[photopress:Radiator.jpg,thumb,alignright]If anyone out there lives in the Seattle Area and has radiator heat, can you post your comments please. Do you like them? Have you bought covers for them? Have you replaced the boiler, and if so where did you purchase the replacement.

Any and all comments on the topic of boiler heat and radiators is appreciated. We are particularly looking for a company who replaces the boiler without replacing the radiators.


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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: ardelld@gmail.com cell: 206-910-1000

30 thoughts on “Radiators

  1. I’m not in Seattle but I do have radiators. I like them, but your house ends up being a little dustier than with forced air.

    Radiant heating is a little harder to regulate than forced air. With forced air, the furnace just shuts off once your house has reached the desired temperature. It’s not that easy with radiant heat because even though your furnace might shut off, your rads are still hot and radiating heat long after your furnace has shut off. So getting one consistent temperature in your home is a bit of a challenge. My suggestion is to replace the traditional thermostat with an indoor/outdoor controller. This controller measures the temperature outside of your house and calculates what temperature to heat the water in your rads to and then keeps it at that temperature. As the outside temperature drops the temperature of the water in your rads increases. You can also make minor adjustments if you find your house too hot/cold.

    Not sure about Seattle, but most furnace contractors in Toronto can both replace the boiler and install the indoor/outdoor controller

  2. Thank you! Any responses appreciated. The only reason I said Seattle area, is because we are looking for someone to replace the boiler. But any and all comments on radiators is MUCH appreciated!

  3. Our first house had hot-water heat, delivered via a few cast-iron radiators around the house. (much like the picture you show).
    We all loved the heat it provided.

    Because of the mass of iron and water, it didn’t make sense to turn the heat up and down. It took at least of couple of hours to heat up and cool down. Instead, we set the thermostat (at 65-68 deg.) and just left it on all winter long. Worked great for Portland’s mild winter climate, and our heating bill was significantly less than our friends’, using forced-air oil or gas.


  4. This was an oil-fired boiler, which was actually a “hot-water” system and never boiled any water or generated any steam. Also, it was strictly convection, no pumps for circulation.


  5. I just bought an old house in San Francisco. It has radiator heating as well, brown colored A O Smith gas boiler. Haven’t tried it yet. Not sure what to do with it. The A O Smith thing looks old. Should I replace it or change the whole thing over to forced air furnace. The house does not even have ductwork. It would be an expense to change to forced air heating but I do not mind if it is worthwhile. Would like to know comments from others. Timely topic for me!

  6. We have a 105 year old house in Seattle. Our giant boiler (named Bessie) was once coal-fired, then oil…and is now a gas boiler. It is serviced by Northwest Mechanical. This company can replace either the boiler and/or the radiators…and maintain them. They will soon be replacing Bessie with a small keg sized furnace…the radiators will stay in place and serve us well…

  7. Thanks Bill,

    Just the info I needed. Can you give us the cost of replacing Bessie without replacing the radiators when the job is done? I’d appreciate it.

    Should we send flowers for Bessie’s funeral, or is there a charity offering to ?

  8. Hi there,

    I just purchased a home in Seattle with radiators for heating. I have little children and was wondering if anyone knows of a place to purchase covers for the room units (looks like the picture you posted) so they do not burn themselves. Is there someone local that sells them?


  9. Laura,

    I saw several online from plain to fancy. I just googled “radiator covers”. Not sure if there are any local vendors…but that’s a good start to get a variety of styles. Some looked like the same ones the Vitale Family had next door when I was a kid…actually most. But I did find a few modern styles.

  10. I love blogs! That’s great news, Rhonda.

    Did you know that the family next door to me in Philly when I was a kid was also “the Vitale Family”. Might have been spelled Vitali, but what a coincidence THAT is!

  11. I spent hours calling and researching the internet for someone to help us. We’ve had to rip apart a corner in our living room from the pipe cracking and hot steam coming out…it’s a mess…er, I mean, it looks rustic! 😉 I recalled seeing this post before and thought I’d check it out. When the job’s all done (they’ll be here later this week) I’ll provide an update. They said they’re pretty “it” for this type of repair in older Seattle homes.

  12. We’ll have to send a thank you email directly to Bill, even though we usually don’t contact people who comment. But let’s wait until the repair is done.

  13. We just bought a house in Tacoma that had radiant heat. The boiler is in pretty good shape, but because the house sat empty for a few years, two of the radiators are leaking (we think they froze and cracked last winter as they were not properly winterized). We now have them disconnected, but getting them out of the house will be quite a chore. From talking to a welder in So Tacoma, he said a lot of the cast iron radiators rust from the inside out. I’ll keep you posted on our work. Any info would also be helpful. We found a plumber just down the street from us who works on the boilers and disconnects the radiators to take them to a welder. There’s also a guy who worked on a number of radiators from Ft Lewis. The problem I’m having is getting them to the shop to be repaired.

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