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just moved in - each room different temperature

chumie Member Posts: 13
I just moved into a house with steam heating. Each room is a different temperature. The most noticeable problem, of course, is that the master bed is too hot and the babies' room is too cold. The only advice I received from the company that services our boiler is to put new varivalves on the units and experiment with opening them. I've already opened the one in the babies' room all the way, and it's still cold.

Where do I start with this problem?


  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,785
    adjust the rest

    adjust the rooms that are over heating to partially closed positions.  if this still doesn't help. close all of the varivales a bit until the cold room is the same temp as the rest.

    How are your main vents?  Good main venting is critical to even distribution of steam. 
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473

    We need more information. I assume it's single pipe steambecause of ypur comment about the varivalves.

    How many radiators are there?

    Do you know if you have main air vents on the steam mains in the cellar?

    Is there just one steam main, if more - how many?

    Is there any banging in the pipes?

    Is the water level in the sight glass bouncing up and down?

    On the boiler there is a small grey box called a pressuretrol, the tab on the front should be set to 0.5PSI and the dial inside should be set to 1. That will allow the boiler to cut out and 1.5PSI and enable it to turn back on at 0.5PSI. Pressure greater than 2PSI is not good.

    Make sure all the radiator input valves are fully open (turn the knob fully CCW). Heat Timer VariValves are very aggressive. They probably shouldn't be over 1/4 to start with; then decrease the setting in hot rooms and increase it in cold rooms. You would like to get all the radiators to start heating at about the same time.

    Do the input valves of all the radiators get hot? If some of them don't do they come off the steam main towards the end? That could indicate a bad or undersized main vent.

    Post some pictures of the boiler and the piping that comes and goes from it. Try to get some shots of the steam main and any vents coming off it.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • chumie
    chumie Member Posts: 13
    some data...

    The boiler is located in the basement. The basement has no radiators or any other heating system. On the first floor, the kitchen is heated by a unit added on to the boiler (not steam heat) illustrated in picture 7. Picture 8 is the kitchen radiator. The dining room has 2 radiators. The one closest to the kitchen looks like the one in the kitchen (and I assume is connected). The other has a valve pictured in Picture 9. The living room has 2 radiators with valves such as the one in Picture 9.  On the next floor up, the master bedroom has one radiator with the valve in Picture 10, the master closet and master bathroom each have a radiator with varivalves -  both closed at this point in time. The babies' room has one radiator with a varivalve 100% open. The laundry room has one radiator with a closed varivalve. The bathroom has one radiator with a varivalve 1/4 open. The next room over has a varivalve that is closed. The attic has two radiators that I haven't paid much attention to yet. The floor is poorly insulated with poorly fitted windows and is just plain cold for now -  but not really in use.

    I looked around my boiler room and could not figure out where my main valves are. Please take a look at my attached pics and let me know if you can give me some guidance there.

    I don't know enough about this to think that I will solve this problem on my own, but I at least want to have a basic understanding and gather the correct data before I hire someone to come in and fix the problems for me. Thanks so much for your help!
  • chumie
    chumie Member Posts: 13
    some more...

    Also, I hear plenty of hissing, but not banging, and I don't see any movement in that tube of water.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    edited December 2010
    find the main vents

    Main air vents are usually towards the ends of the steam mains, it looks like you have two steam mains. they can be chrome, copper or green in color. their job is to vent all the air out of the steam main so it's available to all the radiator feeder pipes at the same time.

    All the adjustable air valves on the radiators (in rooms that are in use should probably be adjusted so the warm rooms are low compared to the cool rooms. those variable valves are not very good but as long as they are expelling air we'll deal with them later.

    What kind of thermostat do you have? If it's programmable it has to be set to work with steam heat (CPH of 1). If you don't have the manual for it you can probably find it online or tell us and we''l see if we can figure it out.

    It looks like the kitchen and one of the dining room radiators are on a forced hot water loop.

    The boiler piping looks ok at first glance but your pressuretrol should be have the front tab set to 0.5 (adjust that with the screw on top) and the internal white dial should be set to 1.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • chumie
    chumie Member Posts: 13
    next steps...

    Thanks. No luck finding anything that looks like valves along the pipes on the ceiling of my boiler room. I guess that will have to wait until a professional comes to look at things. In the meantime, I've turned all the valves to off, except for the cold room in question. I've also ascertained that my cph is set to 1. I will work on the PSI settings later today.
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