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"breathing" radiator and no heat

HollyHolly Member Posts: 2
I live in a 4 story house that's been divided into apartments. The front of the building gets pretty good heat; the back, where I am (top floor), does not heat too well.  Right now, I have no heat in the living room and bedroom radiators, but they are both making loud, huffing noises. I put a lit match up to the valve on each one, and it's clear that air is being pushed out, and then sucked back in to the radiators. A riser in the bathroom, however, is quite hot. This happens a couple of times every winter, and eventually it gets corrected. My landlord is very vague about why this occurs, and what he has done to correct it. What causes this problem?


  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 5,106
    standing water

    It sounds like you have water in a pipe somewhere. As the steam flows down a pipe the air is forced out ahead of it, when the steam crosses over pooled water the steam collapses and the air rushes back in to fill the created vacuum.

    Someplace, probably in the cellar, there is probably a pipe that doesn't have any slope to it. That slope allows the water to drain back to the boiler.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • bobby1bobby1 Member Posts: 2

    Check all pipes for slope to see if there is a spot with potential standing water. What does the system have for steam traps?   HEY ANYBODY KNOW WHY I CANT LOG BACK ON? I HAD TO SET UP A WHOLE NEW ACCOUNT TO LOG ON AGAIN??????
  • huffing and puffing

    it is possible the boiler overfills at times, and allows water into some pipe, trapping the air, and interrupting the venting.

    later perhaps he will restore the correct level, and it returns to normal.

    alternatively, if the pressure rises too high, that can interfere with the venting. regular maintenance can correct various problems, and make the most of every fuel dollar.

    you could tell him that the breathing is the sound of the beast which is devouring his money [perhaps 15% of the bill!], and you hope he will have some money left at the end of the winter.--nbc
  • HollyHolly Member Posts: 2
    Huffing Help

    Thank you for your helpful responses. I will share your thoughts with my landlord, and suggest he take a look at this site. He made some adjustment that improved things, although there's still some huffing going on. That huffing really does sound like money going down the drain - all of that energy going nowhere!
  • Paul Fredricks_3Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,549

    I've usually found "panting" radiators to be the result of uninsulated pipes. The hot steam hits the cold pipe, the steam collapses creating a vacuum. I'd think water in the pipe would cause steam hammer.
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