How can I heat my unheated basement using the existing hotwater pipes but without altering the hot water system?

My basement is freezing as it doesn't have a radiator. Its does however, have two 3m hot water pipes from the central heating system above running accross the ceiling. How can I use the heat from these without altering the hot water system? I was considering encasing them in ducting and using a 12v fan to blow cool air in one end and warm air out of the other. Thoughts? Would painting them with a specific paint help? I need ideas. I'm FREEZING! :D

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mikeasaurus8 years ago
I understand what you want to do, use the heat from the pipes to warm the space. However the real problem here is that you are only treating the symptom.

The reason you have a cold basement is partially because it's unheated, but probably because you have exposure to the outside. If you want to heat that room you're going to need to investigate where the source of the cold is coming from.
A better solution to this problem would be to properly insulate all walls downstairs, along with insulating your floor. Check all opening in your walls to see if there are any voids where cold air can penetrate. By insulating your room you will minimize heat loss, and by filling any voids with spray foam you eliminate any cold air from coming in (and warm air escaping).

From here you will notice an incredible difference without adding any additional heat. The pipes above will provide some heat and make this space more enjoyable. I would seriously consider this option as it has a much nicer finished look than rigging up an elaborate device to blow warm air around which will only be zapped by the cold foundation.

Good luck!
110100101108 years ago
step 1 - read what mikeasaurus wrote and insulate step 2 - add some aluminium rails or other aluminium (best) or other mtal stuff with karge surface area to the pipes. if thermal contact between them is good enough (you can improve with thermal compounds or even aluminium foil) it will enlarge the radiating area painting - something reflective (white or unpainted aluminium) is best in theory but i dont think youll notice any difference at all note that if you take more heat from the pipes then less heat gets to the destination. if it is significant your admin can have questions. but if you insulate then you can take some heat too cause you improved the thermal ballance in the 1st floor anyway
iPodGuy8 years ago
Heat rises. If the pipes are on your ceiling, I don't see how effective they'd be.
caitlinsdad8 years ago
Maybe you can scavenge some baseboard radiator units from somewhere and get the heating fins off of the pipe and reattach that to the pipes in the ceiling. If that doesn't suck off enough heat to raise the temperature, then you might have a fan blow across the room to circulate the air. Good luck.
lemonie8 years ago
You don't want to tamper with the plumbing, or you're not allowed? Generally speaking matt-black surfaces radiate heat best, but I doubt that you've got enough surface area for these to make an effective radiator. The fan idea sounds OK, but you want it to take air down from the ceiling towards where you are. Again, you probably don't have enough surface area for the basement to get warm (unless the water is very hot and the pipes long) but it might be less cold. L
Tassle (author)  lemonie8 years ago
Thanks Lemonie Yes, the central heating sytem belongs to the landlord and I really don't want to fiddle with it! I may have to duct in heat from an external radiator, but i might trial matt black paint, some ducting and some fans and see that happens!