Cast iron baseboards - where to get them?

doofusMay 7, 2009

re-posting from "plumbing" to what seems to be a closer-matching forum


We want to have hot-water heat with the water running through cast iron (rather than aluminum) baseboards. The question is, where to get them?

There are links on the net, but  this being such a "specialty" item for some reason  no ratings or customer feedback about specific makers. Does this forum have any advice? Our plumber is willing to install them, but wants us to buy them ourselves...

Other things being equal, we'd prefer someone local to New Jersey  to make delivery/warranty/exchange easier... Thanks for pointers! Yours, doofus

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your heating dealers should be able to get you the cast iron baseboard radiators
You want a heating boiler man to install it anyway. Is this plumber a boiler man? There is nothing worse than a messed up hot water heating system.
If you are going to spend that kind of money, you want it right.
later paulbm

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 9:58PM
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Burnham makes excellent cast iron radiators. You can get them through most plumbing supply houses but they aren't usually stocked. I know US Supply and I think Weinstein carry them.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 10:55PM
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paulbm, thanks for the advice regarding "boiler man", but... The one guy we invited to bid on doing the hot-water heat wanted to do the entire plumbing and refused to do just the heat... So we left it to the guy, who is doing the rest of the plumbing  I'm not sure, how to verify their heat-installing credentials...

Cheri, thanks for the pointer  but we want cast iron baseboards, rather than radiators. Radiators need quite a bit more space, whereas baseboards can be installed under the windows and thus don't compete with furniture...

Indeed, Burnham does make them, but are they as good as their radiators? Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 11:13PM
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TThe link below is to a line of low temperature radiators that are the ÂRolls Royce of radiators (I hope you have deep pockets!). They operate with low temperature water saving energy due to the fact that you only have to heat water to about 95°F ~ 115°F, instead of 140°F ~ 180°F. This technical design feature makes them fully compatible with liquid-to-water or DX-to-water geothermal heat pumps that will save even more energy and $$$. Coupling these units to geothermal you can expect to save from 60% ~ 85% of what it would cost to heat using conventional cast iron rads and a conventional boiler.

Speaking of design, some of these designs are nothing less than stunning!


Here is a link that might be useful: Jaga USA

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 12:55AM
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Thanks, but I'm not familiar with details of the geothermal heating/cooling. And we already have the central air-conditioning installed (one unit for each of four floors).

For winter heat, what are the savings, that geothermal brings? It is a 4-story (including basement) house in New Jersey with a total square-footage of about 5000.

With new insulation, siding, windows, and heater, I expect the next winter's heat to cost me no more than $2000 per season. If geothermal is even 80% cheaper, then I'll be saving $1600. Thus, to pay off in 10 years, geothermal must cost not more than $16K more than the regular hot-water heat. Would you say, that's possible? Don't I need to dig many feet into the ground? Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 11:11AM
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If heating 5000sq ft only costs ~$2k then your envelope must be very efficient or your climate quite warm (or both!). Unless youÂre motivated by Âdoing something good for the EarthÂ, I would not suggest installing geothermal  even though you will likely recover your investment not merely through energy savings but particularly when you Âcash out and sell the property, as your property would likely be unique in your community and one of the most energy efficient hydronic installations in the nation.

The Jaga rads are the ÂBang & Olufsen of radiant technology, visually and technically. Even with a conventional boiler, you can expect to save a minimum of ~20% on heating. Perhaps you may even be able to extend the life expectancy of your conventional equipment by being able to throttle back on the temperatures it must produce.

Regarding geo, it would cost more than $16k  many times more. How much is somewhat dependant on regional costs, as there seems to be quite a variant between regions. Drill depths would also vary based on what is installed and how it is installed. Likely borehole depth would be 100ft ~ 450ft per vertical borehole. The number of boreholes would be dependent on the size of the system, measured in tons (12,000Btu/ton) and how the ground heat exchanger would be configured.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 12:30PM
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The Burnham cast iron baseboard will give you 172 btu's per ft at 110f water and 620 btu's at 180f water. Do the heat loss for the home, design at a given water temperature and allow the system water temperature to change with outside temperature and you will be fine.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 2:08PM
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What about Governale baseboards? Pluses/minuses? They seem to be almost local to where we are, so that's a plus. What about technical opinions? Thanks! doofus

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 3:27PM
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Cast is some times made in different sizes , like 7" tall and 9" tall. You are asking which is best. I think you will find that the thickness of the cast will be about the same on all brands. The main thing you need is to make sure you have your system engn. right and the right size boiler and pump to do the job.
In a system like you are doing, engn. is everything. Later paulbm

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 8:50PM
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I don't know if you want authentic cast iron radiators and are willing to do a little traveling to pick out exactly what you want at an exceptional price but if you are you might want to check this place out.
There is a similar type of establishment in Stamford, CT called United House Wrecking but I haven't been to that one in over 20 years. Vermont Salvage has literally TONS of CI radiators

Here is a link that might be useful: Vermont Salvage

    Bookmark   May 9, 2009 at 12:06AM
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Mr. Havac, no, "authenticity" does not concern me  certainly not enough to pay through the roof (or floor) for it. I just want the performance :)

Paul, since we want the units under the windows mostly, and the windows are (per code) 24" above the floors, I'd rather have taller baseboards, but, it seems, 9-7/8" is as high as both Governale "Gov-Board and Burnham "Baseray" make them.

Do you think, we can stick these in two layers between floor and the window-sills, though, so as to fit them all under windows and to not "steal" any space, that can be used by the furniture?

I can not find any other reasonable maker, but Burnham promises (PDF link) slightly higher heat output per linear foot of the board (520 BTU at 170°F at 1 gallon/minute vs. 490 for Governale), so, I think, I'll be going with them... (BTW, Are these numbers reliable, or is the difference within the margins of accuracy anyway?)

Thanks! Yours, doofus

    Bookmark   May 9, 2009 at 7:09PM
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your figures sound about right. i don't have my book handy but i was thinking the out put was about 600 Btu per Ft. at 180 degrees an at least 1 gal. per min flow. I would not try to put it all under a window, I think that would look funny.
if you did try that you would need a lot more left and right end sections. Also
remember that the more ell's you use the more restricted you will make the loop
and this can slow down your water flow. Are you having this engineered out for the amount of casting needed in each room? and also to make sure you don't put to much casting on one 3/4" loop. Also with cast iron radiation and several stories hi, pump sizing is very important Some times when you use zone values you have to use full flow values.
If you look at your end sections most of the cast iron radiation are made to set on the floor to help support them. Then you have to make sure you don;t
plug off the air flow under them with carpet

    Bookmark   May 9, 2009 at 10:21PM
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I would not try to put it all under a window, I think that would look funny.

I'm hoping, it will not be very visible at all, actually :) There can be little to no furniture under the windows anyway, so that's why I want to put as much of the heating under there  to have more floor space left for bookcases, dressers, etc.

Yes, the contractor took measurements of every room and its windows and sent that to the distributor, who replied with a list of how many linear feet of baseboards we need for each room.

What worries me, however, is the imprecision of all this. For example, the questionnaire did not ask for the characteristics of the windows  we've got brand new triple-layer "Starmark Okna", which ought to be at least twice less heat-conductive, than old and drafty two-layer, but the calculations don't consider this. We are also replacing the siding and the insulation of the walls, so we ought to be losing less heat, than "normal". They did not ask for the baseboard kind (aluminum, steel, cast iron?) or brand either. And we don't know, what their assumption for the "worst" outside temperature was...

Yes, he also mentioned installing pumps  is there something about that, that I should check with him? As for carpet  we aren't going to have that. Wood floors only with, maybe, some area rugs, but those will not reach to the walls.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 1:42PM
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Hi paulbm here. First off you talked about windows. I am sure the contractor told them about the fact that you had good windows. And the same thing holds true about the siding and insulation. If your contractor did not ask you or check out these items and tell the engineering out fit about it, then you have not had engineering done right. Ask your contractor about these questions,
and if you don,t get the right answers you might have to start over again. Ask
him for the PH no. of the engineering co. so you can check on this. I would defiantly want to see all the proper engineering, Its your money and you should have it. later paulbm

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 9:03PM
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Am looking for the end caps for 7 inch older (50+ years) baseboards. I saved all of the baseboards from the gutting of my house, 6 years ago, and am now using additional boards for the second time. However, I have no more end caps. Thanks to anyone who can help me find some.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 10:40PM
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