How do cast iron radiators work?

Modern bathroom with pair of cast iron radiators beneath windowscredit

***Article supplied by AEL Heating Limited***

If you’re considering installing cast iron radiators in your home, and deliberating the pros and cons of old and new systems, then you may be interested to get the low down on how cast iron radiators work.

If they’re installed and functioning properly, cast iron radiators can be incredibly effective for heating areas, even large rooms. The downside is that they can be bigger in size than their modern radiator counterparts, so you should always bear this in mind. However, that doesn’t negate from the fact that they’re stylish, efficient and affordable too.

Industrial loft apartment with wall of under-window radiatorscredit

The power of steam

Having been around since the mid-1800s, cast iron radiators have played a vital role in heating homes and businesses throughout the world and come in a variety of different styles and designs. But despite their shape, size or style, the principles behind the way they work are the same – steam power.

By converting water into steam, cast iron radiators will then transfer this heat into the atmosphere through radiation and convection. Although, despite the name ‘radiator’, more of the heat is transferred through convection – where warm air rises and cold air sinks – than through radiation.

The steam system requires a hot water boiler that will be the heart of your heating system; continuously heating the water to convert it into steam. The water boiler uses a heating element inside that brings the water to boiling point to generate steam. This steam is then forced up through the pipes into the radiators by sheer pressure, to transmit heat without the need of a pump.

As the steam passes through the radiators and pipes, it will naturally cool down and turn back into water condensation. But this is all put to good use, as the condensation from the cooled steam travels back down to the water boiler, where it is reheated to create more steam to recirculate through the pipes and radiators.

Small cast iron radiator under circular windowcredit

The technical side

Of course, the steam process sounds relatively simple, particularly when you consider the modern day radiator designs, with their water filled radiators that heat the water, and use a pump to circulate it through the system. However, underneath the exterior of these sturdy cast iron radiators are a series of individual sections that are connected by valves and seals that allow the steam to pass into the radiators, pressurise to retain the heat so it can be emitted into the air in the room, and then allow the cooled condensation to flow back down to the central water boiler.

These valves play a vital role in ensuring the cast iron radiator heating system functions efficiently, as small holes in the seals, or cracks in the metalwork can cause leaks and loss of pressure. This results in steam will escaping into the atmosphere, rather than heating the system.

Detail of gold coloured cast iron radiatorcredit

The reality of cast iron radiators

Having been used in homes and businesses for well over 150 years, there is a lot to be said for the effectiveness and efficiency of using cast iron radiators to heat areas. Although, you should be aware that these steam systems takes longer to heat than a more modern water baseboard system as they need to reach boiling point to create steam, rather than just reaching an optimal water temperature. Thus they may consume more energy in the water heating process, but that being said, the amount of heat that is passed through convection into the atmosphere is often much greater and lasts much longer too.

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Best kitchen renovation tips & ideas

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vintage industrial kitchen

Renovating your kitchen will add to the overall appeal, saleability and value of your home. And of course, it will add to your daily enjoyment of life. You’ll surely be more inspired to cook and prepare sumptuous meals for your family in an upgraded, more beautiful kitchen. You’ll feel much happier inviting guests and friends into the space. And, if you’re the type of person who loves spending time in the kitchen, what better undertaking than developing the perfect space to suit your needs?

Here are some helpful kitchen renovation tips & ideas:

built in kitchen pantry

Use high quality materials

A good foundation is essential, so it’s advisable to pick high quality materials for use in your renovation. There are lots of areas to consider – flooring, worktops, sinks, splash-backs and cabinets. Choose work surfaces that combine beauty with durability, floors that are practical and easy to clean and good quality drawers that slide smoothly.

open plan kitchen diner with bright yellow feature wall

Wall colour

The colour of the walls will dictate the overall atmosphere in the room. Choose a colour that will create the mood you’re seeking. Some people prefer white to make the room look clean and bright. But you may also want to use less stark neutrals such as creams or natural wood tones. Bold, bright colours can also work well – perhaps on a feature wall. Accessories such as kettles, pots & pans, textiles and storage jars can then pick up on these colours.

Kitchen countertop extension chopping board

Counter-tops

As mentioned, quality is very important. So when it comes to a large expanse of counter-top, consider your materials carefully. There are many options – granite, marble, limestone and natural woods will all add to the feel of quality and permanence.

Colour block kitchen cabinet doors

Kitchen cabinet design

Kitchen cabinets play a very important role in the overall appearance and functionality of the kitchen. It’s one of the first things that you will notice when you go to the kitchen so make sure you’ve chosen a good design and appropriate style. Install as many cabinets into the kitchen as space allows without feeling claustrophobic. You can never have too much storage space in a kitchen.

Fire engine red door leading out of a kitchen

Dress up the door

If you’re going to revamp your kitchen then you might as well go all the way and include its entrance in the makeover. Doors are often overlooked – and stand out as an incongruous and rather ugly expanse of wood or PVC in the corner. Perhaps move away from the standard off-the-shelf door. Add character by painting it with fun highlight colours that compliment the rest of the décor. Glass panels will allow light to pour in if darkness is an issue. Be creative – don’t be afraid to come up with unique ideas or solutions.

Vintage industrial kitchen

Don’t overdo it

Decorating is fun but avoid overdoing it. When your kitchen starts looking too busy or crowded, then you’ve probably gone too far. The kitchen needs to be practical as well as beautiful. Furnish and decorate according to the space available. Stick to the essentials in terms of appliances on view and provide yourself with plenty of storage. Remember, simplicity is beauty.

Grey open plan kitchen with island

Finishing touches

Complete the new look of your kitchen with fresh flowers, artwork and, of course, some elegant tableware. Shop for the most beautiful and unique dinner set from Harris Scarfe. They have a wide range of designs and styles to suit any kitchen or dining space. The perfect addition to your new and upgraded kitchen!

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Is an air source heat pump a good option for your home heating?

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Air source heat pump diagramcredit

An air source heat pump (ASHP) works by absorbing heat from the air outside your home. This heat can then be used to heat water, radiators, under-floor heating systems or warm air convectors.

The pump works in the same way as a fridge removes heat from the air inside it and it can extract heat at temperatures as low as minus 15ºC! These pumps do use electricity, so they do have a carbon footprint, but the heat they collect is being constantly renewed.

air source heat pump installed on outdoor deckingcredit

The upsides of air source heat pumps

• Lower fuel bills, particularly if you are replacing electric heating

• You can earn some income though the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

• Smaller carbon footprint

• No fuel deliveries and storage

• Low maintenance

• You can heat your water, or your home, or both

Heat pumps work at lower temperatures over longer periods of time, so you’ll need to keep them on all the time over winter. Your radiators won’t feel hot, like they do with a gas boiler.

How do these pumps work?

Heat from the air is absorbed into a fluid, which is then compressed, raising its temperature. This increased heat is transferred to the house’s hot water or heating circuits.

Semi-detached house heated by an air source heat pumpcredit

I’m interested, but is an ASHP for me?

Ask yourself:

Is there space for it? It needs to be placed outside your house with plenty of clearance for air to circulate around it. A sunny wall is the best place.

Are you well-insulated? ASHPs work best when producing less heat than traditional boilers, so any heat you get needs to be retained.

What’s your current fuel? If it’s gas central heating, your ASHP won’t pay for itself as quickly as if you’re replacing coal central heating or electrical heating.

What heating system will you use? ASHPs work best with under-floor heating systems and warm air systems rather than radiators because of the lower temperatures.

Are you buying a new build or having extensive work done? If so, the pump and new system can be installed alongside the other work, saving money.

House heated by an air source heat pumpcredit

What does it cost to install?

ASHPs cost between £7,000 and £11,000, while running costs vary with house size, how warm you want to be and how well-insulated your home is.

How much will I save?

This depends on what you’re replacing and what you’re replacing it with.

If possible, under-floor heating is better than radiators as it needs lower temperatures. If you can’t do this, then large radiators work well.

You’ll pay for the electricity used to run the pump, but you won’t pay for fuel any longer.

If your old heating system is inefficient, then a new pump will make a difference.

If you’re heating water too, then your heating system will be less efficient and you may need a solar water heating system.

This annual savings table is for a four-bedroomed detached house in England, Scotland or Wales with an average-sized air source heat pump.

•Gas older (non-condensing) – £295-£425

• Electric (old storage heaters) – £715-£1,295

• Oil older (non-condensing) – £360-£555

• LPG older (non-condensing) – £1,200-£1,805

• Coal – £525-£875

You could receive £905-£1,365 in payments from the Renewable Heat Initiative.

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Three hip ideas for new-age interior design

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eclectic living room

The home is what you make of it. We all want to enjoy cosy and welcoming living spaces, but we don’t want to spend beaucoups of money in order to achieve said look and feel. It can be frustrating to contemplate the time and costs associated with interior design projects that are necessary or inspirational, but this doesn’t have to be the case. We’ve put together a list of four hip interior design ideas that will add a bit of spice and style to the 21st century home. Not only are these ideas fun and fresh, but achieving them doesn’t require tons of money or time on your part.

artificial grass flooring in young person's bedroom

Artificial grass floor-coverings

We’ve seen plenty of trends in which hardwood, tile and stone floor-coverings have been promoted and adopted by the latest and greatest celebrities and interior decorators. For those wanting to add a bit of feng shui to one or more rooms in the home, a different approach could be an indoor artificial grass design.

Easier to clean thoroughly than traditional carpet, highly versatile and durable to traffic, artificial grass can be selected in a variety of colours, textures and thickness. Many designs are comparable in feel to carpet, which means that the concept of artificial grass feeling like plastic is very much outdated.

Not only can artificial grass be used inside the home, but a seamless interior to exterior design plan can be incorporated in order to extend the covering outside of the home.

indoor water feature in a stone wall

Indoor flows of water

Bringing nature into the home doesn’t have to consist solely of children and animals tracking in mud and debris – it can also be a truly clean, organic and invigorating experience! A recent trend of indoor water flows within the home has been occurring, as more and more home owners seek to get back in touch with Mother Nature in one way or another.

From custom glass water walls to real-life babbling brooks running throughout the home’s floors, these design elements can dramatically improve overall day-to-day mood and ambiance. While a more invasive approach is needed for some of these ideas, you may choose to opt for something as simple as a standalone fountain in the bedroom, bathroom or living areas.

under-stair shoe storage

Abundant storage… everywhere

Most homes are designed in such a way that plenty of usable area goes unused. Walls, closets, staircases and many other areas are left to occupy space that cannot or is not used for storage and display in standard form.

Shelving, recessed areas and hidden spaces are increasingly becoming common in new interior design plans due to the need for many to make the most of smaller living spaces. Each wall presents possibilities for creative shelving situations that can be easily constructed by most, with a variety of recessed shelving kits and tutorials available via the web.

Beneath staircases and elevated floors, even more room for storage can be added with a little bit of ingenious design planning and preparation. There’s no need to be shy about where you can add a bit of storage: the answer is “everywhere”!

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How to choose the perfect fire for your Connecticut home

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Traditional Connecticut salt housecredit

A good fire should do much more than simply provide warmth for you and your family. It can bring a room to life with its cosy glow or flickering flames. It instantly adds a unique character to the space in which it sits. When choosing the best fire to install in your Connecticut home, it’s important to be aware of all the various options. We’ve put together a list of the different types of fires available in order to help you choose.

Long narrow gas fire in an open-plan sitting roomcredit

Gas fires

If you’re thinking of saving money on your energy bills, gas fireplaces can be excellent choice. You can warm the room you’re sitting in without having to heat the whole house. Gas fireplaces need ventilation, but don’t require a masonry built chimney, so if your property in Connecticut doesn’t have a chimney this may be the best option to go for. There are many different sizes and styles to choose from, and gas fires tend to have the best energy efficiency ratings.

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Electric fires

One of the most convenient factors of an electric fire is that they come ready assembled and simply need plugging in and switching on. They’re very flexible in terms of positioning within the home and because the manufacturer has already selected materials and dimensions, there’s one less thing to worry about. However, if your home in Connecticut is quite large, an electric fire may not be the best option as they only tend to work well in smaller rooms, meaning that using one in a large space usually results in unsatisfactory results and energy inefficiency.

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Wood fires & stoves

Open fireplaces & wood-burning stoves are traditional and have been used for many years. As well as saving hundreds of dollars on your energy bill, they’re particularly good for adding some character and authenticity to your Connecticut home. You’ll need firewood of course. You could chop your own if you have suitable resources – or firewood can be bought from suppliers and delivered to your door for ease and convenience.

Open fireplace with wood mantelpiece in a kitchen-loungecredit

Themes & styles

When selecting a fire for your Connecticut home, you’ll find that no matter what type you go for, there are a vast array of different styles available – materials too of course. Brick, stone, tile, marble and wood are just some of the different choices available. Select a combination that suits the feel & décor of the room. Many people want a fire that will last a lifetime or many years at least. Therefore, it’s not unusual for homeowners to select a fireplace that has a neutral theme in order to keep it in line with any interior decoration changes or adjustments that may be made in the future. Mantles are also an excellent addition that can add to the character and styling of the room.

Do you live in Connecticut? What kind of fireplace do you have, and why did you make that choice? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Creating a vintage-feel bathroom

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Grey, vintage-inspired bathroomimage credit

No matter how many modern bathroom designs and features we’re exposed to now and in years to come, there’ll always be a special affection for traditional, vintage-feel bathrooms. These designs were, of course, modern once upon a time, so here are some products and styles that The Bath House Online believe to be key in helping create a real vintage-inspired bathroom.

roll-top bathtub in a vintage-inspired bathroomimage credit

Free-standing roll-top bath

The focal point of any traditional bathroom suite is more often than not the bathtub, and what could provide a more period look than a shiny free-standing bath with feet and a roll-top edge. With the bath interior extending out and overlapping the exterior before rolling back on itself to create a smooth, rounded edge, you know you have a bathtub worthy of any vintage bathroom. The addition of feet elevates the bathtub slightly off the ground as well and adds to the already traditional design, especially when matched with the taps.

pedestal basin in a vintage-inspired bathroomimage credit

Pedestal basin

There was a time when bathroom basins weren’t settled on a counter top with storage space underneath or hanging from a wall with no additional support. This was the time of pedestal basins; free-standing from the ground with all pipework hidden by a hollow yet solid looking plinth. These plinths, or pedestals, provide the same effect on basins as feet on bathtubs – not always a necessity but add a unique element of style that was so popular in years gone by. For that even more vintage feel, fit separate taps for hot and cold rather than one single mixer tap.

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High-level cistern

Sometimes, practicality in the bathroom is key and a toilet that’s compact enough to almost be hidden away and blended into the background is the best option. Going back half a century, however, there must have been quite a different mentality when you consider the high-level cistern. The toilet bowl and seat are the same, but the actual cistern stands tall above the rest, connected by a thin pipe and a pull-chain dangling down. If a traditional wc is what you’re after for a vintage bathroom, they don’t come much more traditional than a high level cistern.

wooden floor & panelling in a vintage-inspired bathroomimage credit

Wood

Adding not just a vintage feel to your bathroom, but a warm, homely one too, wood remains a popular material choice for everything from floor to ceiling. Start with specially glazed wooden floorboards and match this particular tone of wood with other objects that eyes will be drawn to such as storage cabinets, intricately carved mirror frames and toilet seats. Right down to the finer details, wood maintains that effect; door handles and shelves may go unnoticed, but go a long way in contributing to the picture as a whole.

The Bath House Online has a fantastic range of affordable bathroom products perfect for creating your very own vintage bathroom. They house collections from many leading bathroom brands to cater for all sizes, styles and budgets.

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