Monday, January 10, 2011

Baseboard Heaters vs Cast Iron Radiators. No heat on the second floor.

Many homeowners during renovation are opting to remove big heavy cast iron radiators in favor of sleek, space saving baseboard heating units in huge numbers.  The appeal is that the baseboard units are cheap and occupy little space like a baseboard which fits in with the aesthetic appeal of renovation construction.  What they are overlooking is that cast iron radiators might be big, heavy, and obvious, but they provide more than adequate heat for any space that requires heat.  Not to mention that opting to install old cast iron radiators someone just tossed out is as green as you can get in construction.  When your contractor removes a cast iron radiator from a renovation demolition, it goes to various antique dealers, or plumbing supply stores who resell to homeowners and developers looking for cast iron radiators to install into their projects.   Homeowners opting for baseboard heating, don't realize that you will have to blanket the walls with baseboard heaters  equivalent to the total square footage of the room just to be as effective as one or two cast iron radiators; So if your room is 500 sq ft, you need to install 500 sq ft of baseboard to adequately heat that space.

I have a friend who owns a six unit apartment building in Staten Island, NY.  He had continuous heating problems as his apartments were always cold.  He had a high rent roll that he was about to lose because his tenants got sick of paying high rent to walk around in their apartment in thermals, sweats, winter coats and snuggies, all while using the stove to heat their apartment.  He was pretty distraught because he had his local Rotor Rooter plumber on call and he still had no heat on the second floor and was sick of the complaining from his tenants.  One day he called us in to give him some advice on why his apartments were so cold.  When we looked at his boilers, everything was working properly.  The pipes were hot, he just had one problem, he had five, five foot baseboard heaters heating up a 1,000 sf apartment. 

Baseboard heaters are cheap $50-60 for five feet, but in this case cheap is dear.  While baseboard units heat up quickly because of the aluminum fins attached to the unit, they don't hold any hot water at all because it is a conduit and doesn't have any sections to hold the hot water.  As soon as the boiler shuts off, the baseboard heater quickly goes cold.   A conventional radiator ($14-16 per section used and $22-24 per section new) is made out  of cast iron which is also its drawback as it gets so hot that you can easily burn yourself by touching it (use radiator covers). The beauty of cast iron radiators is that it takes a longer time to heat up and conversly provides residual heat for 2-4 hours, long after the boiler stops heating the water.  I recommended that since John had a slim budget, that he go with the cast iron baseboard radiators (shown on right) @$25 per foot which wouldn't cost much to install as he could buy the identical size as the baseboard he was replacing thus no fitting adjustments from the plumber, thus lowering his installation cost.  

To make a long story short, John called to say thanks, his heating problem is now solved.  He's got so much heat in his apartment it's ridiculous, and his tenants are now able to walk around in t-shirts, and retire the sweats, thermals, the snuggies, and the stove is now only for cooking.

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                                        Learn how to solve your heating problems

                                                     How to fire your plumber: No heat on the second floor
                           No Heat On The Second Floor : How to fire your plumber
                                                               Buy now
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