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Steam Radiator Air Valves

I manage four family semi attached property. 2 apartments on the first floor/2 on the second. There's always complaints from the 2nd floor front tenant about not getting enough heat...this apartment is, of course, the furthest from the boiler.

There are so many air vent valves out there. What is the best valve to optimize heat in this apartment?

Does anyone have any reviews on the Varivalve?



  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,841
    Have you checked the air vents at the ends of the steam mains?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,303
    For air vents on the radiators, the objective is to get them even, and to do that you may -- probably will -- have to do some experimenting with various size vents. It is better to slow down the spaces which get warm too fast that to try to speed up the cool spaces. There are, it is true, a number of different makes and sizes out there. Get good ones, though -- the big box ones are cheap, and don't work well.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 1,007
    Every heating season there are numerous discussions on radiator vents. See the attached chart that might help.
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 1,007
    The fact that a Varivalve when "shut" is actually equal to a #5 is important.
  • jhewings
    jhewings Member Posts: 139
    edited October 2022
    As Jamie says for radiators you might have to do some experimenting and get good vents. I suggest Ventrite #1 which meets both criteria. Two Gorton #2 on the mains works well for me but one might fine.
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 469
    Maid O Mist 0220-5L. Comes with a bunch of different vent orifices to make experimentation easier. Once everything is balanced, junk them and replace with something nicer like a Gorton. The main vent is more important than the rad vents though. B&J big mouth is good.



  • dabrakeman
    dabrakeman Member Posts: 552
    Would just stick with the Ventrite 1's for adjustability and quality unless you need something higher vent rate. Then having some MoM's with the different vent orifices on hand raises the upper adjustability range. I also use Hoffman 1a's but some people don't like them because if steam reaches them they do click on and off audibly. The adjustability is a little sloppy as well. I have many though that have been on rads for what I would estimate to be well beyond the 20 years I have been in this house. Everyone's situation is different, but I prefer adjustables over fixed even after the system is balanced. The needs within a big old empty nest house vary with usage and occupation and over the years I have learned how to tweak accordingly.
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 1,007
    In my opinion, rad vents are just as important as the main vents. Rads and mains work together to make all things good. That being said, if you don't get the main vents doing a proper job, it will be more difficult to get the rad vents balanced.

    Sidebar, in my rental with front and rear mains, I discovered that because of the piping arrangement, the rear main was venting through both the rear main and the front main, slowing down the front main venting. The returns for the mains were connected above the water line. I repiped to connect below the water line. See one of my other discussions on this "discovery".

    The trick to the rad vents is to understand the different environments in each room and to adjust the capacity accordingly.

    Things like heated and unheated adjacent spaces both horizontally and vertically, prevailing wind direction, risers contributing to heating a lower floor room on the way to a higher floor room, boiler chimney location, orientation to the path of the sun, window sizes, and probably a few others.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,478
    edited October 2022
    I agree the Maid O Mist 5L is a God send for balancing a system. I tried the Hoffman 1A's and found them noisier than I like and subject to being blocked by a drop of water. The Ventrite 1A is the best but pretty damn expensive. The white knob you adjust them with cracks and falls off after a few years, leaving you to guess at the current setting - for the price they should have done better.
    I've used Maid O Mist vents for 5 years now and not had a problem with any of them.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge