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Baseboard Heat fins are flipping me out!

I bought an old home with lots of baseboard heating elements (approx 800ft of heating pipe). The problem is that most of the heating fins are broken or all together missing. When I bought the house I thought it was going to be a cheap , quick fix that I could do myself. The only thing I can find is the entire base:( and it cost a hundred bucks. I don't have $13,000 to buy new heaters let alone have them installed. The heat works, its those nasty little fins that are keeping my home from really warming up. Is there another option for me?


Re: Baseboard Heat fins are flipping me out!

You'll have to do some detective work!

Did you mean to type 80' of baseboard??? 800' of baseboard seems over the top!

It's hard to believe that you have a substantial number of missing aluminum fins---they quite often get bent by misuse of the previous owner, in which case they can simply be straightened out with an old butter knife---this admittedly can be a very tedious job, so do a little at a time.

Try some diagnostics---could you advise how many total sq.ft. of heated rooms you have??? Is it an oil-fired or gas-fired boiler??

Try holding your hand on the bare copper/steel pipe on several of the baseboard sections when the system is heating up---the pipes should be hot enough so that you can only hold your hand on for a second or two---remember, if you have a lot of square footage to heat, it will take some time for the heat to really have an effect on all the rooms.

Do you have good windows (double pane/new) or are there mostly single panes with some air leakage??
Is there insulation in all the exterior walls of the building---if not, this can have a considerable effect in keeping the building cold.

Check the bleed valves on the baseboard that is at the top of the system---on the top floor;---open the bleeders to see if you get a lot of air out, which could also inhibit heating ability; do you hear any gurgling, "waterfall" sounds, of water running thru the pipes when the system is running??

Go down to the boiler room & check the temperature on boiler gauge---when the system is heating the house, you should have 160 to 180 degree hot water running thru all the baseboard tubing---admittedly, this will take a while as the pump is constantly pushing hot water out to the rooms, & cold water that was sitting in the room pipes is being returned to the boiler---but if the boiler never gets near at least 160 degrees within say, 1/2 hour, there may be just too much cold water for the system to handle, in which case a) the firing rate can usually be increased; b) a larger pump can be installed; c) the boiler/piping system can be zoned (if not already) so that the most preferred areas of the building are heated first; d) high output baseboard is available that puts out nearly double the conventional BB you have now---but you may be able to skin this cat without having to make any costly additions.

Finally, I think it would be an excellent idea to have your regular service person or a heating pro in your area come over the house & inspect the system--more often than not, they can spot one or two things that will make a tremendous difference in the boilers heating performance---there's a simple adjustment, for example, they can do to raise the firing rate on the boiler oil burner/gas burner to heat the boiler water more quickly; some boiler pumps on certain systems can be made to go at higher speed to increase the hot water to the rooms.

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