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Too hot upstairs after conversion to gas-fired steam boiler

Help! I swapped my ancient oil-burner for a shiny new gas

steam boiler, and suddenly it's too hot upstairs!

 When I removed the asbestos insulation from my steam pipes

during the conversion from oil to a new gas-fired (Burnham 140,000 BTU) boiler,

and covered the pipes with high-quality fiberglass clamshells, I seem to have totally

altered the heating pattern in my hundred year old wood frame house.

 I think the big old snowman and the not-so-efficient

asbestos-soaked cardboard allowed a lot of heat to rise up through the basement

ceiling to warm my first floor. Now, after installing a boiler that is so well

insulated that it isn’t even warm to the touch, and with the new fiberglass

pipe wraps, my basement is wicked cold and my first floor is pretty cool at floor


 And that means that my old thermostat (five feet off the floor) which

previously sensed some warm air rising from below now only gets air warmed by

the first floor radiators. So by the time the thermostat shuts off the boiler such

that my first floor maintains a pretty steady 70 degrees, my second floor is

76-78 degrees! All eleven of the cast iron radiators have got vent-rite’s, which are set to 2 on the second floor,

and set to 6 or 7 on the first floor. The radiators don’t get hot all the way


 Other than spending a gazillion dollars to remove the

ancient settled blown-in insulation and then re-insulating the entire house, what could

I do to keep the upstairs closer to the same temp as the downstairs?




  • JeffM
    JeffM Member Posts: 171
    insulate, balance

    Insulating the basement ceiling would help stop the first level from losing heat through the floors to the now cool basement. You can try balancing the radiators even further apart (an even higher setting on the first floor, and lower on the second - or maybe removing the Vent-Rites on one floor and switching to a different vent to balance more steam to the first floor radiators).

    It's a tricky situation (my house is similar after a conversion and insulating pipes). Really with the basement cold the heat loss of the first floor rooms has changed, so ideally you would fix that with insulation or add more radiator capacity. Neither of those is a quick fix, so try more vent adjustment first.

    A third possibility would be to install thermostatic vents (TRVs) upstairs. These sense room temp and close the vent before the room overheats.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,471
    Get a Pro in there from this site...

    They'll balance the system for you. Mad Dog
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • New boiler-unbalanced system

    What sort of main venting is on the system now?

    What pressure is the system reaching?

    Was the new boiler piped correctly following the manufacturers instructions? Pictures would help.

    Were the radiators measured so the new boiler could be sized correctly?--NBC
  • agiledan
    agiledan Posts: 6
    Pics NBC asked for

    NBC asked:

    ***What sort of main venting is on the system now?

    Only the one main shown, as far as I can see

    ***What pressure is the system reaching?

    Pressuretrol was set at 2.25, which I have not lowered only because I'm brandy new to this

    ****Was the new boiler piped correctly following the manufacturers instructions?

    *****Pictures would help.

    I can't get far enough away to get a single clear picture of the piping, so here's a few. sorry.

    Were the radiators measured so the new boiler could be sized correctly?--NBC

    **** Yes, I got 4 quotes, three of the estimators actually measured the radiators, and all four proposed the same 140K BTU boiler
  • agiledan
    agiledan Posts: 6
    Ooops, sorry for the not-right-side-up pics

    Will correct shortly
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,473
    Adequate venting

    What is the air temperature in the basement now?

    I had trouble opening the pictures on my iPad, but it looks as though there are several dry returns going down to the wet return, and if so, then each should have a main vent.

    I also thought I saw a bull headed tee, which can have some inequality in its distribution.

    Putting main vents on wherever they should be will improve the imbalance.--NBC
  • agiledan
    agiledan Posts: 6
    temp ranges are:

    mid-20s outside.

    low 50's in the basement

    70 on the first floor

    78 on the second floor
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