Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Balancing our one-pipe system (finally!)

McKern_2 Member Posts: 43
Thanks for the quick reply.

Oak Park, IL--just west of Chicago. The database contains a pro on the far south-side, i.e., about 16 miles (which, in traffic, could be considerable) from here. As I recall, their specialization didn't seem to apply to our needs.

Re the vents, does this mean that as long as the main vents are appropriately sized, we could use variable vents on all the radiators?


  • McKern_2
    McKern_2 Member Posts: 43
    choosing an HVAC pro; vari-vents

    Last year, in the process of trying to determine the cause of a leak in the heating system of my condo building (7 units total), I found you all and learned more about steam heat than I thought there was to know, including the fact that our cost control strategies (i.e., storm windows) left much to be desired. Further, we treated noisy vents, mild water hammer, and uneven heating as no more than a nuisance. I sent a memo to the other owners re “balancing the system,” which was ignored and/or dismissed with “never heard of such a thing”—this from the owner who has been here at least 10 years.

    After a contentious meeting last month re potential benefits/costs, we're going to go through with this. Now, we need to find the right HVAC pro and, unfortunately, there isn’t anyone on your list in the vicinity. The company we’ve used for the past few years has never recommended balancing the system, which makes me wonder if they are up to the task.

    Question: Are there some interview-type questions we could ask that would reveal a service person's knowledge of steam heat, without being insulting? Should I carry my copy of We Got Steam Heat! and rule out anyone who doesn’t make a complimentary remark about the book and/or its author?

    Re Vari-vents: last winter, a unit owner recommended that we all install Vari-vents as a cost control measure and he bought several of these to save residents the inconvenience of having to shop for them. About the same time, I sent the memo re balancing the system that included info regarding the importance of using the correct size/type of vent and a link to Controlled Air Venting of One-Pipe Steam Systems, which Holohan says “…is the article that helped me understand why adjustable air vents on one-pipe steam systems often don't get the job done.” I suspect that my note killed his market for Vari-vents.

    I hate to see him get stuck with these if they can reasonably be incorporated into balancing the system. At the same time, I don’t want to risk compromising the results (we’ve got enough skeptics as it is) by using less-than-optimal vents.

    (For the record, he is probably the biggest skeptic regarding the need to balance the system. He is clinging to notions about how the heating system works that are in conflict with physics as we know it.)

    Question: Any thoughts on variable vents? Can these be considered to be “one-size-fits-all”?

    I’d appreciate any input on these issues. And thank you, again, for all the help last winter-spring.

  • Where

    are you located?

    Those Vari-Vents can be used to give tenants some control over their heat, but the system itself still needs to be balanced with proper main vents.

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
  • Try

    Dave "Boilerpro" Bunnell. He's a bit west, in Amboy, but this sounds like his kind of project.

    Yes, you could use adjustable vents on radiators if the main vents are properly sized. Keeping the pressure real low is key.

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
This discussion has been closed.