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Live event: heating distribution issues - what to do about apartments that are always cold.


Event discussion recap:

Heat distribution is a critical aspect of building management, particularly in buildings with central heating systems. However, addressing uneven heating can be challenging. The post below outlines the key insights from our recent presentation and discussion on heat distribution issues and what to do about that apartment that’s always too cold.

Identifying and Addressing Heat Distribution Problems

Data Collection: The first step in resolving heating issues is to gather temperature data from different parts of the building. If you’re a Runwise customer, you can open up the mobile app and compare the temperatures across apartments. If you’re not a Runwise customer and do not have indoor temperature sensors, you’ll need to take manual temperature measurements around the building.

Problem Localization: Identify whether the heating issue is confined to a single apartment, a line of apartments, or is building-wide. This helps in targeting the solution.

Types of Issues:

  • Apartment Issues: These are specific to individual units and can include factors like open windows, blocked radiators, or improperly sealed AC units (the three most common issues we see when a tenant is complaining about cold temperatures).
  • Distribution Issues: These are related to the movement of heat within the building and can include problems with steam traps, vents, or insufficient insulation.
  • Boiler Issues: Central heating problems, like short cycling of the boiler or incorrect pressure settings, can affect heat distribution throughout the building.

If you’re a Runwise customer, and you’ve checked those three most common items in the tenant’s apartment, definitely contact our support team, and we can help diagnose issues within the heating system.

Practical Tips for Addressing Heating Problems

Worth repeating because of how frequently these are the issues - check for simple solutions: Ensure windows are closed (even a hidden ¼” gap is enough to dramatically cool an apartment), radiators are open, and AC units are properly sealed or removed.

Sensor Use: If you’re not a Runwise customer, investigate using a smart control with indoor temperature sensors to gather accurate temperature data and identify cold spots. If you don’t have indoor sensors, you’ll be relying on an outdoor thermometer to to tell your heating system when to turn on/off. That’s great if you don’t care what the temperature is inside. Without indoor sensors, you’ll never be able to manage heating as efficiently as you’d like to.

Maintenance: Regular maintenance of steam traps and vents is essential, especially in older buildings.

Insulation: Proper insulation of pipes and radiators can significantly improve heat distribution and efficiency.

Educate Residents: Encourage residents to adopt habits that aid in maintaining a comfortable temperature, such as appropriate clothing and not blocking radiators. This one came directly from the building owners and property managers who participated in the event - blocking radiators with furniture is a pretty common issue as well.

Advanced Strategies

Steam Balancing: For buildings with horizontal layouts, adjusting vent sizes may help in balancing steam distribution.

Use of Reflective Insulation: Installing heat-reflective insulation behind radiators can improve heat efficiency in specific units.

Managing Tenant Expectations and Complaints

Documentation: Keep records of apartment temperatures to address complaints effectively. If you’re a Runwise customer, we’re recording and saving temperatures for you automatically in the app.

Education: Inform tenants about how their actions (like keeping windows open or painting the radiator valves) can impact heating efficiency. 

Policy Enforcement: Implement and enforce policies regarding alterations to heating elements like radiators.


Effectively managing heat distribution in buildings requires a combination of technical understanding, regular maintenance, and proactive communication with residents. By adopting these strategies, building managers can ensure a more efficient and comfortable living environment for all occupants.