Third Floor Radiator Not Heating (Steam Boiler)

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gluteusmaximus

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New member here...thanks for this forum. Long post incoming...

We have a 3 story rental property that has a commercial steam boiler and radiators in every unit.

We recently had a complaint that the room is not heating on the third floor and the room beneath it is super hot. The feed pipe from the second floor to the third floor is hot but once it reaches the third floor radiator valve the radiator itself is cold.

We have had multiple service calls from a large local HVAC company that only addressed boiler. First time, they kept the psi too low (the techs were residential and didn’t know ours was commercial) and it wS low water pressure shutting it off. Then we had a leaking trap on the second floor (not room under cold radiator) which was replaced. This radiator was completely shut off for 2 weeks since it was leaking. They identified the room under the cold radiator room had no trap and the third floor was double trapped?

We do have the thermostat on the first floor of this home set at 70. My theory (one of them) is this thermostat reaches its temperature and doesn’t allow the steam to adequately reach the third floor.

I just don’t know why no one has addressed the radiators themselves...I’m no HVAC pro but was curious what could be my problem. Thanks for any input!


Some details:
- 1910 home
- We took ownership this past July so don’t know maintenance history
- We moved said radiator earlier this year to the other side of the room so we can do renovations
 

Sylvan

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Normally on a steam system, 1/2 -11/2 PSI is good

There is no reason to double trap a radiator


If a trap is missing the radiator would be extremely hot
 

gluteusmaximus

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Normally on a steam system, 1/2 -11/2 PSI is good

There is no reason to double trap a radiator


If a trap is missing the radiator would be extremely hot

thanks for the response. They said the radiator in question (Third floor cold radiator) has two traps for some reason and the radiator below the room has no trap. Can this be causing the inability for the hot feed pipe to satisfy the cold radiator?
 

Sylvan

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There is no valid reason to have two traps. Are you sure they left a trap in place with no element inside?
 

Fitter30

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Radiator with no trap will not heat correctly and condensate return tank would be blowing steam out of the vent. Radiator with a bad trap that isn't passing condensate and stuck closed. Also could be a bad air vent. Take few pics. Model and brand of thermostat?
 

Sylvan

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Radiator with no trap will not heat correctly and condensate return tank would be blowing steam out of the vent. Radiator with a bad trap that isn't passing condensate and stuck closed. Also could be a bad air vent. Take few pics. Model and brand of thermostat?


If a radiator has a steam Trap there is NO VENT

An air vent is used on a one-pipe system

Also, not all applications require a "condensate tank" as the condensate leaving the radiator can go into the return line
 

Sylvan

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Steam-Traps-1107-CDAs.jpg
 

Sylvan

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On the main vent, I use


Hoffman 401434 - Air Vent for Steam, No. 75
 
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Lets get the basics:
  • One pipe steam uses a vent
  • Two pipe steam uses a "trap"
    • The lifetime of a conventional trap is limited -- 3-10 years
    • A trap can fail open or closed. A heat gun can help determine the difference
The Tunstall family designed and sells stainless steel traps with a higher expected lifetime:
https://tunstall-inc.com/
Their mission seems to be "make a repair kit for every steam trap ever made". And there are many many models.
From their website:

Before the advent of stainless steel forming and TIG welding technology, steam traps consisted of thermostatic parts made by crimping and soldering of plated materials; the chief feature of this system resulted in products that had built in obsolescence. Hydro formed phosphor bronze bellows were more successful but the cost was considerably higher than common diaphragm cage assemblies.

Tunstall Steam Trap Capsules are fabricated of TIG welded stainless steel, which take advantage of existing Aerospace Technology, with extremely close manufacturing tolerances. Their stainless steel bellows counterparts can be found on commercial aircraft and aerospace equipment throughout the world.

Tunstall Steam Capsules retrofit almost all thermostatic steam traps made in the early 20th century.
 

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