10:24PM | 07/17/13

I live in a modest condominium (in the often cold, and ever-changing climate of Alberta, Canada). My place has perimeter hot water heating, the type that is run through a copper pipe along the edge of the unit's multiple rooms (into/from adjoining units), with metallic fins to distribute the heat, and a surrounding longitudinal metal enclosure. I'm fairly certain that this is standard, but let me know if that description doesn't make sense? I've attached an image of the metal enclosure partially removed in one of the bedrooms.

I'm doing some renovations (new engineered hardwood flooring, painting, etc.), I would dearly like to improve the look of the perimeter heating system. I understand that being in a condo I cannot change the heating system itself i.e. I'm not looking to mess around with the piping and fins, but the beige-coloured metal enclosure itself is something I would like to replace. My questions are: Is this allowed? Can I replace it with a wood to match the new flooring or does it have to be metal (a code issue perhaps?)? Or is painting the metal the only option? Who might I be able to contact in my city (supplier-wise) to find out some possible options? If metal is not a code requirement, is it still by far the best conductor of heat or does someone know if/that wood does a sufficient job. I realize that the potential cost if wood is used should a pipe burst is probably higher than the current/flimsy sheet metal, but if that is the only concern I think I would be willing to risk it...

Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thank you in advance!

Condo perimeter heating
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