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Radiator In Apartment Doesn't Work + Inefficient fuel usage- Pics Included

gorodn Member Posts: 14
-1100 sqft, bottom floor, 1940's duplex using oil through a small furnace.
-6 radiators (2 in living room, 1 in dining room, 1 in each bedroom, 1 in kitchen under sink)
-Not sure the type of system but here's an image of the furnace:
-I know from previous tenant that heating had issues last winter and was broken for 2+ weeks before landlords fixed, hence my concerns.

First Question:

Radiator in the kitchen under the sink does not get hot. It's hard to access but I can see a small round knob near the pipe that goes into the floor. I left the heat on for an hour and noticed by then it finally gets a little warm to the touch, but is ice cold if the heat only comes on for 20-30 minutes. Any tips to get it fixed? Landlords are standoffish when it comes to repairs and I would like to have some knowledge before I email them about the issue.

Images of Radiator and knob: https://imgur.com/a/SWgBab4

Second Question:

There is also a large radiator in the shared hallway of the duplex right next to the front door. We are downstairs. This radiator does not get warm/hot at all and may just have the knob turned off. Would it make sense to repair/turn on the shared hallway radiator to make the overall system more efficient? I know upstairs has radiators as well but supposedly they're turned off and they instead have central air heating (we use window units for a/c in summer, they have central air).

Final Question:

Fuel usage seems to be very inefficient. Brand new 250 gallon Oil tank outside was filled a few weeks ago. Fuel gauge went from full to halfway between 3/4 fuel markers in 7 days of using heat. We kept indoor temp between 68-71 degrees F while outside temp was 45-60 degrees F. That's close to 1/8th the fuel depleted.

Is this normal fuel usage? At close to $1000 for a full fuel tank, the cost seems unreasonably expensive at around $100/week to heat a small apartment.

Thank you all so much for helping me answer these questions. This is my first time living somewhere where it isn't summer yearlong so my knowledge on this subject is very limited.


    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,834
    With a 275 gallon oil tank, with the vent alarm, full is around 260 gallons.
    That equates to over 4 gallons a day if the gauge is correct.
    Not knowing the heat loss of the space, it's hard to say how much oil will be used per day.
    That being said, over 4 gallons a day, with 1100 sq ft at average outdoor temperatures of 52°, thats a lot of oil and is swaying me to look into buying futures.

    The little knob on the upper left of the radiator is a manual air bleeder.
    A small screwdriver will (hopefully) loosen to bleed any air in the rad. When you get steady water, close it.
    If you cant bleed the air for some reason, the landlord needs to have someone replace it

    The picture of the boiler didn't come through.
  • gorodn
    gorodn Member Posts: 14
    edited October 2018
    Thank you for the fast reply. It seems the pressure gauge is broken. Here are 3 pics of the boiler: https://imgur.com/a/v3OsjKr

    Pic of oil tank fuel gauge: https://imgur.com/a/ZiTetDO

    I inspected the kitchen rad and saw that the knob was turned off. I just turned the heat on and it works now. Overall, it is not as hot as the other rads. Due to the weird placement of the rad under the sink, I cannot reach the air bleeder with a screwdriver and I don't have a key for it.

    It is odd that the kitchen rad was getting warm after 30+ minutes while the knob was completely off. I wonder why it was turned off in the first place.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,506
    edited October 2018
    The system isn't operating correctly.

    Are you sure the gauge was right at the top after they filled it? The driver stopped fueling when the whistle stopped, so that may be where 'full' resides, especially if he blasted it in at high speed.

    Looks like you also use the boiler for domestic hot water.
    It just needs a good tech to go over it.
    Possible issues-
    1. Not enough water in the system.
    2. Bad/failing circulator, or wrong circulator.
    3. Problem with controls not circulating water.
    4. Controls maintaining too high a temperature.
    5. Radiator knob broke/stuck close or partially closed.
    6. Just not piped correctly using best practices.
    7. Leaking hot water faucet somewhere in the house causing the boiler to run more than usual.
    8. Oil line leaking. Is oil line buried anywhere and no Oil Safety Valve installed?

    The landlord's responsibility is to make sure the boiler and the heating system are operating properly, even if the lease has you responsible for certain repairs.

    Hand him my checklist, plus whatever anyone else comes up with and have it verified.

    Edit, looks like your boiler gauge is broken, not reading pressure. I always use my own gauge to verify pressure, especially if you are going to bleed the radiators. There may not be enough water in the system, or the water feed doesn't work to add make up water, and you are going to make your problem worse, and possibly damage the boiler. You could also flood the expansion tank (if steel)

    The landlord, if they are at all not a slumload (yeah I spelled it the way I wanted to) should want to make sure this is operating correctly, because replacement is expensive-unless they try to blame you for it.
    Good luck with that. This is why I don't work for landlords (I still do service one-good guy, likes everything running correctly, wants things fixed).

  • gorodn
    gorodn Member Posts: 14
    -I noted that the fuel gauge was slightly above the FULL line after the oil was delivered a few weeks ago before the heat was used at all. Could the gauge just be a little inaccurate like when you fill up a car gas tank? The heat has only run for about 30 min at a time a few times a day for the last week and a half now.

    -We have a hot water heater for our hot water. There is an electric water heater just next to the boiler that supplies hot water to both upstairs and downstairs units of the duplex. I tested this myself by turning off the electric hot water valve which shut off the hot water to my sinks. Water heater: https://imgur.com/a/mK5JeJ6

    -I want to reiterate that I did get the kitchen rad to work. Every radiator in the home now gets hot. It takes a good 20-30 minutes for every rad to get really hot. For instance, today the thermostat went from ~67 to 72 within an hour. *Note I set it for 69 and it'll shut off at 69 but still go up to 72 before rads cool off.

    -The oil line runs down into the bottom of the exterior home wall and comes back up through the bottom of the wall of the shed/boiler room. The tank is directly behind the shed. Pic of the wire coming in: https://imgur.com/a/hgcbFPF

    -The landlords (husband/wife) are slumlords and there are currently 20 other issues that they are putting off fixing even after the city inspector sent them violation letters demanding they be fixed. This is just one more issue presenting itself. I'm also concerned because the previous tenant told us last year that the heat broke and they took 2+ weeks to fix it.