Cleaning Old Cast Iron Base Boards

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Old 11-06-19, 08:14 AM
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Cleaning Old Cast Iron Base Boards

I just bought an old house and have old baseboards like the one below. They heat up nicely but I can smell the build up of dust and it's horrible. I'm trying to clean, but the water pipe is connected to the faceplate. So I'm unable to get to the fins. How the heck does a person clean these out? It's pretty unbearable. Thanks!
 
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Old 11-06-19, 08:34 AM
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I have similar cast-iron baseboards (although mine are different brand, Crane) . We have used a jury-rigged flexible snout attached to a vacuum cleaner or shop-vac that can be snaked into the baseboard slot. If necessary, you can also use a second vacuum in blow mode at the bottom of the radiator while the first vacuum's snout is positioned at the top. Another approach is to slide a finger into the slot and run it along the top of the fins before snaking in a flexible snout.

P.S. You might get better access for cleaning if you temporarily pulled off the wood molding along the top of the baseboard? Just a thought.
 

Last edited by gilmorrie; 11-06-19 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 11-06-19, 12:25 PM
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Do not stick your fingers in.

There could be sharp edges inside or a sharp object lodged inside and sticking up.

I am guessing that blowing in a jet of air would be more effective at clearing out the dust compared with sucking it out. If you do not have a second vacuum cleaner, the dust can be sucked up a few minutes later. Even if some of the dust settled back into the radiator, sucking it up later will be easier since it would have been loosened up by the first blowing.

Alternate blowing and sucking, some from the top and some from the bottom.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 11-06-19 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 11-06-19, 04:18 PM
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Thanks for your responses. I'll give it a shot!
 
  #5  
Old 11-06-19, 05:47 PM
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Here is another idea - that I haven't needed to try, since my other approaches have worked.

You could tuck a plastic tarp under the baseboard. Set up a wet-dry vac to suck from under the baseboard. Gently spray water through the top openings of the baseboard. This would be a two-person job.

Good luck.
 
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Old 11-08-19, 06:48 AM
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You could try to brush them out using a small bottle brush with a flexible metal handle. Try different sizes to get the right size.
 
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Old 11-08-19, 10:33 AM
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I like the idea of blowing air into it to force dust and dirt out, if only to prevent you from bending any of the fins. Once they get bent they can be noisy because they scrape against each other as they expand.
 
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Old 11-08-19, 11:39 AM
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There are no fins that can get bent since the rads shown are cast iron baseboards.
 
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Old 11-08-19, 11:59 AM
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I figured since the original poster mentioned fins they might have them. Learning new stuff every day from this site!
 
  #10  
Old 11-08-19, 03:56 PM
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Older Cast-iron baseboards have internals that might be called "fins," but they are solid cast iron - unlike modern fin-tube baseboards that have aluminum, potentially sharp, fins. If in doubt, wear gloves.

Cast-iron baseboards are totally great, but hardly anybody can afford them anymore. I'm not sure if they are presently being manufactured?
 
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