My Radiators Won’t Heat Up. Do I Need a Boiler Repair?

Do You Need A Boiler Repair When Your Radiators Won’t Heat Up?

Do You Need A Boiler Repair When Your Radiators Won’t Heat Up?

The last thing you want to experience in the winter is waking up to a cold house. But, that’s what you’ll get if your radiators won’t heat up.

And, the last thing you want to do is call for a boiler repair. It takes up time and costs money.

Fortunately, you probably don’t have to go that route when your house is cold. When it comes to radiator heat, you can take solve a few problems yourself.

In this post, we’ll go through some troubleshooting steps. With any luck, you’ll get to the problem before you get to the main system.

If not, we’ll help you make some sense of what’s going on, so you’re prepared when your call for a boiler repair.

Before we go any further, it’s worth mentioning that we’re going over some basic repairs without going too in-depth. If you’re handy or are familiar with these HVAC systems, you should be fine.

But, you should feel safe and confident before trying these yourself. So, don’t hesitate to call us here at John Cipollone if you’re unsure of what to do or how to do it.

We’re happy to help you get your home warm and comfortable again as quickly — and safely — as possible.

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What to Check When Your Radiators Won’t Heat Up

If your radiators won’t heat up, you may not necessarily need to call for boiler repair. You can troubleshoot by:

  1. Bleeding the radiators
  2. Balancing the System
  3. Checking for a Leak

Let’s look at all of these a little closer.

Bleed the Radiators

Sometimes, the problem preventing warmth from flowing through your system is a buildup of air in your radiators. To fix the problem, you have to “bleed” the units.

Don’t worry: It’s an easy process. We’ll explain how to do it in a second. First, let’s understand what’s happening.

For a variety of reasons, air can build up in the system. The units get clogged as a result: The hot water can’t circulate through it properly to release the heat.

If you noticed weaker heating and cold spots in each room before the system stopped working altogether, this could be the problem.

So, set aside some time, and get a few small tools, and start your troubleshooting by getting rid of that air buildup.

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How to Bleed the Radiators

To bleed the radiators, start by making sure the heat is turned off. Next, find the valve – usually on the side of the unit toward the top. And, place a cloth or bowl underneath the valve.

Use your radiator key (or needle-nose pliers in a pinch, but it’s best to use the specific key) and slowly turn it a half-turn counterclockwise.

Radiator Bleedscrew

You’ll hear some hissing as the air escapes and hot water comes in. Then, you’ll see some water start dripping out. Once you get a steady stream, you’ll know all the air is out.

When that happens, you’re all done! Tighten the valve and move on to the next one.

Balancing the System

Sometimes, one or more of your units won’t warm up because the system overall is unevenly distributing the heat. That is, some rooms are getting too much heat, without enough water making it to the other places.

When this happens, you need to balance the system. That means adjusting things so that the flow of water increases overall and reaches every room again.

Most of the symptoms here are the same when you need to bleed the units: Hot and cold spots, and some rooms not getting any treatment at all.

But, bleeding is a more straightforward process. And, it’s the first step toward balancing. So, you’re better off starting there.

If you did that and are still having this problem, here’s what to do.

How to Balance Your Radiator System

To balance your system, you’ll need a digital thermometer, radiator key, and damp cloth and bowl again. Then, make a list of all the radiators in the house in the order that they heat up.

Air Conditioner Remote Control

Now, turn off the heat off again.

Once everything’s cooled down, open each valve completely this time.

Now, turn the heat back on and go to the first unit on your list. Close that valve all the way, and then re-open it just a little — maybe a quarter-turn.

Next, get that thermometer. Once you’re getting full heat, check the temperature at the pipe going into the valve, and the pipe leaving the valve on the other side.

The difference between the two should be about 53 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s not, adjust the valve with the key a little. Wait a few minutes, then check again.

Once you’ve struck that balance, move on to each room in order.

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Checking for a Leak

If you’ve taken these steps and still have cold rooms, the problem may be bigger than something you can handle on your own. It’s time to start looking for a leak in the system.

The water in your heating system should exist in a closed loop. That is, there’s a fixed amount of water that keeps cycling through. The boiler doesn’t add any more.

So, if it’s escaping somewhere, the system isn’t replacing it anywhere.

How to Check for a Boiler and Radiator Leaks

To check, start with each room. Look under each unit for signs of water. If they’re cool, feel the underside for dampness. Also, watch for signs of rust.

(Remember to clean any water after bleeding or balancing. That way you’re not mistaking that for a leak).

Next, check along the pipes for as far as you can see and reach them.

Finally, check around the boiler itself. Use a flashlight if it’s in a dark or out-of-the-way place. You want to make sure you can see under it. And, use your hands to carefully feel around for signs of moisture — especially any panel you can’t see that well.

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Boiler Repairs in Havertown, PA

If you followed these troubleshooting steps and still don’t have heat, it’s time to call a professional. The problem could still be with individual units, but at this point, you may need a repair at the boiler to fix it.

Also — if you do notice a leak coming from the boiler, call us here at John Cipollone right away.

Even if it’s just a slow drip or small amount of water, it could get worse very, very quickly. The problem is that there’s a hole in the system. If it rusted through — a common cause — then the area around the opening is also compromised.

At that point, a much larger area can crumble away. Then, that slow drop becomes gallons and gallons of water rushing into your home every minute.

Fortunately, we can stop this from happening. And, we’ll get your home warm and comfortable as fast as possible.

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