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Timer versus Thermostat?

Hello, I am new to the Wall and new to steam heat. I have a 1923 two-pipe vapor/vacuum system. It has a gas fired 495,000 BTU Crane boiler; my guess is it dates to the '50s or '60s. Anyway, I am following Lost Art and We Got Steam Heat and will be replacing traps and installing the Hoffman #75 in place of our vacuum vent.

Anyway, I was wondering if there is a timer that could be used in place of the thermostat? We've been turning the heat on an arbitrary temp setting and letting it warm up for a couple hours, then we shut it off. The house stays toasty for several hours, then we goose it again before bed. All I really want is to "set" the system to turn on/shut down for increments of time.

Is there such a thing?


  • Alan R. Mercurio_3
    Alan R. Mercurio_3 Member Posts: 1,617
    Re: Timer versus Thermostat?

    If I understand your needs correctly it sounds like a programmable thermostat is what you’re looking for? And yes they are available.
    Your friend in the industry,

    Alan R. Mercurio

  • Vermonter_2
    Vermonter_2 Member Posts: 22
    edited November 2010
    Aube TH148LE-P

    I installed an Aube TH148LE-P in my home with one pipe steam. I've been VERY happy with it for several reasons.

    You can program it differently for every day of the week. It has 4 settings per day. It "learns" how your home responds and adjusts itself accordingly. It can be set for 2 cycles per hour unlike many thermostats that have a higher minimum. It has an early start feature so that your home will reach the setpoint by the programmed time. This feature will change the time the heat comes on throughout the year. Lastly you can attach it to a telephone controller so that you can switch from vacation to comfort mode from any phone.

    Just my personal experience and opinion, hope it helps.
  • MotownSteamer
    MotownSteamer Member Posts: 110

    Yes, I agree the programable thermostat will accomplish the same thing. I was just wondering if there was a timer device since I'm not orienting my home's comfort around temperature. In other words, since the room with the thermostat will get up to temp right away, and others never will, I'll likely be running around turning the system on and off all season anyway. But yes, the programable is probably what we'll do. Thanks
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,562
    edited November 2010

    when you say that the room with the thermostat will get up to temperature, and the others never will, does that mean you still have an unbalanced system?

    your system, when new would most likely have heated the whole house evenly-all rooms at the same time and rate. if you can get the system back to as installed, venting wise, you will be able to set it and forget it

    it is possible that your thermostat is set for too much anticipation, and cuts off the system too early. you have been compensating for this by frequent readjustment, which is not best for economy!--nbc
  • MotownSteamer
    MotownSteamer Member Posts: 110
    re: on-off

    Yes, I think this system is absolutely unbalanced. I have all the tell-tale symptoms; short cycling, radiators that don't get all the way hot, etc. I know I have steam in the dry returns (some naughty traps out there for sure).

    I guess what was really trying to accomplish with this idea was de-cluttering the controls. Just out of curiosity, is there such a thing as an on-off time in the world of residential HVAC controls?
  • naughty traps

    are they naughty, or just having difficulty with the pressure?

    as you know, vapor systems are best operated with only a few ounces. if you get your pressure down, those traps may start behaving.

    this is a good time to make these improvements, as you have all winter for the fuel economies to roll in!--nbc
  • MotownSteamer
    MotownSteamer Member Posts: 110
    Didn't think of that

    Mmmmmm, interesting. My pressure is set way too high (pressurtrol, not vaporstat) but I've not wanted to undo what someone else did until I got the system mechanically correct. I just assumed the traps were bad; they are quite possibly the original ones! If not, they are old enough to have several layers of old paint on them.

    Anyway, I guess it wouldn't hurt to crank it down and see what happens.
  • Ron Jr._3
    Ron Jr._3 Member Posts: 603
    edited November 2010
    In large apartment buildings

    we used Heat-Timer in the past with great results .


    I believe Tekmar has controls for steam also .

    I agree with the others too . Gotta get the system working properly first . Change those leaky traps . Good luck with the project .  Must be a HUGE house ?
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