Diagnosing and Fixing Cold Radiators

If you use hot water or steam heating in your house, then you have radiators spaced throughout your living area. These big metal behemoths keep us nice and toasty when the weather outside is anything but. When they stop working, it’s almost a panic that we get in trying to figure out what’s wrong! Lucky for you, we know the ins-and-outs of these heating systems and can get you back to the warmth you’re looking for in just a few simple steps!

Before we tackle any mechanical repairs, make sure that the control valve leading to your radiator is turned to the “on” position. Nothing is worse than going through a bunch of steps to fix you radiator then finding out that it was merely turned off the whole time! You should also make sure you have extra parts laying around, like Industrial Washers, so you are sure that you have everything you need to get the repairs done efficiently.

Bleed Your Radiators

The first step to try with any radiator that’s not working is bleeding them. A lot of hot-water radiator issues are caused by air getting trapped in the radiator. Fixing this is a quick 1-minute chore that can be done with almost no thought or preparation whatsoever!

Depending on your radiator, you will need a radiator key, a 12-point socket, or a flathead screwdriver. Check the top of your radiator to see which one fits, and use the right tool to slowly turn the valve counter-clockwise until was starts to drip out. This release in pressure lets any trapped air work it’s way out while allowing heated water into the cold fins. This WILL decrease pressure on your system so you may have to (slowly) add some more water to increase the pressure.

If the air doesn’t seem to be released after a single bleeding, open the valve again and then add water to the system to purge air from it. Get a friend for this, it saves time, really!

If you’re not familiar with your system, then don’t be afraid to call a pro. Don’t mess with it if you don’t know how much pressure your system needs. The rule of thumb is 1lb of pressure for every 2ft of rise. A basic two story house with the boiler and expansion tank in the basement needs 12-15lbs or 25-30 ft of pressure to work properly.

Check the Hot Water Flow Control Valve

This unit lets you control the individual amount of water flowing through the unit. Less hot water mean less warmth. Sometimes this valve can get jammed and needs to be opened. Try operating it with a flathead screwdriver and see if fixes the unit.

If this valve needs to be replaced, turn off all water to the unit and wait until it cools down (if it’s warm at all) before doing so. Removing this while water is flowing through the unit can cause a drop in water pressure, and potentially expel hot water on you and your living space.

Other Issues

Other issues can be caused by faulty valves, pipes, or problems anywhere along the line. These types of issues are best handled by a professional, so give a local technician a call and let them give your whole system an inspection.

Wrap Up

Hopefully, your heater gets fixed and is ready to keep your family warm soon! Let us know below if you have any questions or comments and we’ll be sure to get back to you. Thanks for reading!

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