Moved into a house that has baseboard heating: forced hot-water from a
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
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?
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
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.
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)
My symptoms are almost exactly like the pictures shown in the article.
Here are pictures from my house in case you want to see:
The bottom-most picture is of the original dirty baseboards, and the
top-most is after the vacuuming and cleaning.
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