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Need Help Understanding a Radiator System in a 120-Year-Old Apartment

Yamez Member Posts: 1
edited April 3 in THE MAIN WALL
I've recently moved into an apartment with a radiator heating system, which is entirely new to me. The building is about 120 years old, and the radiator setup here is quite different from what I've seen in my research online.

Firstly, the radiator has two pipes, which I understand is somewhat typical. However, the two pipes are side by side and it also features an air vent, which seems unusual for a two-pipe system based on what I've read. Even more puzzling, when I open the air vent, water comes out instead of air.

My landlord briefly explained that the boiler downstairs controls the heat; if it detects the need for more heat, it sends hot water through the pipes, otherwise, it doesn’t. However, I'm not sure how to effectively regulate the temperature in my apartment. Currently, our approach to managing the heat is simply opening windows, which doesn’t seem ideal.

I'm attaching photos of the radiator showing the two pipes and the closed air vent for reference. Could someone help me understand:

1. Is it normal for a two-pipe system to have an air vent, and why does water come out when I open it?

2. Are there more effective ways to regulate the heat in my apartment other than opening windows?

Any insights or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time and help!


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,821
    That's a hot-water system, not steam. The piping hookup is somewhat unusual, but it works like any other hot-water system.
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    Towson, MD, USA
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  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    Water comes out of the air vent because it's a hot water system. The entire thing is filled with water. The vent is only there if air gets into the system and needs bled out. It should remain shut at all times.

    If the inlet valve on the radiator still works, you should be able to close it some to lessen the amount of heat you get in a room, or even shut it off entirely.

    I would exercise caution though, old valves that haven't been used much don't always work well, could be stuck, or worse something could break if you try and turn them. If it doesn't turn relatively easily it's stuck and can't be used.
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  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 912
    If the inlet valve is not in usable condition, which is likely, you can throw a blanket or beach towel over the radiator to reduce the heat. You may need two to cover the whole thing.

    Mad Dog_2