Photograph of wall convector air conditioner being serviced Wall Convectors for Air Conditioning & Heating
     


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Wall convectors for heating or cooling:

This article describes wall convectors used for building air conditioning or heating. A wall convector is a wall-mounted unit that provides cool air or warm air to the building interior.

The wall convector may be a fully self-contained iindependent unit or it may be connected to a building central cooling (water, refrigerant) or heating (water, steam, electricity) source.

Here we describe types of cooling and heating wall convectors and common troubleshooting steps.

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Guide to Wall Convectors used for air conditioning cooling or heating

Photograph of wall convector heating and cooling system

Wall convectors are often used for both heating and cooling in commercial installations and high-rise apartment buildings.

The unit shown has its own compressor mounted right in the cabinet, visible at lower center in the photo.

Wall-mounted heating and cooling convector installations may be designed with one central heater or cooling system which feeds multiple units with chilled or heated water or possibly refrigerant from a single remote heating and cooling heat pump.

 


Air Conditioner or Heater Wall Convector Unit Blower Fan Inspection & Diagnosis

Photograph of wall convector heating and cooling system Command Aire wall convector unit identification (C) InspectApedia DC

Wall-mounted heating and cooling convector installations may be designed with one central heater or cooling system which feeds multiple units with chilled or heated water or possibly refrigerant from a single remote heating and cooling heat pump. At above right is an enclosure for a Command Aire wall convector heating or cooling convector unit, ca 1980.

You won't know just what's installed inside that cover without a bit of further investigation. We discuss this unit and its identification
at DATA TAGS on AIR CONDITIONERS.

A/C indoor convector unit with cover off (C) D Friedman

Our photo (left) illustrates dual squirrel cage blower fans typically found in the bottom of a fan/convector heating or cooling unit such as this one found in a New York City apartment.

If the convector fan motors run and the squirrel cage fans spin but not enough air is coming out of your convector unit, turn off power and take a closer look at the fan blades themselves - you may need a flashlight and a mirror to make this check without disassembling the unit further than shown here (we removed the convector unit cover).

Dirt on the fan blades can significantly reduce airflow through the unit.

Also check the cooling or heating coil fins for blockage by dust and debris - a more common source of air flow blockage at heating and cooling convector units like the one shown.


A/C indoor convector unit with cover off (C) D Friedman

Our photo (left) illustrates a condensate handling problem in the cooling convector unit for the same apartment unit introduced above.

Air conditioning condensate was leaking inside of the convector unit due to a clogged condensate drain line.

The condensate leak exited the bottom of the convector, ran through a raised floor cavity, entered apartment building walls, and ran around the wall interiors in a metal stud-framed wall sill plate where it led to major toxic mold contamination over a wide area, floor damage, and the need for costly cleanup and repair work.

Also
see CONDENSATE HANDLING, A/C for more about air conditioner or heat pump condensate drainage handling.

 

 

 

How Do Heating Wall Convectors Work?

Heat convectors (C) Carson Dunlop Associates Heating convector unit (C) Daniel Friedman


Heating convector wall recessed (C) Daniel Friedman

Sketch of a wall convector (above left) courtesy of Carson Dunlop and our photo (above right) show a traditional wall-mounted heating convector unit.

Our photo was taken in a 1920's home in New York. A heating convector unit operates much like a radiator (page top photo) but instead of thick cast iron used to radiate heat, the convector is made of copper tubing covered with metal fins, or of cast iron with cast-in fins.

Our photo (left) shows a leaky heating convector that was recessed into the wall. While recessed heating convectors were popular for aesthetic reasons (no radiator projects into the room), often a high percentage of the heat is flowing through the exterior wall to outside.

We discuss this problem in more detail
at RADIATOR BASEBOARD or CONVECTOR COVERS.

Steam convector heater (C) Daniel Friedman

The heat source in a wall-convector may be forced hot water, gravity hot water, steam, or the unit may be heated by electricity.

Electric-heated wall convectors and some other convector units may incorporate a blower fan to increase the heat output from the device. Our photographs of a wall-mounted heating convector (above) show a wall unit that is heated by steam.

Conventional wall-mounted heating convectors (units that do not include a fan or blower) rely on natural movement of warm-air upwards to draw cooler air in from the floor level.

You'll notice that there is a very generous air intake space along the bottom of the convector - it is designed to move plenty of air across its heating coil.

As the convector gets hot, cool air is drawn up from floor level, is heated by the fins on the convector, and warm air is supplied out of the convector's front grille.

 

Below we provide articles that help in diagnosing and repairing no-heat problems with each of these types of heat delivery systems.

Steam convector heater (C) Daniel FriedmanOur photo (left) illustrates a steam-heated wall convector unit in a 1960's home found in New York.

While wall convetors are widely used for cominatin heating and cooling systems, their energy sources vary and include chilled water as well as refrigerant for cooling, while the heat source in a wall-convector may be forced hot water, gravity hot water, steam, or the unit may be heated by electricity.

Many small wall convectors and some other convector units may incorporate a blower fan to increase the heat output from the device.

Other antique floor or wall heaters or convectors are shown at ANTIQUE HEATERS STILL in USE
and
at AGE of HEATERS, BOILERS, FURNACES

 

Fan-Driven Heating Convector Units

Electrically-heated, steam heated, or hot water heated fan convector heating units similar to what you see in our photos here but boosted by a fan that blows room air across the heater are discussed
at FAN CONVECTOR HEATERS - HYDRONIC COILS.

 

Wall Heating Convector Heater Maintenance

Heating convector unit (C) Daniel FriedmanOnce every year or so, we like to take the covers off of heating convectors to inspect the unit for leaks.

While we're at it, we make certain that the heat exchanging fins on the heating convector are not dust-clogged (photo at left). If your building is occupied by pets who shed much hair this step can be very important.

Getting good air flow through the heat exchanging fins of all finned heat exchanging devices such as heating convectors or finned copper tubing heating baseboards can make a significant difference in liberating the heat output from the device.

Just gently vacuum off the convector using a brush attachment and your vacuum cleaner - take care not to bend the fins.

A heating service contractor can provide more aggressive cleaning using special products, but on residential heating equipment that has not been exposed to some unusual problem we usually don't find it necessary.

 

Continue reading at FAN CONVECTOR HEATERS - HYDRONIC COILS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

Or see BLOWER FAN OPERATION & TESTING

Suggested citation for this web page

WALL CONVECTORS HVAC at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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