Steam radiators. Hardly any heat on 2nd floor.


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Old 12-07-13, 05:15 PM
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Steam radiators. Hardly any heat on 2nd floor.

I have a natural gas steam boiler, 4-5 years old. My house is 2 stories & an attic, about 2900 sq. ft. w/ 10 ft. high cielings. The first year I've had the boiler, half the ribs on the radiators upstairs would heat. Now, I'm lucky if one heats up through the night. If I turn off my thermometer, house down to 55 degrees, and turn it on at 68 degrees.....the radiators upstairs will initially all be heated up in their entirety. From there on out, only 1 rib will heat up when the boiler kicks on.

I've placed the right size vents on every radiator. The closer to the boiler, the smaller holed vent...farthest radiators, the bigger holed vents. My thermometer on the first floor is actually 2 feet away from one of the steam pipes leading up to a second floor radiator, I don't know if that makes a difference.

I have a honeywell pressuretrol set on about 2.5 psi. The inside setting is on 1. I've heard not to touch that inside setting. My boiler is a Utica with 262,500 BTU, AFUE 82%.

Can anyone lead me into the direction to have my radiators upstairs kick heat like the downstairs do? How vital are the pressuretrol settings concerning my problem. Any help is extremely appreciated. Thanks.
 
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Old 12-07-13, 05:58 PM
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What is the model of your pressuretrol. Does the front dial go from .5 to 9 lbs. Model PA404A1033. this model is additive which means. " the cutout = cut in +differential..
You want your cutout about 2psi.
To achieve that you set your front dial all the way down to .5 with the adjustment screw on the top.
Then you set the wheel inside at 1.5. The wheel is your differential, the front scale is your cut in.

Now your boiler will come on a call for heat and will shut down at 2 psi if the t-stat doesn't shut it down first which in most cases it does. If it does shut down on the pressuretrol the gauge should read about 2 psi and then it will go back down to .5 before it comes back on.
This of course depends on if this is the control you have.

As far as the t-stat being next to a heating pipe it definitely makes a big difference. Any heat at all and it doesn't take much, just your breath or the body heat from putting your hand on it will make the temp. rise.
The heat from that pipe might be shutting the t-stat down prematurely.

If you want to test it, shut that rad off if that's what ii is. If it's a pipe insulate it or somehow keep the heat off and it will run longer and should heat up all the rads.

The big thing with steam is it's all balanced with the vents.That's why the different sizes. That's the only way to balance the system. It's all gravity with steam. It has to flow naturally.
 
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Old 12-07-13, 06:04 PM
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pressuretrol set on about 2.5 psi. The inside setting is on 1. I've heard not to touch that inside setting
That's actually a high... you should not need 2.5 PSI to heat the home.

It's usually recommended that the outside setting be at 0.5 ... yes, that's correct, the lowest setting, and the inside at 1.5 ... and I don't know who told you to not touch it... once they are properly set, there's no reason to touch either one.

How vital are the pressuretrol settings concerning my problem
They aren't really... those without an understanding of how steam works might conclude that if the home isn't heating properly the logical thing to do is turn up the pressure, and that's not true at all. Usually all it does is exponentially increase the fuel bills. There's probably some 'placebo effect' though... they might THINK that it works better.

Are your steam mains all INSULATED?

Are there MAIN VENTS on the mains?


thermometer on the first floor is actually 2 feet away from one of the steam pipes leading up to a second floor radiator
It could I suppose... if the thermostat 'feels' the heat from the pipe, it might cut off early.
 
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Old 12-07-13, 06:08 PM
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Thanks. Giving it a try now.
 
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Old 12-07-13, 06:33 PM
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Giving it a try now.
Giving what a try?

Changing the pressure settings is unlikely to help the problem with the rads not heating though...

That's almost always a venting problem.

Are your steam mains all INSULATED?

Are there MAIN VENTS on the mains?
Spott asked:

Does the front dial go from .5 to 9 lbs.
We need to know this because it will help us identify which variety of pressurtrol that you have.

Please answer questions.
 
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Old 12-07-13, 06:48 PM
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That is the exact pressuretrol I have. The inside was at 1 when they installed it. There's 2 main vents on the main. I have a Michigan basement which is 25% basement, 75% crawlspace. All the mains in the crawlspace are insulated, I'd say only 20% of the mains in the basement part are insulated. Real old, thin insulation. No pipes going through the first floor rooms to the 2nd floor are insulated either.
 
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Old 12-07-13, 07:05 PM
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Adjust the pressuretrol as described and try to keep the heat away from t-stat and see what happens.
My guess is the bottom floor is getting heated before the steam can do it's job on the second floor.

With steam, insulation is very important so the steam can reach the rads.
The minute the steam leaves the boiler it starts to lose temp. Without the insulation and especially in your basement as soon as the steam gets into the pipe the colder the pipes the faster the steam condences and once it condences it never reaches the rads. Your making steam for nothing. You want to keep the pipes as hot as possible and maintain the steam as long as possible.
If you think it could be a vent you can remove a rad vent that doesn't heat and see if it makes a difference. If it doesn't try raising your t-stat, dust as a test to see if it runs longer if it heats the upper rads.
At least this may narrow down the problem.
 
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Old 12-07-13, 07:45 PM
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I adjusted the controls as recommended, and so far one radiatior in an upstsairs room has heated up 8/9 ribs, where as before for years I'd be lucky to get 3 hot.

I'm heading on monday to get a ton of pipe insulation, a couple more radiator vents in different sizes. I'll post an update later this week to let others know the significance in the changes.

Thanks tremendously to the two people on a saturday night who've responded with their knowledge in the matters explained. I honestly feel confident this year I might not have to hear my wife constantly *****ing about the different temperatures in different rooms HA! Thanks again, really appreciated.
 
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Old 12-07-13, 08:54 PM
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Also note the pressure trol pigtail often gets clogged. It needs to be removed and cleaned....

The best for steam IMO are these but they are pricey....

For one pipe system...


013G0140 - Danfoss 013G0140 - Thermostatic Rad Valve w/ Vac Breaker (1 Pipe Steam)
 
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Old 12-07-13, 10:07 PM
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put a level on top of the rad and till it towards the steam line entering.. so the water rolls back to the boiler
 
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Old 12-08-13, 08:54 AM
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Nickels make good 'shims' under the radiator legs.

If you're ever in an OLD house with rads and see nickels under the legs, be sure to swap them out with nice shiny new ones... the older nickels could be valuable to a collector!
 
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Old 12-08-13, 09:18 AM
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Luther, good reading about steam pressure here, and why MORE is NOT better:

The Speed of Steam

I quote the last three sentences of the article here:

If the steam isn't getting to the radiators, it's not because of a lack of steam pressure; it's probably because the air vents aren't working, or they're in the wrong place. Replace or relocate them.

And crank down that pressuretrol.
 
 

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