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Help with steam temp control, and other steam stuff

JN Member Posts: 28
Hello everyone. I am gearing up the house for winter here in Mass. We purchased an 1880's colonial and have done some massive repairs and now its starting to get cool. I want to get the heat straight as we head into the winter.

Pipe insulation:

The steam lines in the basement are 2". The boiler sends them out each side of the boiler they come around and connect to each other. Steam feeds go off either side, one to the front of the house, other to the back. The ends of each feed have a 180 bend that turns into a 1" return line. All pipes seam to be pitched correctly.

We have put the 3ft sections of 1/2 fiberglass insulation on all the return lines.

We didnt have enough of the 2". But where it was covered they get pretty hot.

Is the 1/2 insulation enough for the feed lines? What should I use?


The radiators on the lower floor of the house are larger than the 2nd floor. Some radiators have adjustable vents other dont.

What type of vents will give me the best control over temp and system balance?

Are their any vents that will allow me to set them to a certain temp?

Do vents exist that you can control remotely say if I am in the living room and dont need a lot of heat in bedrooms are their devices like programmable thermostats for vents? Or is this totally silly? 


The thermostat is in the living room on the lower floor. The lower floor of the house is pretty wide open. Our bedroom is smaller and is on the second floor as well as the office.

The problem is that it takes a while to heat up the bottom floor and the bedroom heats up rather quickly. I dont need the thermostat in the livingroom to keep heating that space when we are upstairs.

Is there a remote solution for this? Like a thermostat you can take with you to the room you are in and reports to the wall mounted thermostat to cut the boiler when the room the remote is in reaches desired temp?




  • radiator heat control

    this may be a good use for thermostatic radiator vents, if you have a true 1-pipe steam system. first  make sure that the main line venting for all steam lines is very generous,  pressure in the ounces low range, and  that your  thermostat is properly set for anticipation. many times "hot spots" and "cold spots" can be cured by restoring the system main venting, and low pressure to the original conditions. suddenly steam could arrive at all the radiators simultaneously, and the bedroom would get heat at the same time as the living room.

    i think that wireless thermostats are still a bit tricky as far as transmission range goes, but maybe in your situation worth a try. make sure the thermostat is:

    steam rated

    capable of having a remote sensor or several,

    or mounted on an inside wall away from the draft fom the front door or windows.--nbc
  • JH_2
    JH_2 Member Posts: 57
    edited September 2009
    you came to the right place

    In addition to what nicholas said...

    First off, confirm if each radiator has one pipe or two.

    Then take lots of pictures, measure all the pipes and note down all the vents, where they are, and what the labels read.  Post all that info here with photos.

    The pros on here will give you great advice, if you ask steamhead he can confirm what vents you should have in the basement.  He has helped me out a couple times with that and it makes a BIG difference.

    Insulate everything.  For the mains, the guys on here will probably tell you to go to a plumbing supply for 1" thick.  Its worth it. The basement in my last house hit 90+ in the winter!! before I did that.

    Also, you might want to buy the 'steamy deal" books that Dan wrote.  Most of your questions will be answered there and its a great reference to have, especially if there are no steam pro's nearby.

    And like Nicholas said... to balance the heat you need to first get the mains well vented and then you balance the rooms by putting faster vents on the larger or colder rads and smaller vents on the rads that heat faster.  Or get TRVs if that  isnt enough. There is a pdf you can buy in the shop section called "balance steam with a venting chart" that could help.


    (PS, Im just a homeowner.  If any of the heating pro's contradict me, take there advice, not mine :)  )
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