Cleaning and Bleeding Radiators

Hot water heating systems

bleeding cleaning radiatorsThe maintenance that keeps your heating equipment in top running shape is best done by a trained professional.  However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do.  In fact, there are a few important things that you should do, according to the heating professionals of Pleasanton.

Cleaning radiators

Use the brush or crevice tool of your vacuum cleaner to keep your radiators and baseboard heaters clean.  Be careful not to bend or damage the little aluminum fins on modern baseboard units.  And don’t use the tops of radiators for storage!  Let the heat flow.

Bleeding radiators

Hot water heating systems often have radiators; ours are old, heavy cast iron.  When these units are partially filled with air, the radiators will not completely fill with water, creating cold spots.  Completely cold radiators are full of air.

To fill the system uniformly, you need to bleed each radiator, usually starting at the radiator farthest from the boiler on the supply loop of your system.  It sounds gruesome, but it is really easy, and painless to all (if you take care not to scald yourself with the very hot water from the radiator).

The bleed valve on each radiator may be operated by a standard screwdriver tip, a key (you can trace the shape of your valve and bring it to the hardware store to get a replacement key – these tend to disappear), or, if you are lucky, a little knob at the end of the valve.

  1. The heat must be turned on to bleed the system, so turn on your heat and run it so that the radiators start to get warm.  Start with the radiator at one end of the pipe run.
  2. Hold the cup underneath the valve; if the control is a handle, use the rag to insulate yourself from the heat.
  3. Open the valve; if water comes out, the radiator is fine.  Close the valve, and go to the next one.
  4. If air comes out when you open the valve, let the air escape until water starts pouring out of the valve, then close it.
  5. Bleed every radiator in the system so that no air remains in the units.

Few things will make your family as grumpy as being without hot water for a shower when they want it.  Water heaters, which are powered by gas in about half the homes in the United States, and by electricity in the other half, are hardworking members of your heating/cooling equipment brigade.

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