Taking Care of Your Steam Heating System

It somehow pays to have a professional that will look upon, a licensed heating contractor to check your steam system if it is working fine every year. But actually, you can perform three important maintenance tasks on your steam heating system by yourself. Caring properly for your system will help you save money through the years with greater efficiency, but you’ll also have the needed peace of mind knowing that your system is operating safe and sound.

Here are the tasks you can perform:

Check the steam gauge regularly: Make sure that it’s within the normal range. If it isn’t, shut the system down immediately and call for service.

Check the safety valve every month: Located on the top of the boiler, this important valve vents excess pressure if the boiler goes crazy and exceeds safe levels. When the system is hot, push down on the handle to see if steam comes out. Stand away from the outlet — the steam is boiling hot. If no steam comes out, call a service person to replace the valve immediately.

Click here if you are having a hard time with your steam heating system.

Check the water level once a month: The water-level gauge has valves on each side. Open them both and make sure that the water level is in the middle, and then close the valves. If you didn’t see any water, shut off the boiler, let it cool down, and then add water.

Because steam systems occasionally need water added, it’s better and more convenient to have an automatic water valve added to the system. The valve monitors water levels and adds water ever so slowly to avoid damaging the boiler.

You also can do a few things to keep your radiators working well:

Make sure that every radiator slopes slightly toward the steam inlet pipe. If one doesn’t, slip a 1⁄4-inch-thick rectangle of wood under the feet at the vent end. Doing so prevents those irritating knocking and clunking noises.

Check the vents to make sure that they aren’t blocked. Corrosion and paint can keep the vent from venting and then air trapped in the radiator prevents steam from entering the radiator. If your vent is blocked, replace it. Your local hardware store probably carries them, and they simply screw off and on.

Check the position of the inlet valves. They should be either all the way closed or all the way open. A partially open or shut valve does nothing to regulate heat and causes knocking and clanging.

You can do these tasks by yourself if you know them too well but if not, better leave the task to a professional.


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