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Old Radiators: Keep or Replace?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Chris in Iowa, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    CHRIS: Yes, hi. I was looking at a home that has a really old heating system. It was built in the 1930s and, basically, what they’ve got is a boiler system …

    TOM: OK.

    CHRIS: … and very large radiators.

    TOM: I bet. Probably got asbestos on those pipes, too.

    CHRIS: Actually, I’m not sure about that.

    TOM: That would be common with the old system. Do you know if it’s a steam system or a hot water system?

    CHRIS: Hot water.

    TOM: OK. And so what’s your question?

    CHRIS: My question is would it be viable to remove those very large radiators and do the baseboard heat?

    TOM: Oh, that would be such a shame.

    LESLIE: It would be. The only benefit is that you’re going to regain some space that, obviously, that big, giant radiator was taking up, Chris.

    CHRIS: Yes.

    LESLIE: But unless you go with a cast iron baseboard heater, you will never get the heat retention that you once had from those big radiators. They’ve got a ton of character. You can build beautiful coverings for them that have built-in storage; that are sort of – you know, vented window seats that you can sit on if it’s a lowboy radiator in front of a window. You can do these wonderful covers that have sort of a vented top with a nice cushion so you can heat up your little booty while you sit out there and watch the snow fall on a nice winter day.

    CHRIS: OK.

    LESLIE: Wouldn’t do it. Especially if you’re going with aluminum baseboard; it’s going to be tinging, it’s not going to retain the heat and it’s just going to be an annoyance.

    TOM: It really will detract from the value of your house, Chris. We really wouldn’t recommend that you pull out those great, old, cast iron radiators. They’re a very fantastic way to get heat.

    CHRIS: Very good. Well, I appreciate the information.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Chris. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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