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Radiators

To maintain the energy efficiency, safety, and useful life of your hot water radiators, it is important that your home maintenance program include the proper maintenance for your home heating radiators.

A room radiator heating system has hot water circulating through pipes that radiate heat into the room.  Air bubbles in the hot water sometimes collect in the radiator and this takes up space that should be filled with hot water.  Therefore, this air must be bled off for the radiator to give off the most heat.  See also:  Baseboard Heating System and Furnace.


Shown in the "Maintenance" tab above are the recommended routine maintenance tasks for your home heating radiators. The "Questions / Answers" tab above shows our answers to related questions. And the "Articles" tab above provides links to related informational articles and sources.


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 Maintenance Task:  Bleed radiators and inspect valves

 
       
    How do you bleed radiators and inspect valves?  

 

 

The bleeder valve for each radiator is located near the top.  Place a cup underneath it to catch water drips and open the valve until water begins to come out.  Once all the air is out, close the valve.  Check around the radiator and valves for any water leaks.  Clean dust off of the radiator, since a layer of dust will act as heat insulation.  And make sure the radiators are not blocked by drapes or furniture.

 
       
    Why is it important to bleed radiators and inspect valves?  

 

 

Bleeding air out of the radiators improves energy efficiency.

 
       
    How often should you bleed radiators and inspect valves?  
    Perform at the beginning of the heating season (October) and whenever the radiator doesn't appear to be giving off sufficient heat.  

 

 

 

   
    How does Home-Wizard rate the costs and benefits for this task?  
    The cost of this task is low from an investment of time standpoint.  It is estimated that this task should only take about 30 minutes to complete, depending on the number of radiators in your home.  The task is relatively easy to do, once you have done it the first time.  No specialized tools are required.  
         
    The benefits of this task are high, in that it enables the energy efficient operation of your radiator heating system.  
       
    Overall Home-Wizard benefit-versus-cost rating (one 'hat' = low and four 'hats' = high)  

 

 

 



 

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS from "Ask-a-Wizard":

QUESTION from "Laura":  

What kind of paint should be used to paint radiators?

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com:

Laura:

The short answer is that you might want to consider using something like Krylon "Hi Heat & Radiator" brand paint for your radiator.

But here are some other thoughts that you might want to consider:

1) if you are going to do this project for this winter, you should consider doing it soon, before the weather gets too cold. This is because you will want to open the windows and and run your heating system to allow the smell and fumes that will likely be produced the first time your new paint job gets warmed up by the hot radiator.

2) Regardless of which brand of high temperature paint you choose to use, you should consider using "non-metallic" paint. Non-metallic paint can come in a variety of colors, and will allow your radiator to emit more heat that a "metallic" paint.

3) Although it is not much fun, like any painting project, preparing the surface to be painted is the most important part of the job if you want the final product to look good and to last. Dirt, grime, loose old paint all need to come off if you want the new paint to stick properly. A wire brush, chemical strippers, and an old screwdriver can all come in handy for doing this. Next you will want to put down a coat of and oil-based (not latex) primer that contains a lot of zinc.

4) One last thought is that if you are looking for a more decorative finish to your radiator, and are looking for a "bronzed" or two-tone appearance, you might want to check out: http://www.oldhousejournal.com/magazine/2003/february/bronze_beauties.shtml

Hope this is helpful for you.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "sagehervan":  

I live in a apartment and the radiator baseboard was not working and now it is, and the fumes are all through the apartment.  Will it go away soon?  Or will I have to get a repairman?

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com:

Dear sagehervan:

Regarding your question about the smell from your baseboard radiator system, since you said that you are in an apartment and had not used the baseboard system before, there are two things that this could likely be:

1) if the landlord painted the baseboard heating system (either directly, or if paint dripped on the baseboard radiator when the walls or ceilings were painted), then when you turned on the system, the increased temperature could be causing "outgassing" of the paint as it warms up on the surface of the radiator; or

2) if dust has built up on the surfaces of baseboard radiator, then this can have a "musty" smell when your system comes on for the first time in a season.

In either case, if these are the problem then it should go away over time. However if it is because of paint on the radiators, you might want to open the windows to help air out your apartment, rather than breathing the paint fumes. And if it is due to dust build-up on your radiators, you might try using a vacuum attachment to clean off the built up dust.

If the smell does not go away soon, then you (or your landlord) should contact a professional.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "Brent":  

My baseboard radiators make a loud bang when the heat comes on in the bedroom. I suspect it is like water hammer. How do I fix it?

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com:

Dear Brent:

You say that you hear the bang noise when your baseboard radiator turns on. As such, the noise is probably not coming from a water hammer (which more typically occurs when a valve suddenly closes).

Here are some potential causes of the bang noise that you are hearing:

1) A pipe to or from this baseboard radiator that is running through a hole in a wall, etc. that is too tight, which doesn't allow sufficiently for the pipe's thermal expansion.

2) Pipes not supported properly, such that when they turn on, they bang into one another or into other things.

3) The zone valve is installed backwards.

4) Air is trapped in the line, which needs to be bled out.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "confused":  

Upstairs radiators are cold and down stairs are hot. Just repaired recirculation pump and still no heat upstairs. Bled all radiators and no heat upstairs.

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com:

Dear confused:

Since you have already repaired your recirculation pump, bled all radiators, and you are not getting heat in only one zone of radiators, then here are a couple possible causes of why you are not getting heat in your upstairs radiators:

1) It could be possible that you have dedicated circulators for different heating zones in your home. If so, you should check to see if the circulator for your upstairs radiators has failed.
2) If not, you should check the zone valve that serves your upstairs radiators. The water pipe should be hot both upstream and downstream of this zone valve. If the valve is bad or stuck, it will be hot upstream of the valve, but then cool downstream of the valve. (Upstream refers to the piping that is in the direction of the boiler)

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "chris carolan nj":  

I keep getting air in my system.  Its a 4 zone system and only the top floor 1 zone gets it.  I do have another zone on the top floor, but that one is always fine.  I bleed it and then a month later it gurgles and sounds like a faucet again, so I bleed it and its good for another month.  What is happening to be allowing air in?  Thanks

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com:

Dear chris carolan nj:

If you keep getting air in your hot water heating system, it sounds like you might likely have a small water leak somewhere in your system. You should check all of the bleeder valves on your system, as this is a common place for water leaks to occur. And you should also check all of the piping, valves and fittings around your boiler for signs of water leakage. Hopefully, there are no water leaks occurring in any of the piping anywhere inside of your walls, as this can cause major problems related to pests, etc.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from CHRISTINE on 4/18/2008:


HOW DO I SHUT OFF THE HEAT FROM THE HEATER?


ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 4/19/2008:


Dear Christine:

To answer your question about how to turn off your heater, I'll first need to know what type of heating system that you have.

For example, is it a radiator or baseboard heating system? Or is a forced air distribution system?

And does your heating system have separate thermostat controls from your air conditioning system (if you have central air conditioning)?

Just let me know, and then I can hopefully give you the correct advice for your particular type of heating system.

Sincerely,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from marv schoenberg on 4/20/2008:


Why do apartment house radiators cause so much dust? my windows are shut so it has to be coming from the radiators. How can it be stopped?

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 4/20/2008:


Dear marv schoenberg:

Regarding your question about why radiators cause so much dust, do you mean "radiators" as in hot water systems that heat pipes in your rooms? Or do you actually mean "registers" for hot air that blows into your rooms?

If you mean "radiators" then the dust that is being kicked up in your rooms is likely from the heat currents around your radiators, which cause warm air to rise, and when the air rises it pulls up dust from the floor, which then settles down on your furniture, etc. 

For radiator heating systems, you can cut down on dust in your rooms by installing a separate electrostatic air purifier in your rooms.

If you actually mean "registers" for a forced hot air heating system, then you can cut down dust by installing a central electronic air cleaner on your blower. You can also cut down on dust by installing more efficient air filters.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from lindielou39 on 3/24/2008:


If my pump speed is set too low it stops the noise but then my radiators wont heat up and my boiler sounds like its blowing bubbles, if i turn the pump speed up the rads will heat up but then the pump makes an awful revving sound?

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 3/24/2008:

Dear lindielou39:

It sounds like you may have air trapped in your system. Have you already tried bleeding the air from your system? If you haven't, be sure that your water make-up valve is working so that your system can re-fill with water when the air comes out.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from lindielou on 3/25/2008:


I have checked my system and all the radiators are full, however am finding now that my upstairs radiators are hot but my downstairs radiators are just lukewarm??

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 3/25/2008:
Dear lindielou: 

If you are sure that you have bled all of the air out of your downstairs radiators, and you are not getting heat in only one zone of radiators, then here are a couple possible causes of why you are not getting heat in your downstairs radiators:

1) It could be possible that you have dedicated circulators for different heating zones in your home. If so, you should check to see if the circulator for your downstairs radiators has failed.

2) If not, you should check the zone valve that serves your downstairs radiators. The water pipe should be hot both upstream and downstream of this zone valve. If the valve is bad or stuck, it will be hot upstream of the valve, but then cool downstream of the valve. (Upstream refers to the piping that is in the direction of the boiler)

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Tiana on 2/29/2008:


What year did home radiator heating systems stop being built with homes? or What year did they start introducing forced heat built with homes?

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 2/29/2008:


Dear Triana:

Regarding your question of "when did radiator heating systems stop being built"?, actually they have not stopped being built. Many homes today are still built with different types of radiator systems, for example, baseboard water radiator systems.

Regarding the second part of your question, forced air heating began being used to heat homes back around 1935, with the introduction of the electric fan being used to distribute air through ductwork in the house, and back then, the air was heated by a coal-fired furnace. Later the fuel for the furnace was replaced by oil and gas.

If you want to learn more about the history of home heating systems, then check out this website:

http://sunhomedesign.wordpress.com/2007/10/26/a-brief-history-of-heating-and-cooling-americas-homes/

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from phil on 2/28/2008:


I have a radiator that is running hot even though the heat is turned off...what is that a sign of and what should I do?

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com 2/28/2008:
Dear Phil:

How long does your radiator continue to run hot after the heat is turned off? If it is just a short while, this is called "pump overrun", and it is when your circulation pump continues to run to take heat away from your boiler to keep it from overheating.

Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from jane lloyd 2/22/2008:

What oil do you use in a oil radiator? are they refillable?

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com 2/22/2008:
Dear jane lloyd:

Typically, an oil-filled radiator is NOT refillable.

Has yours leaked? Or were you just wondering if there is maintenance required for the oil in your radiator?

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Nance Lee 2/19/2008:


My son knocked a radiator screw off while lifting weights in the basement. We lost a good deal of water (maybe three or four gallons). Now, one radiator in the kitchen is ice cold. The rest are warm and seem fine. Will the system replenish itself or do I need to do something (add water - how? or call a repairman) - thanks!

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 2/19/2008:
Dear Nance Lee:

A couple of thoughts regarding the problem you are having after you lost so much water from your radiator system:

1) Regarding your question about whether the system will replenish itself, your system should have an automatic make-up valve installed in it, which brings in fresh water as your system has loses, expansions and contractions, etc. So assuming that this valve is there, and is operating properly, you should be alright and the system should replenish itself with water.

2) However,regarding the problem you are having with no heat in your kitchen, since you have heat in you other zones, it sounds like the problem is just related to your kitchen zone. Chances are that when you lost so much water, that the kitchen zone may have filled up with air. So if you haven't already, you might want to try to bleed your kitchen radiators. If you are not sure how to do this, you can look in our online Maintenance Library, on the Baseboard Heating System page:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Nance Lee on 2/19/2008:


Thank you (sorry I accidentally posted three times - I hit refresh to see your answer!)

While all the other radiators have a similar bleed screw, the kitchen one does not (of course). It is smaller than the others and built under the counter - I can only access one side of it and there is no screw there. There is a large valve that comes out of the floor - should I unscrew that? There is also what appears to be a bolt, maybe half inch diameter, on the side in the middle (not at the top where the other screws are). It has been painted over and appears to have never been opened.

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Nance Lee on 2/19/2008 :


Me again! We figured out how to take the screw out of the cold radiator in the kitchen. There is a big 2 inch diameter hole now, and nothing is coming out - air or water. How long do we wait? Also the pressure gauge on the boiler reads sreo (not a good thing, but also confusing since every other radiator is working fine). Maybe that gauge never worked; I honestly don't remember looking at it once in the past 17 years I have lived here (not a good thing either!) Thanks in advance -

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 2/19/2008:
Dear Nance Lee:

I was just about to suggest that you try to carefully un-screw the bolt that was half-way up (being careful because there could be hot water squirting out). This could be a way to test if there is air or water in your kitchen radiator.

But if you are saying what you opened is about 2 inches in diameter, and there is nothing coming out, then I'm wondering a couple of things: 1) if maybe this plug is not an opening in the water jacket of the radiator, but rather a mounting bracket of some sort; or 2) if it is indeed an opening to your radiator water jacket, then if the water supply to your kitchen radiator has somehow gotten shut off.

To answer you question about how long you would have to wait, the answer is not very long. If this was an opening to your radiator (and the zone valve to this radiator was open), and your water make-up valve was operating properly, you would see air or water coming out almost immediately.

When you had the original leak when your son knocked off the radiator screw in the basement, is it possible that the zone valve for the supply to your kitchen radiator got shut off when trying to contain the leak? One way to check is when you look at the zone valves in the basement, do all of them appear to be in the same position?

The other thing that is troubling is that you were able to find bleeder valves for all of your other zones, but not for the kitchen. You said that the kitchen radiator is built under a counter, and is it possible that the bleeder is tucked in a hard to reach spot? Do you have a small mirror that you can use to see the back side of the top of this radiator?

Regarding the boiler valve reading zero but the other zones are working, it could be a bad guage as you suggested, it could also be that there is a valve in the piping before that guage that is shut, and therefore the guage is not able to read the boiler's pressure.

If the above doesn't let you solve the problem, just let us know what you find out, and we'll try some other ways to diagnose the problem. 

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Nance Lee on 2/20/2008:
OK. The expansion tank on the second floor is completely empty. The radiator in the kitchen must have created a vacuum. When I try to bleed a different radiator it sucks air IN instead of letting air out. So I am about to open the valve to fill the boiler. I am thinking I should just do it to maybe 10 feet instead of the complete 20 feet it normally is at, to go slow and not let it pressurize too much so fast that the tank overflows. Then I will probably have to bleed all the radiators too, right? Please let me know if I am on the right track. Thanks!

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Nance Lee on 2/20/2008:
Not sure if you saw my newest question, right before M Hart's last post. Thanks!

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 2/20/2008:
Dear Nance Lee:

You system should NOT be drawing air IN. From your description, I'm wondering if it was your water make-up valve that was damaged. If your automatic water make-up valve is not operating correctly, this could explain why your system is not pressurizing properly, and why your kitchen zone has gotten air locked, and why you are not able to bleed it.

Can you tell if your make-up valve is working?

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 2/20/2008:
Dear Nance Lee:

It sounds like the problem maybe how you are re-filling and bleeding your system. Especially since it sounds like your expansion tank is still empty (when it should be about half full after you have bled your system, or until water starts to flow out of the overflow connection). 

Here is a link to a webpage that describes various hot water systems:

http://www.usace.army.mil/publications/armytm/tm5-642/chap5.pdf

Section 5-3 of this webpage describes the startup procedure for filling and bleeding your system. Hopefully by following this procedure, your entire system (including the kitchen radiator and your expansion tank) will be able to fill, and solve your problem. If not, please let me know what you find, and we'll keep working on figuring this out for you.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Nance Lee on 2/22/2008:


Well, it took me about 5 hours yesterday but everything is working perfectly now! I had to start with the third floor radiators (there are 5 of them) and work down. Each time I bled off air I had to go back to the basement and repressurize to 20 feet again. I bet I did 100 flights of stairs yesterday! But eventually the kitchen radiator refilled with warm water and all of them are working beautifully. Thank you so much for your patience and that great diagram! My husband was impressed that I actually read military specs to fix the boiler system!

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 2/22/2008:
Dear Nance Lee:

Thanks for the feedback. We're glad to hear that this helped you to solve your problem. From your description, it sounded like it had to be related to how you were re-filling your system. And it seemed like the diagram would help for your particular system.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from cold inside on 2/10/2008:
Water shoots out of my steam release valve on my one pipe radiator system. what do I do?

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 2/10/2008:
Dear "cold inside":

If your problem is water squirting out of an AIR vent, accompanied by hissing noises, then this indicates that the steam valve has not been shut off tight or that the steam valve has a worn-out seat.

If its not your AIR vent, just let us know where the vent is located, and what the vent looks like, and we can try to help you further.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Ken on 1/31/2008:


Hi I have to replace my steam radiator air valve. The air valve I have is shape like a long cylinder but the one I have to replace it with is shape like a bullet. My question does the shape make a different in the way steam will run through my house or is it that different brand make the air valve in different shapes?

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 1/31/2008:
Dear Ken:

Are you refering to your steam radiator "air" valve which is located near the top of the radiator, or do you mean your steam radiator "pressure reducing" valve which is typically located near your boiler?

Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Ken on 1/31/2008:

The steam radiator "pressure reducing" valve which is typically located my boiler

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Ken on 1/31/2008:


"More information to my question" The steam radiator "pressure reducing" valve which is located near my boiler in the basement I think this is what I was referring to it is located on the top of a pipe near the boiler and you can hear it let air out from time to time . I hope I was able to explain it better to you the part seems to go by few different name Air Valve,steam radiator valve etc..

ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 1/31/2008
Dear Ken:

Yes, you are correct, the pressure-reducing valve is also called the “automatic make-up valve” or the “feed-water pressure regulator”. The pressure-reducing valve connects the house plumbing supply system to the boiler water. It is designed to automatically maintain an adequate amount of water in the boiler at the desired pressure (12 to 15 psi).

The pressure-reducing valve can also be part of an assembly that includes a pressure-relief valve. Some types of pressure-reducing valves have a check-valve inside of them that prevents water flowing back from the heating system into the plumbing system, and as such, it acts as a backflow preventer. Note however that some towns require the backflow preventer to be separate.

Since it sounds like your new pressure-reducing valve is significantly smaller than your previous one, I’m wondering if the one that you replaced was also a pressure-relief valve or had a check-valve inside of it. If this is the case, then your system could now be potentially operating without either a pressure-relief valve or a backflow preventer. This is not good, and it NEEDS TO BE VERIFIED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. If you no longer have a pressure-relief valve or backflow preventer in your system, then you could potentially over-pressure your system or have heating system water flowing into your household drinking water.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from carmella on 5/10/2008:


I hear a whoosing sound coming from one radiator at the same time every night - I have hot water heat

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM ON 5/10/2008:


Dear Carmella:

I'm assuming that the sound that you are hearing coming from your radiator is happening when your heat comes on in the evening when the temperature starts to go down outside, and the demand for heat in your house goes up.

I suspect that the whooshing sound that you are hearing from one of your radiators is likely do to air trapped in this radiator that needs to be bled out. If this is the case, you will also notice that when its operating that the radiator will be warm on the bottom but cooler on the top.

To bleed your radiator, you will need a "bleed key" and a towel or bowl. Here is the procedure for how to bleed a radiator: 

1) Turn off you hot water system (turning down the thermostat is fine) 

2) Locate the bleed valve on your radiator. It will be located near the top of your radiator, typically towards the end.

3) Put your towel or bowel under the front of the bleed valve (to catch any water that drips out), and then insert the bleed key into the bleed valve and turn it counterclockwise. Don’t turn it too much; a half a turn is usually enough to allow air to start coming out. BE CAREFUL, because if water starts to come out, it may be scalding hot.

4) As you turn the radiator key, the valve will open and you will hear a hissing sound. This is completely normal and is simply caused by the air escaping. Once water begins to leak out of the radiator, then close the valve. To do so, turn the bleed key clockwise until tight.

5) Turn your central heating system back on.

You might find it helpful to watch this short video about how to bleed a radiator:

 http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-bleed-your-radiator


If this doesn't solve your problem, just let us know and we can try something else.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Becca Leslie on 9/21/2008
My husband and I have sold our house and are moving to a rental while we have a new house built. Our rental is quite an old home, and has radiator heat. We have a one year old daugther. We are wondering how how the covering of the pipes or the radiator become to the touch? Also, are curtains hanging near a radiator a fire hazard? Any information you could give on this matter will be greatly appreciated!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 9/21/2008
Dear Becca:

You are wise to ask about equipment that is unfamiliar in your new rental house.

Yes, some home radiators can run hot enough to severely burn small children. Here is a web link that describes some statistics on burns to children from home radiators. It also describes some steps that you can take to help protect your children from becoming burned by a radiator:

http://www.achildgrowsinbrooklyn.com/a_child_grows_in_brooklyn/2007/10/radiators-and-1.html

Regarding curtains near a radiator. Yes, it's a good idea not to let curtains hang in contact with your radiators. Also, you should try to secure your curtains so that they hang BEHIND your radiators, so that they force the heat into the room rather than out to the window.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com 
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QUESTION from Melissa Cranstoun on 10/2/2008
What are the turn knobs on the bottom of the radiators for? I believe I have a flowing water system. Also what do I need to do to the broiler to get it ready for the winter?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/3/2008
Dear Melissa:

If you are referring to the radiator knob shown in this photo (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/41/102438933_5a498be8e0.jpg), then this is the valve that allows hot water to come into your radiator, when you want to turn it on to heat your room.

To answer your second question, you can find the recommended maintenance tasks for getting your furnace boiler ready for the winter in our Maintenance Library at: http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/furnace.asp

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from lou on 10/3/2008
where can i find leather valve seats for my hot water radiators.they're getting hard to find.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/3/2008
Dear Lou:

Regarding looking for leather valve seats for your hot water radiators, here is a webpage that lists the names and phone numbers for product suppliers for radiant heating:

http://www.traditional-building.com/article/radside.htm

One of them will hopefully have the leather valve seats that you are looking for.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Josh on 10/18/2008
While bleeding my hot water radiators, I lost one of the bleed valve plugs. Where can I purchase a new one? And what can I do besides shut the system off in the mean time?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/18/2008
Dear Josh:

Regarding finding a replacement for your lost bleed valve plug, here is a link to a webpage of suppliers of radiant heating systems:

http://www.traditional-building.com/article/radside.htm

In terms of what to do in the meantime, you are right, the safest thing to do is shut down your heating system until you can replace the bleeder plug. On the other hand, if you have more than one radiator, and there are valves on both sides of the radiator with the missing bleeder plug, then you might be able to shut these valves to isolate this particular radiator and still run your system for the other radiators. But again, this depends on how your system was piped.

If you are tempted to put a piece of cork into the plug, or try to force thread something else to act like a plug, you make be asking for a messy hot water leak, or stripping the threads and having to replace the entire valve.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from dean on 10/18/2008
have an apartment with water radiators. all but one is giving heat. tried the bleed it but when i turned the valve no air or water came out. what could i try to fix this

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/18/2008
Dear Dean:

If you have a radiator that is not heating up, and nothing at all comes out when you try to bleed it, then here are a couple of things to check:

1) when you open the bleeder valve, have you tried putting something like a stiff paperclip in it, to see if the valve is clogged and trapping air in the radiator?

2) does the radiator that is not heating up have shutoff valves upstream and downstream of it that are closed?

3) another possibility is that sludge has formed in the pipes leading to the radiator and is creating a blockage that is keeping adequate water flow through this particular radiator.

Hope this helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Patti on 10/22/2008
We have baseboard heat downstairs, radiator heaters in upstairs. Only one radiator gets warm (VERY warm), one other gets minimally warm. The other 2 stay cold. Have tried bleeding them. Help?! Please.......Thanks...

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/22/2008
Dear Patti:

If you've already tried bleeding the two radiators that are not heating up, and if these two radiators are the ones located upstairs, then the problem could be that you heating system's expansion tank maybe empty. You would need to check the ball valve in the tank and fill the tank enough to get the ball to float when the system is cool.

On the other hand, if is not the upstairs radiators that are not heating up, then here is a webpage that describes solutions for different kinds of radiator problem situations, and hopefully you can find the situation that matches what you are seeing at your home:

http://www.diynot.com/pages/pl/pl033.php

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from ken on 10/29/2008
I have one, upstairs radiator that is not heating. In the beginning of the season I bed it and it worked great. Now it is the only one not working/heating. The last few mornings I tried to bleed it, hear air releasing for a few seconds, then nothing. Twice it got hot, but recently nothing. There are times when I open the bleeder valve and nothing, not water, no air.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/29/2008
Dear Ken:

If it just one of your upstairs radiator that is not heating up some of the time, and sometimes this gets better when you bleed it, but sometimes when you try to bleed it nothing at all comes out . . . then you may have a couple of issues going on here. It could be a combination of problems with both your heating system's expansion tank and possibly blockages around this particular radiator. 

If you've already tried bleeding this upstairs radiator, and its still not heating up, then the problem could be that you heating system's expansion tank maybe empty. You would need to check the ball valve in the tank and fill the tank enough to get the ball to float when the system is cool.

On the other hand, if nothing at all comes out of this radiator when you try to bleed it, then here are a couple of things to check:

1) when you open the bleeder valve, have you tried putting something like a stiff paperclip in it, to see if the valve is clogged and trapping air in the radiator?

2) does this radiator have shutoff valves upstream and downstream of it that are closed?

3) another possibility is that sludge has formed in the pipes leading to the radiator and is creating a blockage that is keeping adequate water flow through this particular radiator.

Also, FYI, here is a webpage that describes solutions for different kinds of radiator problem situations:

http://www.diynot.com/pages/pl/pl033.php

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Lynn on 5/22/2008
If I am replacing plaster with drywall in a room with boiler baseboard heat can I place drywall ontop of radiator, if not what needs to be done?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 5/22/2008
Dear Lynn:

When you say place drywall "on top" of the radiator, how specifically do you mean? Is that you are going to be placing the drywall over the plaster wall, and thus the drywall thickness will stick out that dimension over the top of metal baseboard cover? Or are you thinking about placing the drywall such that it will completely cover the baseboard radiator? Or is it something else?

If you can provide some more description, I will be better able to answer your question.

Sincerely,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Graham on 10/31/2008
Hi

We have 3 radiators upstairs (one of which is a towel dryer in bathroom) and 2 radiators upstairs. I have bled all the radiators as we are now looking to use the heating regularly. Last time i used the system about a month ago, all was well but now when the heating is turned on there is a relatively high pitched pulsating sound that you can hear anywhere in the house...after about 45 minutes of the heating being on this sound stops.

The system has been on for about an hour now and I can hear the gentle flow of water in the upstairs radiator in my bedroom, I cannot hear a similar sound from the other radiator in my back bedroom (and this one seems hotter).

I think we have a gravity system with a tank of water upstairs (brown water so I assume this is the radiator water?)

What do you think could be causing the relative high pitched pulsating sound? 

Many Thanks
Graham

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/31/2008
Dear Graham:

From what you described in your hot water radiator system and the high-pitched sound that you are hearing when the heat initially comes on, I would suggest that you first check to see if the expansion tank on your system has failed.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from jmob9077 on 7/10/2008
how do i dismantle cast iron radiators?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 7/10/2008
Hi jmob9077:

Here is a webpage that describes how to remove / dismantle a cast iron radiator:

http://www.oldhouseweb.com/stories/Detailed/15023.shtml

Is this what you needed? If not, let us know, and we'll try to find something else for you.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from kmpeters on 11/1/2008
The attic addition to my home was added 12 years ago. And I believe added to the existing heating system. I have a boiler with radiators in the main level. In the addition there are radiator baseboards, with a separate theromostat. I have bled the air out of the lines but still do not get any heat from any of the units in the addition. They are not ice cold but are far from warm. Would there have been a separate controller added when this addition was done in order to tie the existing heating unit to it? We are replacing the therostat to see if that makes a difference.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/1/2008
Dear kmpeters:

If you have properly bled your upstairs radiators, and they are still not heating up enough, then your problem could be that your heating system's expansion tank is empty. You would need to check the ball valve in the tank and fill the tank enough to get the ball to float when the system is cool.

If this is not the problem (or if there are other symptoms that you didn't mention in your email), then here is a webpage that describes solutions for different kinds of radiator problem situations:

http://www.diynot.com/pages/pl/pl033.php

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Rose on 11/1/2008
I have an electric boiler , hot water radiators in a two story semidetached home. When I turn up the thermostat there often is a terrible racket - it sounds as if someone is using a pneumatic drill. Sometimes this noise goes on for quite some time, other times the noise stops after a while. There are times when the noise doesn't start at all. How can I get rid of the racket? What can be causing it? Two plumbers have been in to fix the problem without success. Help would be appreciated!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/1/2008
Dear Rose:

Without hearing the noise and watching your system to see exactly what is happening, its very difficult to accurately diagnose what could be causing the noise you are hearing form your hot water radiator system. Since you have already had a couple of plumbers looking at your system, I assume that they would have caught all of the potentially obvious problems.

But here are a couple of thoughts about what else could be causing the noise that you describe:

1) your radiators or pipes that return water from your radiators back to your boiler are not pitched properly (i.e., that they do not have the correct slope to allow water to flow back to the boiler). As such, the steam is meeting the condensed water and exploding back into steam, which could be the cause of your noise. To fix this, a plumber would need to check and adjust the slopes of your radiators and pipes.

2) another possible cause is that one of your pipes goes through a tight spot in your wall somewhere, and when the pipe heats up and expands, it chatters as it tries to expand through the hole that is too tight.

Again, it is very hard to diagnose a noise problem like this without actually seeing your system.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Rose on 11/2/2008
Thank you for your speedy reply. The system worked well for many years, without any problems. The problem cropped up recently. I suspect the plumbers were not familiar with an electric boiler system.

Rose

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/2/2008
Rose:

Glad to be of help.

If your system has worked well for years, then the problem is likely not due to the pipe going through a tight spot somewhere inside your walls (unless you have moved walls, etc.). But over time, your radiators or piping may have shifted, and this could cause them to lose their proper pitch.

If this does not turn out to be the problem, just let us know, and we'll try to come up with another idea for you.

Sincerely, 
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Holly on 11/3/2008
I accidentally dropped a number of "c" batteries behind a radiator. This old radiator sits beneath a window, so the sill extends into the space above it, partially blocking access to the back. The batteries are the exact size to wedge tightly between the radiator outcroppings. The radiator no longer has a functioning knob to turn on and off. Can you think of any way I can remove them, or will the radiator need to be removed? Also, can I just leave them there, or is it a fire hazard?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/3/2008
Dear Holly:

Unfortunately, yes, you should remove the dry cell batteries that have gotten stuck behind your radiator.

If you have ever opened an old flashlight and seen what happens when a battery has begun to corrode and leak, you can image what will happen over time when the batteries stuck against your hot radiator begin to leak.

As far as getting the batteries back out, it sounds like you will have to remove the radiator to get to them.

But on the other hand, batteries are magnetic, so if you have a strong magnet, some duct tape, and maybe a wire coat hanger that you can bend in such a way that you can get under your widow sill and behind your radiator, then you might be able to lift these batteries back out. One thing that will make this a bit difficult, is that your radiator is likely cast iron, and it will probably be difficult keeping the magnet away from the radiator as you are trying to lower it down to where your batteries are. So its a difficult maneuver, but probably worth trying before removing your radiator.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP COMMENT from Holly on 11/5/2008
Thank you so much! I'm afraid I recruited a friendly handy neighbor to implement your idea, and he used tape but not magnets, but they are all out of there now.

Best,
Holly

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QUESTION from phil baker on 11/13/2008
I have a boiler, approx 10 yrs old, in our new home's basement. I've never even heard of one! The radiators in the house all get nice and warm and look majestic. What do I need to do to the boiler? There are controls on it that I don't recognize.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/13/2008
Dear Phil:

The most important thing you can do for your hot water heating system's boiler is having a trained service technician do an inspection and maintenance servicing of it once a year. Other than that, you should ordinarily not need to make adjustments during its normal operation.

Having this annual inspection and servicing done is VERY important, both from a safety standpoint and also for energy efficiency. The safety inspection includes checking the pressure relief valve and ensuring that your burner and exhaust ducting are both operating correctly.

The things that you should have your service technician do are shown on our furnace webpage of our online Maintenance Library at:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/furnace.asp

If you have any additional questions, just let us know.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Maggie on 11/18/2008
My apartment has old radiators that smell sour or other bad smell. What is that and what can I do to fix this problem.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/19/2008
Dear Maggie:

A couple of thoughts about what could be causing your old radiators to give off a bad sour smell:

1) are there damp surfaces around your radiators that could have become moldy, and then smell badly when they get heated up? If so, you will need to stop the source of this moisture, and dry these areas out completely.

2) has lint, dust, etc. built up on your radiators? Is so, you will want to thoroughly clean your radiators.

3) have your radiators become corroded, and when heated it gives off a foul smell? If so, you will want to check for leaks and treat your radiators to eliminate the corrosion.

Is this helpful?
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Conrad on 11/18/2008
Hi.
I have a cast-iron hot water radiator on the main floor of my home which connects to a pipe that goes under the floor. The pipe attached to the radiator is quite rusty and pieces are starting to crumble off. We are doing a basement renovation and I have seen the underside of the piping and it looks in equally bad shape. I imagine if it can be repaired it will be quite an undertaking (ie. tearing out some floor to get it out), can it even be done? Do we have any other options? Thanks.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/18/2008
Dear Conrad:

Without actually seeing your particular situation, its difficult to give you specific advice. But with that said, it sounds like you have a couple of options:

1) use an old screwdriver, wire brush (or wire wheel attached to a drill), naval jelly, etc. to clean away all of the rust from the pipe that goes to your radiator. Check to be sure there is no water seeping onto the pipe that could accelerate the rust returning.

2) depending on how you are doing the renovation in your basement, you could create an access panel that would allow you to inspect or replace the section of pipe if it further deteriorates in the future.

3) you could cut out the section of bad pipe (assuming that it actually is bad enough to warrant replacement), and replace with new.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from r picco on 11/20/2008
i have hydronic heating system, however when installed there was n't enough heating fins attached to the piping, where can i find replacement or extra fins to attach to my heaters??
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/21/2008
Dear r picco:

Here is a link to a list of suppliers of radiant heat parts and products: 

http://www.traditional-building.com/article/radside.htm

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Concerned Tami on 11/24/2008
Hi my landlord switched my boiler from oil to gas, well ever since I started my heat my pipes and radiators are banging I did real a little about it. I dont know how to get the air out. BUT I S THIS DANGEROUS as I have 3 kids.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/24/2008
Dear "Concerned Tami":

From what you've described, I suspect that the banging that you are hearing from your pipes and radiators is due to air that is trapped in the system that needs to be bled out.

You can read about how to bleed your radiators on the "Radiators" page of our online Maintenance Library:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/radiators.asp

And also, if it would help you to see a video demonstration on how to bleed air out of a radiator, you can see short video here: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1455704/how_to_bleed_a_radiator/

Assuming that it is just air trapped in your system, this is annoying and reduces the efficiency of your heating system, but it is not necessarily dangerous.

Home this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Rich on 12/1/2008
the knob that turns on the radiator is stripped. What is the best way to fix or replace the knob?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/1/2008
Dear Rich:

Here is a list of parts suppliers for radiant heating systems:

http://www.traditional-building.com/article/radside.htm

You might want to check with one near you to see if you can put some penetrating oil on your valve, and if they have something that will reverse thread to replace your stripped knob. If not, then they could have a replacement valve stem, etc. for you.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from carroll on 12/6/2008
Is it possible to discuss the heating system and all it's difficulties with someone on the phone? It's a 5,000 sq ft house with a heating run thru the garage to the apt above it. Virutally no heat in the apt. Can I shut off the radiators in the apt? What is a good temp to maintain and still not go broke. Current payment plan is $343 but last year it ran over by 1500 and kept the house under 70. This is just one of the many questions I have and can find no one knowledgeable enough about hot water radiant heating systems. I currently am running the system at 63. Good or bad?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/6/2008
Dear Carroll:

I think it would be best if you talked to someone who could physically see your heating system, how it is piped and the apartment that you are referring to. For example, someone seeing your situation might be able to determine if there is enough heat from other adjacent areas to keep the apartment above the garage freezing if the heat to it was turned off. On the other hand, being above a garage and if not connected to heated rooms, if you have water pipes in the apartment these could freeze and burst (and the risk of this will depend on what region of the country that you live in). And if you are not going to use the apartment, then it might be practical to drain the water from the plumbing (and from the radiators).

You might want to consider talking with a local home inspector, as they are typically quite knowledgeable about radiant heating systems, and how to protect your home (or detached apartment) if you are doing something like turning down the temperature to save energy. Depending on what they see when they look at you situation, they may even recommend that you shut down the heating zone to your apartment, and use a small electric space heater instead. But again, it will depend on what they see in your overall situation, and are familiar with the temperature patterns of the region of the country where you live.

Here are some links to webpages that provide names of registered home inspectors in your area:

http://www.inspectorseek.com/

http://www.ashi.org/find/

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from susan on 1/2/2009
I have a radiator that is too large for a room because in remodeling, the room got smaller. Is there a way to SLOW the heat but not completely eliminate heat in the room by using the knob on the radiator? Also, which way do I turn the knob, and what do I do if there is some play on the knob, but then it feels very difficult to turn? I am worried about forcing it to turn, but I don't even know which direction to try. I would consider just turning off the heat entirely if necessary because it is so hot in this room. Thanks

The knob that turns the radiator off and on is lost, but I think I found one that fits. which way do I turn it? Is it dangerous if I force it to turn, because it is very stiff in both directions (after a little play). Is it possible to limit the flow without completely turning the radiator off? If I have to turn the whole thing off I will.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/2/2009
Dear Susan:

I assume that you are referring to the manual control valve near the bottom of your hot water radiator, as shown in this photograph: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/41/102438933_5a498be8e0.jpg Correct?

If so, then this is a manual control valve, and yes, you can use it to control the amount of heat coming from your radiator by opening or closing the valve.

Regarding which way to turn it, it goes by the adage "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey". In other words, as you are looking down on the valve handle, if you turn the handle clockwise (to the right), it will tighten the valve stem into the seat and reduce the flow through the valve. Similarly, to open the valve, you would turn the handle counter-clockwise to open it.

But when you say that the knob that you found has a little bit of "play" before it gets stiff, is the play between the handle and the stem? Or is the handle tight on the stem, and the play is stem turning in the valve? You will want to be careful not to strip the stem if the handle is not fitting tight on it.

A couple things you might want to try if the valve is not turning freely: 

1) You can turn off your heating system for a while and let this radiator cool down, and then see if the valve turns easier.

2) You can spray some penetrating oil or "liquid wrench" into the valve stem to see if this loosens it up.

3) If you need a way to temporarily reduce the temperature in the room until you can have a service person help you with the valve, then you can cover the radiator with a blanket (ONLY if the blanket is not flammable), and this will act as an insulator, which will keep the room from heating up as much. You need to be very careful with this if your radiator runs very hot, and again, be sure that your blanket is non-flammable.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Charlie on 1/6/2009
I've just moved home and my central heating seems to working fine except two of the radiators (one upstairs one downstairs) start rattling, making a noise like a pneumatic drill. To stop this I have to adjust the heat either up or down a bit. This works for a while but then it will start up again. I am forever rolling out of bed in the middle of the night to adjust the temperature. Help?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/6/2009
Dear Charlie:

I assume that you heating system is a steam radiator system, rather than a hot water baseboard radiator system, right?

If so, have you checked to ensure that all of your return lines slope towards the boiler?

If the slopes are fine, then the other source of noise could be that the expansion relief valves for each of these radiators have calcium deposits built up in them. To check this you would need to shut off your heating system, close the shutoff valve to the radiator, and then remove the expansion relief valve. Then soak the valve overnight in vinegar to loosen up the calcium deposits. Rinse and replace it back in, and turn on your heating system and open up the steam to this radiator.

If the radiator still rattles/bangs, but not as badly, then you could have hard water calcium deposit buildup in the radiator itself, which could be causing air in pockets to form. You can try to clean inside the radiator with vinegar or hard water calcium deposit remover, but depending on how bad the build-up is, you may be better replacing the radiator.

But before doing this, you might want to have a service technician come out to inspect your system, who can physically hear the sound that your radiators are making and inspect your system.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Judy E on 1/17/2009
We own a century+ Victorian home which is heated by radiators, our problem is that two of our second floor radiators have stopped working. We have bled them and now there is neither air or water comming out. What is our problem and do you know how to fix it.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/17/2009
Dear Judy E:

If you have two radiators that are not heating up, and nothing at all comes out when you try to bleed them, then here are a couple of things to check:

1) when you open the bleeder valve, have you tried putting something like a stiff paperclip in it, to see if the valve is clogged and trapping air in the radiator?

2) does the radiator that is not heating up have shutoff valves upstream and downstream of it that are closed?

3) another possibility is that sludge has formed in the pipes leading to the radiator and is creating a blockage that is keeping adequate water flow through this particular radiator.

Hope this helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from MaryB on 9/2/2009
I'm moving into a house with good ol' cast iron radiators. Whoever painted this house previously painted everything! All the valves and knobs and doohickies on the radiators (and cupboards and doors) are painted solid. Would I be able to clean the paint off or would I be better off having someone replace all those parts? Would the radiators heat better if I took that thick paint off them as well?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 9/5/2009

Dear MaryB:

Before you pay someone to replace all of the valves, etc. on your cast iron radiator, I would suggest that you try first using removing the paint yourself using a drill with a wire wheel attachment, and then a wire brush. This assumes that you will have enough room to get access all the way around where you are trying to scrape off the paint.

Regarding whether the radiators will heat more efficiently with or without the paint on them, it should not make much difference. However, it is important that the radiators be painted with HIGH TEMPERATURE paint. You said that the previous owners painted everything, but if the radiators were painted the same color as the walls, then it may be possible that they did not use high temperature paint on the radiators. If this is the case, then when the radiators come on this winter, the paint could begin to put out fumes into your house, and the paint begin to come off.

If you need it, here is a webpage that describes how to remove paint from a cast iron radiator: http://www.ehow.com/how_5233064_remove-paint-radiators.html

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Tammy Mossuto on 10/12/2009
I have a question about switching ou my olo cast iron radiators from the 50's with the new hydrolic baseboards. I need to know if my system can handle it. The boiler I am currently using is a lennox as pictured on this site http://www.lennox.com/products/boilers/GWB8-E/S/


The baseboard I want to use is on this site... http://www.alpinehomeair.com/viewcategory.cfm?categoryID=255 Any of the hydronic baseboards will do as long as the size is right. money is extrem;y tight so we are trying to make do with the boiler we aready have. Thank you, for reviewing my question.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/14/2009

Dear Tammy:

In general, I would think that your new baseboard radiators would be more efficient than the old-style radiators that you are replacing. And as such, if your existing boiler had adequate capacity, then it should have enough capacity for the new, more efficient baseboard radiators.

However, here is a webpage that describes the issues with sizing a heating system: http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/space_heating_cooling/index.cfm/mytopic=12340

As you will read, properly sizing a heating system will depend on factors such as:

o The local climate
o Size, shape, and orientation of the house
o Insulation levels
o Window area, location, and type
o Air infiltration rates
o The number and ages of occupants
o Occupant comfort preferences
o The types and efficiencies of lights and major home appliances (which give off heat).

And as the webpage discusses, it is best to have a local contractor (who is familiar with your specific region of the country and who can see your home's specific configuration) run the correct sizing calculations (not just us using estimates using "rules of thumb").

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Karin Wulff on 10/16/2009
We have a cast iron radiator. We are trying to take the control valve off of the pipe coming out of the floor but it won't budge...any suggestions?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/16/2009

Dear Karin:

If you haven't already tried it, you might try soaking the valve threads overnight with WD-40 or better yet, Liquid Wrench penetrating oil. Then when you put a wrench on it, first try to tighten it and then pull in the loosen direction with some hard, sharp pulls.

If this doesn't work, then wipe off all of the oil, and try carefully heating valve.

And just to be sure, double check to confirm that the direction that you are trying to loosen the valve is actually the direction for loosening it.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Ellen on 10/23/2009
One of our hot water radiators' knob to turn it on or off doesn't turn - it is obviously on and we'd like to turn it down a bit b/c it's in the upstairs and doesn't need so much heat. Is there a way to fix/replace the knob? thanks

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/23/2009

Dear Ellen:

If you haven't already tried it, you might try applying WD-40, or better yet, Liquid Wrench penetrating oil, to the threads of of the valve, and letting the oil sit on it overnight. Then when you put a wrench on it, first try to tighten it and then pull in the loosen direction with some hard, sharp pulls.

If this doesn't work, then wipe off all of the oil, and try carefully heating valve.

And just to be sure, double check to confirm that the direction that you are trying to loosen the valve is actually the direction for loosening it. Heat will cause the valve body to expand, which could help free it up to open.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from clint on 11/9/2009
I'm trying to bleed the air out of my radiators. 
i turn the furnace on but only one radiator gets hot. i open the valves on the other radiators one by one but only a small amount of air comes out so i leave the valve open for as long as six hours and the water never fills the radiator nor does it get hot. the furnace is running properly and the pump is running. the pipes in the basement are hot but the heat doesn't seem to make it upstairs.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/9/2009

Dear Clint:

Is your upstairs a separate heating zone from your downstairs? In other words, does your upstairs have a separate thermostat?

If it is a separate zone then:

1) the circulator pump for your upstairs zone may be faulty; or

2) you should check the zone valve that serves your upstairs radiators. The water pipe should be hot both upstream and downstream of this zone valve. If the valve is bad or stuck, it will be hot upstream of the valve, but then cool downstream of the valve. (Upstream refers to the piping that is in the direction of the boiler).

On the other hand, you said that only a small amount of air comes out when you try to bleed the upstairs radiators. If the problem is not with the circulator pump or zone valve for this zone, then here are a couple of other things to check:

1) when you open the bleeder valve, have you tried putting something like a stiff paperclip in it, to see if the valve is clogged and trapping air in the radiator?

2) do the radiators that are not heating up have shutoff valves upstream and downstream of it that are closed?

3) another possibility is that sludge has formed in the pipes leading to the radiators and are creating a blockage that is keeping adequate water flow through these radiators.


Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from raymond dawe on 11/13/2009
my rad is cold in apt have 5 2 work but heat suck comeing out of them i now need blend them but no thing on to blead them i did to buy thing cant fine in store tru home depto canadain tire lowes pluming stor say to old cant get part for it

QUESTION from raymond on 11/13/2009

my radiator is so cold no heat in them i can bleed them because vaives on them to do bleed i like to i can get them i live in canada hamilton ontario help i cold up north
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/16/2009
Dear Raymond:

Here is a video which describes how to diagnose if you have air trapped in your radiator, and if so, how to bleed the air out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3dvJZoZvdI

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from erik on 11/29/2009
My house has steam radiators and is gas powered. I just did a gas conversion and has a new peerless boiler installed. THe issue is that all my radiators work fine except for my upstairs bathroom and second bedroom (which is some sort of cast iron baseboard) 
They ONLY work when the thermostat is above 70 degrees. If it is under 70 they are ice cold, as I type this it is set to 72 and they are perfectly fine. We are more comfy at 68 but at that temp the other 2 rooms are not working and I have 2 kids on the way that it is important that I figure the issue out. Also we have just replaced the valves on both the 2 rooms in question

any ideas

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/30/2009

Dear Erik:

I assume that your upstairs radiators are on a separate thermostat from the rest of the house, right?

I'm wondering if the problem is with your thermostat. One thing you can try is to swap your upstairs thermostat with another thermostat in you house, and see if this fixes the problem with your upstairs zone.

If it is indeed a problem with the thermostat, this could be an opportunity to replace it with a programmable thermostat, which could help you save energy in your home.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Joyce DeM on 11/29/2009
I have a circulating hot water radiators. One radiator did not get hot enough so I tried to bleed it. There is a valve toward the top of the radiator with a knurled screw on top. I unscrewed it and pressed a screwdriver into the top and cold water came out. I thought this was ok but the cold water never stopped coming out. How much cold water can I expect to come out? The radiators before and after are warm. Do I continue to bleed this valve until no water comes out? I cannot move the turnoff valve on the opposite side of the radiator. I did not want to force it. Do I need to call in a professional to help?
Also, I have the aquastat on my oil furnace set at 160 degrees. Is this sufficient for home heating purposes? I was told the range is 120 degrees to 180 dgrees maximum. The household hot water is heated separately by a gas Hot Water Heater.
Any information you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/30/2009

Dear Joyce:

Here is a video that describes how to diagnose and fix problems with a cold radiator:

http://www.videojug.com/film/troubleshooting-when-you-have-a-cold-radiator

And regarding your question about bleeding your radiator, you should just need to bleed out the air, not the cold water.

And regarding the appropriate set temperature for the aquastat on your boiler, this will depend on your specific boiler and the configuration of your system.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Les on 12/1/2009
We have a room that over 25 years ago had a radiator in it that was unhooked and taken to the garage. We now want to use the room again. The pipes are still there. Is it possible or advisable to hook up that old radiator or would it be too corroded inside? If possible what could a do it yourselfer do to prepare it for being returned to service.

QUESTION from Les on 12/1/2009
Follow Up to the question about hooking up an old radiator . . . I'm talking about a hot water system that is run totally by gravity. There is not even an electric pump. It's very old but has been very trouble free for many many years.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/2/2009

Dear Les:

Since a gravity hot water heating system does not have a circulating pump, it operates on the principle that hot water rises and cold water falls. If you put a radiator into the system that has a lot of corrosion, this can make it difficult for the water to circulate.

Here is a webpage that describes problems caused by radiator corrosion, and some approaches to removing corrosion from radiators:

http://www.fernox.com/?cccpage=rad_failure⊂=2

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Ellen on 1/8/2010
Hi, Do you know anything about Radiator Humidifiers? My house is 60 years old and the heat is dry. I tried putting a metal dish with water in it on the radiator but it doesn't seem any less dry. the radiator is bumpy so it doesn't seem like a lot of the dish's surface is touching the actual radiator. any advice? thank you!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/8/2010

Dear Ellen:

Here is a webpage that describes several different styles of radiator humidifiers, and provides the names and websites for the companies where you can purchase them:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/27/garden/27room.html

As you will read, some of the styles have the water reservoir hanging down in front of the radiator (rather than being placed on top). I would not be concerned about the "bumpy" surface of the radiator not allowing the radiator to transfer enough heat into the reservoir, since if the radiator is operating properly, it should be able to "radiate" sufficient heat into the reservoir to cause it to evaporate water into the room (versus relying on heat transfer from direct contact). However, the big issue is how much surface area of the reservoir is exposed to the radiator, relative to the size of the reservoir.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from chris on 1/9/2010
i have a hot water radiator system and if the system has not ran in a couple of hours when it starts up the is a high whine from the boiler till the pressure gets higher. if i hear it and open the valve to let more water in it forces the pressure up and that last till the system has not ran for a long period then the pressure drops again and we do it all over again. i have bled my radiators till no air comes out and just water that does help till it has not ran for a while then the pressure drops also only on the master bedroom radiator sometimes when i go to bleed it it tries to suck air in. this process is getting old please help

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/10/2010

Dear Chris:

It sounds like you might have a small water leak somewhere in your system. The first place to check is the outlet discharge pipe of the pressure relief valve, which will be located near your boiler. Sometimes the pressure relief valve will open when the pressure is too high in your boiler (which this valve should do), but the valve has trouble seating tightly afterwards. And this small leak could be the cause of the problem that you are having. If the outlet discharge pipe from your pressure relief valve is dry, then you will want to look at the other valves and circulation pumps for your system, to see any evidence of leaking water. Hopefully you will be able to find any leak out in the open where you can see it, and it is not coming from some old solder joint that is buried in a wall or under your floorboards.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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