Friday, November 22, 2013

Thermostats, Radiators & Surviving Your First Winter in Boston

If this is your first winter in the Boston area, you may be thinking "this isn't so bad", but long-time residents will tell you, "WINTER IS COMING" and with it, single-digit temperatures that can make heating your home or apartment a challenge!

Cold Rush: A Guide to Using Radiators & Surviving Your First Winter in Boston

In this guide we will educate you on operating, optimizing performance, and making common repairs to the thermostats and radiators usually found in Boston area apartments, as well as how to conserve energy and save money on your heating bill by better regulating your thermostat.

Don't wait until it's too late, now is the time to gear up with the right clothing and knowledge to prepare yourself for the Cold Rush that inevitability ensues after the first of the year.

Parts of a Thermostatic Trap Radiator Heating System

Radiators will often work loudly, making banging and hissing noises, so if this is your first apartment with a radiator, it is important you know how a thermostat and radiator works. Below is a diagram of a "heat trap" along with a general breakdown of the components of a heating system's operation, FAQs on radiators, and Do's and Don't about heating your home.

Learn why your radiator is making that noise and relieve your worries about it exploding!




THERMOSTATIC TRAP

This component is the control unit that has sensors for the heating apparatus of your radiator. The mechanism is connected to the radiator, usually toward the bottom.  The right side of the diagram above shows how steam or air/water from condensed steam mixture passes through the thermostatic trap.

AIR VENT

This regulates the amount of air that can escape from the radiator.  The more air that can escape, the hotter the radiator becomes because more steam is allowed in the trap. Some air vents have adjustable knobs that allow you to adjust the heat level on the thermostat.

ADJUSTABLE KNOB

The air vent is adjustable by turning the numbered knob. When making the adjustment, it may take some time before the new heat cycle begins in the building and the heat adjustment takes place.

STEAM VALVE

To open the steam valve, turn the knob counter-clockwise until it can no longer rotate. DO NOT FORCE THE KNOB because it could break and cause a leak. It is extremely important that you keep this steam valve fully opened or fully shut. Partially opened valves cause water to collect in the radiator, which could lead to the nuisance of banging noises and leaking. Remember to use the air vent to regulate the heat, not the steam valve.

View a video tutorial on to regulate your radiator & thermostat


FAQs About Radiators

There are common questions for heating during this time of year. Here is a list of FAQs concerning heating your home’s radiator:

Q: IF I HEAR A BANGING NOISE COMING FROM THE RADIATOR, WHAT IS THAT?

A: It is the steam rising into the radiator through cooled water resting inside of it (Refer to the Thermostatic Trap diagram above). The steam is boiling the standing water on contact, causing a sudden pop or banging noise. First, you should make sure that the Steam Valve is fully open. If it is, your radiator may not be pitched properly. In order for the water not to drain through the steam valve, the radiator must be pitched toward the valve. If this is not the case, contact your property manager immediately.

Q: IF I AM EXPERIENCING PROBLEMS WITH MY HEAT, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

A: First, confirm the following:
  • All the steam valves are open (turn counter-clockwise all the way) during the entire heating season.
  • All the air vents are not painted over or clogged with dirt.
  • The radiators are pitched properly.
  • All the air conditioners are removed from the windows.
  • Be sure all the windows are closed, have been sealed or insulated, and are not drafty.
Q:  THERE IS NO ADJUSTABLE AIR VENT ON MY RADIATOR, HOW CAN I GET ONE?

A: Contact your plumber or email your property management crew for a referral.

Q:  A WATER STAIN IS APPEARING ON MY CEILING, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

A: Check to see if the stain is appearing over your radiator. If it is, the stain is most likely caused by a leaking radiator in the unit above you. Contact management in order to get in touch with the unit owner above.

Home Heating DO's and DON'Ts

Finally, here are some extra DO's and DON’Ts concerning heating your home and  during the cold weather season:

DO’s
  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Use electric space heaters with extreme care; avoid placing them near curtains or other flammable materials and turn them off before going to bed.
  • Make sure all portable heat-producing appliances are unplugged when not in use (irons, hair devices, etc.).
  • Keep dryer vents clear of snow and ice.
DON’Ts
  • NEVER use your oven for heat.
  • NEVER bring charcoal or gas grills indoors (they are a carbon monoxide hazard).
  • Liquid or gas-fired portable space heaters are illegal in Massachusetts.
  • NEVER leave candles unattended.

Many multi-unit apartment buildings located within Boston are heated with steam radiators. If you are a resident in these areas, it is possible that you will have  a property management company to handle the thermostat and radiator maintenance on your behalf. If you are ever unsure, always contact your property manager!


Stay warm! For more tips about heating during the cold season, and more information about how to handle household concerns, such as power outages, pipes, and maintenance of driveways and sidewalks, please follow us on Twitter @MAcondoMGMT and “like” us on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/MAcondoMGMT

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