When a system is designed to heat a home, each room or area within the system must have a set amount of baseboard heating, by the foot. A normal sized 15 ft. x 15 ft. bedroom for example, may have a few windows and an outside wall requiring ten to fifteen ft. of hydronic, or hot water baseboard heating. The actual footage, would be decided by a mathematical formula that totals all heat loss factors within any room.
This baseboard heating, or radiation, takes heated water from the boiler, circulated by a pump and heats the room.
Once the element within a piece of hydronic baseboard gets hot, the convection process begins. Heat rises as a natural phenomenon and when the air within the enclosure is heated by the hot water running through the element, the air around it rises out into the room. As this happens the cold air at floor level is pulled in under the baseboard to fill the vacuum left by the rising heated air leaving. This newly heated air then rises out of the enclosure and is again replaced with cool air. This process happens continuously when any thermostat calls for heat.
Once the process above is understood, it becomes easy to see why it is so important that this type of heating be unencumbered by furniture or rugs and a good airflow must be maintained to have the heating function properly and at it's most efficient.
There are two parts to installing hydronic baseboard heating. The instructions below are from personal experience over the past 35 years installing hydronic baseboard heating systems.
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Installing the Hydronic or Hot Water Baseboard Heating Enclosure
First things first
When installing hydronic baseboard heating enclosure, there are a few tools that will make the job a lot easier. There are also a few tips from the pro's that will help smooth things out as well.
Let's start with the tools. The enclosure is fastened to the wall where the baseboard is to be installed. This is done with screws of adequate length to reach the studs for a secure installation. Normally one and a quarter inch sheet metal screws will work best.
Find a speed chuck that fits the heads of your chosen screws and use a pistol drill to fasten the backing section to the wall. This is done with at least two screws in at least two separate places to prevent movement. Longer baseboards will require more points or studs be used. Studs normally run every sixteen inches on center but baseboard need be fastened only every 3 feet or so at the top and the bottom to remain straight and secure.
When I'm finding studs, I like to mark my studs on the floor with a pencil mark that I can just rub off with my finger later. Marking the wall does you no good. Once the enclosure is in place it will cover the marks.
After you've marked the studs you'll hold the enclosure on the wall and screw right through it into the studs you've marked. Fasten both end studs and every three feet along the run.
Once your done, pull on the baseboard and see that it is good and secure. If it's tight your ready to install the actual heating element into the enclosure. Brackets that come with the baseboard to hold the elements should all be installed at this point.
Installing the Hydronic or Hot Water Heating Elements.
Where's that heat coming from?
The heat that warms the home with a hot water heating system, is originated in a boiler and then circulated through the baseboard by a hydronic circulating pump. This water must be piped to the remote location we're trying to heat.
Normal baseboard heating requires a three quarter inch feed and return to and from the boiler. This can be copper or poly vinyl. The elements in the baseboard are copper and are connected to these feed and return lines.
If you have poly vinyl loops, then adapters must be used to convert the lines to the three quarter copper that the baseboards use. These adapters are then soldered to the copper elements.
Connect the ends of your elements accordingly and if you need to learn how to solder copper tubing then I have just the article for that education here;
Make sure to practice on a scrap connection before trying to solder your baseboard pipes. Learn the process of creating a good solder joint and you will save time from repairing leaks. Always air test the system when your done prior to filling the system with water.
After you have tested the system you can snap on any cover plates and end caps. Open the dampers and charge the system. Sit back and enjoy the benefit of a silent comfortable heating system that you can say you installed with little trouble.
Hot water heating to this day, is one of the most comfortable and affordable methods used to heat a home. Learning how to install hot water baseboard heating, can save the average homeowner a lot of money by taking a lot of the labor out of the job. A heating company can then be hired to install your boiler or even that can be done without to much trouble saving even more.
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