Synchronizing Your Steam-Heating System and Your Thermostat

If your Cleveland area home has a steam-heating system, you need to make sure that any updates to your thermostat take this into account. Many modern thermostats are designed with factory presets for use with forced-air heating, which operate much differently as compared to steam-heating.

Mainly, a steam-heating system requires one to two cycles per hour. Some programmable thermostats have up to six cycles per hour, which will wreak havoc on your steam-heating system as well as your home comfort. Some programmable thermostats cannot be adjusted for this difference and you can be left with having to return or at worst abandon a unit you just bought.

Another difference between steam-heating systems and forced warm air systems is that they have a much longer response time. More time is required from the time the boiler is activated until heat is established in the home. Additionally, steam boilers provide heat much longer after the burner is shut off.

The delay to establishing heat and the residual after the unit shuts off must be considered when programming the timing of the set back thermostat. You may find the need to program the start-up sooner and then turn it off sooner as compared to your experience with forced warm systems.

Programmable thermostats are available in a few varieties: 5+1+1, 5+2 or 7-day. The number 5 usually refers to the weekdays – M – F – which is one set schedule. The two weekend days might have similar schedules (5 & 2) or dissimilar schedules (5 + 1 + 1).  The 7 day version allows for a different schedule every day if there is no commonality in your weekly schedule. Having a weekend schedule different from the weekdays might be worthwhile if you stay at home most weekends.

In conjunction with your thermostat, it is also a good idea to look into the other parts of your home that can impact your steam-heating system. If you have air leaks that allow warm air to escape to the outside, these are repaired without much trouble, and go a long way in keeping your home more comfortable. Air sealing, along with an evaluation of your insulation levels, are uncomplicated tasks for a professional contractor to undertake. The radiators that keep each room comfortable also need to be maintained. If the paint is peeling on one or more of them, look into painting your radiators.  Also make sure to talk with your professional contractor about air venting, piping and the pitch of both pipes and radiators.

For more expert advice on steam-heating systems, or other questions related to heating and home comfort, contact the experienced team at P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling. We have been serving the greater Cleveland area for over 75 years.

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