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Baseboard Heating

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Baseboard Heating Modifying Baseboard Unit

The Home Wizard app calculates your ideal home care program to avoid problems with your Baseboard Heating, but sometimes trouble can still occur. Here are answers to questions about baseboard heating modifying baseboard unit.

QUESTION FROM Jeff Choi

I have 7 zones convector baseboard heating system. I need to move one baseboard unit in the bathroom to start renovation. Please advise me how to turn-off boiler (step-by-step), and drain one zone to relocate heating pipe in this kind winter weather in Northern New Jersey. It might take around half hour to relocate unit (I did prep. work already. All I need is just connect each end of unit). My system has one feeding shut-off valve (w/ 7 drain/return valves). That means... To perform this job, I have to shut-off whole system ? I'm really worry about pipe might freeze even though I can finish within an hour. Please advise me detail process to perform this work.

Thank you.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Jeff:

Let me try to help you here, but without being able to physically see your boiler, piping and valves, it will be hard to give you specific advice. But I can give you some general advice which hopefully will be helpful for you.

First, even though it is very cold outside in northern NJ, assuming that you house has been running with the heat fully on and that it is reasonably well insulated, then your boiler would need to be off for quite a while before you would need to be concerned with the water pipes freezing. In other words, assuming that your home is at 65 degrees F now, that it would have to drop down below 32 degrees and then stay there long enough for the water in your pipes to freeze. So depending on the outside temperature, wind, insulation of your home, air-tightness, etc., that you could be looking at maybe a couple days or so that your heat would have to be off before water pipe freezing would occur.

It sounds like you have done a nice job of doing the prep work so that you will only need about an hour or so to make the change to your baseboard unit in your bathroom. So having your entire system down during this time should not be a problem.

Therefore, rather than trying to isolate the zone for your bathroom and working on this baseboard unit while your boiler is running, it would be much better to shutdown your entire boiler and heating system while you are doing the work. This way you don't have to worry about the risk of not shutting the right valves or leaking valves, etc. which could potentially result in flooding your home when you cut the pipe (especially if your bathroom is on a second floor and your boiler is in a basement . . . which is a long way to run when you have water gushing out of a heating pipe!). Not to mention the risk of being splashed with scalding hot water.

Again, as I mentioned earlier, it is hard to give specific advice without physically inspecting your particular boiler and heating system, but IN GENERAL, here on some thoughts on the procedure for shutting off your boiler and heating system to make modifications to a baseboard unit on one of the zones:

1) First you will want to confirm which of your zones is the heating zone for the bathroom unit that you are going to be working on. You can do this by turning off (or way down) all of the thermostats for your 7 heating zones. Then one by one, check to see which circulation pump turns on when you turn up the thermostat that controls the baseboard unit in your bathroom. This will indicate the supply end of the zone, and then you will need to feel for flow (careful it will be VERY HOT) which is return end of the zone. Turn your thermostat for the bathroom unit back down when you are done.

2) Check your owner's manual for your boiler to locate the shutoff switch, and turn off your boiler.

3) Close the water make-up valve for your heating system.

4) Close all of the valves to isolate your boiler.

5) Close the valves at both ends of each of your 7 zones.

6) If you are absolutely sure that you have identified the piping for the heating zone for your bathroom, then connect a hose to the drain connection for this zone and drain the water to either a floor drain, sink or outside. BE VERY CAREFUL as this water can be scalding hot. If you are not absolutely sure that you have identified the correct zone, then to play it safe, drain all 7 of your zones.

7) After you have completed your change to the bathroom baseboard unit, you will need to re-fill and purge the air out of your heating system. And you can find the procedure for doing this in the Question and Answer section of our webpage on Baseboard Heating Systems in our online Maintenance Library:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

FOLLOW-UP FROM Jeff Choi

Thank you so much for your kind response. I think I have to study a little more before I start this work..see the manual, refill process...etc. Thank you again, and I will let you know the result!!!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Jeff:

. . . you are very welcome. Glad we could help.

I think you are doing the right thing by being careful and doing your research. Do-it-yourself projects are great, but when it comes to your boiler and hot water heating system it's best to be on the cautious side. And if you ultimately decide to hire a professional to come in to help you do the work, then you will be farther ahead by all of the prep work that you have done. Also, by working with them, they can show you how to operate your boiler, drain and purge air from your system, etc. For if you ever need to do this yourself in the future.

Just a thought.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM Marie

I live in a condo that has baseboard heaters like this http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp
In my living room, the baseboard heater wraps around one wall onto another wall. I want to remove this small section of baseboard heater so I can put floor-to-ceiling bookcases, flush to the wall. I would only be removing a fraction of the total baseboard heater in that room, so I can't imagine it would affect the heating ability. My question is: how do I remove this section of baseboard heater myself, or do I need to hire a heating specialist?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Marie:

Assuming that you want to remove a small section of your hot water baseboard heating radiator, the biggest challenge is cutting the pipe and then sweating a piping bypass around this section. So it will depend on how comfortable you are with sweating copper pipes.

Also, I assume that you will have access either under the floor or inside the wall, to be able to get at the pipe to make the cuts and bypass the section, right?

And you will need to know how to shut off the water to your system and drain the pipes, and then turn the water back on and purge the air out of the system (you can find out how to do this by watching the tutorial at: http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp ).

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM Amanda

I have baseboard heating along one wall in my kitchen and I would like to put floor cabinets along this wall. I am think of redoing my whole kitchen, is it possible to make the pipes run under my floor to heat the room that way. I know they have electric floor heaters that do this but I am not sure if it is possible to have the water heat the floors that same way. Also, will it heat the room as well as the current baseboard system?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Amanda in MI:

Yes, what you are describing is hot water radiant floor heating. Here is a great article that describes the pro's and con's of switching to such a system:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home_journal/home_improvement/1274556.html

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

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Baseboard Heating