Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

joy of steam

jumper Member Posts: 2,245
Dan's newsletter has a link to a Russian district steam heating system underperforming.
Those Russians are relatively well off. I knew a guy who lived in Asian city in former USSR.
Apartment buildings had hot water heating and in chaotic nineties heat went off. Split pipes mean no heating.
In cold climates hot water heating is reckless.


  • Russia has one of the biggest district hot water systems. Many confuse it with steam, but it's not. Huge pumps circulate hot water to great distances and into fairly tall buildings. However, now most newer buildings are installing forced air systems or installing their own boilers in the basements since district heating is inefficient. Some older buildings are also ditching the district heat and converting either to forced air or installing hydronic boilers in the basements.
  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 958
    Yes, I've read that those are high temperature pressurized water systems.

    I disagree that district heating is inefficient. It's actually the most efficient way to go in densely populated areas. I think the problem they are seeing is the fallout of maintenance that seriously suffered after 1991, and perhaps before. Systems like that usually can't take deferred maintenance for 20 years. I don't know to what extent those systems were designed to be low maintenance in the first place. It doesn't seem that designing away the labor of maintenance was a high priority in the Soviet era. I could be wrong, though.

    Regardless, the capital expenditure to rebuild what's now failing is probably too high to consider. Especially since natural gas is a lot cheaper than laying miles and miles of new pipe and infrastructure. A local boiler could certainly be a lower cost option.

    As for moving to forced air as a low cost expediency, that's been the building industry's M.O. for 60 years in the USA.
  • Let me emphasize that it's inefficient in Russia due to lack of maintenance as you mentioned above. New York City also has a district steam system in Manhattan. It’s also one of the oldest ones. It also suffers from old piping which leak steam hence one can see steam coming from underground in various locations in Manhattan.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,477
    Some areas of Boston have district steam. I worked the evening shift for the last 8 years of my working career. One night I took a walk at lunchtime (about 8PM) and just as I was walking out the door I heard a loud bang and saw a plume of steam shooting into the air at the corner of the Summer St Bridge.

    I asked what was going on as I passed the guard shack and he said a manhole cover launched into a car causing it to lift onto the sidewalk. The driver was seen running away and screaming over said bridge, I know he had not come back when i left at the end of the shift at 11PM.

    The point is eighty year old pipes are prone to leaks and catastrophic failure, just hope it doesn't happen as your driving over a manhole cover.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • In 2007 there was a steam pipe explosion in Manhattan which I think injured several people.