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Can't Seem to Turn Steam Radiator Off

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cgold
cgold Member Posts: 2
edited November 2021 in Strictly Steam
Hello, my family recently moved into a co-op building from the late 1950's and are having trouble turning the heaters off. I have turned all the valves as far unto the off position as possible but we still have to run the open the windows (and sometimes even run the AC too) even when its in the 40's outside.

With the valves in the on position the radiators get extremely hot and constantly vent steam, with the valves in the off position the radiators only heat up about halfway, and they don't vent steam. I have read you can close off the steam vent but I have no idea what type of steam vent we have, or how to do it. The design of these radiators is one I've never seen before in a building in NYC.

Some other info, we are on the top floor, being a co-op things like the boiler room are the buildings responsibility but the valves on our radiators are our responsibility. Building has a super, I haven't brought anything up with him yet.






Pictures below, thanks!

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    The vent is the round can like contraption labelled "3". That particular type of vent can't be "turned off" -- but what you can do is wrap electrical tape around the top projection so as to close off the hole. You can also reduce the heat a lot by blocking air circulation from the cabinet. It won't overheat inside -- more than boiling water, anyway. I wouldn't use plastic sheet -- a lot of plastics can't handle the temperature -- but even a sheet of cardboard would do nicely.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    cgold
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 918
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    It sounds like the shutoff valves need repairing. If the building management isn’t interested in doing so, you can cover some or all of the finned heating element with aluminum foil to reduce air flow through it, which will reduce the heat output.

    The air vents should vent air and close when steam reaches them; they should not “vent steam”. If they do, they need to be replaced and the maximum steam pressure may need to be adjusted lower at the boiler. This is a hazardous situation.

    Those fin tube convectors are common in NYC apartment buildings built between the 1940s and1960s.

    Bburd
    cgold
  • cgold
    cgold Member Posts: 2
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    Thanks, I believe repairing the shutoff valve would be my responsibility, as a co-op shareholder (basically a condo), while the boiler room pressure is the building management's responsibility.

    Can fin tube radiators be outfitted with thermostatic valves?

    I'm a bit worried about the steam venting thing, the valves definitely emit air that smells like a steamroom and is very humid, I don't think its pure steam but not sure if that counts as venting steam or not, I will talk to the buildings super about it.

    Appreciate the responses.

  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 918
    edited November 2021
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    Since that is a one pipe steam system, thermostatic valves could be fitted to the air vents. These will prevent the convectors from heating when a heating cycle starts and the room is already warm enough; but they cannot prevent additional steam from coming in if a room overheats during a long cycle, and they cannot call for heat if the room is cold.

    You would need the type with a remote mounted knob and thermostatic sensor, attached by a capillary tube and mounted on the wall. With enclosed convectors you cannot use a fully self-contained TRV. I would also not recommend mounting the sensing bulb near the floor; you will not get good temperature regulation.

    Bburd
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
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    The best way for you the control the temperature in the is to cover the convectors with some Aluminum foil. Open the steam valves all the way. Cut the foil to cover the convectors half way. See how that works on the cold days. I the room has the temperature you like go to a good hardware store and have them cut from a piece sheet aluminum to the length and width of the foil that worked best for you.

    To repair or replace those radiator valves will be costly. Recheck what is covered under the repairs. The heating system nay be under the responsibility of the coop.

    Jake
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Member Posts: 17
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    Dopey27177 is right: check your coop bylaws. The coop is almost certainly responsible for maintaining the heating system.

    In New York State coops and condos are very different. In a condo you own your apartment and are responsible for almost everything that goes wrong. In a coop you do NOT own your apartment, but rather a share in a corporation that gives you the right to occupy the apartment.

    Condos of the vintage of your building are virtually non-existent in New York State. Before the owner of a rental building converts it to a coop, the biggest mortgage possible is taken out. This underlying mortgage becomes the responsibility of the coop; individual shareholders are additionally responsible for whatever loans they take out to buy their shares. This is why coop fees in NYC are often the size of mortgage payments. Converting to a condo structure means more transparency to the potential buyer, and less opportunity for the building owner to make a killing.

    And yes, on topic, a thermostatic valve is a possibility. It would have to be of the type that can be located outside the radiator enclosure.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    edited November 2021
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    If the air vent never closes, and lets out steam, then the system pressure is too high. It should be below 24 ounces per square inch.
    Probably the pressure has been raised deliberately to compensate for a lack of main venting, or the pigtail is plugged, preventing the pressuretrol from seeing the pressure.—NBC