I've got a hot water heating system in my home. Some rooms have baseboard radiators (recent ones), then other rooms have old radiator faces like this:

enter image description here

The heat isn't coming up so well in some of these older ones, so I got the face plates off to clean them out to see if it'll help. They're full of lint, hair, etc. After taking the faces off, I can see various parts of the copper piping have got the blue corrosion points on them to varying degrees. The house was built in the 50s, not sure if this is original piping.

I'm wondering what people would typically update these radiators to? Can you buy new ones that are the same size these days? If I were to replace these with baseboard radiators, then I'd have to build out the cut-out area in the wall where these much taller units are currently sitting. They are recessed into the wall.


  • 1
    Did you bleed the radiators? Just removing the air trapped in them can immensely improve their performance. Jan 26, 2017 at 15:39
  • Hi @ratchetfreak do you have to bleed them for water heated systems? I thought you only do that for steam heating systems?
    – user65674
    Jan 26, 2017 at 17:02
  • Air trapped inside the radiator will greatly reduce the efficiency. Because less metal is touching the hot water. To bleed check for a valve on one of the upper corners of the radiator. Crack it open with a screwdriver until water comes out. Jan 26, 2017 at 17:05

2 Answers 2


Cleaning the existing radiator is a good idea. Now, before replacing with baseboard units, a couple things to consider. You want roughly the same heat output rating (BTU/hr or similar), which may be difficult to calculate for the existing piping. (Any new basebord finstock will have its rating on the packaging). Most likely you'll need a long-ish baseboard run to match the existing radiator's output.
Unless you have cosmetic objections to the existing radiators -- and keep in mind you can probably buy different covers, or re-paint the ones you have -- you might as well stick with what you have rather than rerouting the feed&return pipes to fit a baseboard run.

BTW, if the wall behind the radiator is not insulated and preferable covered with reflective metal foil (to maximize directing heat into the room), you should do that.


I looked up a few vendors of replacement covers. You will have to check the desired dimensions, of course.
improvementscatalog shuttershack .

  • Thanks Carl - I don't have a cosmetic objection. But do you know where I could find replacement covers? I'm not sure exactly what these are called, so my searching online has come up empty. I'd like to get new covers since these are so warped and difficult to get off for cleaning. Last problem with them is that they've been painted so many times that all the layers chip off when you can remove the cover for cleaning, a little worried it might have original lead paint in some of those old layers.
    – user65674
    Jan 26, 2017 at 15:14

If the baseboard radiators you are referring to are 3/4" copper tubing with aluminum fins then the approximate output is 750 btu +/- per foot of finned length. Those old style convectors are probably from Burnham Who sold most of the convectors. To get the BTU output of the convectors you need to measure the length, width, and depth of the unit and consult a chart. Those convectors you have did a great job of heating. I prefer them to baseboard but that is my choice. To find a name take the covers off and look inside everywhere. You can still buy convectors similar to yours but why waste money, there is nothing wrong with yours.

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