Converting Steam Heat To Baseboard [3 Easy Methods]

The three methods you can use for converting steam heat to a baseboard are converting the steam boiler to a hot water boiler, using steam baseboards, and replacing the heating system.

Keep reading this article to find out how you can apply each of these methods and convert the heating system in your house.

You’ll also learn about the main processes of heating, and the advantages, and disadvantages of using baseboards. Let’s dive in!

Table Of Contents

Difference Between Radiant Heat And Convection Heat

Before we get started with how to convert baseboard heating from steam heating, you need to know the difference between radiant and convection heating.


These are two common processes of heating systems:

  • Radiation
  • Convection

Gas is the main heating element in the radiant heating system. The steam gets heated in a boiler and then passes to the radiator and gets released into the environment that heats up the house.

The radiator heats the surrounding objects instead of just the air. Baseboard heating relies on the convection heating method.

Water or any other non-toxic liquid is used as the heating element here. In convection, only the gas is heated and the surrounding objects are not heated.

Radiators are much more effective than using baseboards. They can retain and disperse heat a lot better than baseboards.

For example, at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, radiators can generate over 2000 BTUs of heat while baseboards can only go up to 750 BTUs with the same settings.

That may seem like an upside for steam radiators at first. But that is not the case as steam radiators tend to overheat the house. They were designed with the consideration that windows in the house will always be open.

But during the cold days of the winter, people like to close their windows. When they do that and use the radiator, the temperature inside the house is too hot.

The only way to balance it is to keep the window open. That’s a major drawback of steam radiators and has created frustration among users.

But the main upside of switching to a baseboard heating system is that it’s cost-effective. They’re much cheaper to install than steam radiators.

The installation of baseboards is also simple and they’re easy to maintain. Those are a few of the many reasons why many people prefer to switch to baseboard heating from steam heating.

Now that you know the main difference between them, let’s look at how you successfully convert your heating system.

Note: You can also read the how to fix Duraflame Infrared heater troubleshooting guide.

Converting Steam Heat To Baseboard [3 Easy Methods]

You can approach your steam converter system in three ways –

The first one is that you change the steam boiler into a hot water boiler and connect it to the baseboards to convert to baseboard heating.

The second method is that you can still use the steam boilers but connect them to steam baseboards.

The third method is that you change the heating system completely. Let’s take a look at each of these options in detail:

Method 1: Converting A Steam Boiler To Hot Water Boiler

The main thing you need to know to change steam heating into baseboard heating is to change the boiler. It means you have to convert the steam boiler into a hot water boiler.

Then, you can easily connect the boiler to the baseboards in your house and enjoy your baseboard heating system.

It’s easy to convert two-pipe steam to a hot water boiler compared to the effort it takes to convert one pipe steam radiator to a hot water boiler.

But many of the older boilers have a single pipe system.

With that said, follow these steps to change your heating system from a steam boiler to a hot water boiler:

Calculate The Heat Load And Boiler Capacity

One of the major reasons for upgrading to a baseboard heating system is to be more energy-efficient. And if you don’t calculate the heat load and boiler capacity of your house properly, it defeats the purpose of the upgrade.

Calculating the heat loss in your house will give you the exact idea of the boiler you need. Of course, the only person you should be getting this information from is an HVAC expert.

Have him take a look at your house and figure out the correct size boiler for you.If you use the same boiler and convert it to a hot water boiler, that’ll result in an oversized boiler.

It can cause shorter cycles and reduce the longevity of the components in your heating system. One way to get around it is to reduce the burner to match the new heating system.

The next step is to get the mechanic to convert the boiler if possible. The HVAC expert will tell you if it’s possible to do it depending on the special characteristics of your boiler and the setup in your home.

Change The Piping

When you’re changing to a hot water boiler, the piping will have to be ready to withstand a lot more pressure as water will flow through it.

That’s because steam is designed to rise by itself but you need to move water through a pump and that’ll create pressure.

You may require installing valves to balance the flow of water as both the supply and return lines will have water in them.


Keeping all this in mind, you have to change the piping that can handle the pressure of hot water.

Once the boiler has converted and the piping is changed, you’re on your way to converting the heating system. Install the baseboards where you want and then, you can enjoy the new baseboard heating in your house.

Method 2: Use Steam Baseboards

When you don’t want to convert your steam boiler, you can still use steam baseboards to heat your house. The main problem with this method is that it can get expensive.

steam baseboard

One 24-inch unit of steam baseboard costs over $500 and the 72-inch one cost around $1200. You can also use them in addition to your radiators if you’re not ready to stop using the radiators completely. 

Method 3: Replace The Heating System

If it’s not possible to change the boiler in your house because of any reason, you can always get a new hot water boiler and change the heating system surrounding it.

A change like this makes sense when you’re already doing a renovation of your home.

Even the piping can be sized correctly and you won’t have to use valves to maintain the correct flow anymore. The system will be balanced and you won’t have to worry about short cycles.

Why Should I Use Baseboards Over Radiators

Here are the main pros of using a baseboard heating system in your house:

  • The cost of installation is low.
  • There’s an opportunity to set multiple thermostats.
  • Heat can spread to all parts of the house.
  • The maintenance cost for baseboard heating is low.
  • The response time is much faster compared to steam radiators.
  • Steam radiators cause a lot of energy waste but baseboard heaters used energy in a more balanced way.
  • Steam pipes take up more space than baseboards and can add to the construction cost.

Why Should I Use Radiators Over Baseboards

Here are the main reasons why you should prefer baseboards over radiators:

  • Radiators generate much more heat than baseboard heaters.
  • Baseboards don’t have the thermal mass to keep the heat radiating.
  • Steam heaters last for a long time and don’t go bad easily.
  • Radiators make a lot of noise when they’re working.


When is a good idea to use steam heating?

Steam heating is overkill for normal residential areas where the need is to only heat the use. But for places where sterilization is needed like labs and hospitals, steam heating is the better choice.

Can you steam baseboards?

You can steam clean baseboards with steam cleaners. But you can also use a bucket of water, soap, and a sponge to clean your baseboards by hand and get all the dirt and debris out of them.

Is baseboard heat considered central heat?

Yes, hot water baseboard heaters or hydronic-based heaters use central heating to warm the house. They’re highly energy-efficient and can heat up your room quickly.

How often should baseboard heaters be replaced?

Baseboard heaters run for 15-25 years on average after you install them. Once they are damaged, you have to replace the baseboard heater.

Is baseboard heat dangerous?

Baseboard heaters are considered to be quite safe but they can create a fire hazard if you’re careless. Make sure there are no objects close to the baseboard and use them with care to avoid any accidents.

What is converting steam heat to baseboard cost?

The cost of converting from steam heat to baseboard depends on your house but you can expect to have it done for less than $1000 in most cases.


Now you know the main ways of converting steam heat to the baseboard and how to execute them with perfection. It’s important that you choose an HVAC support to do it as he will play an important role in determining the heat load and boiler size of your home.

We hope this article has helped you find the right course of action to change the heating system in your home. Drop a comment below if you have any more queries about baseboard heaters.

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