replacing iron with copper


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Old 03-28-07, 06:06 AM
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replacing iron with copper

Hi folks,

I'm going to be building shop space into my currently unfinished basement. I have decent headroom but for the long stretches where the feeds and returns for the hot water radiators hang. I have a three floor house and all the radiators (5-1st fl, 5-2nd fl, 1-3rd) are installed so that they have two pipes running right down to the basement where they connect to larger "main" pipes. I am wondering if I can take out the larger iron main pipes in the basement and replace them with copper, also moving them away from the center of the basement ceiling toward the outer foundation walls (long narrow basement). I assume that I will have to pay attention to achieving correct inclinations.
I have a (deteriorating) 10 year old burnham oil fired hot water boiler - two zones. I plan to switch to direct vent gas boiler with hot water capabilities but the current equipment is going to have to do for another season or two. However, as I said, I'd like to atleast maximize my space now by replacing the old pipes if feasible.
 
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Old 03-28-07, 11:25 AM
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Is there one main pipe or two parallel pipes running around the basement.
 
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Old 03-28-07, 12:20 PM
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iron to copper

Well, I'm at work at the moment but as I recall there are four pipes headed toward the front of the house, and four toward the rear - the boiler being roughly in the center and off to the side. Unless I'm mistaken, that means in each four there are two pairs, supplies and returns for the two separate zones. All the radiators in the house are connected by two pipes to one of those pairs. For instance there is a separate supply and return for the attic radiator that reach all the way from the attic to the basement. That's the same for every radiator in the house.
I should mention that some of the first floor radiators are already tied in to the iron pipe with short stretches of copper - perhaps when repairs were done or a radiator was moved. Also, there's nothing wrong with the iron - I just want to improve my bacement space and I am comfortable working with copper.
Thanks for your help!
 
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Old 03-28-07, 12:59 PM
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The reason I asked was to see if you have a single pipe monoflo system or a parallel piped system. A monoflo would make it much harder to do what you want.

Things to watch out for would be high spots that might trap air. You should use brass fittings whenever transitioning between copper and steel. Copper expands far more than steel.


Want a different idea?

Get your modulating condensing boiler. Pipe it to a huge manifold with enough ports for all of your rads. Then homerun PEX-al-PEX (or PEX) from the manifold to each emitter (or just the end of the riser in tyhe basement) and back.

You could install the supply and return manifold piping on the old boiler as an interim step before getting your new boiler.

You'd be dealing with tucking away a lot of 1/2" piping this way, but only needing to worry about one fitting at each end and the piping is very flexible.

Manifolds are great for balancing flows. You can also easily isolate or purge each branch from the manifold. You can also put actuators on them like zone valves... many options.

The manifolds aren't cheap, but PEX and PEX-al-PEX sure are.
 
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Old 03-28-07, 08:41 PM
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copper to iron

Okay. I'm home and I can see that my description of the main supplies and returns was correct. If I am to believe that I can simply repipe with copper (if I choose that route), how should I determine the diameters to use? The iron reduces a few times between the boiler and the risers for each radiator. Should copper be installed similarly?
 
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Old 03-28-07, 11:58 PM
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It's very difficult to comment on the diameters.
 
 

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