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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    1

    Default replacing steam radiator with radiant floor heating

    I live in a 70 year old house that is heated by steam heat via radiators and a boiler. I am remodeling my second floor bathroom which is ~6x9 feet (6x6 feet of which is tiled floor, rest of space is the bathtub). I want to completely remove the radiator and block off the pipe coming from the boiler. In its stead, I want to put in radiant floor heat that is supplied via tubing from a hot water tank in the basement. My question to you is: is this a good idea? My reasons for getting rid of the radiator is 1) it takes up valuable floor space in a small bathroom, and 2) it is ugly, 3) I like radiant heat.
    Are there any reasons why I can't remove the radiator pipe to below the floor level and cap it off, or will this somehow mess up the way the heat flows to the other radiators in the house? thanks,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    550

    Default Re: replacing steam radiator with radiant floor heating

    patte2:

    There are several ways to approach this project, going from the least expensive to the more expensive.

    The ideal comfort heat for a bathroom is radiant floor heat, where the floor itself is heated by elec or hot water means--it not only heats the room & occupants, but also allows you to walk barefoot on a warm floor.

    You would first have to calculate the amount of heat you need for the bathroom---this is calculated in btu's per hour.

    Thus multiply a 9 X 6 room = 54 sq.ft. X 60 (heat factor) = 3240 btu/hr needed to heat the room---all heating elements, radiators, etc. are sized and sold according to btu/hr heat ratings.

    Some electrical heaters are sized according to a watts rating--figure 10 watts per sq.ft. of room space = 54 sq.ft. X 10 = 540 watts to heat the room.

    Steam heat is harder to modify for various reasons, but it can be done--the joints between rad and piping are almost always rusted shut & have to be cut to be replaced.

    If you cut the rad out and cap it, yes you would have to rebalance the system, but this could be done by simply cutting the pipe below the bathroom floor and rebalancing the air valves going to the other radiators.

    Using a hot water heater to install a radiant system could be done, but most towns have codes that prohibit using the same hot water heater for hot tap water purposes (due to supposed germ growth).

    In addition, using a hot water heater would require a lot of additional components---you would have to snake PEX tubing under the floorboards, add a circulator, an expansion tank, a t-stat and pressure relief valve--this would add up to big bucks quickly.

    Perhaps the least expensive way would be to inset the present rad inside a remodeled wall with decorative aluminum/steel screening to completely hide the rad from view---there are newer more attractive looking rads you can buy (site below) but they cost $$$.

    There are also electric radiant cove heaters that are place high up near the ceiling & give up their heat when the radiant waves strike a solid object.

    Google "radiant cove heaters".

    Radiant or convective wall heaters (similar to kickspace heaters) are another option--they have a built-in thermostat & are mounted thru the sheetrock low between 16" wall studs & require only a 120V elec connection.

    There are also steam or electric kick-space heaters specifically designed for tight spaces such as bathrooms that have a little motor inside that are only 1' X 1' X4" high that fit under a vanity or inside a wall--find one with a quiet fan--they also come in hot water versions.

    Click onto "select other residential products" at the Beacon-Moris site to view steam heating units designed for bathrooms.

    Another option is to use a sub-floor electric radiant pad for your radiant heat--these come in kit form for bathrooms & have their own t-stat, and often cost less than hydronic or steam installs---these would require a floor project where you would embed the electric webbing mat in lite weight gypcrete mortar, then finish with floor tile.

    Google "electric radiant floor heat for bathrooms".

    Even another option is to tap the steam boiler near the bottom (where the hot condensate water resides) and use this hot condensate with a circulator to feed an underfloor radiant heat system---again this would require the services of a steam pro, and additional components like a circulator, expansion tank, pressure relief valve, etc (site below).

    You would have to find a heating contractor who knows how to do steam heat & can do this type of work at a reasonable price.

    The "steam radiators" site below has some before and after photos of using a wall inset that would be the first thing I'd try.

    Salvage yards and demolition companies have lots of small 2nd hand cast iron rads for sale that you may be able to inset into one of the bathroom walls.

    Steam & hot water units usually cost least to operate, but incur an up-front cost for additional needed components as mentioned--electric units are often easiest to install but often cost more in ongoing utility costs, especially if your elec rates are over 10 cents/kwh.

    http://www.steamradiators.com/cust-gallery.html
    http://www.heatinghelp.com/heating_howcome6.cfm
    http://www.beacon-morris.com/html/ki...t_twin_flo.asp
    http://www.blackhillspower.com/cove.htm
    Last edited by NashuaTech; 10-15-2008 at 11:30 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: replacing steam radiator with radiant floor heating

    Quote Originally Posted by NashuaTech View Post
    patte2:

    There are several ways to approach this project, going from the least expensive to the more expensive.



    You would first have to calculate the amount of heat you need for the bathroom---this is calculated in btu's per hour.

    Thus multiply a 9 X 6 room = 54 sq.ft. X 60 (heat factor) = 3240 btu/hr needed to heat the room---all heating elements, radiators, etc. are sized and sold according to btu/hr heat ratings.

    Some electrical heaters are sized according to a watts rating--figure 10 watts per sq.ft. of room space = 54 sq.ft. X 10 = 540 watts to heat the room.

    Steam heat is harder to modify for various reasons, but it can be done--the joints between rad and piping are almost always rusted shut & have to be cut to be replaced.

    If you cut the rad out and cap it, yes you would have to rebalance the system, but this could be done by simply cutting the pipe below the bathroom floor and rebalancing the air valves going to the other radiators.

    Using a hot water heater to install a radiant system could be done, but most towns have codes that prohibit using the same hot water heater for hot tap water purposes (due to supposed germ growth).

    In addition, using a hot water heater would require a lot of additional components---you would have to snake PEX tubing under the floorboards, add a circulator, an expansion tank, a t-stat and pressure relief valve--this would add up to big bucks quickly.

    Perhaps the least expensive way would be to inset the present rad inside a remodeled wall with decorative aluminum/steel screening to completely hide the rad from view---there are newer more attractive looking rads you can buy (site below) but they cost $$$.

    There are also electric radiant cove heaters that are place high up near the ceiling & give up their heat when the radiant waves strike a solid object.

    Google "radiant cove heaters".

    Radiant or convective wall heaters (similar to kickspace heaters) are another option--they have a built-in thermostat & are mounted thru the sheetrock low between 16" wall studs & require only a 120V elec connection.

    There are also steam or electric kick-space heaters specifically designed for tight spaces such as bathrooms that have a little motor inside that are only 1' X 1' X4" high that fit under a vanity or inside a wall--find one with a quiet fan--they also come in hot water versions.

    Click onto "select other residential products" at the Beacon-Moris site to view steam heating units designed for bathrooms.

    Another option is to use a sub-floor electric radiant pad for your radiant heat--these come in kit form for bathrooms & have their own t-stat, and often cost less than hydronic or steam installs---these would require a floor project where you would embed the electric webbing mat in lite weight gypcrete mortar, then finish with floor tile.

    Google "electric radiant floor heat for bathrooms".

    Even another option is to tap the steam boiler near the bottom (where the hot condensate water resides) and use this hot condensate with a circulator to feed an underfloor radiant heat system---again this would require the services of a steam pro, and additional components like a circulator, expansion tank, pressure relief valve, etc (site below).

    You would have to find a heating contractor who knows how to do steam heat & can do this type of work at a reasonable price.

    The "steam radiators" site below has some before and after photos of using a wall inset that would be the first thing I'd try.

    Salvage yards and demolition companies have lots of small 2nd hand cast iron rads for sale that you may be able to inset into one of the bathroom walls.

    Steam & hot water units usually cost least to operate, but incur an up-front cost for additional needed components as mentioned--electric units are often easiest to install but often cost more in ongoing utility costs, especially if your elec rates are over 10 cents/kwh.

    http://www.steamradiators.com/cust-gallery.html
    http://www.heatinghelp.com/heating_howcome6.cfm
    http://www.beacon-morris.com/html/ki...t_twin_flo.asp
    http://www.blackhillspower.com/cove.htm

    The ideal comfort heat for a bathroom is radiant floor heat, where the floor itself is heated by elec or hot water means--it not only heats the room & occupants, but also allows you to walk barefoot on a warm floor.

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