How to Repair Steam Heating System Problems

What You'll Need
Scraps of Wood
Open End Wrench

A steam heating system is just one way that homeowners can heat their homes. This type of heating system works with the use of radiant heat and a boiler that heats up water to the point of becoming steam. Each year, it is a good idea to have a professional clean and tune up your steam heating system. However, a homeowner will save a lot of money if they know some of the common problems of the steam heating system and how to fix them. 

Step 1: Radiator Making Noises

One of the most common problems with radiators is that they make a lot of noise when the steam begins to travel through the pipes. While some of this is normal expansion of the pipes, if it is very severe, there is a problem. When the noises are very loud and severe, it means that the radiator is out of position. There should be a slight slope towards the inlet pipe of each of the radiators. If not, you can use a small 1/4-inch block of wood to lift up on side. 

Step 2: Blocked Vents

If you find that there is not a lot of steam getting to the radiators, there could be a problem with the vents being blocked. If there is any dirt, or rust, hanging out in the vents it will block the steam from being able to enter correctly. Use a flashlight and check out the vents. You can try to clean them out with some compressed air, or simply replace them. 

Step 3: Closed Valves

There are plenty of small problems that can cause the steam heating system not to work properly. One of these problems is that the steam valves are not open all the way. Check to make sure that the valves are completely open and not just partially open. This will restrict the amount of steam going to the radiators so there is not enough heat when you need it. 

Step 4: Tighten Caps

There are times when you simply need to tighten up some of the nuts and bolts on the radiator. As the radiator is used over the years, things will tend to loosen up. This will cause leaks of the steam and escaping heat. If you notice that some of the valves are leaking, you can fix this problem by simply tightening the caps, valves, and vents with a wrench. Knowing where they are located will help you determine quickly if they are loose. The caps are located on both the horizontal and vertical pipes and will let out some steam even after they have been serviced. 

Step 5: Clean Boiler

The boiler for your steam heating system can be affected quite easily from water that has a lot of calcium in it. These deposits will be left behind after the water is turned to steam causing build up and blockage. Open the boiler up and clean it out if you notice that the heat is not being produced like it should be.