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Removing One Room From Steam-Heat System

PennySpan | Posted in General Questions on

Our home in the northeast built in 1900 has steam heat.  The traditional radiator in one of the bedrooms which is rarely used was taken out and a “new” low-to-the floor radiator was installed — it has never worked well.  Is it possible to somehow “cap” the steam system, remove the nonworking radiator and install a built-in electric heater for the rare times the room is used?

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Replies

  1. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #1

    Adding an electric heater shouldn't be a problem, but how you would cap off the steam radiator depends on what kind of steam system you have in place. If the existing steam radiator isn't working correctly, my guess is it's plumbed incorrectly. It's probably worth having a HVAC contractor familiar with steam systems check things before you change everything. You might have a relatively easy fix for your existing system.

    Bill

  2. PennySpan | | #2

    Bill,
    Thank you so much. I believe you are correct, as the oil delivery people implied the radiator was installed incorrectly. However, they wanted to install a cast-iron radiator in its place. I will first check with an HVAC contract regarding the present system before we make changes. Thank you again.
    Penny

  3. walta100 | | #3

    Steam heating is a black art.

    You should find your steam guy ask your friends and neighbors with steam who they use. All the young guys think they know about steam because they read one chapter in a book. You will find the old guys that have made the mistakes and know what they are doing but they have this tendency to die or retire on you.

    Understand a steam system is a bomb in your home. The amount of energy stored in the system is enormous. The person you select to work on your system is a very important choice and should not be the guy that delivers oil.

    Most homes old enough to have steam heat can use a lot of air sealing and insulation. You may want to start with a blower door test and inferred photos.

    Walta

    1. Patrick_OSullivan | | #6

      > Understand a steam system is a bomb in your home. The amount of energy stored in the system is enormous. The person you select to work on your system is a very important choice and should not be the guy that delivers oil.

      I think this is a bit dramatic. Residential steam systems work at very low pressure. Absolutely not enough to cause anything to explode.

      Now I agree that you need to choose wisely in choosing who to work on it, but that's mostly because it's too easy to get someone who has no idea what they're doing when it comes to steam.

      1. Expert Member
        BILL WICHERS | | #8

        Residential steam systems run at pretty low pressure. I didn't remember exactly how much pressure (I was thinking 2 PSI), so I checked -- the standard is 0.5 PSI. To put some perspective on that, that's about double the standard delivery pressure for natural gas to residential gas appliances. There are valves to keep the steam system from getting excessively over pressurized too.

        Steam heat is different from steam power. I've worked in some generating plants with steam systems running at over 1,000 PSI, but those are running big turbines, not radiators in their offices :-)

        Bill

  4. PennySpan | | #4

    Thanks, Walter, you are right about the air sealing and insulation thing. I will ask neighbors who they use for their steam heating system.

  5. gusfhb | | #5

    There are a bunch of guys at heatinghelp.com that know steam heat pretty well.
    I love reading about stuff that I have no idea what they are talking about, its like a foreign language

  6. user-6623302 | | #7

    Post questions on the Wall at Heatinghelp.com.

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