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How to get more heat for a basement apartment

I have a three floor. Small apartment building. The two basement apartment, that are on the same level of the boiler, complain that they are cold. The third floor apartment complaints that it is ridiculously hot in their apartment.

The basement apartment has no radiators and is basically heated by than main pipene's hanging from their apartment ceiling. After reading your book, we got steam, I thought about hanging a radiator from the ceiling in the basement, so be higher than the A dimension. I also thought about putting these little fins around the mains in their apartment, but for sure somebody would get cut by the sharp edges.

I've inspected the other main pipes. I don't have main air vents, nor is some of the pipes insulated. With your help and advise, I am insulating and putting in air vents on other mains soon.

My question is how can I increase the heat for these basement apartments?

Thanks so much!

Janet Ray



  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,276
    It's all about control...

    First thing to do is to insulate all the steam mains!  Also get some nice main vents on the ends of them.  That will help you get more even heat upstairs.  If this is one pipe steam, you probably can adjust the vents on those upstairs radiators to get more acceptable (and economical!) heat.

    You can also add radiators in the basement apartments -- provided you can hang them high enough to get the required dimensions.  However, it may be easier and more satisfactory to add a hydronic heating loop taking off from the boiler (most boilers have a tapping somewhere you can use for the feed, and you can return the flow to the cold return on the boiler).  To do that you would have a circulator controlled by the thermostat in the basement apartments (or you could get fancy and have two thermstats and zone vaves!) and an aquastat to run the boiler enough to make sure you had hot water for the basement circulating zone.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JanetRay
    JanetRay Member Posts: 2
    pipe insulation - cardboard or Fiberglass

    Hi Jeannie:

    Thanks much for the advice. I just checked out my main types. They are 2 inch pipes and it appears like they have cardboard insulation around them. Do you recommend replacing the entire run with fiberglass insulation? Or is the cardboard mixed with the fiberglass okay?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542

    That insulation that looks like cardboard is actually asbestos. I have a similar wrap on my steam pipes. It is great insulation but is not healthy if it is deteriorating. If you remove it, be sure to wet it down and wear a face mask. If it is stable and not flaking or falling off, its probably best to leave it alone or wait till we are out of the heating season when you can remove it and replace it with fiberglass carefully.