Radiator valves? ? ?

Page 1 of 2  
I live in a very old coop apartment building with six units, all more or less identical, all heated by a single boiler through seven radiators in each apartment.
The system is controlled by a single thermostat and inevitably, there are differences in temperature within the apartments. No doubt plugging leaks would help resolve this problem, but someone has suggested that apartments which are too warm should turn their radiators "half off."
My impression is that vented steam radiators are like light switches -- you either turn them on or off.
Am I correct?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ray wrote:

I believe so, the valves will likely leak unless full on or full off.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I don't know about that.
Growing up as a kid in the 70's, the old duplex my parents lived in had radiators. At the base of the radiator was a round handled control that you could turn clockwise, or counterclockwise a few times to control the amount of steam going into the radiator unit.
It was in line with the steam pipe going into the radiator, and the radiator would have this little silver thingy that would let out the excess steam i think. It screwed into the radiator on the end opposite the control mentioned above.
So if he has those type of controls, yeah, I think turning them "half off" might work.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You can replace the vent with a thermostatic vent that only opens when it sense an ambient temperature below its set point. [Of course if the main boiler isn't running at that point, it still can't provide any heat.] That ought to eliminate any overheating issues.
Cheers, Wayne
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Balance the system with the air vents, smaller=less heat, larger opening =more, Gorton are good
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks Wayne --
Aren't those thermostatic vents pretty expensive? Remember, we have a total of 43 radiators in the building.
wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Do you have tenants? Do any of them open a window in the winter because they are too hot from central heat? If so, those vents just got a lot cheaper.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Our six-unit coop building is a little complicated.
First, a single thermostat controls the entire building, so that theoretically the heat should be the same in all units at all times.
But in fact there is a great discrepancy. When it's 70 in one unit, it might be 75 in the one directly above it.
I'm sure that closing windows and plugging leaks would be a great help, and I'm working on a thorough "winterizing" of the building.
But beyond that, even if the heating system was delivering a consistent temperature to all units, there is disagreement over what the optimum setting should be. For instance, we have two elderly women who are in their apartments 24 hours a day, and they would want the temperature set at 75 all the time. Most of the others work and don't especially want to shell out big bucks to keep the whole building hot all day for the benefit of two tenants.
And that's what gets me back to my original question: Can we turn the radiator valves half off in order to reduce the heat in one apartment while maintaining it in another? Or, as I asked earlier, are these vents like a light switch -- they're either on or off, and there's no in-between?
-- Ray

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Take a look at this http://kingsolar.com/catalog/mfg/maidomist/4angle8.html
The vents should allow some balancing of the system. Problem is, no matter how well you balance the system, some occupant is not going to be happy. An individual cannot do a night setback, for instacne. The key to full joy amongst then tenants will come from indnividual thermostats and a zone for each. That can be done if each apartment is piped as a separate zone, but not if a continuous loop.

Again, it will depends on the piping.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks Ed -- I'm pretty sure our radiators are in a continuous loop.
Frankly, only attrition will solve our problem. Among our tenants are two elderly ladies who are essentially two invalids trying to take care of one another -- a pathetic situation, but not made better by the crankiness of one of them.
This gets a bit far afield, but we have something of a legal question at hand. The ladies insist that the coop bylaws, which specify that the coop "shall provide heat," means that they are entitled to at least 73 degrees by day and at least 68 by night. And they have made cryptic remarks indicating they may go to court to enforce that "obligation."
My position is that since no specific heat level is mentioned, the coop is obligated to provide a "reasonable" level of heat, and what better definition of "reasonable" than the Department of Energy guidelines which recommend setting thermostats at 68 by day and 65 by night. It's up to the coop, by vote of the directors, so determine how many degrees, if any, we choose to go above the DOE recommendations.
Just out of curiosity, how would you come down on that issue, if you were a judge dediding the point?
-- Ray

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I just balanced 14 units with different rated numbers of Gorton valves from a 15f differential inbetween apts to 3f, you need to redo your venting to get even heat. Your vents are old and probably of different types so heat is not balanced for the units. Forget the thermostat idea, your issue is radiator venting
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Many municipalities regulate what temperatures a landlord must provide both heat and cool. I'd call the municipalities' housing dept and ask. Is electricity an individual bill? If not I'd buy the old bags a space heater- a nice safe oil filled one and say use it.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Good point Big Jim --
Not to belabor the matter, but I have suggested that the old bags get a space heater. The cranky one flatly refused on the ground that it would be a fire hazard.
Never mind that she is a chain smoker who pollutes the entire building in which no one else smokes. Needless to say, smoking causes home fires a hundred times more than modern space heaters with tip-over controls or, as you suggest, oil-filled heaters.
Anyhow, that gives you an idea of what I'm up against.
PS: Just to prove that I'm not picking on helpless old women, I'm only a few years younger than they are.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Some years ago one of our workers was going to do the same because Monday mornings were so cold in the shop. Turns out, there is nothing saying we must heat our work space at all. Check to see if there is a local regulation. I doubt that it is 73 or even above 68. I'd tell the ladies to invest in a space heater or long undies.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Agreed: where we live, landlords are required to provide 68F temperatures (or is it 65F? I should double check), which would be excessively warm for me.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Stop name calling names and stick with the mechanical questions. You'll look like less of a putz.

You've already gotten valid answers. The thermostatically controlled valves, such as those by Honeywell and Danfoss, work great. They essentially make the radiator it's own zone and a handyman can install the setup on a radiator in ten minutes or less. Figure seventy five to a hundred bucks per radiator. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcustomer.honeywell.com%2Ftechlit%2Fpdf%2F62-0000s%2F62-3006.pdf&ei=TBxeR5-oDY6wgwKL0bTKDw&usg QjCNGKRoWwMrepBkOhb6xosQPfkST34Q&sig2=0T6a01Q8o9SYq-S9ZXc6sA Watch the line wrap in the link.
A cheaper and less precise control would be the adjustable vents. Some of the units are preset and others allow the occupant to adjust the setting. Google Vari-vent. Figure twenty bucks per radiator for materials and five minutes per swap out.
The idea with the adjustable vents is to retard the delivery of steam to the closer-to-the-boiler radiators and the ones that get too hot by closing down the steam vent aperture, and to open up the colder/ farther radiators. Really cold radiators can be drilled and tapped to add secondary vents to allow even more air to escape and pull more steam towards that radiator. Google 'balancing one pipe steam' - there's a good article floating about that covers the topic in more detail.
Steam radiator valves should always be fully open or fully closed. Messing around with the valves to control the heat doesn't work, interferes with the set-it-and-forget-it objective, and promotes leaking valves.
BTW, whoever sold - and bought - that $120K heating plant upgrade without addressing the known radiator issues is a putz. It's people like that that give coops and condo boards a bad name - people going off half-cocked and pissing away other people's money, then requiring more of other people's money to correct the deficiencies.
Ask questions beforehand.
R
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

As an experienced individual in this sort of thing there are all kind of fixes you can do but in reality, you WONT make them all happy. All you can do is make it the best for most (but not all) of them. First off, have you system checked out and serviced by an experienced steam heating tech. In particular, make sure all the traps are working properly. Next, the individual steam vents on the radiators need to work properly. The adjustable type work best to help regulate each radiator (but they wont perform a miracle). As far as the actual on/off knob at each radiator. Those are either off or on. Usually only open 1/4 turn. Hot water valves are different turning a full turn or more and having a weep hole in them to prevent total "off" and a possible freezing condition. You will usually find the steam valves "frozen" or corroded in position. Any attempt at turning it will usually result in a leak or a snapped off valve. It can be done but has to be very carefully done. Other than that, find out what local codes may require and deal with it that way. The old lady that wont take the electric heater can freeze if she wants to be that stubborn. Bubba
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks Bub -- That's the best advice I've gotten so far.
The whole issue of turning the valves "half off" arose when the cranky old lady said that if other tenants didn't like their apartments as warm as hers, they could turn their radiators "half-off."
It was that suggestion which led me to post in the first place.
Our building is old and most of the valve knobs are painted shut. We'd be asking for big trouble if we started trying to turn those things on and off.
-- Ray

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Gee, what problems,, painted shut valves, an unbalanced system, probably unmaintained overall, you are just pissing money down the drain, and you wont even do the basics of maintenance, you deserve to overpay 25% for gas with that attitude and laziness.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
My friend, you're entitled to your opinion but your're not your facts.
And the fact is, we have a state-of-the-art oil-fired boiler which was installed two years ago, and it is maintained and serviced scrupulously.
Our problem is the radiator system, and we made a conscious choice to try to make the 85-year-old system work as well as we could rather than abandon it and install an entirely new distribution system -- at a cost of more than $120,000.
In fact, despite the age of the system, we have managed to get our oil use only a little above the national average.
Why do you bother to post when the only thing you have to add to the discussion is a vulgar insult based on incorrect assumptions? All of the other 20 or so responses were polite and genuinely helpful.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.