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I have baseboard heaters in my main living space. I can't see for sure without taking the covers off (which I haven't done yet) but it appears 2 copper pips come up from the basement (through the hard wood floor) to power them and the holes cut seem to be WAY too big around the pipes (fingers could absolutely fit in the spaces). To prevent rodents from coming up from the basement and to just have a tighter living area altogether, I'd like to close these gaps safely. I know there is foam out there and steel wool is also an option, but are those really safe for use around what I assume would be hot pipes? I also read about something called an escutcheon ring but for some reason, I'm seeing those as being $10+ piece and I'd likely have to 10-15 of them (maybe I was looking at the wrong thing). Any suggestions would be great! Thanks.

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4  
I'd suggest fixing the rodent problem first. That seems to be the bigger concern. –  DA01 Aug 7 '12 at 17:32
    
+1 for @DA01. If you don't get rid of the mice, they will find a new way in. –  Tester101 Aug 7 '12 at 18:43

5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

A metal escutcheon ring might be sufficient for your purpose. I would fill the hole with steel wool to stop the mice, then cover with silicone to prevent a draft. The steel wool might be unnecessary, as I don't think mice will gnaw though silicone. However, if the hole is large, the steel wool would make it easier to fill it with silicone without having it fall into the basement.

Don't use spray foam such as Great Stuff around heat sources: it will melt and produce toxic fumes.

BTW, the reason the holes are so big is probably because there used to be three-inch pipes there. Such pipes were used for steam systems and for pump-less hot-water systems where the water was circulated by gravity (convection).

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@BrianDavidBerman: Are your pipes copper or steel? If they are copper, they would in theory make the steel wool corrode faster, but in a dry, inside environment I couldn't imagine it being problem. –  Vebjorn Ljosa Aug 7 '12 at 17:30
    
They appear to be copper in color, versus, for example, my main drain pipes in my basement which are black (steel) and much larger. I'm not as concerned about early corrosion as I am about safety. –  Brian Aug 7 '12 at 17:34
    
I'm not sure what type of steel is used for steel wool, but the more anodic metal will corrode faster. Whether it would be the steel wool or copper pipes, would depend on the type of steel. Don't think I'd take the chance of corroding a water pipe, even if it were a slim chance. –  Tester101 Aug 7 '12 at 18:41
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@Tester101: Steel wool is made from low-carbon steel, almost plain iron. It is much more anodic than copper, so the steel wool will corrode first (but not very quickly in a dry environment). –  Vebjorn Ljosa Aug 7 '12 at 19:05
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You can also get copper wool, so no issue there with dissimilar metals. It works well to discourage rodents. –  user558 Aug 7 '12 at 21:18

Do you have space to install a floor flange trim plate? These should be available in a variety of sizes, so you should be able to find one designed to fit around your pipe's OD. They are made from different materials and different shapes (plastic versions should be way cheaper than $10). It should look something like this:

steel floor flange trim plate

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And the plastic is ok to use against hot pipes? –  Brian Aug 7 '12 at 16:56
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Yes, it is designed to go around hot and cold supply lines that come out of a cabinet or something. The pipes will just have hot water so it will be fine. –  auujay Aug 7 '12 at 17:46
    
I would first stuff the holes with pieces of fiberglass insulation (not mouse-proof, but close, and insulates!) then add the trim plate as shown above. –  dbracey Aug 22 '12 at 16:57

I would use a plastic or metal escutcheon as suggested by others, however I would make sure that the escutcheon did not fit up tightly to the sides of the pipe. That is to say, leave a small gap of about 1/8 of an inch between the inside of the escutcheon and the outside of the pipe. You can use silicon to secure the escutcheon to the floor.

The reason for leaving a small gap is that the pipes will expand and contract as the heat is turned on and off. The gap will prevent any friction between the two items. If they do rub, you will hear the rubbing every time the pipe changes temperature.

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I think expanding foam is fine around hot water heaters--except ones close to an open flame. The label says it is safe for temperatures up to 240°F. Most hot water systems are well below this.

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The spray foam is pretty yummy to rodents. You don't want that as your only protection. –  Bryce Aug 6 '13 at 19:30

SPRAY INSECTICIDE IN THE FIRE RESISTANT SPRAY FOAM AS YOU APPLY IT AND THE MICE LEAVE IT ALONE. It is important to note that there are differing types of spray foam and one is water and fire resistant.

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all-upper-case is discouraged. –  mike Oct 15 '13 at 2:50

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