If you’ve lived in places with forced air heating your whole life, then you may feel a bit confused and overwhelmed when you move into an apartment with radiators. There’s no blowing air when the heat kicks on, and the hissing and gurgling noises the system makes seem utterly foreign. In time, you’ll get used to living in an apartment with boiler heating. Here are the basics you need to know about this type of system.
Identifying Your Boiler System
There are two types of boiler systems. One type of system generates steam and sends that steam up into the radiators. If your radiators only have one pipe coming up into them from the floor, they are steam radiators. Water boiler systems send hot water up to the radiators. This type of radiator has two pipes coming up into it: one to bring hot water in and another to bring cold water out.
Bleeding The Radiators
Why is it important to know the difference between steam and water boilers? Well, there’s a procedure called “bleeding” that must be performed on water radiators, but not steam radiators. Bleeding refers to letting air out of the radiators so that water can fill them completely.
If you have water radiators and they’re making banging and clanging noises, then there’s probably air in the system that you can relieve through bleeding. Locate the bleed valve–it looks like a big screw on the side of the radiator. There may be a key that fits into it (ask your landlord for it if it’s not in the apartment) or a screwdriver may fit into it. With the heat turned on, wait for the radiators to get warm. (This means they’re filled with water.) Turn the bleed valve until air starts flowing out. Wait till water starts dripping out, and then close the valve tightly. Repeat this with each radiator. Bleed your system at least once a year or whenever it gets noisy. Check with your landlord to ensure they want you to do this, rather than call maintenance to do it for you.
Dealing With Noisy Steam Boilers
If you have a steam boiler system that’s making noises, the solution is not always as easy. Start by checking the vents on the sides of the radiators. They look like little cylinders with pointed caps. If they’re too tight or loose, they may be letting the wrong amount of air out, causing squealing or hissing. Adjust them until they’re quiet.
If the noises don’t stop, there may be issues with the angle of the pipes. In this case, call your landlord–they may need to have a contractor come in and make some heating repairs.
With the tips above, using a boiler heating system is simple! Just use the thermostat as you normally would, and remember not to put anything flammable too close to the radiator.