5 posts / 0 new
Last post
Upstairs too hot

Older 2 story, one zone, hot water, baseboard heat. Upstairs is HOT...down, not so hot. I know the only way to cut the heat is by closing one of the(2)shut-off valves in the basement. My questions:
#1 Do I close the valve completely or partially?
#2 Is the downstairs valve ALWAYS the one that is
closest to the heater?

Re: Upstairs too hot

Try and trace the supply line. The only way is to put in two zones. One up and the other down. The physics of heating called air convection: Hot air goes up and cold air remains lower. Simple and straight foward. You are going to have put in an thermostat. You can go to this web site for beter inforamtion:


Good luck. Process of elimination.

Re: Upstairs too hot


How you solve this depends on your boiler & baseboard piping arrangement and the way the upstairs and downstaris are set up.

Do you have shutoff valves on the upstairs baseboards??

Is the upstairs open & part of the 1st floor, or can you close it off, or is it a separate apt.??

As misfitter says, you can start off by tracing the piping.

I assume when you say "shutoff valves' you are really referring to the 2 "balancing valves" on the main upstairs and downstairs supply pipes.

The one closest to the boiler may or may not be the one that controls upstairs; you'll have to trace it as best you can.

You might first try to partially close the valve that supplies the 2nd floor, so that most supply hot water will flow thru the 1st floor.

This may work, but it would depend on how much (if any) up & down open staircases, etc., there are between the 1st & 2nd floors.

Check out the heating help site below to determine what type of piping arrangement you have.

Scroll down & click onto diverter valve piping and then onto loop series piping.

If you have shutoff valves on each baseboard, you probably have diverter piping & it's easier to control the heat upstairs by partially closing off some rads; these are also known as monoflo tees piping.

You may even have a 2-pipe system; checking the 1st floor baseboards from the basement will usually tell you how the 2nd floor was also piped.

If you have loop series piping, where the hot water main pipe goes directly into each baseboard sequentially as a single loop, you will have to try to even the heat by adjusting the balancing valves near the boiler.

Please post back with the info requested.

If these initial measures don't work, & there are no shut-offs for the individual basboards, you will have to consider installing zone valves with separate t-stats, up & down, or add more radiation downstairs, & reduce it upstairs.

There are also TRV's (thermostatic radiator valves), but they would also depend on diverter tees (monoflo) or 2-pipe piping.


Re: Upstairs too hot

First, thanx for all the replies...BIG help. Yes, it is a loop-system built approx 1950 with no shut off valves on the baseboards...not even bleeders. Was originally 2-zone w/separate thermostats. When new system was installed (approx. 2001) they changed it to a one-zone with a separate electric hot water heater. Even before the change, the temps upstairs were always too hot even with the thermostat off. The ideas and links from "Jack" have quite a few good suggestions to try, so, I thank you so much!! Also, thanx to 'misfitter'. Actually, I did try to trace the pipes once before but they go up into beams in the basement side by side and disappear. Thanx again to all.
Have a great day!!

Re: Upstairs too hot


There are several other relatively simple things you can try that should work.

1) you should be able to shut off ONE of the balancing valves near the boiler while the boiler is running (one at a time) to determine which loop controls the 2nd floor & which loop controls the 1st floor---DO NOT shut off both shutoffs at the same time or else you'll have water all over the cellar floor---the pumped water inside the pipes has to have somewhere to go--either thru the 1st floor piping or the 2nd floor piping.

If you have balancing valve shutoffs, that are controlled by a screwdriver slot or knob, they actually don't close off completely; if you have ball valves (not recommended) they WILL close off completely, thus only ONE valve can be closed off at a time.

If you shut off one of the valves & the 1st floor stays hot, then you've found the 2nd floor shutoff, and vice versa.

Mark them with tag, indelible magic marker or piece of chalk.

2) Also make sure you close the MOVEABLE DAMPERS on the upstairs baseboards, so that the MINIMUM amount of heat is emitted by the 2nd floor baseboards.

A side view of this damper is at the heating help site, click on once again to "loop hot water heating" & scroll down to view the damper diagram.

3) If you're STILL getting too much heat upstairs, you can remove the front baseboard covers and stuff pink insulation around the fin tube heating elements for part of the upstairs baseboards.

This will prevent very little heat from emanating from the convectors.

Wear a dust mask if you try this, fiberglass fibers can be injurious to the lungs.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.