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spliting home steam

ch352 Member Posts: 25

i live in a 4 floor home with a one pipe steam system the problem is that the top floor's get heated drastically faster then the bottom floor's. so i was wondering if i put radiator thermostat's on the upper floor radiator's then let the steam run until ALL floor's are heated (while the upper floor's will be stopped by the thermostat's, letting the lower two heat up as well) would that solve the problem? (at least temporarily)


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,831
    I would first check

    to see that the steam mains and the lower radiators are properly vented, and that the lower floors are not under-radiated.

    Where are you located? Have you tried the Find a Contractor page of this site?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Greg Maxwell
    Greg Maxwell Member Posts: 212

    Venting is everything. By controlling the rate, you control the speed of delivery. Has someone replaced any vents in the past? If so, the right ones may not have been used.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,507
    i agree, the main venting is most important.

    the air vents on the dry return of the mains do all the work of letting the air out as the steam is rising. you may have too much radiator venting in certain areas of your system, causing an imbalance in the distribution. the goal here is to have the steam "arrive" at each radiator simultaneously.

    also, if your main vents are inadequate, you will be paying the fuel company to squeeze the air out of constipated little openings; instead of allowing the air to escape for free!

    if you measure the lengths and diameters of the pipes, professor steamhead can advise you what size vents to install. even though, the vents you need may cost a "Grant" each, and may require several per return. they are not sold in "big box" stores, and are worth every penny! radiator vents cannot do this job, and in fact, if yours are too fast, may need to be replaced with the traditional hoffmans. the thermostatic air vents can be used after all the other items have been corrected, if they are still needed.

    other factors in the balancing equation would include:

    1.pressure too high-keep it under 1.5 psi [measured with a good low-pressure gauge]. this is for basic functionality, for comfort and economy, dial it down to 12 ounces.

    2.thermostat location and anticipation.

    3.steam piping and header correctness.

    do the vents first, and then check the other factors. remember, when your house was built, the new owner would not have tolerated a system which was out of balance!!! there are some excellent steam books in the shop here which will guide you in reversing any deferred maintainace.--nbc
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    edited August 2011
    Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRV's)

    might help a bit temporarily, but you really should go after the problem not the symptom.  TRV's cost money and might not be necesary if you can fix the problem.  Why don't we see if we can help you out by identifying your mains and your main vents.  Can you take a couple pictures of your boiler and the pipes that it connects to in the ceiling.  Post the pictures here and we can move on from there.
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