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Intrigued by NYC Retrofit Accelerator Diagram - How much is applicable to single family home?

KarlW Member Posts: 108

Thanks to an advertisement from a particular bespoke radiator manufacturer, I stumbled upon this diagram from NYC's Retrofit Accelerator Program. I am curious how relevant this is to my single-family home vs. a NYC apartment.

This winter, after having water hammer problems due to a wet return being too high and two radiators not heating/slow to heat (still a problem that I just haven't devoted time to), my house was well-heated with only minor banging noise coming from the radiators and not the pipes - overall, the house was quite comfortable with only minor, manageable quirks like any other.

But I saw this picture linked in my email, I went down the rabbit hole in curiosity. Looking at the 5 things:
  1. Boiler Tune-Up: I get annual tune-ups, but to my understanding residential modulating steam boilers aren't really a thing - it would be quite nice if they were.
  2. Master Venting: Does installing a vent on the inlet (steam) pipe right before my third-floor radiator make sense? This is one of two radiators that really lag and doesn't seem to get as much heat as the others.
  3. Controls and Sensors: I've fully implemented this, with 11 of my 16 radiators having smart, connected valve controllers that open and close based on a set temperature. I also use the Netatmo boiler thermostat which controls the system and can even turn on my boiler to heat specific rooms,
  4. Orifice Plates: Does this make sense for me? As I haven't found any really good steam boiler mechanics in Western NY, I've become plenty handy and changing out valves and traps. Installing orifices themselves will be easy enough for me, but how do I go get orifice plates? It seems like an email to Tunstall with all of my radiator sizes is one way and I've scoured heating help and found a couple of sizing tables should I choose do it myself.
  5. TRVs: I have TRVs on 13 of 16 radiators, I don't have a TRV "master" radiator that is in the parlor with the thermostat. As this affects when the boiler turns on, I've throttled this screw valve down so my parlor heats at approximately the same rate as my bedroom (the room I want to maintain) and allows me to run my thermostat on "ECO" mode (radiator valves only turn on boiler with specific override) and along with hacking my Pressuretrol to a .1psi->1psi operating range reduces overall boiler cycles.
So my questions to the group from above are really this:
  • Does installing a vent on the inlet (steam) pipe right before my third-floor radiator make sense? As near as I can tell the only air vents are at the end of my two steam supply runs in my basement. I should be able to install a tee with a vent on the inlet pipe fairly easily - I'll wait until the heating season is over so that in the worst case, I can break my pipe trying and then hire a contractor on a non-emergency basis.
  • Does installing orifice plates make sense? I searched heating help and pursued 50 or so threads (including stumbling into one of mine) and it seems like it is always a good idea. Specifically, would it help with my sunroom, where the radiator heats up quickly, increases the temperature on the adjacent smart thermostat valve, and shuts off before the entire room gets hot?
  • How do I acquire orifice plates? It looks like I can make them myself (one case of beer) or have them made by Tunstall, any other options?
Mad Dog_2


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,832
    edited March 15
    The short answer is "it depends". Not all of these are applicable to every system. Master venting, boiler maintenance and possibly TRVs do apply to one-pipe systems as well.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Mad Dog_2
  • ARobertson13
    ARobertson13 Member Posts: 28
    The Accelerator Retrofit program which was around for I believe 8 years is geared to pre war multi family apartment buildings. They educate property owners, managers, Coop boards etc. in best practices in operation, maintenance and modification of steam systems. In one of their publications CLANGING PIPES AND OPEN WINDOWS they note in best practices:

    " Requiring Education and Training: Few New York City contractors, consultants, and engineers have the needed training to prescribe and implement the best practices described in this report. Similarly, building owners have little access to educational materials about maintaining, upgrading, and replacing their steam heating systems. Training can empower owners and operators to make simple changes themselves, as well as hire and manage qualified contractors, to provide the technical, design, and installation services essential for a comprehensive upgrade." I believe it was written by Steven Winters associates and they consulted with leaders in the steam heating industry which included Holohan
    KarlWMad Dog_2
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,525
    Retired and loving it.
    Mad Dog_2
  • Nick_Castrads
    Nick_Castrads Member Posts: 51
    Hope the email was interesting! Annie spent a lot of time working on that one.

    On the pre-radiator master vent, that was first shown to me by Gennady Tsakh and we've recommended it to quite a few of our clients since then who have all said that it immediately and completely solved the issue of slow heat distribution to end-of-riser radiators. It also seems to allow better control of the steam within the radiator using TRVs. I appreciate yours is a two-pipe system and I'm talking about 1PS but...

    The radiator in the photo below never got hot as it was on the end of the riser on the uppermost floor.

    This radiator before the works:

    And after the works, with near instantaneous heat-up and accurate TRV control:

  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
    positioning the vent correctly, not being at the top of the rad, made your heat output increase,
    the trvs should keep the windows closed,
    known to beat dead horses