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rshalf 01-03-2010 07:37 AM

problems with finned-tube baseboard heat
We are proud owners of a 1907 home that had finned-tube baseboard heat installed in about 1955. Normally, it works fine, but recently certain rooms do not receive heat. There are three zones. The repairmen tell us that for most of the older part of the house, the finned-tubes are continuous, meaning that you cannot turn off heat to one room or it will shut the system down. However, I question their understanding of the system. For example, our bedroom, which is supposed to be the last room in the system, is not receiving any heat. That does not shut the system down. We have bled the tube coming in to the room and there is no air--only hot water. There does not seem to be any other bleeding outlet in the room. That makes me think that somehow our room is getting bypassed. Does this make any sense? Is there somewhere I can go to get really detailed information about such a system? What is wrong with our system?

AllanJ 01-03-2010 08:44 AM

No heat or very little heat?

You may just need to balance the radiators/baseboards in the other rooms on the same zone. Close or stuff their louvers part way so the water making its way through the pipes from room to room will stiill have some "oomph" when it gets to the last room.

Or maybe the room in question is on a different zone than you thought. Check the valves in the basement where the zones branch off and carefully feel the various branch pipes to see if one zone had been manually restricted by the former owner of the house.

In some systems balancing the zones is accomplished by adjusting the valves where the zone pipes branch off; there is just one thermostat and just one circulator pump. This is a trial and error process.

Ron6519 01-03-2010 11:10 AM

If you of the moderators could switch this to the plumbing /heating section, you might get a better response.
In the mean time...You should be able to trace the piping from room to room. I would identify each zone and all the baseboard units in each of these zones. Then trace the sequence, room to room.
Does the boiler have an air eliminator installed? Is it functioning?
In a 1907 home, this baseboard heat has taken the place of another system. In the retrofit, I would guess these pipes have been run up, down and sideways to get them room to room. Check for high runs of pipe that precede the cold rooms. You might have an air pocket trapped there. I would also bleed all the baseboard units that precede the cold one.
What type of installation was this baseboard? Is there a main running with takeoffs to each baseboard unit or just a continuous run of 3/4" pipe going from baseboard to baseboard?

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