A Guide to Fixing a Radiator

radiatorIf you own an older home, chances are that your heat is supplied through radiators. While both hot water and steam radiators to provide a classical look to a home, as more and more homes migrate to convection heat, it is increasingly important that homeowners learn some basic radiator repair so that they can address some of the small problems which may arise. While there is some element of self-sufficiency here, it should be noted that any problems which arise directly from the boiler or with the pipes should be referred to a professional trades person or service provider.

Before your begin

Before you begin any radiator repairs it is important to know what you’re dealing with. A steam radiator features an air vent at the top which releases small bursts of steam as the radiator is in operation. Steam radiators are somewhat easier to service as they can be worked on simply when the boiler is off, while with hot water radiators the full system must be drained before attempting any radiator repair.

Repairing a Leaking Radiator

When considering how to repair a leaking radiator you want to ensure first that you understand your system, have the appropriate tools readily at hand which include a pipe wrench, a screwdriver and groove-joint pliers as well as any replacement parts required. Think of all of these tools as your radiator repair kit required for any work to be done on your system. You should also be sure to turn down the thermostat so that the boiler will not turn on while you work.

Radiator Valve Repair

Most commonly, you may find yourself dealing with radiator valve repair. Simple water leaks beneath the handle may require tightening of the packing nut found directly beneath the handle and adjusting the larger union nut. If this doesn’t correct the problem, you may need to consider installing a new valve or a new handle.

Cast Iron Radiator Repair

Some cast iron radiator repair is specific to the type of unit you have. Steam radiators may require repair and maintenance of vents while hot water radiators may require that use of bleeder valves is needed to address the issue. If air gets trapped inside the system it may impede the heat output of your equipment. By opening a bleeder valve and placing a bowl or cup under it, monitor the flow until water is flowing in a steady stream to ensure that air bubbles have been released.

Performance Issues

If performance still seems to be a problem, you may still not need to repair your radiator. There is still one more element to investigate. In order to operate effectively air should flow freely both above and below the radiator. Ensure that furniture and other obstructions are not too close to impede air flow to the unit. It has also been found effective to place a sheet of reflective insulation or aluminum foil behind the radiator to channel more heat into the room.

If your radiator repair needs are not remedies through these solutions as identified, get in touch with a certified repair technician to explore more advanced repairs or replacement that may be required.