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Separating steam piping

Annette Member Posts: 1
I am trying this again. I need some help (novice) at the multifamily homes I see alot in my area in which the owners want to separate the steam boilers and piping so each tenant would pay their own utility. I see a lot of covered ceilings and barely any of the supply or return piping that I would need to trace. I also have to do this without help. Any helpful hints at figuring which floor the piping may be going to? For example, I had a two family house, up and downstairs, and 4 supplies and 4 returns this morning with all the radiators in both apartments in the same location in the apartments. Can I make any assumptions here or use helpful hints to assist my customers in letting them know whether this endeavor would be easy or difficult (ie. costly and requiring demolition of ceilings or walls)?


  • J.C.A.
    J.C.A. Member Posts: 349
    Seperating steam.

    Is it impossible, no. It could require repiping the entire house . I have run into this more times than I ever wanted to , and it's never easy.

    I did find a few systems that were seperately fed , but shared common returns and they were the hardest to split.
    Honeywell and I'm sure others , make steam system zone valves. They are big and expensive .

    Have you looked into thermostatic valves for the individual radiators ? I've found this to be a reasonable solution in quite a few cases. (not all)

    Just a starting suggestion. I'm sure you'll get some more from the fine folks here .
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,513
    Try this

    Close all the radiator supply valves on the second floor. Remove the vents from those radiators (if they have vents) and plug the openings. If there are vents at the ends of the steam mains (which there should be), remove them and plug the openings too.

    Then start the boiler. The first floor radiators will get steam but the second floor will not. As the boiler starts making steam, see which main it goes into. If the steam only goes into one main or pair of mains, that's your first-floor main(s).

    Let the system cool, and repeat the test but remove and plug the vents on the first-floor radiators. The steam should go into the other main(s). This will verify that the mains are split the way you want them to be.

    If this doesn't work as described, you have some repiping to do.

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