Tips for Maintaining Old Radiators in Your Home

January 13, 2016

Homes in Massachusetts have all sorts of heating mechanisms, from new, state-of-the-art radiant heating to old clamoring radiators that sputter and hiss – this disparity is charming proof of our rich history and evolution. However, it leaves a lot of questions: which type of radiator is in my home? What’s the best way to maintain it? What are my other options?

If you’re looking for information on keeping your radiators in top shape this winter, no matter the age of your heating system, then this article is for you!

Steam Radiators

Just as the name indicates, a steam radiator operates by boiling water to turn it into steam. The hot steam moves through a set of pipes to the radiator, gradually cooling and turning into condensation. This then then drips back through the unit and to the boiler, where it is once again turned into steam, repeating the process.

The method is simple, but ingenious – as evidenced by the fact that although dated, these steam radiators still exist in many homes today. Below are different types of steam radiators:

All Different Kinds

Cast Iron Free Standing Radiator:

This is probably the image that comes to mind when you think of an old radiator. These cast iron giants are extremely effective in heating a room, but do take up quite a bit of space.

Baseboard Steam Radiators:

These systems operate on the same principles as the free standing radiators, but take up far less space. They get their name from the fact that most people install them along the baseboard of their home to blend in more with their surroundings.

Ceramic Radiators:

Ceramic radiators are the newest of the steam radiator family and arguably the most efficient at supplying lasting heat. For those interested in installing a steam radiator in their home, ceramic would be the best choice.

It Takes a Little Love

Here a couple quick wins when trying to maintain your radiator’s efficiency this winter:

Clear the Area

Almost all parts of a steam radiator give off heat, so it stands to reason that if they’re being blocked, some of that heat production is being lost. Make sure that air is moving about freely around the radiator. If you have a baseboard system, ensure that nothing on the floor is blocking the warm air from traveling upwards and out.

Bleed the Radiator

All steam radiators are fitted with a valve, called a “steam valve,” that allows pressure to be released by loosening it. You can use this valve to “bleed” the radiator, which really just means letting any cold air out of the system. Radiators that aren’t heating properly often benefit from being bled – try opening the valve bit by bit until you feel the warmth returning.

Clean it Up

This one sounds almost sounds like it’s not worth mentioning, but it sure is. Making sure that radiators are just as clean as the other surfaces in your home will help them release the appropriate amount of heat into the room. Wiping them down regularly with a damp cloth, (when they aren’t hot!), will go a long way towards ensuring your overall radiator maintenance.

 

Keeping up with these tasks throughout the winter can reduce your home’s energy consumption, and in turn, help your wallet. Read our other blogs to find out more about how you can start saving on energy around your home.


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