Why don't my steam radiators get heat on the second floor?

I have very old (1950) steam radiators and 2 of the 4 bedrooms on the second floor of my house almost never get heat. It has to run for a long time. There are steam valves on the side of each radiator. Should they be left open or closed? Any other suggestions? Thank you!


3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    First, manual air BLEED valves only exist on hot water systems not on STEAM systems. I have done maintenance on working steam heating systems 40 years older than yours. If you are getting heat elsewhere there are two reasons that are likely causes of the problem.

    1. the steam valves are broken and do not open. They may even be painted shut. A steam valve's operation must be automatic. They are not intended to be manually closed or opened. When the steam rises heat hits the valve that has been releasing air into the room and it closes. It opens again when the radiator cools. They automaticly bleed air but are generally called "steam valves" for clarity.

    The valve with the handle close to the floor is not the steam valve and it should ALWAYS remain open on a steam system. If the radiators are not getting hot you can try to change the steam valves and install a valve with a larger hole. This is normally done to "balance" a system. You may have to install smaller valves on other radiators instead.

    2. the radiators or the lines going to them are plugged with water condensate and the steam can't get to the radiators. The radiators may have to be removed and drained, or raised so that the water drains. With older homes that have settled sometimes the required pitches are no longer proper. If the water is in the pipes and trying to get through I would expect you to be hearing some banging in the pipes.

    Read the article below and come back if you have any other specific questions.

    Source(s): There is a lot of confusion between hot water and steam heating systems. Here is an example of a typical, severely confused article: http://home.howstuffworks.com/how-to-troubleshoot-... This is a little better: http://www.heatinghelp.com/ This is good if a little technical: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/steam-heating-sy... ------ look especially at other references. This one is also technical but with a good GLOSSARY: http://www.hoffmanspecialty.com/pdf/submittals/hs-... This is a good middle of the road article: http://homerepair.about.com/od/heatingcoolingrepai... --- but don't bother with the reference to steam radiators. For a little inspiration: http://www.runtalnorthamerica.com/steamlink.html And a place to ask specific questions: http://www.hometips.com/hyhw/comfort/45steam.html
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    They prob need to be bleed to work. Look for a little place to put a key in where the steam comes out. You can buy the keys at any hardward store but you may have to ask where to find it. Open the valves slowly until a little water comes out then shut them again.

  • Jo
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Check your steam vent, it may be bad.

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