Do old fashioned radiators work well? (heating) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's been years since I lived in a place that has old fashioned radiators (not baseboards.)

I remember them not heating the home well at all and it being VERY expensive (oil heat).

Anyone (who gets cold winters) currently live in a place with radiators?
Please give me your opinions!

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#2 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 03:32 PM
 
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My experience is that they are VERY warm.

Oil is expensive though.

As I understand it, if it's not working well it's probably the boiler rather than the radiators. Or possibly something needs to be cleaned/maintained (by the oil company).

In my town, pretty much everyone has radiators and they are considered very warm. One advantage over baseboards is that they, as the name implies, continue to radiate heat even after the boiler shuts off.

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#3 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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See, my experience was that the room was warm right near the radiator but if you moved further into the room, it was pretty chilly.

I don't know whether to go view the apartment. It's an hour away!

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#4 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 03:47 PM
 
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WE have the old radiators in our home, they run off of gas. They would keep this place *really* warm, if our huose was insulated. And they don't get that hot. Ds has touched them and never burnt himself, the cat sleeps on top of them all winter long. If they we're oil heated I wouldn't have bought the house..BUT we refused to buy a house that was oil heated period.

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#5 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 04:25 PM
 
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They have a really nice heat and don't get as hot as electric baseboard heaters. Oil is expensive, but the efficiency of the system depends a lot on the boiler, not the radiators themselves. Make sure they're clean and bleed out any air once or twice a winter and they are pretty easy maintenance.
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#6 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 04:30 PM
 
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My parents' old-fashioned radiators have always worked well. They continue to warm even after shutting-off. I LOVE visiting them in winter as my newer house (baseboard heat) seems to need the heat set on "blast" continually to stay warm.
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#7 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 04:43 PM
 
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My parent's house has radiators and they haven't had any problems with them at all. They are gas heated, I believe. Their house is always warm in the winter- I never remember is being cold as a kid. I prefer radiators over baseboard heaters.

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#8 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 05:11 PM
 
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Steam fired systems generally produce the really hot raditors.

We have a gas boiler and regular (old and big) radiators. Overall I think they do a nice job of heating the rooms. The radiators are very warm to the touch but not so hot as to burn.

The cats absolutely love them

Sometimes air gets in the lines and sort of creates a block to certain branches of the systems. Bleeding the lines of air is really easy, just open the relief valve and let the air out and have a cup handy to catch the water. (close the valve as soon as water starts to come out)

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#9 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 05:24 PM
 
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I lived in a house with radiators once upon a time. The secret is to close doors. And in sufficiently old houses, you can also use the transoms to regulate temperature a bit.

Anyhow, the nice thing about radiators? No ductwork full of dust and other allergens.

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#10 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies!

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#11 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 06:43 PM
 
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Older rental properties are often under insulated, leaky windows, etc. And older boiler could be very inefficient ... it all adds up to a high heating cost in a cold climate. Radiators CAN be done right, but that takes some expense on the part of the building owner.
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#12 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by SleeplessMommy View Post
Older rental properties are often under insulated, leaky windows, etc. And older boiler could be very inefficient ... it all adds up to a high heating cost in a cold climate. Radiators CAN be done right, but that takes some expense on the part of the building owner.
See, that has been my experience. I'm going to have my brother (who lives near the apt) preview the place for me. He'll call me and let me know what he thinks.

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#13 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 07:58 PM
 
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We have radiators: hot water ones with an oil fired boiler. The house is nice and toasty for us, and the radiators aren't hot to the touch, just warm. One of the things about radiators is that they work best when they're installed under windows, because the current, however minimal, somehow makes the radiators work better. (Google it... I don't remember the specifics.)

We've had radiators in rental apartments, too (4, in fact), and they worked fine, except that they were steam heat, so they made a knocking sound quite often. The hot water ones we have are silent.

Oh, and we've got a 3BR/2.5BA (2000 square foot) house from 1885. It's got the original windows with decent storm windows over them, insulation in only 3 rooms downstairs and none upstairs, and a poorly insulated attic (re-insulating is on our to-do list). We pay about $200/$220 per month on a level payment plan for our oil. However, we're in South Jersey, so our winters aren't ridiculously cold. We get cold snaps that go down into the teens and twenties, but generally stay in the 30's all winter.

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#14 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We pay about $200/$220 per month on a level payment plan for our oil.
Egads! I don't have that kind of money.

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#15 of 21 Old 11-05-2009, 12:01 AM
 
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I once had steam radiators powered by a gas fed boiler. They heated well and evenly. My problem was that making any temp change took FOREVER. Cold? Want to bump up the temp a bit? Sure, give it an hour. Hot? Want to bump down the temp a bit? Sure, open all the windows. And they hiss. Though then when I'd go into a forced-air house the noise and smell would bother me instantly.

I like a nice, programmable thermostat with rather instant changes - doesn't happen with radiators.
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#16 of 21 Old 11-05-2009, 12:35 AM
 
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We live in a place that has 2 right now We've lived in this building before and there are only one or two units that don't have this heating. Ours is controlled by the landlord who runs his business in the bottom portion of the building. It's coal heat and he physically turns it on 2 times a day. He has a thermostat for it that gets turned on later this month or whenever temps are consistently below 50 (which ever happens first). It's set to kick on itself once it drops below 50 and turn off at 90. One drawback is that the thermostat is for the business so 90 downstairs is generally much hotter upstairs.

Ours get HOT. The one in our kitchen (one there and the other is in the living room) gets hot enough the steam valve does whistle the majority of the time. Our other one doesn't. Ours run hot enough that we usually keep a window cracked all throughout the cold months to help regulate the heat. I did try turning off the one in the kitchen (since it ran the hottest and the kitchen is one of the smaller rooms so it bakes and wasn't safe IMO) but it seemed to mess with the entire set up as a whole. Not sure if mine are tied to each other but I did end up turning it back on.

Our apartment is small enough (600ish sq ft) that we don't get the cold extreme often associated with the slow warm up. We do, however, get the high heats that take longer to get to a comfy temp. Ours do knock when they first turn on but only for a minute or so. I kind of like it for some reason.

We like it though. Our landlord's business is a pump service and he has 24 hour call so if we need an extra kick of heat we can call him and he will happily come out. He also doesn't care if we have every window open in the house to help regulate and told me the other day he likes doing it himself.

I don't think we'd complain much anyhow. We don't have to pay for it. Only real drawback to us is potential safety issues with kids. Mine are old enough and can remember living here before that we don't touch or play around them once it gets cold. Ours put off enough that getting too close is uncomfy anyway. For kids who aren't familiar with our house or are younger (such as crawlers) we are a bit more paranoid. The base on ours don't run as hot so it wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to get a curious crawler over there and reaching out to pull up before noticing the temp. So far though, we haven't had an issue. Most kids seem to catch on fast.

Oh and our winters are seriously freezing! The schools had to drop their "snow day" requirements because the former temp was basically our average for the whole season.

ETA: Because this post isn't nearly long enough. Our building is OLD....1910ish (I can't remember the exact year stamp on the front of the building right now). It used to be an opera house for the town so the apartments are actually conversions of various rooms that were here before. We have leaky windows like mad. Ours heat wonderfully. We don't need to shut doors or block off areas with less use or anything like that. Like I said though, ours is coal based heat. Everyone else who has posted here seems to have gas. I have no experience with that.

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#17 of 21 Old 11-05-2009, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies.
Now I won't be scared off in the future if I see an apt with radiators.

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#18 of 21 Old 11-05-2009, 11:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by DaughterOfKali View Post
Egads! I don't have that kind of money.
Our next door neighbors, in a similar house, but with gas heat and replacement windows, pay about $650/month each winter for gas and electric combined! I always felt like our $200 was great... when we add in our cooking gas and electric, we're still under $350.

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#19 of 21 Old 11-05-2009, 12:27 PM
 
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We have old water/steam radiators here with no problems. Our heat is turned off between something like 11PM-4AM and the radiators take a long time to go cold. It's also not as dry as forced air which is nice.

With apartments it's good to check what floor you are on. Generally I've found anyone above the first floor is set for heat and by the time you get to the top you can leave the windows open practically. lol

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#20 of 21 Old 12-27-2011, 08:58 AM
 
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I have the old radiators in my house(hot water) and its heated from natural gas. I love them. Like others have said, they continue to heat after the furnace shuts off. If you have a bleed valve on your radiators, which you may have a small key that fits in to it, you need to bleed the air out of them on ocassion. You should have a steady stream of water coming out. Air may spit out at first, then the water will follow. Just have a small cup or something to catch the water. This helps to keep them working well. Also, make sure the shut off valve if you have one, towards the bottom of the radiator is in the full open position. Turn valve counter clockwise for open.

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#21 of 21 Old 12-28-2011, 07:44 AM
 
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My grandparents had radiators in their house and they were just fine - although they were only in the two rooms (they weren't bedrooms, really - there were two rooms, a hallway in between them, and a kitchen and bathroom off the hallway). The doors had to be closed to the hallway, so it would be freezing in the hallway. The bathroom also had a small heater and I don't remember about the kitchen... I'm assuming the oven kept it rather warm when it was in use, otherwise it must have been just as cold as the other parts of the house. BUT it's also the case that this was in Europe and it was a brick and stone house, had an attic, and was well insulated.

On the plus side you could keep food warm if you set the plate on it (it wasn't hot enough to burn you, but it did get warm) and also served as a humidifier if you put a bowl of water on top to evaporate... and it also dried small items of clothing on top.

ETA: It was gas, not oil.

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