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How To Move A Piece Of Hydronic Hot Water Baseboard

By Edited Aug 4, 2015 1 0

How To Move A Piece Of Hydronic Hot Water Baseboard, is an article I put together because many different reasons exist why a section of heating may need to be relocated. Homeowners need information to perform this type of hot water heating job.

One reason to move a piece of heat, may be to install a door to outside when the heating is located in the way, another may be a redesign of the room just doesn't work where the heating is.

Whatever the reason the procedure is the same. The zone must be drained and the tubing cut out. Then you have to remove the enclosure and somehow connect the two ends that you separated, with pipe.

Usually the piping has to be installed under the floor to be out of the way and hidden. Many times the pipes will be coming up from the floor at each end of the baseboard to be removed. Sometimes they will come out of the wall at each end and sometimes they will be different on each end.

When the piping is coming out of the wall it can be easier to connect the two ends within the wall. This is usually preferred rather then opening the floor to run the line, or the ceiling below, which are your other two options.

Before the baseboard can be cut out, the zone must be drained at the boiler. Shut off the boiler electric switch and Isolate any other zones if possible with existing ball valves. 

If you have a single zone system this is not necessary as the whole system will be drained to a level below the heat your working on. If you have a multi zone system each zone will have an individual purge setup consisting of a ball valve and a boiler drain above it.

This setup is used to get out the air as the system is filled. We can also use this drain to lower the water level in the loop so we can work on the baseboard without making a horrible mess. Shut off all the ball valves and then drain the water out of the loop you need to work on.

Draining Your Loop

A good practice is to locate the water shut off and close the feed valve. This valve is located near the boiler and is connected to the city water or your piping from a well and feeds water into the boiler when it needs it.

Closing this valve will eliminate the possibility of flooding, if you have picked the wrong loop. If you would like to be 100% sure you have a clear pipe then you can drain the whole system at the boiler.

On single zone systems this is easy enough, as you only have to purge the air from that one zone when your finished. On complex multi zone systems, it's faster to isolate all the other zones from the one your working on and then you only have to purge that zone when you put the system back into normal operating condition.

Once your loop is isolated from the rest of the system and your sure the water is out and shut off at the feed, it's time to remove the bugger that's in the way.

To start, with remove the end caps from the baseboard and then the cover plate from the front, either by lifting up from the bottom and pulling out on the top at the same time on some models, or pushing down and pulling out on the bottom on others, the cover will snap off of the brackets.

This stage will expose the copper finned tube element and tubing inside the enclosure. There are two ways to cut the tubing out. One will use a special tubing cutter called a mini cutter that will spin around the pipe in a very small space and eventually make a nice clean cut.

The second way is with a hacksaw made for metal. Mini hacksaws work best for this job. A sawzall can be used but will usually hack up the end of the copper and this is not recommended because you will need to get fittings back on the end at some point to reconnect the loop. 

Once you have cut both ends of the element it can be removed from the enclosure. The element gone and the back of the metal backing now exposed will allow you to ascertain what kind of anchoring is holding it to the wall.

If you find screws, simply use a screw gun or screwdriver to remove them and take out the metal enclosure. If there are nails holding your baseboard to the walls, then you will need a carpenters flat bar or a cats paw to remove the nails.

Now that the base board is out of the way we need to decide where and how we are going to reconnect the two ends to put the heat back together. Sometimes if you have a hardwood floor then the ceiling below may be an easier way to get into the space to save the floors.

Sheetrock is easier to fix then hardwood. This is a link to an article I've written on repairing the hole in the ceiling when your done. 

Repairing A Hole In A Sheetrock Wall

 

Connecting Your Ends

With either ceilings or walls, something is going to be opened to make this connection. There are going to be timbers inside that will need to be drilled to allow the piping to be run from one pipe to the other. If you open the wall then you will have to drill holes in all the studs you must go through to make the tie in. 

If your in the floor, then the floor joists will be drilled unless you get lucky and they run the right way sometimes the pipe will just be in one bay. 

After the proper holes have been drilled then copper tubing will be installed with soldered fittings to connect the ends together, once again making a complete heating loop, or zone. 

This is a link to another article I've written that will explain to you how to properly solder copper tubing. This article is recommended for anyone who is not familiar with the proper methods to accomplish this job.

How To Properly Solder Copper Tubing

 

 Refilling The loop

Now that you have the pipes all reconnected, we can air test the soldering job. This can be done by removing the drain valve from the purge setup and using an air Gauge installed in a threaded tee setup, take an air compressor and pump air into the zone until it goes to about 60 lbs.

Watch the Gauge for any leaks and wait about ten minutes to be sure all of your soldering is holding. If the Gauge drops there is a leak and this must be re-soldered until the loop will hold air. This assures we don't damage anything when the system is refilled.

After air testing your work the Gauge setup can be removed and the boiler drain reinstalled to it's tee. Use Teflon pipe sealing thread as well as pipe sealing compound on the threads and be sure to tighten well but do not over tighten.

Now the main water fill to the boiler can be opened and the zone filled. Allow the system to pressurize and then wait until the Gauge on the boiler equalizes and make sure you have between 12 and 20 pounds per square inch showing on the Gauge. This is the normal operating pressure for all hot water heating systems.

Once the system is refilled to the right pressure, the air must be remove d from the zone. This is accomplished by using a hose on the same drain valve running outside or into a proper drain and water is fed into the system and through the loop until it ultimately comes out the hose.

Run this purge until all of the air is out of the lines. A good trick for this is to submerge the end of the hose into a bucket of water and watch for any air bubbles. When all the bubbles are gone the air is out and you can close all of the valves and restart the system.

It is normal to hear a little rushing water when you first start the system back up. This is a small amount of air that will be remaining in the system. This air is eliminate dover time by automatic vents that should be installed high above the boiler.

After a few seconds the system will quiet down and eventually all of the remaining air will be gone and your system will be nice and quiet.

The last step is to turn your power back on and put away the tools. Oh ya I forgot it's off to that other job of repairing the access holes you made.

Hopefully your's were minimal and it's a quick fix. Some are and some can be pain, usually this will depend on how long a piece of baseboard you removed and where the piping had to be run.

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