I live in an apartment complex where my water baseboard heating is 100% controlled by the complex staff. This year has been particularly tough, as it's been very warm since winter started and even with 18+ inches of snow outside there's little relief. Landlord says the boilers' thermostats are working, but I'm super uncomfortable.

I've been reading up on how to block air flow but am a bit confused. Previously, I've shoved towels into the top of the baseboard lining where the hot air comes out (horizontally), and whatever spilled over gets stuffed underneath where the cold air goes in (if I'm reading correctly).

Would it be more efficient to stuff towels under the baseboards to block air from flowing upwards? I've also read about tin-foil, but where would I stuff it into, or would I create some kind of shielding?

I hope I explained everything correctly -- it's 2AM and I have a sick fiancee from all the dry air coming from the windows, and I myself can't get to sleep because it's so damn warm. Thanks for any help.

Edit: Here's a picture of what I'm trying to do to block airflow from under the baseboard. Is this correct?

enter image description here

  • 1
    Even though this is 6+ years old now, I'd be remiss to say that this sort of register blocking should ONLY be done if it's a hot water baseboard heat system, where the incoming water temperature is a set temperature and can't get hotter than that. Blocking an electric baseboard heater is likely to cause a fire, as they don't (typically) have any thermal protection, and keep heating up and will overheat if there isn't sufficient airflow. Especially using flammable materials to block the vents is a recipe for disaster for electric baseboards.
    – Milwrdfan
    Sep 24, 2022 at 13:27

2 Answers 2


Since this seems to be an ongoing problem for you, I might suggest a somewhat more formal approach to it. For instance, use magnets to attach toweling to the top of the radiator shell and let the duble-thickness of that towelling (magnet inside the fold) drape all the way to the floor - that should basically shut-down air flow through the radiator from top and bottom and be a bit neater besides. If you need to step it up a notch from there, remove all those, unroll a sheet of aluminum foil from one end to the other, and replace the towel over the top of that.

In both cases, do not try to "stuff things into" the radiator shell, but rather, cover them over completely from the floor to the top-exterior of the radiator shell, all the way to the end-caps (don't limit yourself to the "active area" with fins.)

If you have to buy supplies for this, the roll of aluminum foil would be cheaper to start with than a bunch of towels. Flannel sheets or whatever is cheap in the fabric store may be cheaper than towels as a source of long strip fabric.

  • Thank you! Unfortunately the top of our baseboard is no longer magnetic but it's giving me some ideas.
    – EHorodyski
    Jan 24, 2016 at 22:24
  • It's probably aluminum, which won't let magnets stick.
    – Bryce
    Jan 26, 2016 at 9:08

In Russia, they just left the windows open.

A photo would help.

In general your towels or foil are safe to use, the towels will probably work best. You want to block airflow as much as possible, then, once that's good have an insulating layer. Or just a good talk with building maintenance about installing a flow restriction device on your line.

A down blanket might work better than the towel. Given the low temperatures (e.g. below boiling) both are safe, there is no fire risk, just a risk of some condensation leading to fabric damage.

  • Thanks for the advice...I've already called them several times and they won't add a flow restriction device. And I'd keep the windows open too...if the lady didn't run the show around here =)
    – EHorodyski
    Jan 24, 2016 at 17:03
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    Send them a picture of the towels stuffed in the baseboard.
    – Bryce
    Jan 26, 2016 at 9:06
  • excellent point! We also need some work done because we have an electrical outlet in the kitchen that is peering out right by the sink and there's none of those special outlets that short out (with the reset button and things) in the kitchen at all which from what I hear from my soon-to-be mother-in-law, is totally illegal not to have one within 6 feet of a water source. In anycase, thanks for the help, and letting me vent. I bet there's a pun there =)
    – EHorodyski
    Jan 27, 2016 at 14:02
  • The "special outlet" is called a GFCI. And yes, you want one within 6 feet of a wet area.
    – Bryce
    Jan 31, 2016 at 2:29
  • However, just because the outlet at the sink isn't a GFCI itself, doesn't mean there isn't GFCI protection somewhere. There could be GFCI protection at the circuit breaker or on another outlet "upstream" from the one by the sink. There should, technically, be a "GFCI protected" sticker on the outlet by the sink, but those are often not installed. Of course, based on your management's lack of responsiveness, @EHorodyski, this isn't likely, but one shouldn't rule it out instantly...
    – FreeMan
    Nov 12, 2020 at 12:38

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