Need help with heat in bathroom renovation

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Old 03-18-08, 08:57 AM
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Need help with heat in bathroom renovation

I'm going to be gutting out and re-doing my original bathroom in my 1959 ranch house. The house is heated by an oil burner with convector style radiators. I would like to eliminate the ugly and large convector in the bathroom. The bathroom is one of the coldest rooms in the house. My idea was to run radiant under the new tile flooring but both my father-in-law and his brother (one is a plumber, the other a contractor) are strongly advising against radiant. They are saying to make it work right with my heating system would be very expensive-over $1000 in parts. One wants to put in a wall recessed cast-iron radiator, the other recommends an in-wall heater with a fan blower. I'm not sure what to do. I am considering an electric in-floor radiant kit, but then I still need another heat source. Any suggestions? The bathroom is on the main level and is 5ft by 9ft. I have full access to the floor underneath in the basement.
 
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Old 03-18-08, 09:25 AM
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How is your system piped and what temperature of water is used to heat the house?
 
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Old 03-18-08, 10:10 AM
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I believe the water temp is around 180. The boiler also has a coil in it for hot water for showers, if that matters. It is a two-zone system with copper piping. One zone for the basement, one zone for the main floor. It seems like for the main floor each radiator branches off of a large main pipe loop. In the basement, the radiators are all going into each other in series.
 
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Old 03-18-08, 11:34 AM
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I'm doing this in my house right not. I opted for a towel warmer/radiator. My bath is 10x5 and the rad puts out more then enough BTU to heat up the room, doubles as a towel warmer, and looks really good. It's chrome, curved with round pipe, about 40 inches tall and 18 wide. Paid about 380 shipped with the angled chrome valves. And for about 60 more, you can make it dual fuel, so in the summer or spring, you can heat it with the electric coil on a switch if you still want warm towels. Only other things you'll need is a mixing valve, I used a Taco 5000 for about 85 bucks, and some pipe, to take the temp down to 150. So for less then 500 bucks or there abouts, you have a stylish, classy towel warming rad. Here is a pic of mine. Not installed yet.

 
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Old 03-18-08, 12:27 PM
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So your main floor is piped like this?

http://www.heatinghelp.com/heating_howcome3.cfm

The tough part with doing radiant for the bathroom is that you need to account for the water temperature and have some of of controlling it. You probably also have the added challenge of having a diverter-tee piped zone that might make it difficult to have enough pressure drop to force water through many feet of piping.

Electric isn't too bad a way of doing it because of the small area.

For hydronic RFH options, you could check out the Ultra-Fin product or even suspend raw fin-tube in the joist bays. This is as much math as it is materials, and the math is critical unless you want major expenses for additional controls.

What's underneath the bathroom? How deep are the joists?
 
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Old 03-18-08, 01:04 PM
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WHO- Yes that looks exactly like the system I have. I was thinking that if I did the radiant in-floor, I would run a completely separate zone. The boiler in the basement is only maybe about 12-15 feet away from the bathroom. The joists are 2X8. There is really nothing underneath the bathroom. It's a finished basement, but I'm going to be taking down some of the sheetrock ceiling when I do this bathroom. I had water leaks from the bathtub and it's all messed up anyway.

AMPM-where did you buy the towel warmer? That is nice!
 
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Old 03-18-08, 02:11 PM
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Sure, it's an easy one. towelradiators.net
 
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Old 03-18-08, 03:26 PM
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Just be careful because that would be one incredibly small zone. If you did it that way, I would have it set up so that it can heat when any of the other zones call for heat but I wouldn't let it call for heat on its own. You don't want it calling up what might be a 100,000 BTU boiler to satisfy a 2,000 BTU load. Your boiler will short cycle with a really small load.
 
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Old 03-18-08, 06:13 PM
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Okay so would it be better to just attach it to the rest of the first floor zone with the under-floor system you were talking about? And you were saying I could just get some finned tube and hang that between the floor joists? I guess I'm just concerned about getting the right temp in the bathroom. Would the diverter-tee not allow this setup to work?
 
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Old 03-18-08, 06:19 PM
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Convector

I'm surprised the convector doesn't do a good job. I would have to suspect trapped air, damaged fins, damper closed, or some kind of problem with that particular convector. They normally do an extremely good job of heating, particularly in a small space like a bathroom.
 
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Old 03-19-08, 07:20 AM
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That particular convector doesn't seem to get as hot as the others. I have bled air out of it several times. The fins look okay.
 
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Old 03-19-08, 04:11 PM
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Convector

Where is this particular convector in the loop? Sometimes the last one or two don't heat quite as well as those which come off the main sooner. You could try cleaning the fins with a brush or dampering the earlier ones. When you bleed it, do you get any air?
 
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Old 03-19-08, 05:11 PM
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You could definitly use an electric radiant and it would be much easier and cost much less then the hydronics you're thinking of.

Look into low voltage radiant kits for bathrooms. It's designed as a single small element about 1/8" in diameter and comes with the transformer and digital thermostat.
 
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Old 03-20-08, 09:21 AM
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The bathroom is the second radiator in the loop. The one before it is probably the warmest room in the house. It's a small bedroom. And all the other radiators after the bathroom feel hot. I usually have to bleed the bathroom rad at the start of every heating season. I get a lot of air out each time. It works okay for a little while and gradually gets cooler and cooler. If I could get this convector working right, maybe I'll just keep it and get a new cover for it or something to make it look a little better.
 
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Old 03-20-08, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by warmsmeallup View Post
You could definitly use an electric radiant and it would be much easier and cost much less then the hydronics you're thinking of.
I have to disagree with you on that assuming one is going DIY. Over the summer I will be doing a bathroom and also want a heated floor. I contacted a company that did the design of the system and gave you plans on how to plumb it in to your system with free support if needed. For all the supplies it was around $700. That was including a pump w/ isolation flanges, mixing valve, Tekmar thermostat, relay and a infloor sensor, 600' of 3/8 PEX and all the fittings needed for the job. For my bath that price could have been cut since I only needed about 100' of PEX. After I gave him all the plans of my system and bathroom, he felt that an electric mat would be easier to do for the heatloss of the room and I wouldn't really see an increase in my electric . I ordered the heat mat from WarmlYours for around $400.

Remember, your tubing should be buried in about an 1 1/4" of mud
 
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Old 03-20-08, 03:33 PM
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I have to disagree with you
johny, that's a typo, right ? sure sounds like you are agreeing to me !

I looked at a few websites after I read the suggestion... looks like neat stuff! I'm tempted to try it myself!
 
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Old 03-20-08, 04:00 PM
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deuce5

You might want to try installing an automatic air vent in that convector. Sanding & painting the cover is an easy task and a whole bunch cheaper than buying a new cover if you can even find one. I've seen them stenciled with all kinds of different designs, everything from '60's flowers to sea horses to clouds to ...
 
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Old 03-20-08, 06:03 PM
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Is your expansion tank up between the joists?
 
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Old 03-20-08, 07:15 PM
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Good Point, Who

If it is a conventional type tank, I suggest it be changed to a bladder type.
 
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Old 03-20-08, 08:10 PM
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Especially if he's gonna autovent anything!
 
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Old 03-21-08, 05:32 AM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
johny, that's a typo, right ? sure sounds like you are agreeing to me !

I looked at a few websites after I read the suggestion... looks like neat stuff! I'm tempted to try it myself!
The price for my bath is about the same for hydronic / electric (at least is was 1yr ago). The person I was dealing with only sold PEX in rolls of 600' and greater. Therefore, that price could have been reduced if I shopped elsewhere for the mount I needed. On the other hand, a hydronic install is way more labor intensive, so if you factor in that then yes electric is easier and cheaper in that respect.

NJ Trooper, if your interested I can shoot you an email of the person I was dealing with. He was very helpful and wasn't pushy trying to make a sale. Sh*t he recommended electric for my bath and he doesn't even sell electric. He was available by phone and took the time to answer my questions and explain things to me because I thought it was as simple as adding a mixing valve and tapping into my system. Not that simple He explained how everything was going to work and why I needed them. It all sounded good to me
Ok I'm off to get some
 
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Old 03-21-08, 08:35 AM
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Is your expansion tank up between the joists?
Yes it is. I'm not sure what type it is. It looks pretty old.

You might want to try installing an automatic air vent in that convector.
So do I remove the bleeder and add this in, or how does this work?

As for the electric radiant, I installed a kit from Warm Tiles last year when I did my basement bathroom and it does work pretty good. But being we don't use that bathroom very often, I haven't had a good sense of how good it is on a daily basis, as far as cost and everything. But it's not like oil is at a reasonable price now anyway.
 
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Old 03-21-08, 09:38 AM
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I'd get rid of it and add an autovent on a riser somewhere or better yet a Spirovent type air eliminator.

The air from that tank is probably your bathroom issue. You could also get a B&G air-trol for the conventional tank that you have, but I'd go bladder type.

Can you get some pix that show the boiler and all the piping near it? Photobucket if you are asking how...
 
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Old 03-21-08, 10:06 AM
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I'm at work now I'll get some pics tonight.
 
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Old 03-21-08, 06:34 PM
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Auto vent

I disagree with Who on both the B&G Air-Trol & the Spirovent. I have had nothing but trouble with the Air-Trols. Of every 10 waterlogged expansion tanks I encounter, I'd bet 8 of them have Air-Trols. In theory they are nice. In practice, not worth the effort it takes to remove them in my experience.
On a diverter tee system, I don't feel the Spriovent is practical. Nearly all of the air in the system is going to trap in the convectors. Personally, I wouldn't bother to install even a simple air scoop.
When you change to a bladder type tank & while the pressure is off the system, install an auto vent in place of the manual bleeder on the bathroom convector. It is possible simply by going to the bladder type tank, your air problem will go away.
Something which makes removing air more difficult is if the finned part of the convector is either level or sloped the wrong way. The end with the bleeder should be the high end & it should also be the discharge end.
 
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Old 03-21-08, 06:57 PM
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I completely agree with Grady on all counts.

When I put in a new boiler on my parent's monoflo system I got rid of the air scoop completely. I installed float-type automatic air vents on all the baseboard convectors and I moved the diaphragm expansion tank to the suction side of the circulator.

I had a large Hoffman float vent at the boiler and one round of manual venting of the baseboards in the middle days of autumn was all it took to be trouble free the entire heating season.
 
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Old 03-21-08, 07:08 PM
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Thanks to everyone for all the feedback and help. I'm learning a lot. Here are some pics of the boiler. Let me know if you need any other pics:









 
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Old 03-21-08, 07:13 PM
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deuce5, Grady is a pro, so give his opinion more weight than mine. The owner of HeatingHelp, Dan Holohan uses a conventional tank with an AirTrol fitting, not going to disagree with him although I use bladder tanks on my system.

A microbubbler like a Spirovent is exactly what you want on a diverter tee system. There are low velocity branches in diverter tee systems that will allow any microbubbles to come out of solution and mess up a branch's heat. That's what is happening now from your current tank. Water goes into solution there and comes out in the bathroom.

Autovents eventually leak. Personally, I wouldn't be putting them on branches and only for that reason.

There you go... some 180 opposed viewpoints on this.
 
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Old 03-24-08, 08:58 AM
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I found this radiator cover which is the nicest one i've seen so far. I spoke to the guy who makes them and he said they could be made to any size and specification. Do you think this would work well as a convector cover? Also, as far as the expansion tank, should I be just replacing the one I have with the diaphragm type? Do I need to relocate where it's hooked up? Right now it branches off of the boiler hot water output.
 
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Old 03-24-08, 08:16 PM
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Rad Cover

It would work but the bottom would need to have more floor clearance. You would probably loose some heat output but I don't know how much.

You could put the new diaphram tank in the same place as the old tank. Granted, that may not be the ideal place but it would work. Usually they are mounted vertically.
 
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Old 03-26-08, 12:18 PM
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When I replaced my standard tank with a blader tank, I put it in the same spot. It's horizontal, which isn't ideal, but it's supported with strapping to keep the weight off of the fittings. Works ok so far. I put my auto vent there, right before the tank, but still must purge all the rads. Sometimes, it takes a few days to get all the air out.
 
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Old 03-26-08, 01:15 PM
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On my original oil boiler, the " tapping for the conventional expansion tank ran horizontally off of a tee in the supply riser.

I added, in black iron, a 6" x "horizontal pipe nipple, a " to " reducing elbow, a 12" x " nipple, then a ball valve and then the tank.

Where the supply water came in upstream of the pump on the return, I added a vertical riser and an autovent. Considering that it still wasn't technically pumping way it still worked out perfectly.
 
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Old 01-13-09, 05:20 PM
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I just wanted to follow up on this now that the project is complete. At the insistance of my father-in-law, we went with the Sunrad. It's a 10 section, about 24" wide. I'm glad we did because it works! This bathroom is now the warmest room in the house. I'm no longer having problems with a cold radiator in this room. In fact it's now the hottest. We went with the Warm Tiles electric radiant in the floor and it's on a setback thermostat. It raised my electric bill about $15 a month so far, but it's worth it.

 
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