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Air vents stop working quickly

Fedup Member Posts: 2
HELP! I am a renter in a 6 story apart building in NYC with a one pipe system. The air vents that are continuously replaced seem to be "blowing out." The supply valve has been changed and the supers continue to tell me I can adjust heat this way (it gets too hot). I know this is not true.
I have had one air vent crack along the side and blow air/steam from that area, others just blow steam and sometimes spit water. After being removed I can see that the tongue (not sure what it's called where it is threaded) is completely torqued on 2 of the non working valves I have saved.
I know that the super/management runs the boiler at a very high PSI I think it might be between 8-12 - I'm not certain but will ask.
My questions:
1 Can the boiler pressure being so high, cause the air vents to "blow out" and become inoperable in a short period of time? What else might cause this phenomenon?
2 Is there a specific air vent I can use to avoid this problem and have them work properly - one that can handle the boiler pressure and still close once the steam fills the radiator?
3 Is it really necessary to have the boiler pressure so high in a 6 story w/ 34 units. It seems that it takes a long time for the heat to come up full blast. This is also the case with hot water. I live on the 3rd floor.

Please help, I just want to be able to get heat i.e. leave the control valve open but have the air vent do it's job so that it doesn't become sweltering and steamy in my apartment


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,271
    Sadly it is not uncommon for supers who aren't knowledgeable to run the pressure much too high.

    In answer to your question 1. yes indeed high pressure can and will destroy vents. Most are rated to operate to 2 or 3 psig, and withstand no more than 10 psig.

    The only vents I know of which will take that sort of pressure for any length of time are the Bell & Gossett Models 75 or 3 or 74 (there may be others). The Model 3 would probably do sort of well, as it does have a 1/8 inch thread (the others would need adaptors). I can't give you a supplier off hand.

    And 3 -- no, it isn't necessary to have the pressure high in a six story building. The Empire State building, for example, runs very happily on 2 psi, and it's bit over six stories...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,622
    There is this:

    Way more venting than a radiator needs but you don't have a lot of options at that pressure because the only systems that would run that pressure would be commercial or industrial systems with huge loads or high temps and those usually would be 2 pipe. A steam trap and some creativity might be another option.

    Make sure you do the reducing in the vertical or it will trap water. Maybe an 1/8" nipple, 1/8" x 1/2" reducing ell and a 1/2" nipple.

    The management is wasting a ton of money running at that pressure. You get more pressure by heating the steam hotter. When you do that, you transfer less of the heat from the fuel to the steam. This higher pressure has undoubtedly trashed every other vent in the system too. The only things that heat are where the steam pressure is so high that is has compressed some of the air to allow some steam in some of the radiators. They should reduce the pressure to around 1psig and replace every vent in the system and use what they aren't spending on extra fuel to pay for it.
  • Fedup
    Fedup Member Posts: 2
    Thank you both for verifying what I have been saying! I have actually even approached the owner on this and have been brushed off by him, supers and building managers. I'm not giving up!!!
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,700
    invite the supers and building managers to read this thread,
    , , , then await your eviction,
    # horse to water no drinky
    known to beat dead horses