Heating efficiency: Steam heat pipes in wall -


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Old 01-20-07, 07:20 AM
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Heating efficiency: Steam heat pipes in wall -

I have a 1920s house with single pipe steam heat, house is three floors in height.

Generally, are steam pipes behind the wall insulated ?!?

I can see they had asbestos originally in the basement, most of that was taken off and replaced by fiberglass. However, what happens behind the walls as the pipes vertically rise to 2nd and third floors?

And if they are not generally insulated, would it make sense to open the walls and insulate them? When I say make sense, I mean make the heating of the house more efficient, rather than heating the space between the walls.

Thanks !
 
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Old 01-20-07, 12:17 PM
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Well, is the interior wall in front of the pipe warm? How about on the exterior?

I have always had separate pipes to each room.

In my experience, no, steam pipes were NOT insulated in the '20's, and yes, they do lose a lot of heat. On the other hand, opening plaster walls is not a good idea. Very messy, hard to repair perfectly with wallboard.

If the pipe isn't in an exterior wall, any heat will be 'lost' to the inside of the house.

Check the cavity the pipes are in from the basement with a strong narrowbeam flashlight. You might be able to slide some tube insulation around the pipe up from the basement [I've done this with hot water pipes].

If the opening isn't large enough for regular insulation, you might still be able to fit some foil insulation up there. I've used that foil-covered bubblepack behind my radiators, to noticeable effect.

If the pipe is in an exterior wall, consider replacing the entire wall; rip out the plaster, insulate the entire wall, and upgrade the wiring while you are in there. Leave the interior plaster walls; you can not get the same sound proofing with wall board, even with insulation.

Oh, and if you are lucky enough to have pipes running under the floors, do NOT insulate them. They keep the floor warm.
 
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Old 01-20-07, 04:35 PM
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Blown-in cellulose would insulate the pipes and the walls without opening them up. An infrared camera would show a little more of what is going on. Do you know anyone with one?

Ken
 
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Old 01-21-07, 08:16 AM
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insulation of steam pipes behind wall

Thanks to you Kfield for your reply...

I will check to see looking up from the basement where the pipe disappears into, maybe I can even cut out a little adjacent wood to see better up there.

I do not have an infared camera, but do have an infared thermometer that I can point at remotely and pickup changes in temperature that I could not feel to confirm where the pipe is.

For the situations that the pipes travel vertically up an outside wall and cannot slide up a collar of insulation material, could I simply punch a hole at the top of the lathe and plaster section that has the vertical pipe rise and pour in vermiculate? The house is cedar clapboard, so I guess the steam pipes travel up between the lathe and plater and the clapboard, right?

I am handy enough to repair the hole.

Thanks in advance to your reply, you and jhomeowner have been most helpful.

Dave
 
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Old 01-21-07, 08:55 AM
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insulation of steam pipes behind wall

Thanks to you Kfield for your reply...

I will check to see looking up from the basement where the pipe disappears into, maybe I can even cut out a little adjacent wood to see better up there.

I do not have an infared camera, but do have an infared thermometer that I can point at remotely and pickup changes in temperature that I could not feel to confirm where the pipe is.

For the situations that the pipes travel vertically up an outside wall and cannot slide up a collar of insulation material, could I simply punch a hole at the top of the lathe and plaster section that has the vertical pipe rise and pour in vermiculate? The house is cedar clapboard, so I guess the steam pipes travel up between the lathe and plater and the clapboard, right?

I am handy enough to repair the hole.

Thanks in advance to your reply, you and jhomeowner have been most helpful.

Dave
 
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Old 01-21-07, 08:58 AM
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more...

And I have to say that already, there has been a HUGE difference in the heating from one radiator, one that was on the end of the line on the first floor. I opened up the ceiling (easy to do) and insulated a 6 foot stretch on this 1.5" in diameter pipe and the radiator is heating normally, instead of intermittently and even when it does, did minimally.

I think this will have a major effect on heating efficiency, which is important as this large old house eats up about $5K a year, even after I insulated the attic and replaced 22 windows with doublepane.

THanks !
 
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Old 02-11-07, 02:57 PM
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vertical uninsulated steam pipe in wall -resolution (pix)

Thanks to everyone who posted a response to me. I ended up opening the wall in some of the apts and fit fiberglass sleeving over the pipe, held in place by ties. I have to seal it back up and touch up the paint.

About 60% of the walls I open up allow enough space to slip these on. The rest have the pipe too close to the lathe and plaster.

see it: http://www.humanemontclair.org/a/piping.htm

Dave
 
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Old 02-11-07, 03:36 PM
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Thanks for showing how you did it.

I see the radiators are under the window, but inset; did you slide some insulation behind that, too?

That's a nice room. The house is worth it.
 
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Old 02-12-07, 08:45 PM
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steam pipe

Hi, that radiator had insulation behind it already. Thanks for the compliment.

I bought the house 3 years ago, it was an insulation emergency. I have done the obvious stuff like replacing 22 windows with doublepane, and properly insulating the attic. Insulated the exposed steam pipes, now working on harder to get items. Am trying to make a difference with the energy bill, etc... : )
 
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Old 02-28-07, 08:14 PM
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Smile

If you are opening up your walls anyway, why not put in a 2-pipe system? Most people delay doing this because it is too expensive to start digging into the walls.

If you did this you could put in a new, super-efficient model that would save you loads of cash.
 
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Old 02-28-07, 08:25 PM
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super efficient

Tell me more, is that a 2 pipe steam system?
 
 

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