Hydronic Baseboard Retrofits

Whenever the steel radiant panel is no longer usable in the Eichler Home, the common choice for a new heating system is a hydronic (hot water) baseboard. Because of limited installation space in the Eichler Home, it is easier to aesthetically hide a small 3/4" pipe than a large 8" heating duct. Hot water baseboard heating is clean, quiet, healthy, responsive, and efficient. When compared to warm-air-systems, baseboards provide draft-free, room-by-room control of the heating environment. Being a perimeter system, it naturally surrounds you, your family and friends with the most comfortable convected heating available. Since there are no fans in this system, the quiet performance of hydronic baseboard heating is a welcomed feature in any home.

The baseboard units available today are slim in profile to enhance decorating freedom. Being extremely compact, they don't interfere with the placement of furniture and drapes. The architecturally neutral design is compatible with almost any style home.

The units are available only in a factory off-white finish. The baseboard enclosures can be either painted or wall-papered to match any interior surrounding. We have found the hydronic baseboard enclosures, no matter what finish, to look great in the Eichler Home. The actual dimensions of a Slant/Fin Fine Line 30 baseboard is 7 7/8" in height and 2 11/16" in width. The Slant/Fin Fine Line 15 is even more compact at 6 7/8" in height and the same width. Because the surface temperature remains cool even though hot water is being circulated in the unit, draperies and furniture can be placed next to the enclosure and there is no risk to small children or pets. The only restriction is the baseboard requires natural air flow to produce heat. Any placed furniture which does not allow a small 1/4" or more air space, will limit the system performance when placed next to the unit.

Our retrofit design for the standard Eichler Home contains a new high efficiency boiler and four independent zones of control. Each zoned area is controlled by an autosetback thermostat and automatic zone control valve. We provide approximately 130' of hydronic baseboard for the installation and always use all copper with wrought copper fittings for the distribution system. All piping is insulated and hidden in enclosures so there is no indication the home has been retrofitted. Any outside piping is covered, enclosed, and painted to match the exterior color of the home.

The average cost to retrofit the Eichler Home with a top quality baseboard heating system is $13,500.00 - $19,500.00. Since each system is customized and designed for your home, the price can vary depending on several factors. These include:

  • type of baseboard enclosure
  • how many zones are installed
  • type of control system
  • whether a new boiler is installed

Call us for a free estimate and recommendations for
hydronic baseboard heating.


Don't confuse over-head hot water valance heating with a baseboard heating system. There have been several hundred over-head valance systems installed in the Eichler Homes. These systems are beautifully hand-crafted and blend in well with the home structure. Since they are located at the ceiling level, however, the performance is less than that for hydronic perimeter baseboard installed at the floor. It is a poor design to introduce heat at the ceiling level where heat is lost.


Why? Since very hot water, 180 - 200F, is being circulated in the distribution system, the codes require piping thickness be equivalent to a type "M" tube for safe operation. The fin tube used in these installations fails to meet this requirement. In fact, it is less than half the requirement of the codes.

Can you imagine what would happen if a pressurized tube broke over an adult, child, or pet sitting in a chair spraying 180 degree water down on them? Severe personal injury would be the result. Under no circumstances should the fin tube from a Slant Fin (pictured below) or an equivalent product be used in this type of application. The fin tube was designed to be contained within the baseboard enclosure provided by the manufacturer and only installed at the floor level. Simply, there has been a complete misapplication of these materials which could result in serious injuries.

The following is a short paragraph of a letter we wrote to the Slant Fin Corporation regarding this safety issue on 9/27/96. Their response is included:

"We have identified what we believe is an improper application of your product and would like to have your opinion on the matter. On several recent home inspections, we found a custom overhead hydronic heating system which uses the 3/4" fin tube from the Fine Line 30 system. The Contractor simply uses the 3/4" fin tube at ceiling level installed down the middle of the home and boxes it with an open wooden enclosure. This results in the fin tube being exposed directly to the occupants. It is located within 3 or 4 feet of most individuals. There is no protection to people beneath the unit should it burst and allow 200 degree F or more water to fall. Since the finned tube can easily be penetrated by a sharp object i.e., pellet from a pellet gun, or bent by hand with one or two such bends causing it to break, we felt this is to be a hazardous condition which could result in serious personal injury or death. California is known for earthquakes. It is only time before one of the units is punctured and someone becomes seriously hurt."

The following reply was received October 1, 1996 from the Slant Fin Corporation:

"We are in receipt of your letter regarding the Fine Line 30 baseboard product and in particular to the E-75 3/4" fin tube element. We thank you for your interest and concern. We concur with your statement regarding the ceiling installation. It is out of context of the product being installed in other than a baseboard heater."

As we have explained, the proper application of hydronic baseboard in the Eichler Home is to install the unit at floor level and in the enclosure supplied by the manufacturer. Other applications, like over-head valance heating is unsafe, dangerous, and unacceptable to ANDERSON RADIANT HEATING and the Slant Fin Corporation. When properly installed, hydronic baseboard heating complements the Eichler architectural design and provides a heating system which is the choice 95% of the time as a replacement system.

The following are examples of the different sections of the Baseboard Retrofit installation:

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520 East McGlincy Lane, Suite 16
Campbell, CA  95008
Phone: (408) 378-3868
Fax: (408) 559-0818

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