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OK to Build Book Wall Unit Over Baseboard Heat Radiators ??

I have a finished "activity" room (1964 house) in the walkout basement, with about 10 feet of baseboard radiator against a wall which I would like to build a WALL UNIT -- the unit would be floor-to-ceiling (9 feet height), and side-to-side (20 feet wide).

I envison using furniture grade veneer plywood (and solid trim pieces).

Of course, the obvious issues to me are:

(1) Would the baseboard heat severely warp the wall unit. (Functionally & aesthectically, this is the best of 2 available walls for this purpose).

(2) If baseboard heat won't warp the wall unit, how can I build the wall unit and have minimum impact to heating the room. The baseboard radiator covera are about 8 inches high. The covers are heavy guage metal with 1 bottom & 1 top air slots facing out.

This would imply the base (1st) shelf would sit a few inches above the 8" high radiators. I then thought about using some some sort of wood grill or lattice as the kickboard to hide the board radiators.

Any thoughts.

Re: OK to Build Book Wall Unit Over Baseboard Heat Radiators ??

Copper fin baseboard works by convection. It depends on the cooler air coming into the bottom of the baseboard and the warmer air rising out of the top slot. If you change the natural flow of air you will severely limit the BTU rating of the baseboard.


Re: OK to Build Book Wall Unit Over Baseboard Heat Radiators ??


John is correct!

Any "wood grill" or "lattice" at the base of the bookcase wall unit would limit the heat output of the baseboard and you'd end up with an uncomfortable room----there's nothing to prevent you from designing the bookcase in such a way that the first 12" or 18" at the bottom is left open (and permanently free of books, & other obstructions, etc) , and the rear base is cut out to accommodate the height & width of the metal baseboard so that the bookcase fits snugly against the wall.

As John states, this would still limit the free air flow of the convector to some degree, but it may work for you; other alternatives would be to 1) move the convector to another part of the room, which would mean shutting down & partially draining the boiler, unsoldering (if copper lines) the supply/return lines & moving the baseboard to another part of the room, re-soldering, refilling boiler; 2) replacing present baseboard with a "high heat/high output" version for additional $$$, which would give you approx 50% more heat output; 3) baseboard comes in increment sizes beginning at 3' and going up to approx 12'; if the room is still not warm enough you can add another convector (from 3' to 12') anywhere else in the room, or a small cast iron rad, or a stainless steel "european-style" convector.

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Re: OK to Build Book Wall Unit Over Baseboard Heat Radiators ??

John & Dobbs: mention "convection" and I can see the consequences of restricting air flow or confining the space . . .

It's way to expensive to move the convectors: they're part of a "L" shape bank string, and my HVAC Contractor is expensive, and I would likely have new replacement parts, causing a money sink hole. There is another bank of convectors on the long wall (20 x 14 room) Windowed Wall, so I might go for doing the project anyway despite reduction in heat.

In the end, this "activity room" will mainly be storing my books and my wife is already sore at me for having them in 60 boxes. Currently, I close the doors to the room so my wife does see the 60 boxes each time she does laundry.

I'll think more about it . . .. thanks.

Re: OK to Build Book Wall Unit Over Baseboard Heat Radiators ??

Chances are, you'll be alright.

Heating contractors calculate the amount of heat a room needs in cold weather (heat loss calculation) according to a number of factors, including square footage of the room, height of the ceiling, amount of glass (windows), geographical location, amount of insulation inside the walls, floor,ceiling, what the walls are made of, etc.,etc.

The baseboard is ordinarily rated at approx 560 btu/hr heat output/linear ft.; assuming you have aprox 20' of baseboard X 560 = 11,200 btu/hr for total baseboard output.

It turns out according to the heat loss calc I did that this is quite close to what the room needs----approx 11,200 btu/hr.

Again, these calcs are made without actually looking at the room, the baseboard, the temp of the boiler water, etc., but they should be fairly accurate.

There's a pivot-mounted metal DAMPER in the front top of the baseboard that has to be OPEN so that the cool air can enter the bottom of the baseboard, be heated by the fin-tube element, and be expelled into the room thru the open damper at the top; it's also important to periodically remove the front metal baseboard cover & clean all dust & any pet fur from the aluminum finned elements with a whisk broom so they can transfer the heat properly.

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