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Boilers and Radiators

Enjoy the comfort of a hot water or steam heating system—but don't forget to maintain it regularly.

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Boilers and Radiators

Many newer homes are heated by hot water or steam, two types of "sealed water-circulating systems" that circulate water heated by a boiler through pipes to radiators.

As with any system, regular use will create the need for routine maintenance. Here are a few maintenance tips that may reduce the amount and severity of boiler and/or radiator repairs. Most should be performed by your local ARS®/Rescue Rooter® heating professional.

Bleed your hot-water system

At the start of each heating season, you will need to bleed your system of unwanted air. While the system is running, go from radiator to radiator and open each bleed valve slightly, then close it when water starts to escape. For multi-level homes, start at the top floor and work your way down.

Retrofit zoned heating systems

Save energy by retrofitting separate controls for different zones in large homes, such as areas that are not used often or need to be on a different schedule than the rest of the home.

Insulate pipes

In steam and hot water systems, insulating pipes is cost effective because it avoids losing heat in unwanted areas. Install fiberglass pipe insulation that can withstand the high temperatures of these delivery pipes.

Reflect heat for efficiency

Installing heat reflectors behind radiators on exterior walls helps prevent heat loss and lowers energy costs. Simply make your own reflector by installing radiator reflector foil (available at most home improvement stores) on the wall behind the radiator or by mounting aluminum foil on plywood. The foil should face away from the wall and be the same size as the radiator.

Has your steam radiator gone cold?

Steam radiators also need regular maintenance. A clogged air vent will keep a steam radiator from heating up, and usually needs to be replaced. If you notice one of your radiators is not heating up, you should contact a heating specialist to check the air vent.

Banging radiators

Steam radiators can warp floors and dig ruts, causing the radiator to tilt and creating banging noises when the radiator heats up. Shims should be inserted under radiators to pitch them slightly toward the pipe in a one-pipe system, or toward the steam trap in a two-pipe system.

Call in the pros

If your hot water or steam heating system is leaving you out in the cold or holding your ears, it's time to contact your local ARS®/Rescue Rooter® heating specialist to learn more about radiator and boiler repairs and maintenance. Making it work. Making it right®.

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