Balancing Hydronic Systems in Multifamily Buildings

Stacey Rothgeb, R. Ruch, P. Ludwig, T. Maurer, Stacey Rothgeb (NREL Technical Monitor)

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


In multifamily hydronic systems, temperature imbalance may be caused by undersized piping, improperly adjusted balancing valves, inefficient water temperature and flow levels, and owner/occupant interaction with the boilers, distribution and controls. The effects of imbalance include tenant discomfort, higher energy use intensity and inefficient building operation. This paper explorescost-effective distribution upgrades and balancing measures in multifamily hydronic systems, providing a resource to contractors, auditors, and building owners on best practices to improve tenant comfort and lower operating costs. The research was conducted by The Partnership for Advanced Residential Retrofit (PARR) in conjunction with Elevate Energy. The team surveyed existing knowledge oncost-effective retrofits for optimizing distribution in typical multifamily hydronic systems, with the aim of identifying common situations and solutions, and then conducted case studies on two Chicago area buildings with known balancing issues in order to quantify the extent of temperature imbalance. At one of these buildings a booster pump was installed on a loop to an underheated wing of thebuilding. This study found that unit temperature in a multifamily hydronic building can vary as much as 61 degrees F, particularly if windows are opened or tenants use intermittent supplemental heating sources like oven ranges. Average temperature spread at the building as a result of this retrofit decreased from 22.1 degrees F to 15.5 degrees F.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages45
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Partnership for Advanced Residential Retrofit, Chicago, Illinois

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-5500-62388

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102014-4463


  • balance
  • balancing
  • Building America
  • hydronic
  • imbalance
  • multifamily
  • oven
  • Parr
  • range
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • spread
  • temperature


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