If you live in an old house, there's a good chance you have radiators. While some people view radiators as unsightly while others think they add character to the home, virtually everyone who has them agrees they do an excellent job of keeping your home warm and toasty and rarely require repair. Occasionally, you will run into a problem, though. Here are two issues you could be having with your radiators.
Only Some Of The Radiators Work
When the nights grow cold and you turn the furnace on for the first time after it has been sitting quietly all summer, you know you will have to wait a good 12 hours for the water in the radiators to heat up and begin radiating heat into the room. This is one of the disadvantages of heating your home with radiator heat — it won't be instant. Conversely, this is also a good thing as once they get warm, they stay warm when they are working properly.
If you discover not all of the radiators are working in your home, you have a problem. Sometimes, the radiators on the upper level of your house will work, but the ones on the main floor aren't heating. This is most likely a problem with the central heating pump and will require a call to your heating, venting, and air conditioning specialist.
On the other hand, if the radiators on the main floor are working but they aren't on the upper level, this is likely a problem with air trapped in the radiator. You will need a radiator key and a bucket to catch any dripping water. Make sure the furnace is off and begin with the radiators on the main floor. Use the radiator key to turn the screw and allow the air to come out. You will hear a hissing noise. When the hissing stops, simply re-tighten the screw and moving on to the next radiator. Never do this when the water is hot or you could find yourself with a bad burn. If you don't feel comfortable bleeding the radiators yourself, your HVAC contractor can fix them for you.
None Of The Radiators Work
If none of your radiators get even warm when you turn the furnace on, the problem is most likely with the furnace itself. Double-check to be sure the thermostat is set above the current temperature and check the to ensure the pilot light is lit on the boiler and nothing is tripped in the circuit breaker, but barring these issues, it's time to call a furnace repair service.