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Here we explain the identification, selection, diagnosis and repair of hydronic or steam heated convector fan heaters and similar water-to-air or steam-to-air heating devices such as ceiling, wall or floor mounted heating convectors and heating coils in heat pump air handlers and ductwork. This article focuses on heating convectors heated by hot water from a heating boiler or heat pump. Hydronic heating convectors use hot water or steam from a separate boiler to heat a water-to-air heat exchanger coil mounted in the heating convector unit. A thermostat or manual switch operates a fan to blow room air across the heat exchanger coil to deliver heat where it is wanted.
Our photo above (at page top) shows a hydronic (hot water) heated wall-mounted fan convector heater in a New York City apartment. You can see dual blower fans at the bottom of the unit (the air intake port); Hot water piping from the building boiler is visible at the left edge of this convector heater.
Also see ELECTRIC HEAT where we show a wide variety of electrically heated wall, floor, and kick space fan convector heating units.
How Ceiling, Wall, or Floor Fan Convector Units or Hydronic Heating Coils Convert Hot Water Heat to Warm Air Heat
Fan convector heaters combine a heat source such as hot water piped through a heat exchanger coil and a fan to blow warm air into HVAC ductwork of a warm air heating system or to push warm air into a chilly spot such as a basement, crawl space or into a bathroom or kitchen where there may not be wall space for a conventional heating register radiator.
Fan Convector Heaters as Backup Heat for Heat Pumps
Fan convector heater units as a main building heat source or as a back up heat source where a heat pump is installed (combining air conditioning and heating).
As our photo of a hydronic heating coil (photo at left) shows, hot water heated by a hydronic heating boiler is used to warm air via a heat exchanger that is mounted in an air handler.
Pipes conduct hot water from the boiler to the heat exchanger and back to the boiler. The air handler blows building air from return registers and ducts into the air handler, across the heating coil, and on to supply ducts and registers.
We illustrate and discuss conventional heating convectors (units that work by "gravity" or warm air convection without the added output of an internal fan) at RADIATORS.
Fan Convector Heaters as Add-On Heat for Crawl Spaces, Basements, Garages
Used in crawl spaces, garages, basements, or other locations where additional heat is required or where we want to add heat to a previously un-heated area, ceiling, wall, or floor mounted fan convector heating units are a convenient way to push warm air heat into a chilly or un-heated area by converting hot water heat produced by a heating boiler to warm air heat provided by a fan convector unit.
Fan Convector Heaters as Add-On Heat for Freeze Protection in buildings
We often find an electric or hot water-heated convector unit mounted in crawl spaces or other building areas in freezing climates as a step to protect building plumbing from freeze-ups.
Notice that the convector heater suspended from the crawl space ceiling (photo at left) has nothing combustible too close to the heater? Make sure that your added heat source does not create a fire risk
This is an electric ceiling mounted fan convector unit.
Similar fan convector heaters obtain their heat from hot water piped as a separate heating zone or as a loop off of an existing heating zone that is otherwise heated by a conventional hot water heating boiler or hydronic heating system fueled by heating oil, gas, a heat pump, or even solar heating.
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Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, have provided us with (and we recommend) Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates' Technical Reference Guide to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Domestic and Commercial Oil Burners, Charles H. Burkhardt, McGraw Hill Book Company, New York 3rd Ed 1969.
National Fuel Gas Code (Z223.1) $16.00 and National Fuel Gas Code Handbook (Z223.2) $47.00 American Gas Association (A.G.A.), 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209 also available from National Fire Protection Association, Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02269. Fundamentals of Gas Appliance Venting and Ventilation, 1985, American Gas Association Laboratories, Engineering Services Department. American Gas Association, 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209. Catalog #XHO585. Reprinted 1989.
The Steam Book, 1984, Training and Education Department, Fluid Handling Division, ITT [probably out of print, possibly available from several home inspection supply companies] Fuel Oil and Oil Heat Magazine, October 1990, offers an update,
Principles of Steam Heating, $13.25 includes postage. Fuel oil & Oil Heat Magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004.
The Lost Art of Steam Heating, Dan Holohan, 516-579-3046 FAX
Principles of Steam Heating, Dan Holohan, technical editor of Fuel Oil and Oil Heat magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004 ($12.+1.25 postage/handling).
"Residential Hydronic (circulating hot water) Heating Systems", Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
"Warm Air Heating Systems". Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Volume I, Heating Fundamentals,
Boilers, Boiler Conversions, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23389-4 (v. 1) Volume II, Oil, Gas, and Coal Burners, Controls, Ducts, Piping, Valves, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23390-7 (v. 2) Volume III, Radiant Heating, Water Heaters, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Heat Pumps, Air Cleaners, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23383-5 (v. 3) or ISBN 0-672-23380-0 (set) Special Sales Director, Macmillan Publishing Co., 866 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022. Macmillan Publishing Co., NY
Installation Guide for Residential Hydronic Heating Systems
Installation Guide #200, The Hydronics Institute, 35 Russo Place, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
The ABC's of Retention Head Oil Burners, National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers, TM 115, National Old Timers' Association of the Energy Industry, PO Box 168, Mineola, NY 11501. (Excellent tips on spotting problems on oil-fired heating equipment. Booklet.)
Links to our list of additional information on heating system inspection, repair, maintenance
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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