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Desperately Need Help: One Pipe Steam System Issues

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csmacleod
csmacleod Member Posts: 7
edited March 2021 in Strictly Steam
I’m desperate to turn the heat off in my apartment. We’re overheating like crazy and I really need help. If anyone has any advice they can offer, I’d be extremely grateful.

I live in a rental apartment with 5 steam radiators. I've closed all the supply valves and the air vents are also closed, but all five radiators are stil producing heat. The valves and vents have been closed for weeks, and the radiators were mostly inactive during that time, but suddenly they have become very hot and much more active.

Am I doing something wrong with the valve and vent settings? Why is there still heat?

I attached some photos in the comment below.

Thanks for any help you can offer.

Comments

  • csmacleod
    csmacleod Member Posts: 7
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  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,231
    edited March 2021
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    The shutoff valves are not holding back the steam, evidently. What you can do is go to a hardware store and buy one ⅛" black steel or brass pipe plug for each radiator. Unscrew those chrome air vents and put the plugs in their place. You can put a little pipe dope or Teflon tape on the the threads but don't make them crazy tight. Just snug them in with a small wrench or pliers, etc. Stop the air from venting out and you'll prevent steam from coming in. And tell your building to hire me for a consultation because they're making steam when they don't need to.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
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    ethicalpaulHap_Hazzardluketheplumber
  • csmacleod
    csmacleod Member Posts: 7
    edited March 2021
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    Thanks for replying. So the air vents are also known as shutoff valves? Just making sure I understand what part of the radiator you’re talking about. I kind of thought the supply valves were more of a shutoff. It sounds like the repair you’re talking about has to do with the air vents though. Just making sure. 

    Thank you so much for the advice. I live in Maine so it might be hard for you to consult (plus my landlord likes to do everything himself - and I’m trying to help him make a better repair decision). 


    JohnNY
  • csmacleod
    csmacleod Member Posts: 7
    edited March 2021
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    Also - would opening the air valve all the way do anything helpful? I have a feeling my landlord is going to take one look at the situation and decide that’s the problem (that the valves need to be opened). Based on everything I’ve ever understood, I don’t think they should be open for the heat to be off. Is that true? 
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,231
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    Those shut off valves at the floor are rarely ever completely able to stop 100% of the steam (a gas) from passing through them. You've got to stop the air from venting out of the radiators to stop the steam. Forget those shutoff valves exist. Open them and leave them alone. Trust me.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
    Classes
  • csmacleod
    csmacleod Member Posts: 7
    edited March 2021
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    So was the first repair (in your first comment) for the chrome air vents (the ones on the side)? The repair with the steel or brass plug. 

    But you’re also saying fully open the shutoff valves down on the floor? Anytime I’ve had them open before the heat has been way more intense. 
  • jhewings
    jhewings Member Posts: 139
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    You can also try to turn the air vents 180 degrees so they are upside down. Turn them counterclockwise a half turn. You might be able to do it with your hand. Yes the air vents are the silver ones on the side of the radiator.
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,231
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    jhewings said:

    You can also try to turn the air vents 180 degrees so they are upside down. Turn them counterclockwise a half turn. You might be able to do it with your hand. Yes the air vents are the silver ones on the side of the radiator.

    Yes. You can do this too but I'm usually hesitant to recommend this because you may loosen the vents and create another problem.
    csmacleod said:

    So was the first repair (in your first comment) for the chrome air vents (the ones on the side)? The repair with the steel or brass plug. 


    But you’re also saying fully open the shutoff valves down on the floor? Anytime I’ve had them open before the heat has been way more intense. 
    1. Yes.
    2. Yes, and I know. But with the vents removed and plugged, opening the valves will be a very different result.

    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
    Classes
    ethicalpaul
  • csmacleod
    csmacleod Member Posts: 7
    edited March 2021
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    Ok - so open the supply valves & leave the air vents closed? Or do the air vents have to be plugged in order for this to work? 
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,323
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    Shut off the air vents first, and leave the supply valves open. If that doesn't do it, plug the vents -- which your super won't like, but that's his problem. But leave the supply valves open.

    Then open the windows...

    You're building has real problems with the heating system, but those are beyond your control.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 722
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    csmacleod said:

    Ok - so open the supply valves & leave the air vents closed? Or do the air vents have to be plugged in order for this to work? 

    Yes. Unscrew the air vents and put a plug in the hole, just like @JohnNY suggested in his first post. If the vent isn't letting air out, the steam isn't getting in
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
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    @JohnNY described what to do perfectly in his first reply. Just do it 😅
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    JohnNY
  • csmacleod
    csmacleod Member Posts: 7
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    Thanks you guys 
  • chuckadoo
    chuckadoo Member Posts: 30
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    Aren’t those vents “Ventrite”?  Number 1 setting should be a closed position? Try Teflon on the air vent to radiator threads, and make sure it is snug. Wear a glove if boiler is on while working, also move the chair a few feet away😂. Squirt the supply valve with a dish soap and water solution, if stem packing leaks, air can escape.