Heating in the apartment with your own hands

The qual­i­ty of cen­tral heat­ing in apart­ment build­ings does not always suit res­i­dents. KP tells how you can improve the heat­ing of the apart­ment with your own hands
Heating in the apartment with your own hands
Heat­ing in the apart­ment with your own hands. Pho­to: globallookpress.com

Cen­tral heat­ing, the most com­mon in apart­ment build­ings, has a num­ber of dis­ad­van­tages. First of all, this con­cerns not always effi­cient oper­a­tion and main­te­nance dur­ing the cold sea­son.

Autonomous heat­ing of an apart­ment has its advan­tages, how­ev­er, even here home­own­ers face seri­ous dif­fi­cul­ties. If the own­er of the apart­ment decid­ed to com­plete­ly aban­don the cen­tral heat­ing, he will have to obtain per­mis­sion from the rel­e­vant reg­u­la­to­ry author­i­ties for this, which is quite dif­fi­cult to do. Unau­tho­rized shut­down of the com­po­nents of the in-house heat­ing sys­tem is an admin­is­tra­tive offense and is pun­ish­able by law. To col­lect all the nec­es­sary doc­u­ments, you should decide from the very begin­ning which heat­ing sys­tem you want to use in your apart­ment.

There are three main types of res­i­den­tial heat­ing: water, elec­tric and gas. The most com­mon are water and elec­tric­i­ty, since cen­tral­ized gas sup­ply is not present in all homes. In high-rise build­ings with more than 9 floors, gas sup­ply is pro­hib­it­ed in order to increase safe­ty.



Water heating of the apartment

The prin­ci­ple of oper­a­tion of water heat­ing is based on the use of a coolant, which is heat­ed water or less often antifreeze. The coolant enters the apart­ments cen­tral­ly through a sep­a­rate line. Water heat­ing has its advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages. The ben­e­fits include:

  • Place­ment of the heat­ing boil­er out­side the heat­ed room;
  • Such heat­ing does not take up much space, as radi­a­tors, under­floor heat­ing, etc. are used;
  • Clo­sure of the heat­ing sys­tem, so there is no need to top up the coolant dur­ing oper­a­tion

Dis­ad­van­tages of water heat­ing:

  • Pos­si­ble breaks and leaks of the coolant;
  • a long peri­od of warm­ing up the house from scratch;
  • the for­ma­tion of plaque and pre­cip­i­ta­tion on heat­ing devices, which reduces heat trans­fer

How­ev­er, in gen­er­al, the advan­tages of water heat­ing far out­weigh its dis­ad­van­tages.

Heating radiators (batteries)

Radi­a­tors (in every­day life — bat­ter­ies) are devices for heat­ing an apart­ment or house in which a heat­ed liq­uid coolant (antifreeze or water) cir­cu­lates. The use of sec­tions of a cer­tain design allows you to increase the sur­face of the radi­a­tor, which con­tributes to greater heat trans­fer and effi­cient heat­ing of the room. These devices have proven their advan­tages, for exam­ple, over stove heat­ing, so they are always in demand.

What are apartment heating radiators?

Exist cast iron, alu­minum, bimetal­lic and steel radi­a­tors. Most often, cast iron and alu­minum radi­a­tors are used in apart­ments.

Cast iron bat­tery less sus­cep­ti­ble to increased acid­i­ty of water, which increas­es its ser­vice life up to 50 years or more. The oper­a­tion of such a radi­a­tor is high­ly sta­ble, regard­less of the type of coolant. Due to the large capac­i­ty of the cast-iron bat­tery, it has a high heat dis­si­pa­tion.

Cast iron radi­a­tors

Cast iron is resis­tant to any coolant and is durable

alu­minum radi­a­tor has a small weight due to the use of mod­ern mate­ri­als. For one sec­tion, 0.5 liters of coolant is enough, which ensures its sav­ings. Such a radi­a­tor quick­ly heats up and cools down. It has a rel­a­tive­ly low cost and organ­i­cal­ly fits into the mod­ern design of the apart­ment.

Alu­minum radi­a­tors

High heat dis­si­pa­tion, light weight and attrac­tive appear­ance

Bimet­al radi­a­tor com­bines the advan­tages of alu­minum and steel radi­a­tor. Steel pipes are used here to trans­port the coolant, and alu­minum pan­els are used to increase heat trans­fer. Such bat­ter­ies are lighter than cast iron, but heav­ier than alu­minum.



Bimet­al radi­a­tors

Styl­ish appear­ance, rea­son­able cost and long ser­vice life

steel radi­a­tor has a mod­ern design and is able to heat a room with an effi­cien­cy of up to 90%. How­ev­er, it also has sig­nif­i­cant draw­backs. A steel radi­a­tor is unde­sir­able for use in a cen­tral heat­ing sys­tem due to its poor com­pat­i­bil­i­ty with high pres­sure. It is also not rec­om­mend­ed to leave the bat­tery with­out coolant, because cor­ro­sion quick­ly forms inside.

Steel radi­a­tors

Steel is the most duc­tile and durable mate­r­i­al com­pared to oth­er met­als.

When should batteries be changed?

The pri­ma­ry rea­son for replac­ing the bat­tery in the apart­ment is leak. Even a few drops that appear on the radi­a­tor require dras­tic mea­sures, as the drops will quick­ly turn into a stream that can flood the liv­ing space.

If the inte­ri­or of the apart­ment is updat­ed, the own­ers often car­ry out major repairs with the replace­ment of all radi­a­tors. A sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion occurs when the entire heat­ing sys­tem in the house is mod­ern­ized. In this case, it is bet­ter to replace cast-iron bat­ter­ies with more mod­ern ones (alu­minum or bimetal­lic).

When the apart­ment is cold with the onset of the heat­ing sea­son with the heat­ing turned on, you should also install a new radi­a­tor with greater heat dis­si­pa­tion or with a large num­ber of sec­tions. Dur­ing use, paint may peel off the bat­tery, which will lead to rust and fur­ther leak­age. In this case, it is desir­able to replace the radi­a­tor.

If the heat­ing sys­tem in the apart­ment does not leak, it is best to change it when the heat­ing in the house is turned off, i.e. from May to Sep­tem­ber. In new build­ings, apart­ment heat­ing is used, in which case the replace­ment of radi­a­tors is pos­si­ble through­out the year.

How to choose the type of radiator for an apartment?

In the apart­ment it is bet­ter to use bimetal­lic, cast iron and alu­minum radi­a­tors. The use of steel radi­a­tors in an apart­ment build­ing is unde­sir­able, since their oper­at­ing pres­sure is only 6–8 atmos­pheres, and in a cen­tral heat­ing sys­tem, pres­sure can increase up to 10 atmos­pheres. This can lead to defor­ma­tion of the col­lec­tor.

How to calculate the number of sections for a room?

The num­ber of radi­a­tors usu­al­ly cor­re­sponds to the num­ber of win­dows in the room. To cal­cu­late the num­ber of bat­tery sec­tions, you need to know the heat trans­fer pow­er of one sec­tion. It is indi­cat­ed in the tech­ni­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of the radi­a­tor. For a cast-iron bat­tery, the heat trans­fer of one sec­tion is 140 W, for more mod­ern ones — 170 W or more. You can cal­cu­late the num­ber of radi­a­tor sec­tions, know­ing the area or vol­ume of the room.

For heat­ing 1 sq. m. area requires ther­mal ener­gy of 100 watts. Sup­pose the heat trans­fer of one sec­tion is 170 watts. If the room area is 18 sq. m, we get: 18 x 100 / 170 = 10.6. So, you need 11 sec­tions with a pow­er of 170 watts.

For heat­ing 1 cu. m of the room requires 41 watts. If the ceil­ing height in an apart­ment of 18 sq. m is 2.5 m, then its vol­ume will be: 18 x 2.5 = 45 cu. m. Let’s cal­cu­late the num­ber of sec­tions: 45 x 41 / 170 = 10.8. That is, again, 11 sec­tions are required.

There is also a sys­tem of coef­fi­cients that allows you to make cal­cu­la­tions more accu­rate. These include: the coef­fi­cient of ther­mal insu­la­tion of walls, the ratio of the area of ​​​​win­dows and the floor in the room, the coef­fi­cient that takes into account the glaz­ing of win­dow open­ings, etc.



The prin­ci­ple of oper­a­tion of water heat­ing is based on the use of a coolant, which is heat­ed water or less often antifreeze. Pho­to: pexels.com

How to replace regular heating radiators?

If the own­er of the apart­ment has decid­ed to change the heat­ing radi­a­tor on his own, he should adhere to the fol­low­ing scheme.

1. Before you start chang­ing the bat­ter­ies, you need to make sure that the employ­ees of the man­age­ment com­pa­ny have shut off the coolant sup­ply and drained the liq­uid from the ris­er. You will also need a con­tain­er to drain the remain­ing water from the radi­a­tor.

2. Dis­man­tling the old bat­tery is as fol­lows. Tight­en the lock­nut until it stops, which fix­es the radi­a­tor. Pipes are cut accord­ing to pre-made marks, it is nec­es­sary to leave at least one cen­time­ter of thread. The cut­ting edges must be even and free of burrs. Remove the bat­tery from the brack­ets and remove the old brack­ets.

3. Before installing a new radi­a­tor, the fol­low­ing require­ments must be met: there must be a gap of at least 15 cm between the bat­tery and the win­dow sill; the dis­tance between the floor and the radi­a­tor is not less than 10–15 cm; a gap of 3–4 cm is left between the body of the device and the wall, which is adjust­ed using brack­ets.

4. Radi­a­tor assem­bly involves the fol­low­ing oper­a­tions:

  • the low­er open­ing of the bat­tery is closed with a plug, and a Mayevsky crane is mount­ed on the upper pipe;
  • spe­cial nuts with right and left threads are mount­ed on the radi­a­tor inlets using seals for seal­ing;
  • the bat­tery is installed on the stand in such a way that it is pos­si­ble to con­nect the adapter nuts to the ball valves;
  • mark­ings are made for the brack­ets, holes are drilled in the wall and all 4 brack­ets are installed;
  • the radi­a­tor is con­nect­ed to the sup­ply pipes, care­ful­ly seal­ing all con­nec­tions, and hung on the brack­ets.

Expert advice

Ivan Gladyrev, head of the “Con­struc­tion” direc­tion of the online store “Your House”

Water type heat­ing has proven its effec­tive­ness due to its high qual­i­ty, low cost and safe­ty. It com­plies with san­i­tary and hygien­ic stan­dards, so it is most often used in res­i­den­tial build­ings. In old­er apart­ment build­ings, cen­tral heat­ing is used. Mod­ern high-rise build­ings may be con­nect­ed to a sim­i­lar heat­ing sys­tem or have their own boil­er room. In this case, the CHP or boil­er house is a source of heat and runs on fuel. Heat is sent through pipes to apart­ments and is giv­en off by heat­ing devices to radi­a­tors. The coolant is found in the form of water, steam, air. Now the mar­ket offers spe­cial radi­a­tors, com­bined, where both water and elec­tric heat­ing are used. This is very con­ve­nient when the cen­tral­ized has not yet been served, you can safe­ly turn on the elec­tric heat­ing.

Max­im Trety­achenko, fit­ter for repair and instal­la­tion of heat­ing net­works

Water heat­ing is a clas­sic. This is what we work with the most. And I must say that installing a water heat­ing sys­tem is the eas­i­est — for this, every hard­ware store has all the nec­es­sary mate­ri­als. More­over, such heat­ing can be dif­fer­ent depend­ing on the lay­out of the apart­ment and the bud­get.

Electric heating of the apartment

Elec­tric heat­ing of the apart­ment is based on the work of elec­tric cur­rent. The cur­rent enter­ing the heat­ing device expe­ri­ences the resis­tance of the con­duc­tor. As a result, part of the elec­tric­i­ty is con­vert­ed into ther­mal ener­gy, and the room is heat­ed. Elec­tric heat­ing of the apart­ment can be used inde­pen­dent­ly or in uni­ty with water heat­ing. Elec­tric heat­ing has the fol­low­ing advan­tages:



Great speed and avail­abil­i­ty of set­ting the required tem­per­a­ture; it becomes pos­si­ble to set the required heat­ing mode for each room sep­a­rate­ly; elec­tri­cal appli­ances have a large heat­ing range, from the low­est to the high­est tem­per­a­tures; elec­tric heaters pro­vide a silent mode of oper­a­tion, with the excep­tion of fan heaters; elec­tric­i­ty guar­an­tees an envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly option for heat­ing an apart­ment

What electric heaters are used in the apartment?

There are a large num­ber of house­hold elec­tric heaters that allow you to pro­vide a com­fort­able tem­per­a­ture in the apart­ment. These include:

  • elec­tric con­vec­tor;
  • oil radi­a­tor;
  • fan heater;
  • heat gun;
  • ther­mal air cur­tain;
  • infrared heater.


AT con­vec­tor heaters prop­er­ties of cold and warm air are used. The elec­tric con­vec­tor can be floor-mount­ed or wall-mount­ed. Cold air enters the unit through the bot­tom slot, and heat­ed air exits through the top slot. The air tem­per­a­ture is con­trolled by a spe­cial ther­mo­stat.

Elec­tric con­vec­tors oper­ate silent­ly and quick­ly warm up the room. Their effi­cien­cy reach­es 99%, and the ser­vice life is 25–30 years. They are safe, easy to use and afford­able. At the same time, con­vec­tors are ener­gy-inten­sive and are able to heat small rooms. Over time, their pow­er drops, and they dry the air in the apart­ment.

Elec­tric heat­ing of the apart­ment is based on the work of elec­tric cur­rent. Pho­to: pexels.com


Oil heaters are a source of soft heat, since the heat­ing tem­per­a­ture of their body does not exceed 60 degrees. This elec­tri­cal appli­ance is used, as a rule, to heat one room, it does not dry the air and can work for sev­er­al days in a row, main­tain­ing the set tem­per­a­ture.

The oil heater is easy to oper­ate and is a bat­tery filled with min­er­al oil, which is heat­ed by a spe­cial device locat­ed inside the case. The pow­er of the heater ranges from 1 to 2.5 kW, so it should be select­ed depend­ing on the area of ​​the room. The design is equipped with a safe­ty ther­mo­stat that pro­tects the device from over­heat­ing.


Quartz heaters are made from quartz sand, so they have a high degree of envi­ron­men­tal friend­li­ness. They do not dry the air at all, since the chromi­um-nick­el heat­ing coil is locat­ed inside the quartz plate. The high heat capac­i­ty of the mate­r­i­al allows you to heat the room for 40 min­utes after turn­ing off the device.

The con­sump­tion of elec­tric­i­ty is quite low (only 0.4 kW per hour is required to heat a room of 18 sq. m). Afford­able price is com­bined with a long ser­vice life (more than 25 years). The heater can also be used in wet rooms (bath, toi­let, bal­cony, kitchen). The dis­ad­van­tage is the weight of the device (about 12 kg).


The pecu­liar­i­ty of infrared heaters is that they do not heat the air itself, but the sur­round­ing objects, which then trans­fer their heat to the air. Infrared radi­a­tion destroys harm­ful bac­te­ria and has a ben­e­fi­cial effect on human health, pro­vid­ed that the pow­er and loca­tion of the device are cor­rect­ly select­ed. Sig­nif­i­cant ener­gy sav­ings are due to the fact that the heater acts local­ly, main­tain­ing the desired tem­per­a­ture in a giv­en area.

An infrared heater is most often placed on the ceil­ing, and this saves space. It prac­ti­cal­ly does not break, as it lacks com­plex elec­tri­cal parts. The device is com­pact in size, easy to use and install.



How to calculate the required power of heaters?

The pow­er of elec­tric heaters is cal­cu­lat­ed based on the stan­dard con­di­tions of the apart­ment: tem­per­a­ture 20 degrees Cel­sius, typ­i­cal ther­mal insu­la­tion of the room, ceil­ing height no more than 2 m 70 cm. In this case, you can use the fol­low­ing table:

Room area: Heater pow­er:
up to 10 sq. m 500 W
8–15 sq. m 750 W
10–18 sq. m 1000 W
15–22 sq. m 1250 W
18–25 sq. m 1500 W
22–30 sq. m 2000 W

How to find out the total maximum allowable load on the network?

The max­i­mum load on the elec­tri­cal net­work must be known in order to cor­rect­ly select the wires for wiring, as well as to select the desired auto­mat­ic fuse.

Cal­cu­la­tion of the load on the net­work is car­ried out as fol­lows. It is required to add the pow­er of all elec­tri­cal devices and divide them by the volt­age in the net­work. As a result, we will get the cur­rent strength, on the basis of which we can find out whether the elec­tri­cal cable is cor­rect­ly select­ed and whether the net­work is over­loaded.

Do you need additional wiring for heating?

With elec­tric heat­ing of an apart­ment, you should know the infor­ma­tion about the cable that is laid from the meter to elec­tri­cal appli­ances, switch­es and sock­ets. The loca­tion of the cable must com­ply with all mod­ern stan­dards. It is unde­sir­able to use wiring from dif­fer­ent met­als, which can lead to oxi­da­tion of the con­tacts. If dif­fer­ent met­als are used, then con­nect­ing ter­mi­nals must be used. The most reli­able cable is cop­per.

In the event that the cal­cu­la­tion of the total max­i­mum allow­able load on the net­work shows its con­ges­tion, then addi­tion­al wiring for heat­ing is need­ed. As a rule, a sep­a­rate cable has to be pulled to each elec­tri­cal appli­ance whose pow­er exceeds 5 kW.

Expert advice

Ivan Gladyrev, head of the “Con­struc­tion” direc­tion of the online store “Your House”

You need to under­stand that elec­tric heat­ing in an apart­ment will cost much more than city cen­tral­ized water heat­ing. For a large area, devices of suf­fi­cient­ly high pow­er are need­ed, if you put sev­er­al, with a low­er pow­er, the load on the net­work increas­es. If you cor­rect­ly cal­cu­late the inten­si­ty of elec­tric heaters and their place­ment, set the econ­o­my mode, cor­rect­ly dis­trib­ute them among the rooms, use addi­tion­al ther­mostats, you can sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce elec­tric­i­ty con­sump­tion, reduce the load on the net­work and enjoy your indi­vid­ual heat­ing sys­tem! But, in my opin­ion, it will be more expen­sive than cen­tral­ized water heat­ing. Elec­tric heat­ing is resort­ed to at moments of ear­ly cool­ing, before the sup­ply of the cen­tral one, or if there is sim­ply no oth­er way to heat the room.

Max­im Trety­achenko, fit­ter for repair and instal­la­tion of heat­ing net­works

I would not advise choos­ing this type of heat­ing (although there are still those who wish). Its instal­la­tion is a very time-con­sum­ing process, and the equip­ment itself is expen­sive, con­sumes a lot of ener­gy and can suf­fer from pow­er out­ages. And in cities with unsta­ble elec­tric­i­ty sup­ply or volt­age fluc­tu­a­tions in the net­work, there is a risk of being left with­out heat­ing, this is a very unre­li­able sys­tem — espe­cial­ly in the cold sea­sons of the year.

Gas heating of the apartment

In some cas­es, gas heat­ing of the apart­ment is also pos­si­ble, how­ev­er, this is fraught with great dif­fi­cul­ties. To dis­con­nect an apart­ment from cen­tral heat­ing, it is nec­es­sary to col­lect a whole pack­age of doc­u­ments and often defend your rights in court, which is asso­ci­at­ed with addi­tion­al costs. There­fore, gas heat­ing is main­ly used in pri­vate homes.



Popular questions and answers

Is it pos­si­ble to com­plete­ly aban­don water heat­ing?
Ivan Gladyrev: “If the apart­ments already have cen­tral water heat­ing, I don’t see the point in this. With a strong desire, of course, you can. The essence of such heat­ing is that water cir­cu­lates through pipes, and it will not be easy to remove radi­a­tors from the walls with­out dis­turb­ing the cir­cu­la­tion of water to oth­er floors, apart­ments, and there will def­i­nite­ly be a lot of ques­tions from util­i­ties. It is pos­si­ble to com­plete­ly aban­don water heat­ing, it is impor­tant to under­stand what bud­get is allo­cat­ed for this issue and what it is for.”

Max­im Trety­achenko: “I think no. It’s a reli­able sys­tem, secure, and works vir­tu­al­ly flaw­less­ly.”

Can heat guns be used in an apart­ment?
“Heat guns,” shares his opin­ion Ivan Gladyrev, — they are used in an apart­ment when installing stretch ceil­ings, in cas­es where it is nec­es­sary to dry the walls, for exam­ple, after a flood or in some oth­er force majeure sit­u­a­tions. They are not used for heat­ing in city apart­ments due to the strong dry­ing of the air, impact noise. It will sim­ply be impos­si­ble to be in the room!

I agree with him and Max­im Trety­achenko: “I do not rec­om­mend this type of heat­ing devices — heat guns are very hot, always under pres­sure, they can emit com­bus­tion prod­ucts, for which spe­cial equip­ment will have to be installed to remove them. In addi­tion, they should not be left unat­tend­ed and stored in small enclosed spaces. For heat­ing small res­i­den­tial build­ings, and even more so apart­ments, this is far from the most con­ve­nient unit.

How can I close or paint radi­a­tors in an apart­ment?
Max­im Trety­achenko: “Bat­ter­ies of any shape, size and col­or can be found in any hard­ware store. If desired, you can order an indi­vid­ual design at the fac­to­ry and not suf­fer from repaint­ing pipes. But if there are small cos­met­ic defects that you want to elim­i­nate right here and now, a spe­cial heat-resis­tant pow­der paint is well suit­ed. And in order to hide the entire bat­tery, you can use spe­cial dec­o­ra­tive screens with a HDF box.

“Today in the con­struc­tion mar­ket,” advis­es Ivan Gladyrev, — a wide range of spe­cial radi­a­tor box­es, grilles. For paint­ing use spe­cial radi­a­tor col­ors. They with­stand high tem­per­a­tures, unlike con­ven­tion­al inte­ri­or paints, they do not turn yel­low.”