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Broiling With Steam Radiators: Is There a Fix?

Hi, all,

I moved into a very old (probably about 80 years) apartment building with steam radiators in the northeast over the summer. Now that it's finally cold outside, it's broiling in the apartment. Initially one of the 2 radiators didn't work at all, so I didn't notice how hot it could get in here.

Now that it's fixed, my apartment is about 80 degrees. . . with both radiators turned OFF. . . and the windows open.

The heat seems to be coming through the pipes. . . and not just where the radiators are (bedroom and living room) but additional pipes in the kitchen and bathroom.

Also, the heat NEVER seems to go off at night. I can always hear it through the pipes.

Other friends of mine who live in buildings like this simply turned off their radiators and their bedrooms got cooler. Am I doing something wrong? Is management doing something wrong? It just doesn't seem right for the apartment to be this freaking hot, especially with the radiator valves turned off.

Suggestions + advice helpful. Thank you.

Re: Broiling With Steam Radiators: Is There a Fix?

Part of how radiators work is by room air flow. The cold air at the floor hits the radiator, gets heated, then rises to the ceiling, pushing down the cooler air in a continuous circle. Pretty neat little passive system. You certainly know if you pointed a fan at the radiator it would be even hotter in the apartment.

To reduce the heat coming off the radiators, cover them with something to reduce the air flow around them. A metal box would be optimal, but a hot water heater insulation blanket, beach towel or blanket will do the trick.

Re: Broiling With Steam Radiators: Is There a Fix?

Thanks, but what about the pipes? The pipes remain hot whether the radiators are unscrewed or not. And heat is radiating from them...not sure how I can cover the pipes.

Re: Broiling With Steam Radiators: Is There a Fix?

The site below will show you how to install pipe insulation; also Google "steam pipe insulation installation" to learn more---- but where the heck is the owner of the apt house????----it's up to him/her to provide the proper level of heat and cover any expenses like pipe insulation---not the tenant/lessee!!!

The landlord also should be advised of the situation because often some other tenant doesn't know how to use the rad shut-off valves & mistakenly leaves the windows wide open to cool down their apt.---this only keeps the boiler running for everyone in the apt. complex, driving everyone out with the heat!!

Check with the other tenants near you to see if they are having the same problem & see if the apt owner will pay for the insulation.

Pipe insulation should be available at any local heating supply house (Yellow Pages).


Re: Broiling With Steam Radiators: Is There a Fix?

I have, admittedly, been leaving the windows open. I don't see I have a choice. The radiator runs with or without them open, and if they're closed the temp goes up to 83+.

Typical for my area, the landlord tries to do as little as possible. There are laws requiring minimum temperatures but none mandating maximum temperatures.

Re: Broiling With Steam Radiators: Is There a Fix?

I have a similar situation - steam systems in bigger apartment buildings are generally "dumb" in the sense that they aren't zoned and since there are requirements as to heat provided, the landlord/management sets the heat to keep the worst case comfortable. So people on the north side of the building may be cold when there is a north wind while people on the south are broiling on sunny days (often the same day).

We have a few rooms which just plain get too warm however, and being a building which has allowed people modify their units with new windows and changing out convectors (originally completely heating by hidden steam convectors with no individual controls) for radiators, our heat is completely uneven.

OK, I don't think I really helped you. But insulating the pipes, if they are exposed, will help keep your temperatures down, and when you get cold you can turn on or open up the radiators.

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