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Old 11-22-2008, 01:40 PM   #1
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Steam Radiator Vent/Valves


What are the best valves or vents for (in my case, mostly early-twentieth century) steam radiators? And where is the best place to buy these puppies? I'm going to need quite a few since the previous owners of my Victorian left the house in varying states of disrepair--I guess I wouldn't be here if that wasn't the case--and I'd like to replace the ones that seem blocked.

Oh, and would it be best to use all of the same company/brand/type throughout the system in order to balance the steam pressure better? I don't know if that is a plain out daft question, but I figured I'd ask...

-Aaron

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Old 11-22-2008, 05:47 PM   #2
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Steam Radiator Vent/Valves


It is best to use the same type vents throughout the home. Replace them all not just some. That is the best way to verify they all work. Get an adjustable air vent. When that is done you are halfway done. Now replace or install main line vents in the basement. This is the key to proper heating and balancing a steam system. Make sure all the steam piping in the basement is insulated.
For more info see this link.
http://www.comfort-calc.net/Steam_FAQ.html

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Old 11-22-2008, 07:13 PM   #3
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Steam Radiator Vent/Valves


TK: You got it Let TK and the Force guide you young steam walker
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Old 11-23-2008, 12:54 AM   #4
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Steam Radiator Vent/Valves


Quote:
Originally Posted by skymaster View Post
TK: You got it Let TK and the Force guide you young steam walker
LMAO! I just about fell outta my chair. Thanks for the laugh....
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Old 11-23-2008, 01:17 AM   #5
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Steam Radiator Vent/Valves


Quote:
Originally Posted by tk03 View Post
It is best to use the same type vents throughout the home. Replace them all not just some. That is the best way to verify they all work. Get an adjustable air vent. When that is done you are halfway done. Now replace or install main line vents in the basement. This is the key to proper heating and balancing a steam system. Make sure all the steam piping in the basement is insulated.
For more info see this link.
http://www.comfort-calc.net/Steam_FAQ.html
Thanks for the info. TK... you're really coming to my rescue! I'll check that link. The basement piping to not insulated. That was removed ages ago, probably due to asbestos, but it was never replaced. It is on my 'to do' list to replace, but if you saw my to do list.... ugh! Then again, I'd imagine most people on this forum can empathize.

I didn't even know about vents in the basement, btw, so thanks for pointing me in that direction (in addition to the above article).

Is there an adjustable vent type that you'd suggest? I've found these: Hoffman Vents and A whole bunch at PexSupply
The Hoffman vents seem to be nice, but quite expensive. On the other side of the coin are some of the ones I saw at Home DEsPOraTe. They're cheaper, by half or a third, but some aren't adjustable and most of the adjustable ones seem to have only two real settings: open and closed. I had picked up a few of these and installed them to get the system sort of running (we needed heat and there was nasty banging), but I'm not convinced that more of those is the right way to go.

One last thing, what is the common consensus on this book:
We Got Steam Heat!
Superficially, this seems like an indispensable guide for anyone in my position, but the problem is that I am so totally ignorant about steam--I didn't even realize steam heat existed until after we bought the house, I assumed it was hot water --and I'll take all the help I can get.

Thanks very much!
Aaron
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Old 11-23-2008, 04:58 AM   #6
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Steam Radiator Vent/Valves


Can't tell you about that book, as I have never read it.

Before you replace all your steam vents.
Insulate the pipes in the basement. Although expensive to do, it can save you a lot on your heating bill.

A vent can't work if there is no steam getting to it. And that is often teh case with uninsulated pipes.

Use the Hoffman vents. Yes, they are expensive. But, worth their cost.

Non adjustable ones, are a waste of money.
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Old 11-23-2008, 10:02 PM   #7
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Steam Radiator Vent/Valves


Well, given my current state of ignorance, it seems like this book is a good idea, unless the information in it is bad/wrong, then it is an incredibly bad idea. Perhaps I'll post a thread to get more feedback before ordering.... I just really don't want to fill my noggin with alot of bad info.

The reason why I'm so gung ho about getting these vents replaced is that we've got quite a few radiators that aren't working and it is random, which, from what I've read, is indicative of a blocked vent not allowing the cold air to vent out and be replaced by the steam. So we've got a few rads that don't heat, some that heat only on the intake side, and some that heat completely; but there isn't any rhyme of reason to this as some are on the first or second floors, and even the attic. With the current temps, this just seems a real necessity (we were completely unaware as to the state of the heating system when we bought the house this August). Does that make sense?

About the insulation: I'm told this is something that I can do, but is it something that I can do right or well? Considering the potential cost savings, I'd gladly get it done right than screw it up and get less benefit. I'm pretty handy for an academic historian: I'm constantly fixing stuff for myself, family, and friends, I build PCs on the side as a hobby, I've done some home remodeling, and I'm pretty good with things like a dremel and a solder gun, etc. I doubt that these 'skills' are directly pertinent, but at least I figure I could learn, but I do lack time right now and my health is only so-so. So should I try to do this myself or hire it out?

Thanks for your advice!

-Aaron

PS-The basement gets very warm, so it is quite apparent that alot of heat is being lost down there.
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Old 11-23-2008, 10:21 PM   #8
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Steam Radiator Vent/Valves


The pipe insulation isn't hard top do, just time consuming.

Does your system have any main vents.
If it does, also make sure they work. If they don't, your rad vents may not be able to vent the air quick enough before your system reaches 3PSIG. At 3 PSIG, your rads vents close, weather the rad is hot or not.

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