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Hot 2nd Floor Rooms

VinBom
VinBom Member Posts: 8
Hello, I'm pretty handy but fairly new to steam heat. I recently added insulation to all the steam piping that the previous homeowner removed. The boiler is in the basement of a 2 story home. Before adding the insulation, the second floor radiators only got hot when the boiler cycled for a long time. The second floor was consistently 8-10 degrees colder than the first floor where the thermostat is located. Since I added the insulation, the second floor is 8-10 degrees WARMER than the first floor. All the radiators (both floors) are hissing like crazy and the house is toasty warm. How can I get a better balance of heat?

Comments

  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    One pipe, or two pipe?

    The hissing vents imply it to be a one pipe system, and anytime you have noisy vents, you have a venting/pressure problem. Try to find the main vents, and post pictures of them.

    In addition, look at your gauge, to determine what pressure the system is running at. If the gauge is not functional, then get both a 0-30 psi, (for code), AND a 0-3 psi gauge, (for diagnosis). The more sensitive gauge will show you when you have enough main venting, and enable the pressure to be set as low as possible.

    Only ounces of steam pressure are needed for heating.--NBC
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    Venting and pressure

    In addition to what NBC has recommended above tell us what kind of radiator vents you are using. Steam works best when you vent the mains fast and the radiators slowly AND the system is run at 2PSI and hopefully less.



    Is there a lot of bouncing in the sight glass when making steam? Post some pictures of the boiler showing the piping around it, the main vents and a representative radiator (both ends).



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • VinBom
    VinBom Member Posts: 8
    Venting

    This is a one pipe system. There are 3 main vents, one near the end of the main branch in the basement and another at the far end of the second floor branch and one on the condensate line near the boiler. I don't think the basement main or the condensate vents are working (no hissing), but the one on the second floor is. I plan to pick-up some CLR and try to clean the vents tonight.

    I will post pictures of everything later today.

    Thanks!
  • VinBom
    VinBom Member Posts: 8
    System Pictures and more info

    Attached are pictures of my system. The pressuretrol is set to 3 psi cut in and 1.5 differential. The needle on the 30 psi gauge does not seem to move. The boiler seems to cycle on and off with the thermostat. The auto fill goes on about every 3rd or 4th cycle. The sight glass is dirty, but the water in it is clear. The water in the sight glass bounces slightly when the boiler is on.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,849
    Balance those radiators

    Now that you're not losing heat from your piping, you're actually delivering steam to those second floor radiators. Nice job!



    Now, if you think about what the last guy might have done to try to get steam upstairs before it petered out you'll see what needs to be done.



    The last person who lived in your house probably put the biggest vents he could find on those upstairs radiators, and put small ones on the downstairs radiators so they wouldn't heat up the first floor and turn off the thermostat, leaving the upstairs cold. It might be going too far to switch the upstairs and downstairs venting around, but you can give it a shot before you go out and buy new vents. If you need to get new vents, I like the Maid-o-Mist vents. They're like a poor man's Gorton, but they have interchangeable orifices, so when you're balancing you can try different sizes without changing out the vents.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    Pressure set too high

    Your pic of the pressuretrol tells me it is set at 4PSI on the main and God knows what on the differential. THAT IS MUCH TOO HIGH.



    Turn the cut in on the front down to 0.5 and make sure the white dial is set to 1 or a little less. That will let the system operate between 0.5 and 1.5 PSI. Right now you may be operating at 4-6 PSI and some vents may not work properly that high.



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • VinBom
    VinBom Member Posts: 8
    Pressure Balance

    I reset the pressuretrol to 0.5 cut in and 1.0 differential. That seems to have helped balance the 1st floor and 2nd floor temperature and the hissing has stopped. The 2nd floor is now only 1 or 2 degrees warmer. However, I now have random radiators that are not getting hot (2 on the second floor and 2 on the first floor out of 14 total). This weekend, I plan to clean the main vents. Anyone have any other tips?
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    Clean and replace

    Get Gorton 2's for each main vent location, and polish up the old ones for Christmas tree ornaments!--NBC
  • still adding water so often?

    now that the pressure is reduced to normal levels, does your auto-fill still add water so frequently? every 3rd or 4th cycle seems way too frequent, and all the fresh water will add oxygen and minerals that are not great for the inside of the system.
  • VinBom
    VinBom Member Posts: 8
    Vents clear

    Removed the vents today from the main and condensate lines. They are both Dole #4 and they seem to vent OK (I can blow air through them).

    The auto refill has not gone on since I lowered the pressure. I still have a few radiators that are not warming up.
  • VinBom
    VinBom Member Posts: 8
    Still having balance issues

    I am still having problems getting balanced heat in all rooms and floors. How do I know if the main vent is the problem? It is a Dole #4. I have removed the vent and I can blow air thru it, does that mean it is working?
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    They are too small

    The vent can work perfectly but if it's too small it can cause uneven heating. Are the radiators that are slow to heat near the end of the steam main?



    Generally you want to vent the mains fast and the radiators slowly. A dole #4 is a slow vent, how long is your steam main?



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • VinBom
    VinBom Member Posts: 8
    Length of Main

    The Dole #4 vent on the main branch is about 35' from the boiler. There is another Dole #4 vent on the return line just above the boiler. There is another vent at the end of the main feed to the second floor. That one is longer and bullet shaped (Gordon?) but I need to get on a ladder to see it up close. That is the only one I can hear air escaping from.

    Any suggestions for a controllable radiator vent? It looks like if I can regulate the radiator in the room with the thermostat, the rest of the house stays more balanced.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    Venting

    The Dole vents are maybe 10X to small to do the job, you need to install larger main vents.



    In the room with the thermostat you could try a Hoffman #40 which is a nice small vent, if you want something adjustable buy the Maid O Mist that comes with 5 orifices so you can change the vent rate easily.



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge