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I am entering my first winter in my new home purchased this summer. Has a one-pipe system (1910) which probably needs some tweaks, but I'm just sleuthing it now as the weather cools off. I'm hoping to tackle easy stuff first, and frankly do as little intervention as possible this winter. I have limited time, and can't screw things up majorly as I have a new baby who needs heat. I need to avoid paying a pro for stuff right now barring emergency (which I don't have as of now).
Have had boiler checked by reputable company and been advised that it's good to go safety-wise. They advise that despite it's age (sometime before 1959 per a resource i discovered here) it should go for a while. It has some modern parts (low water cutoff, pressuretrol, new sight glass assembly and main vents*). Runs on gas. Some assorted questions to start I hope folks can weigh in on:
1) Can I replace radiator vents myself? Are there a lot of ways to screw it up or do i just unscrew and put the new one in? Again: I can't afford to lose heat altogether - even for a day. I definitely want to avoid screwing something up majorly, then having to pay someone on short notice. I suspect short notice will cost a lot and get me shoddy work at this point in the season.
2) If mains are already tapped, can i put in new main vents? And is there any reason not to go as big as possible? Seems like folks here think bigger always better?
Radiators: There are two types of radiators, one the taller silver type with tie-rods on fl 2 (what I've always lived with in apartments in NYC, Boston and elsewhere), and a lower profile boxier type (fl 1). Plus what I'm told is a European hot water rad tweaked to steam). That's pretty new- less than 20 years, maybe 10.
Rads have 4-5 different vent-types - some vintage i think, some modern nice, some modern crap (one just says "Taiwan".) I suspect none of them are good on fl 2 - it's not getting warm up there as fast as fl 1. I think building envelope is part of the issue because actually fl 2 cools faster. Other issue is that the first floor seems to be getting upward heat from the basement/boiler room and a long run.
In any case, to balance the house I likely need more heat upstairs and a little less downstairs. Hoping I can do this with rad vents... or at least get close to start before i start messing around with lifting rads, insulating hidden pipes etc.
I saw another post suggest maid-o-the mist for folks playing with balance- does those make sense?
Mains: There are two modern main vents (ventrite 35s). Previous owner overfilled boiler (presumably thanks to inoperable sightglass, now fixed) , so they are covered with water stains from overflow (right?). Could they be gunked up and screwing things up? Can I take them off and try to clean/replace or does a pro need to do that?