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    Steam heat not heating up radiators (12 Posts)

  • Joe Joe @ 1:14 PM
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    Steam heat not heating up radiators

    Here's the situation. Steam system not heating radiators entire way across or down. Gas bill in the dead of winter is $350/month. Called heating guy in and he noticed that there were not any air valves on the radiators, someone had put plugs in them. So he went and installed new air valves to get the trapped cold air and to permit steam in. When it was cranked to 80 degrees, then entire radiator (all of them) heated up across and down. But now on a normal operation, set at 70 degrees, it seems awefully cold and only heats up small portion of radiator. I can here the air valves whistling so I know they are working. He also bumped the pressure up to 3 in hopes of pushing more steam in to get cold air out. With winter approaching, I fear that it is only going to get colder. What should I do now?
  • Thad English Thad English @ 1:39 PM
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    read up

    Joe, I recommend going to the "books & more" section of this website and ordering "We Got Steam Heat." It has helped people like you and me (homeowners) get a handle on how our steam systems should work. There are several easy things that you can do to get the system running more efficiently. Easy things like insulating the steam mains in the basement and making sure that the vent on the steam main is working. Getting the air out of the main first helps the rads get steam (and thus heat) faster. Is your system one-pipe or two?
  • Joe Joe @ 1:59 PM
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    There is one pipe going into the rad and then one coming out. So I assume its a one pipe system?
  • David Efflandt David Efflandt @ 3:18 PM
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    Sounds like 2-pipe

    1-pipe is "1 pipe only" to each radiator. Although, the main lines may split off separate lines to return condensate to the boiler. 1-pipe radiators need air vents. If you have 1 pipe in and 1 pipe out of each radiator, that is 2-pipe steam. In that case you usually do not need air vents on the radiators, but traps after the radiators or air vents elsewhere, may be stuck or not operating properly. Anyone who thinks that cranking up the pressure on a home steam system above 1.5 psi will help, does not know steam (higher pressure is slower and "less" efficient). The books mentioned here can help you understand how your system should work. As far as insulation, adding insulation to your home, reduces the need for heat, therefore, saves you money. Insulating steam supply piping gets the steam to the radiators. Steam gives off most of its heat when it condenses back to water, so you want that to happen in the radiator, not in the supply piping before it gets there.
  • Joe Joe @ 3:40 PM
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    1 pipe system?

    So you are telling me that the three hours of labor and 7 steam air valves I had installed are worthless in my system? One pipe goes in the top and on the other side of the rad there is one that goes out. Should I take the air valves out and replace them with a plug? I thought in any steam system a valve was needed to have the cold air escape. Sheesh, the more I learn, the worse it gets....
  • Joe Joe @ 3:40 PM
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    1 pipe system?

    So you are telling me that the three hours of labor and 7 steam air valves I had installed are worthless in my system? One pipe goes in the top and on the other side of the rad there is one that goes out. Should I take the air valves out and replace them with a plug? I thought in any steam system a valve was needed to have the cold air escape. Sheesh, the more I learn, the worse it gets....
  • Geno Geno @ 1:59 PM
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    Yep,

    insulate, back the pressure down to 1.5 max, and your vents may need to be balanced, this takes time but when done make note on a pad of how each one is set. You want to set the closest and the heating quicker ones lower than the ones that are taking longer, that is if your vents are adjustable. Do not close valves to balance, you'll just ruin the valves.
  • Joe Joe @ 2:01 PM
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    by insulate, what do you mean
  • Thad English Thad English @ 4:07 PM
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    insulation

    Insulate the steam mains in your basement with fiberglass pipe insulation. It is .75" thick and sold in 3' lengths in various diameters (it looks like a thick fiberglass pipe that is white outside, with a split down one side and a glue tab). measure the steam main and buy the appropriate diameter for your mains. I have seen it at the HD and Lowe's. You can also go to an industrial insulation company and get 1.5" thick. the 1.5" is more expensive, but performs better. Get the book first. Knowledge is power. I also wouldn't necessarily say that you wasted 7 hours of labor to get those vents put on your rads. There are some 2-Pipe systems that have vents on the rads. I know, because my 2 pipe system has vents on each and every rad. it works great and yours can too. There are some experts on this message board who will be able to help you out. After you order "We Got steam" heat click on the Find A Pro link. Get an expert in there and it will be money well spent.
  • Dean Dean @ 1:58 PM
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    radiators

    Buy the books and read them. Listen to the pro's on the wall, better yet use the find a pro feature and have one look at your system. Also steam systems run best on LOW pressure. Mine runs on 8oz of pressure controlled with a vaporstat. This site is where I got all the information needed to fix my system stick with it plus I bought the books and read them.
  • Bill Bill @ 8:00 PM
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    2 pipe system

    If it's a two pipe system and you have wet returns the radiators will still have vents. Do both pipes go in the bottom of the radiator?
  • Noel Noel @ 3:44 PM
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    Here's something you should know...

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/newsletter.cfm?Id=54
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