season. That wouldn't be ideal, but it would help.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.