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Question re: Outdoor Sensor

We have a new gas boiler serving 12 units in an 1860 building that has 3 floors (steam heat) and basement (hot water return heat in pipes). The 3rd floor and one unit on first floor do not get heat unless the thermostat is set very, very high which overheats the rest of the units. We've had valves checked, vents checked, adjusted, and tested all radiators for proper pitching etc. Instead of having the one thermostat that serves the whole building (we all share heat on one system - one thermostat) it was recommended that we install an outdoor sensor (see this link: http://www.heattimertechnology.com/En/ProductDetail.aspx?ID=5) to properly regulate the heat so it reaches all units. What do you think of this type of system to get the boiler to run efficiently and provide heat to all units?


  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,750
    It won't fix your problem. You have a balance issue and all the fancy boiler controls in the world won't fix that.

    Is this 1 pipe or 2 pipe steam system? With that information we will be able to make recommendations for you.

    Look at it this way, thermostats, heattimer, tekmar, all they do is turn the boiler on and off. So all that fancier control will do is turn it on and off differently, the steam will still do exactly what it's doing now.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    STEVEusaPAsteam2pipedelta T
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    Quite right-the Heatimer will NOT solve this imbalance.
    What sort of main venting is installed?
    Where is the thermostat located?
    Can you put some inexpensive digital thermometers in the units which are overheating, so you have solid Temperature information, and not just “too hot”, or “too cold”.
    I have 3 floors, 55 radiators, 6 dry returns with 4 Gorton #2’s on each, and all temperatures are fairly even. The thermostat sensor is located in the most exposed north bedroom, with the base unit in a secure place.—NBC
  • SeanBeans
    SeanBeans Member Posts: 520
    How many radiators are on the 3rd floor? Maybe put a big vent right before the inlet of the radiator so the steam reaches there much quicker sand then the radiators vent will fill it at whatever speed you desire..
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    Do the main vents first, then you can adjust the rad vents later.
    Generous main vents coupled with slower tad vents will make things more even.
    As steam rises, pushing the air out, the pressure should be in the 2 ounce range.
    Don’t use temperature setbacks Less than 18 hours, as you still have to burn fuel to recover the temperature. instead, when the system is evenly balanced, you can set a lower constant temperature.—NBC
  • steam2pipe
    steam2pipe Member Posts: 59
    Thanks, everyone, for your comments. This is a 1 pipe system. What recommendation would you make?

    Regarding the main venting - I'm not sure but currently the thermostat is located next to an window (slightly cracked open - not by me mind you) with a radiator below that heats up rapidly so no matter what the thermostat is set at, the boiler shuts off and the thermotat has to be set higher and ad infinitum this has been the biggest complaint of mine since we moved into this condo. In any case, this outdoor sensor is up for the condo to vote on and I need to be a clear voice as to whether it makes any sense.

    I agree that we should find a way to get actual temperature readings and not just 'too hot' or 'too cold'.

    The pressure is 2 oz range now.

    Do you know any good steam heat professionals in the Boston area? I'd them this person to look at the main vent and make recommendations before we make another bad decision.

  • steam2pipe
    steam2pipe Member Posts: 59
    PS I found this article in Heating Help https://heatinghelp.com/systems-help-center/balancing-one-pipe-steam-systems/ . I just need a qualified steam heat plumber to advise us. Any recommendations?
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    NewEnglandsteamworks.com , Ryan is the best in the area. Has done work for me and I have recommended him to many others who were also pleased with his work. I live in Brookline, there are very few people who actually understand steam in our area which is surprising considering how many steam systems there are.

    One other consideration besides main venting is radiator venting. Once I addressed my main venting, thanks to @New England SteamWorks I had to slow down my radiator venting to even out the heat in the units. Notice I said slow down. I found the lower floor radiators were venting too fast preventing steam from getting to the third floor. The answer isn't always faster radiator venting.

    I also found the Honeywell VisionPro 8500 Theromstat with 4 wireless remote sensors to be very helpful in averaging the building temperature, just have to make sure the sensors are away from exterior walls, drafts and not above or near heating sources, ie radiators, Kitchens and fireplaces. With the remote sensors you can quantify the actual temperature in each unit, it takes a little effort but the information is quantifiable. One person's to cold can be another persons to hot. I have one owner who thinks 80 is cool and another who thinks 62 is perfect. My thermostat is set to 68 and all 6 units are within 1 degree.
    steam2pipedelta TethicalpaulNew England SteamWorks
  • steam2pipe
    steam2pipe Member Posts: 59
    Thank you SO much!
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 17,008

    NewEnglandsteamworks.com ,


    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    delta Tsteam2pipe
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
    3rd for NESW. I don't know him personally, but seeing his jobs posted here, there is not a doubt in my mind he knows exactly what to do fix your system up.

    As others have said, it is most likely a venting and balancing issue. Just because your main vents work, does not mean they are the right size or installed in the correct locations. Any kind of outdoor reset or heat timer will not help you at all.