Replace or straighten fins on baseboard heat?

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  #1  
Old 09-17-12, 03:20 PM
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Replace or straighten fins on baseboard heat?

Hello guys,

I am tiling my floor and there are two baseboard heaters which are in questionable condition. I have attached three photos. Two of them or of a baseboard in the bathroom and one is in the hallway. I am tiling the whole area.

Details:

Bathroom heater -
1) from fin to fin it is 40"
2) from center of right angle pipe going down to center of other right angle pipe going down is 43.5"
3) fins are in pretty bad shape and there is some glue/thinset on some of the fins (see picture)
4) there is not enough room for me to tile under the fins, a small amount of the fins maybe blocked by the tile
5) 1/2" copper pipe

Hallway heater -
1) from fin to fin it is 43" wide
2) from center of right angle pipe to center of other right angle pipe is 47.5"
3) fins are in bad shape but not as bad as bathroom element
4) there is enough room for me to tile under the element with about 1/2" between the tile and fins
5) 1/2" copper pipe

My intention was to cut the current elements out and replace them. I've already thrown the covers away which were really messed up. I bought two 4 foot replacement slant fin baseboard elements with covers and endcaps. I haven't taken them out of the box yet but I am anticipating the need to get a 3 footer for the bathroom or somehow pull off fins and cut the pipe so it fits. Here are my questions:

1) Do you think these heating elements can be straightened out effectively?
2) Would it be possible to chisel out/scrape out the glue/thinset from the bathroom one?
3) The slantfin units have 3/4" pipe. Would the rooms get hotter if I replace the old 1/2" units with a 3/4" slantfin?
4) Would you recommend I simply replace these units or restore them?
5) How far off the finished floor should the fins be?

Thanks all.
 
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Old 09-17-12, 04:36 PM
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1) Do you think these heating elements can be straightened out effectively?
You could try but they look pretty beat up IMO. IMO replace them all.

2) Would it be possible to chisel out/scrape out the glue/thinset from the bathroom one?


Probably not. Again, just replace.


3) The slantfin units have 3/4" pipe. Would the rooms get hotter if I replace the old 1/2" units with a 3/4" slantfin?


No, I dont think so. Flow would slow I believe. The pros can correct me if I am wrong. Those are 1/2" for a reason. 1/2 " give more FPS, which gets you more heat I believe.
4) Would you recommend I simply replace these units or restore them?
Replace and get 1/2"

5) How far off the finished floor should the fins be?
The problem you have that you tiled right to under the fins is that you will need to raise the pipe to bring the element higher.

From floor to center of pipe/element min. is 3-3/16".I install mine higher. I use a 2x4 and run it along the wall. Then I put the enclosure ontop of that and level. Then mount the enclosure to the wall. Then install the element and pipe the risers.










 
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Old 09-17-12, 04:41 PM
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figure how much you would charge yourself per hour of labor, then estimate how long it takes to mend that radiator, and then compare your numbers to the cost of a replacement
 
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Old 09-17-12, 04:59 PM
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I would leave the baseboard with the bent fins alone. The slightly reduced heat transfer shouldn't be a problem.
 
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Old 09-17-12, 05:51 PM
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Thanks for all of your responses.

1) If I decide to replace the units, do you guys know if Home Depot or Lowes sells 1/2" pipe models or would I have to find an HVAC supply store?
2) The Slant Fins seem to all be 3/4" models. Do you guys have any recommendation of what model and where to get it?
3) I want to get elbows with bleeders, do they get installed at the end of the unit where the water is recirculating out of the element?
4) Do you guys use caulk or some other padding between the pipe where it goes through the subfloor? Before I used some of that firestopping caulk to seal around the pipe and noticed that it got super hard around the pipe so I am concerned it will not allow the pipe to expand and contract properly.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 07:33 AM
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1. Personally, I wouldn't worry about using 3/4" fin baseboard instead of 1/2" if that's what you see as the best value and easiest to find. lawrosa makes a good point about having to keep in mind different flow rates, but those are short runs you're talking about. Any difference in heat output will be negligible, IMO. And whatever heat you might lose will be compensated by the better condition of the new heating elements.

2. See #1.

3. You need to know which way the water flows through the loop. Put the bleeders where the flow from the baseboard does a 90* turn and heads back down under the floor.

4. Some people use silicone caulk, others use grommets that are made for that purpose. I used up a can of spray foam insulation for windows/doors (less expansion and less rigid than the regular stuff) that I had left over from another project. I had to come back and trim some of the expanded foam to floor level, but that wasn't a problem.


If you do replace the baseboard units, keep in mind what lawrosa said about maintaining the proper distance between the floor and the heating elements. Baseboards are, after all, simple convectors, and so they need that space to draw in the cooler air which is heated up and convected back out into the room.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 08:31 AM
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Just so I am clear, 3 and 3/16" is the minimum. Do you guys usually go with the minimum or higher? I like the 2x4 method of putting it flat against the wall, I might go with that.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 09:10 AM
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I'm not a pro, but as I understand it, you want 3" minimum. I have to think the height would be somewhat dependent on the size and style of the covers. The baseboard manufacturer probably has recommendations regarding distance between the floor and the heating element, as well as other installation info.

A good baseboard heat primer can be found HERE.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 09:20 AM
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Thanks for the article! It looks helpful, will read it when I have a chance.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 10:02 AM
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I found a website that sells 1/2" hydronic baseboards:
Heaters | Baseboard Hydronic | 48" Panel Track Heater w/ 1/2" Element | B304915 - GlobalIndustrial.com

Does anyone know of this "Embassy" company? Does this look good for my application? Ideally I'd like to use a 1/2" element with my 1/2" copper pipes.

Also they seem to sell the 1/2" element by itself:
Heaters | Baseboard Hydronic | 1/2" Element for 48" Panel Track Heaters | B304935 - GlobalIndustrial.com

Could I use their 1/2" element and get a Slant Fin dummy cover at the Depot? The advantage here is I could always get a replacement cover/piece from the local HD.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 10:08 AM
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I just finished my living room and installed new covers a few days ago. I use the hydro-therm stuff from big blue. The original bb covers were to the floor. I removed carpet. I have hard wood floors under there. ( have to refinish)

So when I reinstalled the covers I placed a 2x4 along the wall. Doing this raised the center of the pipe to 3-3/4". Which raised it about 3/4 " then recommended. From the bottom of the element to floor is 2-1/2".

I would of raised it higher, Possibly used two 2x4's but I have to listen to the admiral. She did not want it that high and said it looked stupid.

I tried to explain airflow to her, but she kept mumbling, "the sky is blue, the sky is blue". I guess she did not understand...LOL


Not sure if you can see the pics. I wanted to take it almost as high as the outlet.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 10:19 AM
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Could I use their 1/2" element and get a Slant Fin dummy cover at the Depot?
I would find a furguson near you and get the slant fin. They sell to the public, and they are everywhere.

Locations Finder

Product Results | Ferguson


 
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Old 09-18-12, 10:47 AM
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Thanks, there is one not too far away from me. Your pics look good!
 
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Old 09-18-12, 11:00 AM
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I called Fergusons and the store near me didn't even sell hydronic baseboards. They told me to call one farther away and they only sold "Sun Temp" 3/4" variety.

Do you think it is ok if I just order the Embassy 1/2" element from that website I linked earlier and get the 4 foot Slant Fin dummy cover from Home Depot?

Also the guy from Fergusons told me if I want to switch to 3/4" I would have to determine the BTUs of my 1/2" unit and get the proper length of 3/4" that matches the BTUs of the 1/2".
 
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Old 09-18-12, 11:15 AM
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I'm pretty sure you will also need to replace the back (wall) plates if you want to use the Home Depot covers.

But I think that, because you are "relocating" the heating elements anyway, you will have full access to the existing back plates which you can replace with the HD product. (It's difficult to remove those plates while the heating elements are still plumbed in place).
 
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Old 09-18-12, 11:16 AM
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I called Fergusons and the store near me didn't even sell hydronic baseboards. They told me to call one farther away and they only sold "Sun Temp" 3/4" variety.
That answer would not be acceptable to me.


Do you think it is ok if I just order the Embassy 1/2" element from that website I linked earlier and get the 4 foot Slant Fin dummy cover from Home Depot?
I would not, but its your home...

Also the guy from Fergusons told me if I want to switch to 3/4" I would have to determine the BTUs of my 1/2" unit and get the proper length of 3/4" that matches the BTUs of the 1/2".


Like I said a few times already keep it 1/2". If whoever designed the system has it that way for a reason. I dont think it was to save money, because you see how difficult it seems to find.

With that said, if you are going to order the embassy on line, why not just order 1/2 " slant fin online?


Can you post a pic of one of your end caps at a few angles? I could tell you what is there and get you a link to order the same.

I would say that may be hydrotherm stuff. The element looks the same as mine. The slant fin has a more closed element design, and the hydrotherm was more open. Althogh I belive thw hydrotherm today is more closed.






 

Last edited by lawrosa; 09-18-12 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 09-18-12, 12:02 PM
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You would need baseline 2000 anyway.

http://slantfin.com/images/stories/P...line_bl_10.pdf

Let one of the pros say whether to change to 3/4".

Let me ask you this though, how is it connected in the basement or crawl? Is it tied in a loop or with tees to the main line?
 
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Old 09-18-12, 12:39 PM
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I'm not saying I want to install 3/4", I'm just saying that's what they said. I want to use 1/2" to match whats there so I don't screw up the original design.

I do not have the end caps anymore, I threw away the original old covers for the elements. I could go and take pictures of some of the other baseboard heaters which should be the same as the 2 we are talking about.

I would like to order Slant Fin online but I could not find 1/2" online for sale. Do you know of any websites that sell it?

Also, if I get the baseline 2000 isn't that a different design than the Fine Line 30 they sell everywhere?

I'll have to take a look at the system to be sure but from what I remember there are 4 zones and each zone goes around the house to where it needs to go and comes back to the heater. I do not recall any Ts but am not sure. There is a basement under the two elements I am replacing but part of the house is over a crawl space.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 12:54 PM
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Yes take a pic of the other endcaps from different angles, and take a pic or let us know how that zone is tied in. All 1/2 " ????
 
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Old 09-18-12, 12:55 PM
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No there are definitely 3/4" pipes as well. It might be 1/2" for the short runs and 3/4" for the long runs. I will get back to you with more info.

Any idea where I can order the Slant Fin 1/2"?

Also I forgot to mention that I emailed Slant Fin and they said I can reduce the 3/4" to 1/2". They did not really say if its a good idea or not though.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 01:30 PM
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Just got this from Slant Fin:

There would be nothing wrong for the small amount you intend to put in using a reducer.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 01:34 PM
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But you would be going 1/2 to 3/4 ( element) back to 1/2 no?
 

Last edited by lawrosa; 09-18-12 at 02:40 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 09-18-12, 01:53 PM
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Yes they understood that. I have not been able to find the base line 2000 1/2" to order yet.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 03:23 PM
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Here are the pics. Most of the elements are 1/2" upstairs and down but some in the crawl space areas are 3/4". A lot of pipes start at 3/4" at the heater.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 09:16 PM
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Just use the 3/4" ... it will be fine.
 
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Old 11-03-12, 10:26 PM
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I ended up cutting out the baseboards so I could tile easier. I was able to special order 1/2" Slantfin Baseline baseboards. I installed them today and luckily nothing is leaking. The bad news is that my system has a ton of air in it.

I have 4 zones (2nd floor, 1st floor, addition, basement). I do not have bleeders anywhere except for a couple of auto bleeders near the boiler (caps are loosened), a manual bleeder in one of the pipes in the ceiling of the basement (don't recall what zone it might be but I opened it and water came out), and two manual bleeders I installed at the return side of the two new baseboard units. The two units are installed in the first floor zone by the way.

There is a if piping in this house. So here is what I've done so far based on what I've read on this forum from other threads. I set all of the themostats to max temperature to open the valves (I also tried manually opening them). I've tried opening the water fill valve (letting water into the system) and opening the boiler drain valve allowing the water to escape into a bucket. I've heard/felt air coming out there. I did this for 5 home depot buckets full of water. I've also opened the manual bleeders at the new baseboards and air came out of them and the one bleeder in the ceilign but no air came out of that. After a lot time spent trying to bleed the system I finally got the first floor, addition and basement heating working. I don't think they are working at peak efficiency though. The second floor still has no heat and unfortunately there are no bleeders up there.

The only other thing I can think of is to try to bleed each zone individually using the fill and drain method. Do you guys have any advice? Thanks.
 
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Old 11-04-12, 01:12 PM
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I tried turning off the other zones today (except for the 2nd floor zone) but I was not able to bleed it from the boiler. I rechecked the upstairs baseboards and found zero bleeders. There is a closet in the middle of one of the runs (I believe there are two separate runs for this zone) that has an accessible section of pipe. At Home Depot they sell the Maid of Mist automatic vent. Would it help my issue if I put an auto vent in the middle of one of the runs? I also plan to put a dummy baseboard cover over the pipe so it doesn't get damaged so the solution needs to fit inside of a cover.

The other thing I can do is put a manual bleeder but I have always read that they work better at the end of the run before it goes back down towards the boiler. I would assume an auto vent would also work better at the end of the run but unfortunately it would be a lot more difficult to add to the end of the run.
 
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Old 11-04-12, 01:50 PM
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It's hard for me to tell from your pics... are there any other drain valves installed on the system piping, other than the boiler drain valve? If so, take some pics of them and also any other valves located near them.
 
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Old 11-04-12, 02:21 PM
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Sorry I'm not at the house but I know all of the drains. There are two other drains, one is two feet above the boiler drain which is on the main feed, not sure why they have that one just two feet above the boiler drain. The other drain is on the line that goes to the addition. Unfortunately there is no drain for the second floor, first floor or basement.

I did try bleeding from those drains. I had some success bleeding from the addition drain but now all I get is water from all the drains.
 
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Old 11-06-12, 05:08 PM
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Today I tried draining the entire system completely and filling from scratch. I closed all of the taco zone valves except the second floor. I filled that up first and tried to bleed it using the various drains at the boiler and closing/openning the valve at the return valve and the other valve that closes the addition return valve. I actually succeeded in getting the heat working up stairs. I could hear bubbles in the pipe though. I then proceeded to close and open other valves one at a time filling and draining until all zones were completed. I thought I was in the clear but then I noticed the second floor stopped working. While it was running I heard bubbles in the line but I had no way of bleeding it anymore than what I could do at the boiler. I also noticed that the basement zone does not seem to be working either. The first floor and addition were working.

The other thing I did was take off the caps of the two autovents. I noticed there were push pins where the cap covers like a tire valve stem. I pushed them and a little air come out then water started coming out. Eventually the one cleaner looking valve stem close to the boiler stopped leaking. The other somewhat corroded autovent still leaked a tiny bit slowly after several minutes so I closed the cap all the way. I noticed there is a little hole on the side of the cap and the water still very slowly leaks out of that cap. I am assuming this vent is bad?

I have attached some pictures. One is a wider shot where you can see some of the drains/valves. The others are of the autovents. You can see in the picture one physically is cleaner while the other one looks like it has corroded a little.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what I can do to get these pipes vented properly? Also, should I replace that one autovent that looks corroded? I am not there anymore but I can go back tomorrow to try more things.
 
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