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Steam Radiators

So uh, I am completely lost when it comes to anything mechanical, so pardon me if this isn't in the right area, but I figure this will be an easy question for you smart folks... the tiny studio apartment I live in has these single-pipe steam radiators; I have one in the bathroom and one in the main room.  It's my first winter here, so I didn't really look at my radiator until I realized the apartment is freezing, despite the pipe valves being fully open.  They make noise during the heating cycle (sort of a light boiling noise), but nothing seems to happen otherwise.  And then I resume huddling next to a crappy space heater in the meantime.

So I did some research, and then I realized that my radiator didn't look quite like what I was seeing (see attachment)--the radiators had been painted over at some point, and I think they might have painted over the air vent in the main room.

Is this right?


  • Big-Al_2
    Big-Al_2 Member Posts: 263
    edited December 2009
    No Vent

    If that photo is of a radiator in a single pipe steam system, it will never get hot.  Partway up the the end of the radiator opposite the inlet valve, I see a pipe plug.  That's where the vent goes.  Without it, there is no way for the air to get out so steam can get in.
  • Patrick_North
    Patrick_North Member Posts: 249

    I'm no pro, but I'm guessing that most of them are pretty busy with this cold weather! In their stead, here's some free advice-

    If indeed this is a one-pipe steam system, it seems that your problem is that this radiator is lacking a vent entirely, say nothing of "painted over." Hard to tell from the picture, but this looks like a plug- perhaps inserted to keep the threads clean while painting.

    If you have a building super to call, do so and request a radiator vent, pronto. You simply won't get heat without one. "Air out, steam in, water back." And may I caution aganst removing this plug- or whatever it is- without having a vent on hand? Your radiator would get warm, but you'll also remove any wallpaper in the apartment, you could burn yourself, and you'll certainly make others in the building very, very unhappy.

    That said, I'll step back so the more knowledgable folks here can chime in.

    Good luck,

  • Big-Al_2
    Big-Al_2 Member Posts: 263

    I'll add a little more.  That radiator does look recently painted.  It is altogether possible that the painter replaced the vents with plugs for the purpose of painting, and then forgot to put the vents back in.

    Like Patrick said, the vents need to be installed with the steam off, or there could be serious consequences.  Other than that, it's a piece of cake . . . unless the pipe plugs are virtually welded in with rust.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,314
    yeah what they said.

    Call landlord and say " hey Jimmy wheres my vents?" Not really tenant territory buying and installing steam vents. If the system has other issues they may have been plugged to stop the heat reaching your unit. You pay rent call up and ask for your heat.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
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