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8 Unit Building one unit not getting heat...

Live in a Pre-War brownstone, with 8 condo units, run by a condo association.  Steam heat with radiators.  We have one thermostat on the 3rd Floor for the building.  I basically know nothing about heat.

Our apartment is sweltering.   Our radiators are so warm that i have been waking up sweating since it is set to turn up to 72 at 6am when people are waking up at work.  It is WELL over 72 in our apartment.  I am wearing shorts and a tank top and still sweating...  Yes it is easy to open the window but that is not the point.

Our neighbor that we share a floor with, has an ice cold apartment.  She claims that if the heat is set high enough her radiators turn on.    A plumber took a look at her radiators and apparently they "work" but how is my apartment 90 and hers 60.  

From what i have been reading, i think that our system is out of balance.  why does one apartment not get heat when everyone else is sweating.  The apartment next to and below is hot. 

ANYONE have suggestions?  Or steam pro in Hoboken, NJ area. 



  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,541
    Oh quite

    your heating system is indeed out of balance -- which isn't all that unusual in buildings such as yours, sadly.

    There are many possible reasons for this!  First thing to do, though, is to avail yourself of the books which our host has written, which are available under the 'shop' tag at the top of this site.  I'd try "We Got Steam Heat" first, and go on from there.

    In the meantime, do you have one pipe or two going to your radiators?  If two, you should be safe enough partly closing the valves to the radiators.  That might help.  If one, there should be air vents on the radiators.  There is a remote chance (very remote...) that they are adjustable.  If so, you might be able to make them vent more slowly (or that plumber might be able to see how to do it), and that might help.  That might also help your neighbour get some heat, too, oddly enough.

    If you have access to the boiler, you might also check what pressure it's running at -- or again the plumber might be able to help.  It should be less than two pounds per square inch.  If it's more, crank it down.  That will save you all some cash, and might also help...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • svfurn
    svfurn Member Posts: 3

    I am tryign to educate our buildnig at this point that opening and closing windows and turning off radiators is not going to fix the problem!!  We ahve single pipe radiators.  We are going to try to turn off our vent at this point...  Looking for a good plumber... 
  • Unknown
    edited November 2009
    Need to get the system balanced

    You need to get whoever is in charge of the heating for your condo  to get a steam pro out there and fix the steam system. Making excess heat uses more fuel than necessary and is very uneconomical. You need to get someone who has experience with steam heating. I would suggest you look in the "Find a Professional" section at the top of this page. There are some very good steam pros listed there.

    Your neighbor isn't crazy, she's just cold and she's right, if the heat is set high enough it will probably over come the problems with the system and finally warm her apartment up. It isn't her fault. It's just that, for one reason or another, your building's steam system isn't "balanced" and you need someone with steam experience to straighten it out.  That's the best solution especially from a using excess fuel standpoint.

    There is another solution  which is a way of controlling the heat in your individual unit.  We need to know first whether it is a one pipe or two pipe system. (That's determined by how many pipes are connected to each radiator. One pipe = a one pipe system, Two pipe = a two pipe system.)  If it's two pipe you just close the valve on the radiators a bit.  On a one pipe system this method doesn't work and will cause you problems if you try it.  What you  need is a TRV on each radiator to control over heating.  See about getting the system balanced first and let us know and we can give you more information on TRVs if you need it.

    I might also suggest you get a book available on this site for homeowners with steam systems. It's called "We Got Steam Heat"  [url=http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Books/5/61/We-Got-Steam-Heat-A-Homeowners-Guide-to-Peaceful-Coexistence]http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Books/5/61/We-Got-Steam-Heat-A-Homeowners-Guide-to-Peaceful-Coexistence

    It's easy reading ,humorous and in a couple of evenings reading will tell you all you need to know about steam heating. Get it, read it  and then pass it on to the guy in charge of the condo heating. Believe me the knowledge will save you all big bucks in the long run.

    Edit: Just read your latest post and see you have one pipe steam. I'll dig out some info for you on TRVs I have on my home computer and post it here for you later.

     "All steam pros are good plumbers. However few plumbers are good steam men !"

    - Rod
  • svfurn
    svfurn Member Posts: 3
    Thanks again...

    it is a one pipe system.   we are going to try the vents tonight and see if that helps, we are going to look for a professional steam heat guy.  apparently a plumber came over, but, not sure how much of an expert he is!

  • Unknown
    edited November 2009

    I found some TRV info I had on the computer I'm using so here it is.

     Again the best thing is to get your steam system properly balanced for the sanity and pocketbook of all condo owners

    TRVs won't heat a room but they will stop it from getting too hot. I

    use them to close off  the part of the house I don't use in the winter.  There are several types of TRVs.

    On a one pipe steam system you need a TRV with a vacuum breaker.

    How they work - The TRV is installed between your radiator and the radiator vent.

    When the room temperature is below the setting on the TRV the air in

    the radiator passes through the TRV and out the radiator vent When

    steam reaches the radiator vent it closes.  At this point the whole

    setup operates just like the TRV wasn't there.

    When the rooming temperature reaches the temperature setting on the TRV,

    the TRV closes and doesn't allow air or steam to pass through to the

    radiator vent. On the next steam cycle when the boiler shuts off the

    vacuum breaker on the TRV opens and allows air to fill the radiator.

    When the boiler starts again since the TRV valve is closed air can't

    escape from the radiator and therefore steam can't enter the radiator.

    The radiator cools causing the rooms to cool. When the temperature of

    the room drops below the set temperature on the TRV the valve opens and

    air is allowed to again escape.  The temperature range settings on TRV

    is from 43 F to 83F. In the winter I close of rooms in my house by

    setting the TRV in that room to the lowest  (43 degree) setting. This

    stops the room from freezing and saves fuel.  TRVs aren't exactly cheap

    so you may just want to use them on the rooms where you are having the

    biggest overheating problem. That's about it for TRVs. I attached a

    Danfoss TRV sheet. The vacuum breaker in the Danfoss is internal. With

    Danfoss you have to supply the (straight ) radiator  vent.

    - Rod
  • shutting off the heat

    most air vents for 1-pipe systems will effectively shut off the steam entry [and heat], if you turn the air vent upside down. this may provide a temporary solution, until you get the problem solved.

    steam systems, when properly maintained, are quite even.--nbc
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