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to insulate or not insulate - house walls

KyleC
KyleC Member Posts: 2
I have a 1926 two story four-square brick house with 2-pipe steam heat.  The upstairs is always colder than the first floor, but liveable.  The attic is insulated, but I suspect the walls are not.  I'm interested in insulating the walls to increase comfort and lower my heating bills, but I have a question - and maybe I'm overthinking things - but if my house is better insulated, will the temperature difference between the first and second floors get worse?  Could my heating cycles get shorter giving me less steam up to the second floor?  Or will the temp difference stay the same and heat cycles stay the same but just be less frequent?  I have a basic thermostat with a boiler setting.  I would appreciate any insight.  Thanks!

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,885
    Most likely

    the only real result effect on heating will be that the boiler won't have to run as often.  The on time probably won't be all that different.



    However, a thought on the insulation: whatever you do, make sure that there is a really good sealed vapour barrier between the interior of the house and the insulation.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Big-Al_2
    Big-Al_2 Member Posts: 263
    Also . . . .

    if you have remaining knob-and-tube wiring, it's not supposed to be buried in insulation. 



    Even though the wiring is mostly up to date,  I'm pretty sure I still have a little of it left in my 1917 foursquare, so I'm hesitant to insulate the walls until I've been able to figure out where it might be.  X-ray vision would sure come in handy.    
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    insulation

    insulation keeps heat in longer (or allows it to escape less quickly) .. but your thermostat will still trigger at perhaps 70dFahr .. and you will still need to heat the volume of interior air .. same as before .. the only thing that changed is that *during* the heating cycle you are losing less *as you make* it therefore your heating may be slightly shortened, probably nothing that is noticeable. the answer to you specific question is that your boiler should run less frequently because you only have to heat the loss say 3times a day rather than 5times a day.



    is there no way that you you can throttle your 1st floor in order to balance the heating in your house? throttling will cause longer boiler runs, but likely more uniform heating.
    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC

    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph

    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains

    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics
  • KyleC
    KyleC Member Posts: 2
    follow-up

    Thanks for the posts...  wiring is all romex or newer; no knob and tube.



    Regarding the idea of throttling the first floor, I have thought about that.  The radiator valves are all original Hoffman 3/4" angle valves that are either frozen in the open position or if not, closing them has no effect on how much steam passes.  I'm sure the guts are toast.  So, would you recommend that I replace with new manual valves that I can throttle down?  or do you recommend thermostatic valves?  and if so, what kind?  I'd hope that the critical dimensions of a new valve would be the same as the old so I would not have to do any other piping work...

    Thanks again for the posts and I welcome suggestions and thoughts.
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    i can't

    i can't speak with any experience or authority on the valves nor the TRVs .. it seems however, that if you were going to plumb in a new TRV, you may as well just try a cheaper solution of a new valve that you can manually throttle for testing purposes. i think that regardless of which way you move, you may need to replace the radiator spud as well. 
    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC

    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph

    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains

    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics
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