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thermoststats for 2 floors w/very different temperatures?

We rent an apt on the second floor of a brownstone-like building. The owner lives downstairs. Their apartment is always quite warm, probably because it is better insulated, etc. The building has single-pipe steam heat and the thermostat for the whole building is in the owner's apartment.

The second floor where we live is much colder. Downstairs might be 75 degrees and we might be 62-64. They've checked that there are smaller valves on the radiators downstairs, very large valves upstairs, etc. The problem seems to be a control problem. Because the owner's apt is well-insulated it never cools down, so the thermostat never tells the boiler to go on to warm up the 2nd floor.  The heating system works fine - when it goes on.

Are there any simple solutions to this? Is there a clever way to set the timer on their thermostat that could help? Or is there some sort of multi-zone thermostat that would measure the temperatures upstairs and downstairs? I guess we could get space heaters, but that seems like a shame when the heater does work.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated and would make everyone here happier!


  • chilly upper floor

    first of all, does the landlord seem interested in making any corrections to the system, and is he interested in it's cost of operation?

    because of the temperature difference, between upper and lower floors,i suspect that there is more wrong with the system,  than merely the location of the thermostat. i suggest that he get a copy of "the lost art of steam heating", available from the shop, so as to better understand how these systems work.

    my guess would be that the main venting  [not rad venting], is inoperative, and therefore the steam is taking a long time to arrive at the upper level radiators. by the time the steam has arrived, the thermostat has been satisfied, and shut the burner off.
    1. proper main line vents assist in getting the steam to each radiator on all floors, at the same time. the alternative is to pay a lot of extra money to the gas company to squeeeeeze the air out of the constipated little openings of the radiator vents.
    a better thermostat, such as a honeywell visionpro, could be used with a remote sensor in your apt, while still leaving the control functions for the landlord only. if he wants to keep the same thermostat, then make sure its anticipator is set for steam heat. while these things are checked out, the pressure should be verified, and set as low as possible [1.5 psi max, 6 ounces even better].

    all of these things will contribute not only to comfort, but also to reduced fuel use, as well as boiler longevity, so the sooner this deferred maintainace is corrected, the better! for advice on who to call, use the find a professional button above.--nbc
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