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Do I need to lock off the radiator in the thermostat room of a rental? How?

Jells
Jells Member Posts: 268
A tenant of this single pipe steam 4 unit rowhouse was complaining of an over hot bedroom. I changed the port in the vent to a much smaller one, but she said it was still hot unless it was really cold out. I recently had reason to visit the 2nd floor apartment with the thermostat, and they had turned off the rad in the living room with the thermostat. No wonder the heat was wacky. Seems to me I either need to tell them "tough, it stays on" or let them lower the thermostat till that room is comfortable (it was cycling between 70 & 74 last I studied it) and then try and balance the system. As is, at least half the rads in the units are off, probably because they found it too hot in those rooms that were straining to heat the thermostat room with no heat.

If every Maid of the Mist vent is identical but for the port, why can't I buy a bag of assorted ports instead of having to buy new valves?

Comments

  • New England SteamWorks
    New England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,407
    First things first: The room with the thermostat cannot have it's radiator shut off. Nothing will work in that situation. You can buy a Honeywell thermostat with a remote sensor and place just the sensor in the apartment and the thermostat in the boiler room if the tenant is an issue.

    Then you need to balance the system.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    This is one of those applications where ODR controlled time cycling of the boiler (Heat-Timer, Taco, EcoSteam) really makes sense IMO.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,182
    You can buy the MOM 5L that comes with 5 different orifices.

    http://www.amazon.com/Maid-Steam-Angle-Radiator-Valve/dp/B003DV3AGE/ref=pd_sim_60_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=41-kj6v7EHL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160,160_&refRID=1MPKNT0SV9WHN4QF02KR

    You can also buy the orifices but I lost the link to the supply house that offered them, I don't recall them being cheap.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,343

    First things first: The room with the thermostat cannot have it's radiator shut off. Nothing will work in that situation. You can buy a Honeywell thermostat with a remote sensor and place just the sensor in the apartment and the thermostat in the boiler room if the tenant is an issue.

    Then you need to balance the system.

    It's kind of dirty pool, but once you have done that you can leave the existing thermostat there -- and just don't connect it to anything in the basement...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.
    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 268
    Thanks all. These are good tenants, just clueless. I don't think I need to take measures yet, but I do have a thermostat lockbox I installed when I had the legacy lowlife tenants that came with the building. I was just wondering if there was a way to lock the valve so I would not have to think about this issue again. I guess I could drill a hole in the knob and put a chain and padlock to the union, but it seems extreme.

    This balancing this seems so difficult as the load characteristics is constantly changing. The ground floor gets a high radiant floor component from the basement hot from the boiler and pipes, the top floor rising heat from the the ones below it. But as it gets cooler these become less significant, but not linearly as far as I can tell. The tenant with the hot room is less hot as it gets cold, which makes it hard to get it right. But 1st step is keeping that rad on.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    edited January 2016
    TRVs are your friend.

    I have a single family house and I'm even running two of them to keep bedrooms cooler.

    Obviously no TRV in the room with the thermostat, but they can help many other problems if you have rooms that are sometimes too hot and othertimes fine, or too cool.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Bio
    Bio Member Posts: 278
    Why was the radiator shut down? Overheating as well?
    A couple TRVs could be your solution
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 268
    I assume they thought the room was warm, like I said last time I studied it, it was peaking at 74. This was in mid March. I was trying not to let the bottom be below 70. Does the swing seem too much and what can I do about it?



    Do the TRV's on the vent without a remote sensor work well? Seems like a great solution if they do, but gut says the sensor is too close to the rad.

  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    1. remove handle from radiator and/or cut the disc off the inside of the valve so that valve will not shut radiator
    2. install a Braeburn limit locked thermostat. Will not allow tenant to set above or below limits you set.
    thermostat guards are useless when tenants really want to mess with the thermostat. Seen everything from knives to coat hangers used to poke thru the slots on the guard to get at the thermostat.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,422
    If you balance the system, then the rooms will all get heat at the same time, and you will not have swings in temperature as you had. The system may use a lot less fuel, and the sooner you do this, the more you will save.
    This will require fast main venting, with slow radiator venting. Are your steam lines insulated? What is the pressure in your system? A properly maintained system could be comfortable with a lower constant temperature, such as 68 degrees.
    What sort of thermostat are you using? As Abracadabra says, the thermostat lockbox is useless, and you would be better off with a Honeywell Visionpro with a remote sensor mounted in the coldest room, and the main control locked away in the basement.--NBC
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,182
    People will go to great lengths. A friends dad had a frozen pipe to deal with in the second floor kitchen. After setting up a cube heater to warm the pipes he started looking for why it was so cold up there. The house was old and there was no radiator in that kitchen.

    The first floor tenants were away on a ski vacation so he let himself into their apartment where he found a lamp with a 25w bulb leaning against the thermostat, the heat from the bulb deformed the plastic on the thermostat. The pipes in that apartment were slushy but not frozen yet, the second floors boiler was giving off enough heat to warm things up somewhat.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    So,
    It sounds like an outdoor reset system such as a Tekmar + TRV's is the best solution for places like this?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,422
    Or an EcoSteam
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 268

    If you balance the system, then the rooms will all get heat at the same time, and you will not have swings in temperature as you had.

    Can you explain why this would be? The readings taken was in the thermostat room with the radiator on. Would a larger port on it's radiator shorten the cycle time and narrow the swings?

    Nasty stories of tenants messing with the thermostat, but it's not there yet. These are young professionals, not lowlifes. Last time I looked at the issue it seemed a Tekmar was overkill for such a small system.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,422
    edited January 2016
    If you have a good thermostat, (Honeywell Visionpro), whether with remote sensor, or not, it will anticipate when to cut the burner, so that there is no temperature over-shoot, which you seem to have, from your graphs.
    If you have the right amount of Main venting, the steam will fill all the horizontal supplies first, before the steam begins to rise up, arriving at all radiators at the same time, giving every room the same temperature.
    The desire for even, economical heating is not a new phenomenon, and if in the old days, someone installed a system which behaved as yours now does, he would be shown the door, and not paid!
    No thermostat changes will correct an imbalance in the system.--NBC
    Jells
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 268
    The thermostat is a Honeywell steam rated, but not a visionpro. The 1st thing I did after replacing the boiler was put a humongous vent on the main horizontal line. But it's another 22 ft or so from the basement ceiling to the 3rd fl rads. Occupied rentals is not like your house when it comes to balancing it, I just don't have the constant access.

    Today I turned on that living room rad and put my logging thermometer on top of the thermostat. I'll retrieve it tomorrow when I'm there fixing ceiling damaged by leaking rad valve that was turned off. Grrrrr. Have appt with plumber to replace all the valves in that unit, currently under reno. They have to be cut off, and I don't want to try it myself working without a net, as in: if I screw up and break a pipe 3 tenants won't have heat.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,422
    What valves are you replacing, or are those the vents? If the shut off valves, then that is a tough job, as the spud going into the rad must be changed as well. If not, it will probably leak, as they are a matched set.
    What vent is now on the main? We suggest one Gorton #2 for each 20 feet of 2 inch main, so humongous or not, you may need more vents.
    Put the faster vents on the top radiators, and slower on the intermediate ones.
    Get a 0-3 psi gauge, and put it on the boiler, and you can see by the back-pressure when you have the least resistance to the air escaping. That way you won't be paying extra for fuel. Keep the pressure down to a few ounces with a vaporstat if the pressuretrol won't work.
    The Honeywell Visionpro can be set with a maximum temperature, which cannot be set higher without the setup code. Or use the remote sensor, and put the thermostat somewhere secure in the basement. A constant lower setting works better and burns less fuel than your present 73 degrees.
    Maybe you need some storm windows.--NBC
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 3,991
    Seems like if you want to nail the problem you should install a remote sensor in some larger common area and have the thermostat in the basement or someplace out of sight. Then it doesn't matter if a bedroom gets closed off.

    Tenant and steam and bedroom doesn't add up, too many ways for human error and fuel waste.
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    www.wilsonph.com
    [email protected]
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    Jells said:


    .....
    Today I turned on that living room rad and put my logging thermometer on top of the thermostat. I'll retrieve it tomorrow when I'm there fixing ceiling damaged by leaking rad valve that was turned off. Grrrrr. .....

    When it comes to logging temps in order to help balance large buildings, I've come to rely on Wireless Tags
    Spin
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 268
    edited January 2016
    I appreciate all the advice, but I think much of it jumping the gun. Assuming the tenants will leave the thermostat and rad in their living room alone as I have asked, the situation should stabilize enough to balance individual rooms. I have no reason at all not to trust them, they just didn't know.

    But I think the question of swing will remain. Can anyone comment on the 90 minute cycle I have or what a realistic temp swing should be? I'll upload the current data later, with the exact model of the Honeywell, which was placed on the system by an experienced steam tech.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,422
    The temperature should be constant within a degree, if all is well maintained, and vented.
    Try to measure the time the steam takes to get to the most distant riser, from hot header to hot riser, and let us know, including the distance.--NBC
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 268
    Got another question, what size should the port be on that key rad? It's currently #6. That 2nd fl rad is more or less one full 10' story directly over the boiler in the bsmt.
  • What is the pipe length from the main to this radiator-as the crow flies will not work here, as the steam is flowing through the pipes, not straight up from the boiler.
    If you have adequate main venting, you can use slow vents on the rads, with possibly a higher capacity on the top floor. If the imbalance you suffer continues. Your fuel supplier will love you until you get this balanced!--NBC
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 268
    I'd say the pipe is 5 ft horizontal to get to the riser, so it's 16 total to the main, connecting like 3 ft from the boiler. I downloaded the thermometer and thought it was broken, it was reading a straight line. But it seems to be working, and the room holding a constant temp. Now I just need to keep asking the tenants for feedback to see if TRV's are needed. Any wisdom on make, Honeywell, Danfoss etc?
  • For such a small building, I would doubt that TRV's would be needed, if your system is in good shape. Spend the money on venting instead.
    Show the tenants how to turn the radiator vents over if they are too hot, while you are solving the problems.--NBC
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 268
    "turn the radiator vents over"?? Can you explain? I actually told one tenant to stick a toothpick in the vent if she wanted to cut the heat but not turn off the rad.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    edited February 2016
    Jells said:

    "turn the radiator vents over"?? Can you explain? I actually told one tenant to stick a toothpick in the vent if she wanted to cut the heat but not turn off the rad.

    When you flip a float type vent upside down, the vent closes and won't let the radiator vent. This must be done when the system is off.

    The only ones I am aware of that won't work like this are Heat Timer varivalves and Gorton 1965 vents but there may be others.


    You can also remove the vent and install an 1/8" NPT plug in the radiator while the system is off.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 268
    What is the advantage over turning off the rad gate valve?
  • The inlet valve will often not close completely, allowing some steam into the radiator, but trapping the condensate. This may cause lots of water hammer, starving the system of water. If you flip the vent, air cannot escape from the radiator, and so prevents the steam from entering.
    This would be a more reliable method of turning off the heat, while you are balancing the system, and making all rooms the same temperature, while cutting down your fuel use.--NBC
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 268
    Thanks, thats interesting. Still wish I could simply buy a bag of ports, or they made a cheap pin valve with marked settings. The whole MoM system seems so primitive.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    Jells said:

    Thanks, thats interesting. Still wish I could simply buy a bag of ports, or they made a cheap pin valve with marked settings. The whole MoM system seems so primitive.

    Contact MOM. They should be able to sell you just the orfices. My supplier sells only the orfices.
  • FXProglJr
    FXProglJr Member Posts: 83
    Maid-O-Mist offers a "kit" consisting of a vent and an assortment of port sizes. See: http://www.amazon.com/Maid-Steam-Angle-Radiator-Valve/dp/B003DV3AGE
  • This may be an exercise in the futility of balancing a system using mainly the radiator vents, instead of adequate main venting.
    Still the M-O-M vents are probably the best choice, because when the main venting is finally done, the orifices can be changed back to smaller sizes, to keep the "vent mains fast, and radiators slow" mantra.--NBC
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 268
    So you think I need at least 2 Gorton #2's for my 44' main line? I have 1. Problem is it's inside the wall of a tenant's apartment in a really hard to work on spot. But that riser get complaints of too much heat not too little!

    I'm going to see how it all plays out for now, it may work as long they they don't mess with it.
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