2 Basics Fixes for Radiator Problems

Shannon Lee

When you've got an old house, chances are you have an equally old radiator. Radiators have been popular for many decades because they are very easy to maintain, unobtrusive, and heat a room very effectively with a minimum of energy required.

But even the best radiators can have a problem from time to time. Here are the two most common issues and how to fix them.

When Your Radiator Isn't Hot Enough

Not hot enough for you? Here is an easy way to make your radiator work more efficiently.

  • A cool radiator might be the result of too much air. Air in the radiator can block the natural flow of water, which prevents the radiator from heating properly.
  • Start by turning down your thermostat to cease the flow of water. Allow the radiator to cool slightly--you don't want to get burned.
  • Have a small bucket and rag handy when you carefully open the air vent. You can open the air vent with a screwdriver or vent key.
  • The air should sputter out of the radiator. When it stops and water flows instead, close the vent. Turn your thermostat back up and check for radiator heat.

When Your Radiator Begins to Leak

Seeing a puddle of water under your radiator is definitely cause for concern. Here's what to do:

  • Get an inspection mirror from your local hardware store. A small mirror on a long handle, this is meant to help you see in places that are normally very difficult to get to, such as the back side of a radiator that is placed against the wall.
  • If the leak is a small pinhole, it can likely be fixed. If the leak is something larger, or it looks like part of the radiator is breaking apart, it's time to call a professional contractor for help.
  • Products such as J-B Weld work well to seal pinhole leaks. Speak to your local home improvement store to find the best products.
  • Turn off the system and drain the radiator. Remove any paint, primer, or rust from the area around the leak. Rough up the area with a file, then apply the solution you have chosen to seal it.
  • Wait the appropriate time as indicated on the packaging. This might be anywhere from a few hours to a full day. Then fill your radiator again and start the system, checking for leaks to ensure the repair is done properly.

Radiators can last a long time with only the most basic of maintenance. Stay on top of any problems that appear so they don't turn into big issues that require the help of a professional contractor to sort out.


About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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