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Check heating idea with an engineer first

Q. I plan to convert an old house from gas hot water to electric heat. Is it possible to buy heater units, such as automobile tank heaters, that could be installed between the bottom and top pipes of the old cast-iron radiators? Each would make an excellent one-room heater. All that is needed is a heater element and a thermostat. Bill Paraseau, Fargo, N.D.

A. Untold millions of dollars have been spent on the experimentation and finalizing of mechanical heating systems. Research and development is a costly business.

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Your idea to adapt cast-iron radiators to provide heat from electric heaters may fall into the "R&D" category. If so, it may take trial an error and its accompanying expense to find out whether or not the concept will work.

Before proceeding further, discuss your concept with a mechanical engineer for his reaction. It may well be worthwhile and quite practical, but I'd find that out first on paper before tinkering around with the old radiators.

There are several types of proven electrical heating methods that could suit your fancy.Investigate them from a local electrical contractor or supplier.

Choose one that best suits your practical needs in that old house.

Compare costs, efficiency, methods of installation, power requirements, and so on.

Weigh the professional electrical heating system at all points with the homemade, jerry-rigged one. The comparison should show you which is better.

Perhaps our readers can report on the availabili ty of automobile tank heaters.

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