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  1. #1
    Mike Castle's Avatar
    Mike Castle Guest

    Default Need Help Identifying Device in Bathroom

    I was reading through some of the posts on this forum about wall mounted heaters. I believe I have one of these in my bathroom but wanted to ask you all the confirm. My inspector was unsure of what it was but said its intended purpose was to disperse hot air from my heating and A/C unit. When you pull on the cord it opens a flap inside the unit but what is throwing me off are the pipes at the bottom on the unit. I have tried to turn the knob but it is either stuck or painted stiff. I have posted two pictures of this unit to help in identifying what it is. This condo is 20+ years old if that helps at all. Thanks.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Device in Bathroom

    It appears to be a hot water radiator or "convector". The flap lets more air circulate past the radiator inside.

    Feel the pipes. If they are both warmer than the room temp, water is circulating thru the thing. If one is cold, the valve is closed. If both pipes are cold or not hot, it is just taking up space.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Device in Bathroom

    How is your home heated? Forced air or boiler?

    Can we assume the A/C is part of a forced air furnace?

    If you answer - forced air, the rad is no longer part of the heating system.

    Nor would a rad be associated with A/C.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Device in Bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Castle View Post
    I was reading through some of the posts on this forum about wall mounted heaters. I believe I have one of these in my bathroom but wanted to ask you all the confirm. My inspector was unsure of what it was but said its intended purpose was to disperse hot air from my heating and A/C unit. When you pull on the cord it opens a flap inside the unit but what is throwing me off are the pipes at the bottom on the unit. I have tried to turn the knob but it is either stuck or painted stiff. I have posted two pictures of this unit to help in identifying what it is. This condo is 20+ years old if that helps at all. Thanks.
    Uh, if your home inspector did not know what this is I would be questioning the entire inspection. This should be basic "101" type knowledge, even for inspectors like me in South we should all be able to ID this. It would have nothing to do with the A/C system...

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
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    Maryland
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Device in Bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Uh, if your home inspector did not know what this is I would be questioning the entire inspection. This should be basic "101" type knowledge, even for inspectors like me in South we should all be able to ID this. It would have nothing to do with the A/C system...
    Scott is being nice in how he put the lack of confidence in the inspector and the inspection. Personal opinion, the property should be reinspected (by some one else) if you are looking to be truly informed about the property by an experienced and knowledgeable person.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Device in Bathroom

    Mike,
    Scott and Garry are right on. If an inspector has trouble with identifying that unit then the red flags should be going up. How did you happen to choose the inspector?

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Device in Bathroom

    Be nice. We don't know the circumstances. Maybe someone was taking a bath or there was a pile of laundry piled against the thing?

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  8. #8
    Mike Castle's Avatar
    Mike Castle Guest

    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Device in Bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    It appears to be a hot water radiator or "convector". The flap lets more air circulate past the radiator inside.

    Feel the pipes. If they are both warmer than the room temp, water is circulating thru the thing. If one is cold, the valve is closed. If both pipes are cold or not hot, it is just taking up space.

    Both of the pipes are warm but I feel no warm air being emitted from the unit even with the flap open. Does anything else need to be opened or turned on for this to function properly? The valve does not turn though and I am worried to use a wrench and more muscle in the event I break something.

    Thank you everyone for the concern with the home inspection. I think I will be reevaluating and getting another inspector to come through. He was referred to by my agent who I am now starting to questions as well.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Device in Bathroom

    No let's not be nice. If the HI couldn't identify a bathroom wall radiator, then I sure would be wondering about which bathroom to put his checkbox report in for future use.
    That's a standard (for our area) vintage hot water system wall radiator. If the house still has a working boiler, this radiator is probably functional. If not well ...
    There are a few issues with it not getting too warm.
    - Chances are it needs to be bled. Normally this would just mean opening the top cover flap and opening the bleeder. In this case I'm not sure how well that will work. The tile appears to be installed down onto the cover. You'll have to figure it out. Good excuse to buy a multimaster.
    - These radiators were typically installed up against the exterior brick wall, sometimes with 1 course removed so they sit in a slight pocket. Some have just a metal panel behind them, some have an asbestos type insulation panel. Once you get the cover off, see what's back there and consider installing insulation if possible.
    - Another issue is that the pipes are usually run up the wall at the brick as well, which makes for a lot of heat loss. See if you can get to the pipes at the basement ceiling. If you can, slip an insulation sleeve around the pipes to keep the temp higher going to the radiator.
    - Normally you should get sufficient water flow for this to get hot. If the system has been modified over the years by dummies, then you might need a zone pump. That costs a bit so I'd do that as a last resort.

    www.aic-chicago.com
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Device in Bathroom

    Looks to be a completely wall mounted (hydronic - possibly post conversion from steam) convector (not partially or fully recessed, as suggested by another poster, and appears to be "fed" from below).

    Highly unlikely to be a fan containing unit (hydronic fan convector), as certainly not recommended for bathroom, but not impossible.

    Suspect the "pull chain" above the convection air outlet (grille area) is actually to adjust a damper (inside) for the convector outlet (grilled area), might be original, or might be a "repair" to correct a broken damper hinge handle or knob (post) . The unit's air "inlet" , that is the convection air current inlet, is the completely open "bottom".

    The face is likely spring clip held, or hooked support clips on posts to the side framing or wall mounted hooks (not unlike an old-style bed frame side-rail to head board connection) depending on vintage; therefore removing the caulk at the flat-top-to wall junction is doubtfully necessary.

    The top most likely slightly overlaps the face plate, and usually a slight tilt out after a slight up then swing bottom edge out is all that is necessary.

    The top and side frame appear to have common caulk between the tile and sides.

    A more modern Beacon/Morris commercial (as a multi-family apartment bldg turned condo unit may very well have been once considered) wall-mounted flat-toped convector of similar size, etc. can be viewed here...(clickable link to line diagram) http://beacon-morris.com/modules/lit...litFileID=1663 and here (clickable link to approval info): http://beacon-morris.com/modules/lit...litFileID=1645

    I recall the OP having mentioned this was a condo, and IIRC some mention of 20 yrs.. I'm surmising it (condo) may have been converted from prior apartment or co-op unit. I'm further surmising that the building provides the hot water (or possibly still steam, but unlikely) heat. If the OP has a hydronic coil fan unit this too would not be uncommon.

    If the building further supplies chilled water to the hydro-coil distribution system in the summer months, this too would not be uncommon, and would certainly not be unheard of, and would be in keeping with what the OP has represented his understanding of his "HI" having told him, or what he has described, and may further explain why his bathroom (heat only) unit might not be receiving circulation, as would not be desirable to have chilled water circulating in such a unit, esp. bthroom, and only desirable to have HOT water circulating in the heating season.

    I suggest he contact his building/condo management for information, and explanation/possible service visit as building supplied hydronic systems are generally required to be serviced by management or management approved designated entities.

    As a limited common element he may or may not be responsible for charges associted with repairs/replacement. The unit within may require some cleaning (not uncommon to be encased with dirt, hair, lint, dust which inhibits air flow around the coil). The valve/stem may need service, and/or air-locked (as suggested by another), or the coil itself may be clogged. There may also be a seasonal valve and/or thermostat elsewhere which may be somewhat remote, and may require switching to heating season mode to allow for flow, etc.

    In multi-family, condo type dwellings, the first, best, source of information on building system-connected items is usually the Management/maintenance association designee.

    If you have follow-up questions about your recent condo purchase, and the inspection report your HI provided, I further suggest you follow-up with THAT Home Inspector. Most HI's welcome a follow-up question from their clients.

    Additionally, it would not be the least uncommon for a client to mischaracterize just what an HI had said or wrote in a report, when posting here in this forum. It is most unfortunate that some have lept to a conclusion regarding the performance or knowledge of the SUPPOSED "real" Home Inspector.

    Finally, it would not be the first or the last time that a recent property purchaser has mis-represented a FHA (HUD) or VA apprasial/asset qualification verification as a Home Inspection...as Ted from TX often says: "Just sayin'..."

    Key words: "Hydronic convector".

    HTH.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 12-21-2012 at 07:43 PM.

  11. #11
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    Maryland
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Device in Bathroom

    Mike,
    It works by convection. There is a radiator inside the box cover. Cold air is drawn in through the bottom opening and exits through the top. There is a hinged metal plate that controls the air circulating through he box. I would get a plumber involved for the valve, usually they are just stuck from lack of use. But if you are not use to doing plumbing get a plumber in and save the aggravation if it goes south on you. Also the radiator does probably need to be bled.


  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Tyler, TX
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Device in Bathroom

    OK, I'm in Texas. We don't have those here. I'm going to say it's a radiator.

    Do I win? I can fly up to VA and do your next inspection for you.

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

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