How do you decide how much steam baseboard to use?

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Posted by Corina Drozdowski on July 26, 2001 at 13:13:06:

I have a house built around the 1940's. We have steam boiler, I am not sure if it is one or two pipe. There are two feeds going to different parts of the house, with no return. We have radiators with caps to diffuse the steam. There is a hot water loop for the basement that is also attached to the same boiler. It is a cast iron system, but when the boiler was replaced, the main feed pipes were replaced with copper up to certain points. The problem we are having now, is that one of the radiators on the first floor has a leak. We found this was coming from the radiator when we removed it. (My father in law is has a good knowledge of plumbing, he and my husband removed it.) We now need to replace this radiator, which we plan to do with baseboard. I know there is a formula to decide how long the baseboard should be, but I forget it and can't seem to find it. It was something about figuring out the volume of a room, then converting it to BTU's then multiplying and dividing by a constant.
My second question, related to the first is that there are only two radiators on the first floor, one in the kitchen and one in the dining room. The one in the living room was removed and capped before we moved in. The downstairs tends to be cold in the winter, while the upstairs is warm. My husband and I have been in a debate over whether to put a radiator back into the living room. He is afraid to "open a can of worms", which I can't blame him. At the very least, I would like to put a baseboard radiator in the dining room that will heat both rooms (the rooms are connected with an eight foot opening providing adequate air flow). He thinks a 6 foot piece will be sufficent, while I don't believe it is long enough. My other concern is whether we will be taxing the system too much, but after reading some points on this and other sites, I don't think it will. It only takes about 30 minutes for the house to warm up correctly.

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