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One pipe steam. Upstairs hot, downstairs cold. Three downstairs radiators only heating partially.

Our upstairs is really hot and our downstairs is much colder. Our kitchen radiator heats all the way, and clicks on and off often, but the three other downstairs radiators are eerily silent and only heat the first three or four loops. Upstairs radiators heat all the way through too. Does this mean the three downstairs radiators probably need new air vents?

Comments

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,605
    edited December 2020
    Possibly, but there are several possibilities. Some vents are silent.

    Where is your thermostat?

    Do you have this book yet? https://heatinghelp.com/store/detail/we-got-steam-heat-a-homeowners-guide-to-peaceful-coexistence
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Aislinn
  • Aislinn
    Aislinn Member Posts: 10
    It's in the dining room, first floor.
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,605
    So by the time the dining room gets warm enough to satisfy the thermostat, you are saying the upstairs is too hot?

    I assume your radiators have one pipe going to each one?

    Do you know if your main venting is operational? The main vent(s) are the one(s) that are in the basement, often located after the last radiator pipe on the main steam pipe.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Aislinn
    Aislinn Member Posts: 10
    Yes, and we have the thermostat set at 64. The upstairs is consistently 10 degrees warmer than the downstairs. And yes, one pipe going to each radiator. We just had venting installed by New England Steamworks in September, so should be operational!
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,605
    edited December 2020
    Oh! Did you let them know that you're having this issue? They would be very familiar with your system and would know immediately what to do.

    But generally, you would "slow down" the radiators that are making rooms too hot by installing "smaller" vents with less capacity to vent air.

    This would force the steam to go to the colder rooms more. But you want to make changes in a very minor way, like try one room and see how it goes for a few days. Don't change several at once.

    But call @New England SteamWorks
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Aislinn
  • Aislinn
    Aislinn Member Posts: 10
    Thanks, I will call them, but they're usually a little difficult to schedule because they're so busy, so I was hoping to try to troubleshoot! Thank you.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,605
    It will benefit you to learn how your system works through this process, and people here would be happy to help.

    Do you know the size/model of the vents on the radiators in the hot rooms?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Aislinn
  • Aislinn
    Aislinn Member Posts: 10
    edited December 2020
    for the hot rooms upstairs: Three vents say No.1 Vent Rite, one I can't tell but has a "fast - slow" valve on top and is pretty beat up looking, and the last says matco-norca. All the downstairs are Dole 1A.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,605
    edited December 2020
    The Vent Rite #1 are adjustable. You could try adjusting them to smaller numbers. That should keep the steam from rushing up there as much, sending more steam to the colder areas.

    Dole 1A are adjustable also. But I would start with trying to slow down the hot rooms first.

    Often we must vent upstairs vents to be faster because they are farther away from the source of steam, but it can go too far.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Aislinn
  • Aislinn
    Aislinn Member Posts: 10
    Ok great I’ll try that.  Thank you! 
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,605
    Let us know what happens! Remember, just change one or two of them a little and then see what happens (although I would probably change all of the hot ones slightly because I am reckless)
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Aislinn
  • What sort of thermostat do you have there, and is it set for steam?—NBC
    Aislinn
  • Aislinn
    Aislinn Member Posts: 10
    we have a nest set for steam, which is completely pointless since we keep it at the same temperature all the time. We do like that when we're gone for a few days that we can access it from an app and turn the heat on before we get home. Not that we're going anywhere lately.
  • What sort of main vents are installed?
    They do most of the air removal in the system.—NBC
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,605
    It's a great question, but since @New England SteamWorks was just there I figured the main venting was good :)
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • mikespipe
    mikespipe Member Posts: 36
    are the vents on the downstairs radiators painted over. a vent must be able to let air out to work . you can try removing a vent on one and seeing if it heats up fully and fast when the heat comes up if so replace the downstairs vents
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    edited December 2020
    I read this site and another heating site rather extensively.
    In over 90% of the thermostat problems the Nest is involved.
    I am not implying that 90% of the Nests have problems, but rather tstat issues people have are from Nests.

    It may think for itself and it apparently has a built in survival mode that will shut down your system to recharge it's "battery".
    Especially if there is not a "common" power wire to the tstat, (3rd wire.
    It could shut down the boiler in the middle of a cycle without you being aware of it, then come back on having to revent air out again.

    IIWM, I would try a simple replacement for a few days or longer with the temp set at one point and see if things change.
    A simple tstat with battery backup would do.
  • Aislinn
    Aislinn Member Posts: 10
    So we had a very cold day last week and I cranked the heat up to 68 and almost all the downstairs radiators got hot all the way. Except for our largest one. Also adjusted the upstairs vents to smaller numbers and the temperatures are much more balanced. Thank you everyone!