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steam radiator heat...questions

OK, so it's been a long time since I've enjoyed steam heat. And at that time, I wasn't responsible for maintaining it. Now, I am.

I went to my local hardware store, and bought 3 new valves for the radiators upstairs. The nice guy that runs the store told me I needed model "6" for upstairs. 5 is for downstairs, and 4 is for the room with the thermostat in it. Sounds good. I don't know what the previous homeowner did, but he had a variety on the radiators upstairs. I can't tell if they were the right models or not, but some were round, some were like a cylinder. Some had holes in the top, some seem completely sealed. The new ones are all round, and all have a hole in the top. Steam, obviously, escapes through this hole. It's a slow spray. It definitely made the radiators quieter, to just a simple hiss instead of the obnoxious sniffing noises they made before.

Question 1 - any reason why some have holes, and some do not?

Also, I bought a replacement connection from the pipe to the radiator for one of the ones downstairs, because the handle is not there. so i figured, rather than turning it by hand with a tool every time, i'd just get a replacement. I don't have the proper wrench to do it, so I'll pick that up.

Question 2 - any benefit to replacing these valves? I was watching on This Old House that it's good to go in there, clean it up, and replace the washer (he used a liquid or something instead of a regular washer).

Question 3 - What are these thermostatic radiator valves? are they worth it? can i install them myself?


Re: steam radiator heat...questions

What type system do you have, one or two pipe steam? When you say you are replacing valves do you mean the steam vents or the valves on the radiators? A one pipe system will have one large pipe supplying the radiators as the two pipe system will have a smaller line on each end of the radiator.


Re: steam radiator heat...questions

one pipe system. there's an "L" joint, with a circular handle to open and close the valve to the radiator - turning it "on" or "off". then there is a valave on the other end, which let's the air/steam escape.

Re: steam radiator heat...questions

This is the steam vent that has been standard for one pipe steam systems. It is a automatic vent that is adjustable so you can balance the system by having them vent at the rate need for each room. Model A1 is the one we used.



Re: steam radiator heat...questions

The thing to keep in mind is that the vent is there to allow air to escape, so that steam can enter the radiator and release heat. Anywhere air is trapped, you will not have heat.

Here is a link with more information, don't use the second page of the first link, it is for hydronic vents. What is the brand of the vents that you bought? You can call them valves, but that is confusing. You need to make sure your system operating pressure doesn't exceed the vent's rating.

Read the following article:

Yes there is a great benefit to replacing them if they aren't working properly.

Are you talking about a thermostatic valve on the steam line, because I don't know if that can be done on a one pipe system. I have only used them on two pipe steam systems.

Re: steam radiator heat...questions

I bought "maid-o'mist" Steam Air Valves. Then I went to another hardware store, and he told me to buy Gorton. So I'm using the maid-o'-mist ones i bought, but then buying the rest gorton. More expensive, but you can feel the quality difference.

The box says Steam Air Valves...so that's why I called em valves and not vents.

the guy at the hardware store said he doesn't know anyone in the area that uses the Thermostatic valves (from what i read, it's basically a valve on each radiator to control the temperature in that room)...so he concludes that they can't be that great or worth the trouble, or more people would ask for them. Might be decent logic...i dunno. i just stumbled upon information ******.

my main problem right now is one of the rooms that was really cold had an air valve #4, which is the smallest release hole, so that room is cold...and that is the one giving me the most trouble as far as removing it...anyone know any good tricks?

Re: steam radiator heat...questions

Air valves is the correct name, just calling them valves can be confusing. Those two brands you mention have been around a while, I am not as familiar with them as I am with Hoffman. I thought you were talking about steam inlet valves such as these, which also require an actuator:

But now I realize you were talking about thermostatic vent valves that control the amount of air in the radiator such as these:

Here is a report on them:

And, finally, a TOH episode on installing them:

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