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Balancing... HELP!

I have one pipe steam heat in a two family home that was originally built in 1910. There were two radiators on the first floor toward the front of the house that were not heating up. They would only get hot when the boiler temperature was turned up to 85 degrees and left on for several hours. I changed the main air vent to a maid o mist and when that seemed like it wasn't really working much better (heat was coming out of all radiators at a slower pace), I changed it to a gorton #1. I also changed the two radiator vents to hoffman adjustable 1As on the highest level, #6. When I changed the main air vent to gorton #1, the two radiators began working, but three of the radiators on the second floor did not work. As the days passed, the radiators on the top floor worked and now the two radiators on the first floor again are not heating up after one hour at 85 degrees while the other radiators are just fine. One of the two radiators on the first floor is the furthest radiator away from the boiler while the other one is in the middle of the house, not too far from the boiler. The boiler is located in the basement in the middle of the house.

Yesterday, I noticed that the kitchen radiator on the first floor did not have an individual air vent even though it was really hot and I did not see steam coming out of the air vent hole. I put a hoffman 40 on it which vents slowly and will see if it works at all today. I was told when a vent was placed on it before, it stopped working, so fingers crossed that it works. Do you know why a radiator would be so hot without an air vent? Also, how could not having an air vent and always having that hole open on the radiator effect my entire system?

I think I should reduce the air vents on the second floor, but this whole process has taken so long (2 months) and is so temperamental that I feel I need advice. I've called my local heating company and they've coached me through some to the things I've described (e.g. changing the main air vent), but I'm hoping I could get your opinion to fix this once and for all.

One thing I have not been doing regularly is letting water out of my boiler once a week. Also, my vents on both floors are not all the same brand or type. Let me know if you need more information.

Comments

  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,840
    Measure the length and size of your mains, that is the only way you can properly size your main venting. Until your main venting is correct you CAN'T balance the rads, it would be an exercise in futility as you are finding out. If you only have a single Gorton #1 main vent I can pretty confidently say you don't have nearly enough main venting, unless your house is the size of an outdoor shed. Measure your mains and post that information and we can make some recommendations. Also I would suggest you purchase the balancing book from the store on this site. It's 10 bucks and goes to charity. Great (and short) read with excellent information.
    http://store.heatinghelp.com/Balancing-Steam-Systems-p/300.htm
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Thank you. I will measure the mains as soon as I can.

    I wanted to add that the knobs on the valves for both of these radiators are broken. We open and close them using a wrench. My heating specialist said I shouldn't waste money on fixing them since the replacement part isn't made anymore and I can just open them with a wrench.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,840
    The valves should be left full open all the time anyway so it's not a big deal. Closing a rad valve on a steam system has the potential to cause all kinds of not so fun stuff to happen. One of those things is throwing the system out of balance after you spend a bunch of time balancing it. It can also cause the radiator to fill up with water. Leave them open.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,840
    And if it's just the knob that's broken those can be replaced...so not sure what your "specialist" is talking about?!

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Deluxe-Fit-All-Radiator-Valve-Wheel-Handle-A1115D/202246286
    http://www.lowes.com/pd_95332-76554-A1115D_0__?productId=3535310
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    question
  • Attached is a picture of the radiator valve. When I went to home depot, a rep said it could not be repaired with the knobs they had which confirmed what the heating specialist said.

    Sidenote: The picture was taken back in December. I've cleaned up the radiator (painted it, etc.) since then. That was when I thought it simply needed some TLC. Needless to say, I was wrong.