I've noticed a smell in the house that only occurs when the heat is coming from baseboard radiators. House is on a slab and we have an oil fired hot water system with seperate hot water heater.Wondering if it could be dust build up on copper pipes and aluminum fins on baseboard??
Re: heating smell
Yes, I think you're right, the odor may well be coming from dust buildup on the fin-tube baseboard convectors, which have a tendency to collect dust.
Don't rule out other possibilities as well; if you have pets, the hair they shed can also accumulate on fin elements & produce an offensive smell; a dead mouse or other small critters that are attracted to the heat that the baseboards emit; since the inner parts of the baseboard are obstructed from view,this is always a possibility.
However, it is usually just a buildup of dust that collects on the aluminum fin elements.
Usually, access is a simple process of removing the front metal faceplate by lifting & removing it from the metal cover assembly and using a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment and as much suction as you can manage to vacuum the entire fin-tube section----be careful not to bend the square fragile aluminum fin elements----if a stronger suction Shop-Vac is available, that may do a better job; checking the fins with a flashlight after vacuuming will provide a better view of how well the dust was removed.
The BIG HASSLE doing this job is the necessity to first remove any & all furniture blocking the way of the access with the vacuum cleaner---this can be a tedious job when one considers that the entire run of baseboard in each room has to be done----don't try to do it all in one shot---space it out & get help if you have to move any heavy furniture.
The metal faceplates should snap right back into position after each fin assembly is vacuumed----this is a very worthwhile project to do; not only should it remove the offensive odors, but the response and efficiency of the heating system will improve considerably---this means more comfort for the house occupants and lowered fuel bills---there's usually an adjustable damper bar at the top front of the assembly that must be open for the warm air to blow into the room; there must be at least l" clearance between the carpet/floor covering at the bottom of the baseboard and the baseboard housing to allow cool air to enter the baseboard assembly.
Last edited by von_steuben; 01-18-2012 at 08:41 PM.