Just curious if anyone runs into this problem with common area
In an apartment bldg, if the T-stat is set at 70, and if the tenants
still complain its too cold, could it be the location of the T-stat
not calling for heat?
Reason I ask is that the T-stat in my Apt bldg is in a common hallway
on the 2nd floor, up high on the wall in a tamper-proof box. And on a
cold night I was down there, the actual temp in the hallway says 70
on the T-stat (T-stat does not call for heat until it drops below
70), but in the apt itself it feels colder, maybe 65. I feel as if
maybe where the T-stat is its warmer. So to compensate for this, I
raised it to 72. So far I have not heard complaints. But is this
usually a problem where T-stats are mounted in common areas, and you
have to try and find that "sweet spot?"
It will be next to impossible to have even heat in the whole building using
one thermostat regardless of it's location. Currently when it's set for 70,
your apt is 65, so if you want your apt to be 70, you'll have to raise the
stat, and the temp in the hall to 75.
Right. Don't get hung up on the number on the thermostat. That
simply tells you the temperature at the thermostat. Whatever
temperature it is in the rooms that are in question, checked with a
thermometer, find the difference with the thermostat and start moving
the thermostat setting in the direction you want to go in the room.
If the room is low, adjust the thermostat upwards. Creep up on it
through several days' heating cycles.
Don't think that you're wasting money because the thermostat is
reading 80 F, or whatever. The only reading that matters is in the
occupied rooms. You need to have those rooms at the desired
temperature, regardless of what the thermostat is reading. You won't
be 'wasting' money if the thermostat is at 80 F and the rooms are at
the desired temperature. That's exactly the setting it is supposed to
be, and you'll be spending the exact amount of money to heat the place
to that temperature.
Of course a lower setting on the thermostat will decrease the heating
bill, and that's part of the reason why the thermostat was put so high
up on the wall. It's part to keep people from messing with it, and
part so the landlord could say, "Hey! It's 75 F in here, why are you
complaining about being cold?!"
Thanks for the replies.
When I fired up the boiler for the first time last month, I cranked it
to 80 for about an hour and checked each apt to see if the radiators
were getting hot, which they were. And I also replaced any suspect air
valves. So the radiators themselves are fine. Its just the setting on
the T-stat. This is my first winter with this bldg. The old landlord
had a Honeywell single dial T-stat set at one temp 24 hrs. Not real
energy efficient, so I replaced it with a programmable one.
I also told each tenant don't bother calling me to complain about the
heat if your A/C's are still in the windows. God I hate when people do
There is no way to balance a steam-heated building by adjusting a
single thermostat in all weather conditions. You're picking the
"least sucky" location for the thermostat and trying to tweak things
from there. You should make sure that everyone understands that the
radiator valve on a steam radiator does not adjust the heat. It's
binary - it's either all the way open, or all the way closed, and they
shouldn't dick around with it. People mess with the valves and that
makes your job of balancing the system frustrating.
After that point is made, then you start looking at the air vents
(they're commonly called steam vents, but they're not supposed to vent
steam, just air). They don't last forever, and they will get clogged
if you have dirty water. Hint - you do - it's the nature of the
beast. Gorton makes some excellent non-adjustable vents.
There are adjustable vents that will let the tenant make some
adjustments. Radiators that you want to pull more heat should vent
air more quickly, and radiators that you want to retard the heating
should vent more slowly.
An old trick is to turn the vent upside down - that effectively
prevents air from escaping (on some air vents) and shuts off the
radiator. I do not recommend doing this. Your tenants will screw it
up and you'll be breaking out the taps to clear out the broken stub.
If you want a more expensive and more highly tweakable solution,
Honeywell, Danfoss, Macon and others all make thermostatic steam
radiator valves with controls. If it's one pipe steam, check out the
Macon OPSK (it's the only model number I know off the top of my head,
but it's a little higher priced than some other solution. Super easy
to install, and it will allow the tenant to adjust the heating rate at
a particular radiator.
There are also solutions using linked thermostats. Poke around on
heatinghelp.com for the particulars of both alternatives.
I used to live in an apartment with an interior hallway, and the
thermostat in the hallway. In cold windy weather the rooms were much
colder than the hallway and the thermostat had to be set high to get
them warm enough. No big deal.
What doesn't work is if two separate apartments on different sides of
the building share a thermostat. Is that the case here?
I replaced the air valves with the appropiate type, with the furthest
one getting the valve that vents the quickest. All the radiators seem
to get hot at the same time.
The T-stat is on the second floor of a 3 story bldg. It is about 8 1/2
feet high on the wall, you need a ladder to get to it.
There is one big radiator on the first floor hallway.
As far as checking each apt, I did go into one apt the night I went
down there and although I did not have a thermometer, it did seem
cooler in there.
There are several 3 story apt bldgs in the area, and from what I
gather, the T-stat is in the hallways. So I think it's just a matter
of tweaking the setting to what everyone is happy with.
At least at night when everyone sleeps I programmed the T-stat to a
lower temp of 68 so I know the boiler is not on as much.
I guess I'll know when I get the next gas bill.
That 8 1/2' mark may be a 2 degree difference, even more depending on the
path of convection. With one radiator on the bottom floor, hot air is
rising and it may be following the path right past the T-stat. Cooler air
is at the stair tread level going in the opposite direction. Take a
candle and watch the flame. When I have the wood burning stove going in the
downstairs family room, there is quite a difference in air flow in the
stairwell in the hallway.
If you leave the T-stat at that height, forget the temperature, use the
numbers as a guide to what you want to have inside the apartments. #78 on
the indicator may equal 70 degrees in the rooms.
In any case, I doubt you'll ever had every tenant happy with the temperature
at all times. I can't even do that at home iwht just the two of us.
Classic sign of a builder that cheaped out and didn't put air returns in
EVERY room like you are supposed to. It was confusing to me when I
started looking at houses other than the ones built by my father's
company, and only saw that one big-ass air return in the hallway.
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