Despite their outdated-ness and inefficiency, radiators remain in many homes in the United States. This may be because the homes are historic and modern updates would ruin them, or because the radiators add antiquated charm to a home or apartment. Either way, radiators need more frequent repair than their modern heater counterparts. Here are the most common problems radiators have and how HVAC contractors repair them.
Radiator valves help release extra moisture and steam heat into the room. The moisture had a tendency to cause rust in old radiator valves, which, after awhile, made them difficult to turn on or off. They have also been known to break off. If you experience this problem with your old radiator valves, your HVAC technician will replace the valves with updated versions that do not rust, corrode or become too tight to turn.
Connections to the Boiler
Usually the boiler unit is in the basement of these old homes and apartment buildings. Lines connecting your radiators to the boiler often break or disconnect because they are thin, and the pressure from the boiler can create weak points in the lines. Your HVAC contractor can examine these connection lines and replace sections that are dripping or have holes or leaks, and tighten the lines at the joints.
Radiators need to be "bled" whenever they have been shut off or abandoned for a long time. If the home or apartment you now reside in has not had any occupants for several months, you can bleed the radiators on your own. However, you may also discover that the bleeder screws are missing. These bleeder screws are more like threaded keys than screws, so you cannot simply replace the missing bleeder screws with whatever you have on hand or with traditional screws. When you meet with an HVAC technician to inspect your radiators, he or she might have a bleeder screw in his or her supply truck. He or she can also show you what the screw is supposed to look like and where you can find your own.
Damage to the Radiator Itself
Although most radiators were and have been made of cast iron, every once in a while a radiator can become dented or get a hole in it. Rather than completely abandon your boiler and steam heat system in favor of a modern furnace, there are companies that reproduce working replicas of radiators, complete with cast iron composition. To replace a damaged radiator, you will definitely need the professional help of an HVAC contractor. He or she will make sure the temperamental connections for your radiator are properly connected.
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