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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013

    Default Can I safely block off radiators with drywall and foil? Or a water heater blanket?

    I just moved into an apartment that used to be a dentist's office (yes, we give our friends free toothbrushes when they leave to go home.) My bedroom used to be three different exam rooms, so there are three, large in-wall radiators. The thermostat is in the opposite side of the house, and even if the rest of the apartment is a comfortable 70-ish degrees, it is overly warm back in my room. I have a roommate, so of course I want to be able to keep the door shut, especially at night. Opening a window is an ok solution, but seems a little counterproductive (plus there are elements outside like water, wind, snow, and noise...). The other issue is that 65 percent of the wall space is radiator--this was a downsizing move, so I'm already a bit squeezed in and would really like to be able to put furniture along these walls. I have examined the three units closely, and I can't see a valve of any kind on them...

    I've read that some folks use drywall and foil to help insulate a free standing radiator from an external wall, and if you absolutely must have your sofa in front of it, it's helpful to mitigate the limitations you are placing on the allowance of air circulation around the radiator unit by at least helping to direct the air flow upward (and perhaps take a small step to benefit the longevity of your upholstery) by placing foil-lined drywall between the furniture and the radiator.

    So, I was going to seal them all off. I am the type of person who is always overly warm anyway, so I'm not concerned about not getting enough heat in the room. But, is it safe for the heating system, and is it safe for the things I put in front of the radiator? I don't care about damaging the items themselves (I have mostly used furniture), but I don't want to create a safety hazard. Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009

    Default Re: Can I safely block off radiators with drywall and foil? Or a water heater blanket

    This is something that has to be run by the landlord/owner/property mgr of the building; it's after all his/her responsibility to maintain the apt. in comfortable conditions, & you could end up facing an eviction if the LL finds out after the fact & doesn't like the modifications you envision, or even worse, a hazardous situation arises.

    In addition, all radiators I've ever dealt with have at least a small BLEED VALVE near the top (if they are hot water rads) that is needed to periodically vent air out of the rads---and this cannot be covered up; if the rads are STEAM HEAT RADS, there is a more conspicuous AIR VENT VALVE near the side that expels air from the rads during each steam heat cycle.

    There are ways to keep these vents accessible if the wall is insulated & sheet-rocked in, which seems to be one solution; or the rads could be removed by the LL for one small one, as another solution---but these would cost the LL money for a heating system remodeling job, which he/she may not be willing to do.

    In one sense, you have a valid argument that the apt. was not adequately modified from a commercial dentist's office into a habitable apt., & the heating system should have been modified before it was offered for rental as an apt. residence.

    I recommend communicating your problem with the LL to see if he/she is amenable to finding a solution.
    Last edited by Pelton; 12-04-2013 at 10:10 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Houston Texas

    Default Re: Can I safely block off radiators with drywall and foil? Or a water heater blanket

    What he said.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Default Re: Can I safely block off radiators with drywall and foil? Or a water heater blanket

    Excellent replay from pelton, that sums it up.

    99% of landlords don't want tenants to modify, alter, add to the prop without a written notice. If you have a lease agreement, look it up, it's probably in there. Some will agree to tenant initiated improvements, of course after they learn about them from the tenant in writing, others will refuse. I as a landlord, won't allow any subcontractor into one of my properties without my knowledge. Period. Only subs who have done work for me in the past are allowed in. Why? some new subs are butchers, not contractors.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago

    Default Re: Can I safely block off radiators with drywall and foil? Or a water heater blanket

    If the landlord is paying the heating bills, I would think that some reasonable alterration would be acceptable. There are also retrofit valves with built-in thermostats for controlling individual radiators. Probably a little pricey for the landlords taste though.

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