Published onOctober 19th, 2020
Overheating? Solutions to Adjust Your Heat
Have you or your tenants been experiencing overheating in your New York City residence or workplace? If you have steam heat, which is quite common here, this is not unusual. In fact, it’s one of our most frequent service calls at Calray Boilers. Here are some solutions to adjust the heat if the inside of your property feels like a hot August day in the middle of winter.
Why NYC Buildings Are Often Overheated
An old-fashioned approach
When steam radiators were first becoming commonplace in New York City residences, the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic was at its peak. Radiators were designed to overheat then, with the idea that this would force people to open their windows and improve airflow for better health. Of course, now we know that’s not an energy-efficient or environmentally friendly answer.
So, what are the best solutions for adjusting the heat? Here are seven, ranging from DIY fast fixes to more complex approaches that require boiler experts.
Turn Off the Radiator
A quick fix
If your home or apartment units are too hot only some of the time, an easy, temporary solution is to turn off the radiator. This might be a reasonable fix if the heat is excessive in the fall and spring but adequate in winter, or if you have multiple radiators in one room.
You can let the space cool slightly and then turn the heat back on as needed. Just make sure you turn the radiator all the way off and then all the way on again; otherwise, it will hiss or bang.
Distribute heat better
Sometimes it can feel like a radiator is overheating an apartment because the warmth is concentrating in one space, often the living room or bedroom where the radiators are located. Using fans can help distribute the heat throughout the entire space so it feels more even and comfortable.
We’re not talking about box fans like you would use in the summer, although those can work too, albeit a little too intrusively. We suggest installing ceiling fans, which surprisingly aren’t just for summer cooling. They can also help with radiator heat distribution via convection when operated in a clockwise blade direction.
Try a Humidifier
Cool the air with moisture
One of the greatest complaints that accompanies New York City radiator overheating is the resulting dry air. The good news is that using a cool mist humidifier can solve two problems at once for you. The additional moisture in the air will simultaneously remove some heat, and it will curb that wretched wintertime dryness that causes itchy skin, paper cuts, bloody noses, and static electricity buildup.
Add Radiator Covers
Using a radiator cover is an age-old method of subduing overactive steam heaters. Although some folks use a sheet or old blanket to wrap the radiator for this purpose, we recommend using a more fire-safe material designed for this use. You can obtain radiator covers at some fabric stores or online.
Another option is to use a metal box-shaped radiator cover, which is more expensive upfront but usually looks more attractive. It can even offer a shelf-like space for storing items. Both of these methods trap radiator heat before it spreads to the room, much like wearing clothing holds heat on your body in the winter.
Downsize Your Radiator
Smaller heating surface area
In some instances, your radiator may be too large for the area it’s heating. This may be the case if the building was constructed when people still opened windows for fresh air in the height of winter or if a larger space has been divided into smaller areas and the same huge, old radiator was retained.
Downsizing the radiator for a smaller model may fix your overheating problem. A radiator that occupies less space will have less surface area available to create heat. We’ve found that switching to a smaller radiator is a straightforward and relatively easy solution. It may be preferable to the suggestions above because it:
- Can help save on energy use and fuel bills
- Offers a permanent solution
- Is more attractive than DIY fabric covers
- Doesn’t require fussing with the radiator once the change has been made
Install Radiator Zone Valves
A modern alternative
There is a new handy device called a radiator zone valve or thermostatic valve. This senses the amount of steam and water in the radiator and adjusts the flow of hot water to the radiator based on predetermined settings. While these valves are fairly inexpensive (often under $50), they should be installed by a professional plumber, as a mistake can cause malfunction and potentially damage the radiator system and surrounding piping.
Adjust Your Boiler
Go to the source
Sometimes we find that the boiler is the source of the problem, not the radiator. In these instances, it’s usually a malfunction or setting that needs adjustment because the boiler is firing too frequently. That’s not a DIY fix and requires a boiler specialist like Calray. We recommend routine boiler maintenance to catch problems like this before they start, but in the event that your boiler seems to be cycling too often, or if you think something’s not right, we’re happy to come out and have a look.
There are some sophisticated options at our disposal that might work for your boiler, especially if everything is working fine but it’s still producing too much heat for your tenants. For example, a microprocessor-controlled device could be installed to monitor the circulating water temperature and manage your boiler’s cycle in a more strategic way. These gadgets run in the thousands of dollars but can pay for themselves quickly by lowering monster fuel bills.
If you have a larger building where some units are too hot and others, too cold, we might also suggest installing sensors in various regions of the building. These sensors can offer feedback, which can then help you determine boiler running time so you can find a happy middle ground for every tenant. This method can also save on fuel consumption.
If your home, apartment building, or commercial property is chronically overheated, we’re here to help you. Reach out to Calray Boilers today by calling 212-722-5506 or by scheduling an appointment using our easy online form. You don’t have to suffer from too much heat. We’ll find the solutions you need.