hot water baseboard, what are the metal fins around the pipe for?


Old 05-13-05, 12:56 PM
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Question hot water baseboard, what are the metal fins around the pipe for?

Hi I have questions about hot water baseboard heat. First what are the metal fins around the copper piping? What do they do? Can they be replaced if they are all bent and messed up with out having to replace the entire copper pipe? Also, I want to change over all the outside metal casings (not the pipes), I have slant fin 30, is this a difficult job? I see at home depot, they sell slant fin 30 but only in a few sizes, what do you do, cut them with tin snips to make them fit?

Thanx, Larry
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Old 05-13-05, 04:41 PM
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The fins are there to absorb the heat from the copper pipes & transmit it by convective air currents to heat the room; if you look closely, 2 sides of the fins are closed & the top & bottom are open (if they are installed properly); the high temps in the copper pipe cause a "chimney effect" causing cold air to enter from the bottom & exit from the top of the baseboard.

The bent fins can be easily straightened with a "fin comb", sold at heating supply stores; there is also a similar "comb" sold for straightening aluminum air conditioning fins.

It is usually an easy matter to remove the metal enclosure sections of the baseboard since most parts snap on to each other (the exception is the backing plate, which has to be unscrewed from the wall); you will save a ton of money by taking the metal parts out in the yard on a windless day; sand the visible areas (front & tops) to remove any imperfections & to allow the new paint to adhere well, & place them on newspaper or plastic sheeting & spray paint them in your color of choice (white is usually best); they'll come out looking brand new.

If money is no object, heating supply stores & some big box stores sell the metal enclosures only, known as "dummy baseboard"; they will usually quote you the price per foot.

Baseboard sections are sold in one foot increments from 2' up to 12'; existing units can be easily cut.

Baseboard (and copper tubing for that matter) are made of thin metal which can be easily cut with a circular saw fitted with a steel-cutting blade, & then dressed with a hand file & spot painted(wearing safety glasses to protect your eyes if you attempt this is an absolute must).
Old 05-13-05, 04:54 PM
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About covered it all. You can go to
And see what they have also it pays to vacuum the under side of the fins there about every 6 months. The lint from the air there gets on the fins underside and just about stops the air from going on upover the fins and copperto heat the room.

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