How to Balance Your Steam Radiator Heating Systems

Once again we are starting another heating season.

In the Northeast there are several older buildings that still use steam radiators as a heating source. Out of oil furnaces, gas burners, electric heat base boards, forced-hot water radiators, forced hot air, or other types of heating sources – steam heat is actually one of the most efficient heating sources available.

You will find once the cast iron radiator gets up to speed and is fully heated, they will retain their heat and stay warm long after the thermostats stops calling for heat, as well as the piping system to feed the heaters radiating heat all the way from the furnace to the radiators. This one factor alone contributes to saving fuel resources and keeping the apartment toasty and warm.

If you are find it difficult to get a comfortable mix in your rental or some rooms are running hot, and some cold, here are some tips to restore balance.

If you would like to, give this a try…

You will find this is going to be a balancing act between the steam heaters in the unit. Those closest to the furnace and the thermostats will heat up first. Then once those rooms get to the requested heat, they will send the signal to the thermostat to stop sending heat. This may happen before the heat travels to the remaining rooms before they get hot.

The solution is to lower the heat in the rooms getting too hot with the thermostat until you get to a comfortable mix.

Turn all of the large knobs at the base to be wide open to allow steam heat to fill the heaters. There is a smaller mixing valve on the opposite end of the heater that you can adjust as to how much steam heat flows throughout he heater.

Turn up the mixing valves all the way in the rooms without heat. For the other remaining rooms that are getting heat, crank those back half of what they are currently reading. It will take some time sorting out the balance and the mix. Once it is all set, you should be good to go for the season.

There is going to be a bit of trial and error until you get the steam heaters just where you want them.

You can also take a look at the base of the radiators too if they are kicking out water or way too much steam. After years of use these radiators can accumulate condensation inside the bottom of the radiator which can also interfere with the flow of hot steam into the radiator. Too much water inside can actually cause a blockage, loud banging noises, or even worse – no heat. It is a good idea before you start the balancing of the system to do a little more preventative maintenance to bleed out the radiators of any additional water and condensation in the system.

You will need to disconnect the radiator from the system to drain out any water in the radiator. This will require a large plumbing wrench and it is a good idea to have two people around when you do this. These radiators are usually cast iron, very very heavy, and can cause quite a bit of damage and personal injury if they topple over. Please be careful. Then, you can continue with the balancing of the heat levels which the regulator valves and thermostat settings.

Also as a reminder, do not use space heaters in rooms where the thermostats are. This will send a false reading to the furnace to stop producing heat. You may temporarily use space heaters in those rooms that need heat until the system balances out. Hopefully this will help to balance out the heating so you can enjoy comfortably heated living spaces throughout the entire apartment.

What’s on Your Mind?

Do you have any other ideas on this topic you could share to help our online community? Please chime in to share a comment or review. All feedback is welcomed!

Warmest regards,

Brian Lucier
Belaire Property Management
Regional Property Manager
(978) 448-0669 office
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