Upgrading radiators in old log house

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SeanGMac
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Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2021 11:39 pm

Upgrading radiators in old log house

Post by SeanGMac » Tue Nov 30, 2021 7:01 pm

Hei!

We live in an old log-built house with a log-burning boiler which heats the water and radiators. The radiators looked old when we moved in which was 20 years ago.

About ten years ago they were all flushed and we changed changed the pipework from copper to pvc.

About 5 or 6 years ago we added a new radiator to the circuit in an unheated part of the house. I must say that this newer radiator - which is small - absolutely rocks and seems to generate much more heat than the older, full-size ones. So now I am thinking, should we change all the older ones for new radiators? Big job and expensive. What a waste of time and money, however, if we don't get an appreciable improvement in the warmth generated.

Does anyone here have any experience of doing this and was it worth it?



Upgrading radiators in old log house

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Upphew
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Re: Upgrading radiators in old log house

Post by Upphew » Wed Dec 01, 2021 9:01 am

SeanGMac wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 7:01 pm
Hei!

We live in an old log-built house with a log-burning boiler which heats the water and radiators. The radiators looked old when we moved in which was 20 years ago.

About ten years ago they were all flushed and we changed changed the pipework from copper to pvc.

About 5 or 6 years ago we added a new radiator to the circuit in an unheated part of the house. I must say that this newer radiator - which is small - absolutely rocks and seems to generate much more heat than the older, full-size ones. So now I am thinking, should we change all the older ones for new radiators? Big job and expensive. What a waste of time and money, however, if we don't get an appreciable improvement in the warmth generated.

Does anyone here have any experience of doing this and was it worth it?
I'd start by reducing energy consumption, not by increasing how much you can use it. Does the boiler have enough capacity to handle new radiators?
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SeanGMac
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Re: Upgrading radiators in old log house

Post by SeanGMac » Wed Dec 01, 2021 6:10 pm

What do you mean by "new"? I am not planning additional radiators, just replacing existing with hopefully more efficient models.

Although the boiler is quite old and probably bears replacing it wouldn't be working any harder, would it, if the radiators were better performing? I suppose my question is really about the technology of modern radiators versus ancient ones.

FinnGuyHelsinki
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Re: Upgrading radiators in old log house

Post by FinnGuyHelsinki » Wed Dec 01, 2021 10:34 pm

SeanGMac wrote:
Wed Dec 01, 2021 6:10 pm
What do you mean by "new"? I am not planning additional radiators, just replacing existing with hopefully more efficient models.

Although the boiler is quite old and probably bears replacing it wouldn't be working any harder, would it, if the radiators were better performing? I suppose my question is really about the technology of modern radiators versus ancient ones.
I suppose Upphew meant there's a limit how much heat there is to be drawn from the radiators, after which any further radiator efficiency does not result in more heating. If you have a gauge for the return water temperature, that would give some indication whether changing the radiators can improve the heating.

riku2
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Re: Upgrading radiators in old log house

Post by riku2 » Wed Dec 01, 2021 11:45 pm

SeanGMac wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 7:01 pm
I must say that this newer radiator - which is small - absolutely rocks and seems to generate much more heat than the older, full-size ones
you do know that every radiator has two valves. the one you can adjust by hand (or via thermostatic radiator valve) and a second one for balancing all the radiators in the house. When the system is installed this second balancing value is adjusted by the engineer to make sure the radiators near the boiler (which get the hot water first) don't get too hot at the expense of the radiators later in the circuit (the water gets less warm as it travels from radiator to radiator). This adjustment is only done once and is called "balancing" because it's balancing the heat output across all the rooms.

one explanation is that the balancing valve (also known as the lockshield valve) is adjusted differently on your new small radiator and it gets more than its fair share of hot water. If you google for "how to balance radiators" you'll see that they're all supposed to warm up at the same rate and balancing means checking the temperatures of each one.

When you had the small radiator installed did the engineer rebalance all the radiators (including the new one) or just add it and open the lockshield value 100% on the new one?

SeanGMac
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Re: Upgrading radiators in old log house

Post by SeanGMac » Wed Dec 01, 2021 11:54 pm

Well, there are four temperature gauges in total for me to look at in the boiler room - and two pressure gauges which are how, really, I judge whether enough heat has been generated to heat the radiators sufficiently. In other words, I am not convinced about the accuracy of the various temperature gauges but I do (have to) respect the pressure gauges.

The hot water tank is in two parts - has an upper and lower temperature gauge. I like to achieve 80 deg in the upper part, 65 in the lower but when the pressure gauge on the boiler is on the money I take that as my cue, and won't add any more fuel to the fire.

No question that all these gauges need calibrating - that is not the issue.

My question is really about the efficiency of modern radiators against old ones. Are modern radiators better at distributing heat and more economical? If you look at, e.g. A UK site for "radiators" they will recommend changing them every ten or twenty years. Is that just advertising BS or is there some justification for that claim? I guess that is my question.
.

SeanGMac
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Re: Upgrading radiators in old log house

Post by SeanGMac » Thu Dec 02, 2021 12:25 am

riku2 wrote:
Wed Dec 01, 2021 11:45 pm
SeanGMac wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 7:01 pm
I must say that this newer radiator - which is small - absolutely rocks and seems to generate much more heat than the older, full-size ones
you do know that every radiator has two valves. the one you can adjust by hand (or via thermostatic radiator valve) and a second one for balancing all the radiators in the house. When the system is installed this second balancing value is adjusted by the engineer to make sure the radiators near the boiler (which get the hot water first) don't get too hot at the expense of the radiators later in the circuit (the water gets less warm as it travels from radiator to radiator). This adjustment is only done once and is called "balancing" because it's balancing the heat output across all the rooms.

one explanation is that the balancing valve (also known as the lockshield valve) is adjusted differently on your new small radiator and it gets more than its fair share of hot water. If you google for "how to balance radiators" you'll see that they're all supposed to warm up at the same rate and balancing means checking the temperatures of each one.

When you had the small radiator installed did the engineer rebalance all the radiators (including the new one) or just add it and open the lockshield value 100% on the new one?
Well, no! I do not know that!!!! Which is why I decided to seek some advice about the matter!

I believe we have a pretty competent plumber on retainer but I must say that when we had that new additional rad installed (and the replacement pipe-work done) I was a bit surprised that that these two blokes from Estonia showed up and got on with the job without any input from said plumber -and I have never thought twice about the matter since. So WTF - has there been a screw-up there? Grrrrrr. No wonder he has been avoiding me about checking the thermostat pins (which was another of my theories). Grrrrr. That sounds like a good lead -I will explore.

Upphew
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Re: Upgrading radiators in old log house

Post by Upphew » Thu Dec 02, 2021 9:31 am

SeanGMac wrote:
Wed Dec 01, 2021 6:10 pm
What do you mean by "new"? I am not planning additional radiators, just replacing existing with hopefully more efficient models.

Although the boiler is quite old and probably bears replacing it wouldn't be working any harder, would it, if the radiators were better performing? I suppose my question is really about the technology of modern radiators versus ancient ones.
I suppose you won't be replacing old radiators with old radiators. If new ones are better getting heat out of the water then it is up to the boiler to put more heat in the water. If you have super efficient radiator that can extract all the heat from the water, then the first one will be really hot and rest of the radiators will be cold? Radiator is radiator: water goes through it, it radiates the heat from the water (or conducts it to air). New radiator might have more surface area which might get more heat out of the water, but if the last radiator gets only cold water it won't heat the room.
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DMC
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Re: Upgrading radiators in old log house

Post by DMC » Thu Dec 02, 2021 11:06 am

Upphew wrote:
Thu Dec 02, 2021 9:31 am
If new ones are better getting heat out of the water then it is up to the boiler to put more heat in the water.
That is true and your phrasing explains it very clearly & simply.
If you have super efficient radiator that can extract all the heat from the water, then the first one will be really hot and rest of the radiators will be cold?
It is most unlikely that the system is plumbed that way. Almost every system will have 2 pipes: flow and return. The water leaves the boiler in the flow pipe. Every radiator is fed with hot water from the flow pipe. After passing through the radiator the water, now cooler, goes to the return pipe which takes it back to the boiler. This way, water cooled by one radiator cannot be fed into another radiator. All radiators are supplied with hot water at (more or less) the same temperature. Not exactly the same because there are (ideally small) heat losses from the pipework; in most cases you can ignore that.

Since the pipework was renewed recently I assume it uses this flow & return configuration even if the original layout was different. Sean, can you confirm that? If you cannot trace the pipes you could check the temperature of the feed to each radiator: they should all be more or less the same.

If you do go around your radiators checking the incoming pipe temperature you might also note the temperature of the pipe coming out of the radiator, and calculate the temperature drop across each rad. Opinions vary but a common target is for each radiator to have a temperature drop of around 11 celsius. If you are not getting that, or you get very different results from different radiators, you probably need to balance the radiators.


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