Homes are heated by one of three methods:
• Hot water
• Warm air
Hot water systems use a pump to circulate hot water from a boiler to all the rooms in a house. Keep the radiators clean and the tops uncovered so that heat can circulate. About once a year, drain the boiler and expansion tank. Turn off the burner and the water coming into the tank.
The process is the same as flushing a hot water tank. Attach a hose to the drain and open the vents on the highest radiators to let in air. After the water runs clear, close the drain and open the water supply. Relight the burner. When you hear water entering the radiators, close the vents again.
Refilling the tank will let air in. As the air rises it becomes trapped in the radiator and keeps the water from circulating. You will have to “bleed” each radiator. This is done by opening the radiator to let out the air. As soon as water comes out, close the radiator. Be careful when catching the water. It will be hot.
A hot water system is controlled by a thermostat. The thermostat controls an electric pump which circulates water throughout the house.
Bleed the radiator of trapped air by opening the knob until water just begins to trickle out. Be careful: the water will be hot.
A steam system is similar to the hot water system. It does not have a pump though, because the steam circulates freely. Noises occur when water becomes trapped in pipes that do not slope back toward the boiler. This may be cured with a block of wood under one leg of the radiator. Knocking may also occur if the steam valve is not fully open or closed.
Loose packing in a valve is often responsible for steam leaking. This can be repaired just as you would a faucet. Turning down the packing nut may stop the leak. If not, repack the stem.
Basically a warm air furnace heats air which is circulated by a blower. Warm air systems may be electric, gas, or fuel oil heated. Heated air travels through ducts and out through grills or registers in various rooms. As with the other systems, a warm-air system must be kept clean. Clean or change the filters monthly when the heater is in use. Change them at least once a year. Also clean the fan blades and vacuum around the registers. If necessary, tighten the belt.
The motors in all systems need oiling. Use a lightweight motor oil and fill the cups or filling tubes in the motor. Fans and water pump bearings need oiling as well. If pipes or ducts run through cold areas, they should be insulated.
Central air conditioning may operate through the heating ducts. However, many homes have individual room air conditioners. The main thing is to keep the filters clean when the air conditioner is in use.
To stop radiator pounding make sure the pipes are level so water is not trapped. Also try adjusting the valve.
Make repairs with the furnace off and the boiler cold. If steam leaks out the radiator valve, tighten the packing nut. If that doesn’t work, remove the packing nut and repack the stem with packing cord. Reassemble the valve.
A warm air heating system heats air and blows it through heating ducts. The air can be heated by oil or gas burners.