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Uneven heating. Hot upstairs Cold downstairs.

albert0000 Member Posts: 16
Hi, New to this forum. I read a few posts on this issue but seems every home is different.
Some background, this is our second winter in this home which has a basement a main floor and a second floor. Its heated with a steam boiler which seems to have been maintained by previous owner. The basement has no radiators and is understandably cool. The problem is the main floor doesnt really get warm at all before the upstairs gets unbearably hot. The thermostat is located on the main floor. The house has a flat roof and we insulated the space in between the ceiling and roof before we moved in. Please let me know if any more details will help.
Is there anyway to correct this problem. I read about closing the valves half way? but in my parents house it seemed that if the valves werent either opened fully or closed fully they would leak? Is there some other way to adjust the radiators? Or perhaps the radiators on the main floor are too small? Not really sure what to make of it, any help greatly appreciated. Albert


  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,692
    Albert, are all the rads on the 1st fl seemingly or equally hot all the way across the sections? If no, perhaps you need to look at the rad vents on the 1st fl. If Yes then start looking at thermal envelope issues (do you have ice dams?).

    there are many issues but these two are the 1st things that come to mind.

    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,477
    If it's a single pipe steam system, all valves should be fully open. You could use smaller air vents upstairs or even add TRV's to shut the rads off at a set temperature.

    Is the floor on the main level cold? If your cellar is as cold as mine (47) add some insulation to the basement ceiling and start chasing air infiltration.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    Install as small as possible radiator vents on the 2nd floor. Increase the venting on the 1st floor radiators. Get the steam to 1st floor ASAP. You can't throttle steam by using the shutoff valves.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,832
    Were any radiators removed from the first floor?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • albert0000
    albert0000 Member Posts: 16
    Firstly thanx for the replies. I did some more research. There are 3 radiators on the main floor. They all seem hot all the way through. There is no radiator in the kitchen where there might have been one once upon a time. Not sure. On radiator which is in a small 8x8 room has some kind of adjustable vent but I'm not sure how to adjust it. It looks like a piece is missing that screwed into the top of vent. The radiator in the living room says no. 40 and its not adjustable. The one in the dining room is recessed and has maid o mist self adjustable #6. It has a little turning piece where the hole is. Does that do anything?
    The floor is cold though not freezing.
    Also not sure what ice dams are?thermal envelope?
    The upstairs has 3 big radiators in the bed rooms and one small in the bath. The big ones, one vent is d one vent is 4 and one is 2
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    No one has mentioned that when you insulated the second floor ceiling, you massively cut down on the second floor heat loss. The fact that in your last post, you said that the 1st floor radiators are hot, says that the first floor radiators are heating the second floor and because of the insulated ceiling, there isn't enough heat loss for the room to stay cooler.

    For a third world try, close all second floor doors to cut down on the first floor heat migration. The second floor radiators are now all too big for the space because you cut down on the heat loss. See if it does anything. If it does, it points to a cause.

    I'm in no way any expert on steam. Years ago, I remember when they first came out with TRV's. They advocated using them on one pipe steam in conjunction with the side vent. I don't know if they worked. Where I worked, there was little steam. I always thought that if it did work on one pipe steam, it might be nice. I have never been a fan of TRV's mounted on floor valves. Why would I want to control the temperature on the floor? Especially in a drafty house like yours.