My Radiator Isn’t Heating Up, What Should I Do?


Find out what you can do if your radiator isn't heating and when it is time to call a Pittsburgh plumbing and heating technician

Now that the weather is cold in most of the northern parts of the US, we are relying on our heating systems more than ever. If you are experiencing issues with your radiator this year, you likely have a lot of questions and concerns regarding persistent heating issues. Not only is a faulty radiator inconvenient, it is also extremely stressful when your radiator is a necessity during the wintertime. So, let’s go over some of the common causes of radiator malfunctions and determine when is the best time to call a Pittsburgh plumbing and heating technician for help.

Steps You Should Take If One of Your Radiators Isn’t Heating Up

The first thing your Pittsburgh plumbing and heating technician will ask you is whether the problem is a single radiator or multiple

Example of a technician disconnecting the thermostatic valve from the radiator body.

If your house is feeling cooler than usual and you notice one of your radiators isn’t working properly, you need to find out whether this is affecting a single radiator or multiple. Once you've found which radiators are not working properly, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take to get closer to the cause of the malfunction. Let’s take a look at a few common radiator issues you can identify before a Pittsburgh plumbing and heating technician comes in to take a look. Here are some of the most common issues you may encounter if a single radiator in your home is no longer heating:

  1. There are Air Pockets in Your Hot Water Radiator

A telltale sign that you may have excess air in your radiator is the top of the unit is cold while the bottom is warm. In this case, air trapped in your radiator is taking up space that the hot water should occupy, decreasing the amount of heat coming from your radiator. This is something you can fix at home through a process called bleeding your radiator. To safely bleed your radiator, unscrew the bleed screw using the radiator key and allow air to escape. Once the air runs out and water begins coming out, replace and tighten the bleed screw.

  1. Issues With Your Thermostat

Sometimes the reason that your radiator isn’t heating properly is actually an issue with your thermostat. Though it may seem obvious, you should always double check your thermostat setting to make sure that it is set to the correct temperature and not turned off. It is also possible that your valve has seized and closed off the water/steam supply. Simply take the top cover off of the thermostatic valve and, unscrew the knurled nut, check if the centre pin can be moved up 

  1. Sludge and Leaks

Over time, radiators can build up sludge and other debris from continuous use, which is fairly common. When sludge buildup becomes too much, it will prevent your radiator from heating up and will eventually lead to corrosion and leaks. Another side effect of sludge is that it can clog your hot water radiator. When these blockages occur, you will notice that the top of your radiator is much warmer than the bottom. If you suspect that your radiator may be clogged, there is a way you can flush out your radiator at home, but it isn’t exactly easy. 

If you find that your radiator body is leaking, you should immediately try to control the leak using absorbent towels and then call your local Pittsburgh plumbing and heating service. More often than not, a leaky radiator requires a full replacement.

Steps You Should Take If Multiple Radiators in Your Home Aren’t Working

Now that we know the steps you should take one of your radiators isn't functioning, let’s talk about what you need to do if several have stopped producing heat

Don’t freeze yourself out, call your local technician as soon as you locate a problem.

So, you’re inspecting your radiators and you notice that more than one is not heating properly. Often, when more than one radiator is down, the situation becomes more urgent — especially if the temperature is very cold. Let’s find out what you need to do if multiple radiators in your home are not producing heat.

  1. Faulty Diverter Valve

Your diverter valve is the part of your heating system that directs the flow of hot water either to your heating system or to your plumbing. If you are getting hot water in your faucet and shower, but are unable to get your radiator to heat up, then the issue is definitely with your diverter. To remedy this problem you will need to call a professional technician to assist in repair.

  1.  Too Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure is another common cause of radiator malfunction. If the water pressure in your home is out of whack, the hot water will be unable to reach your radiators. When hot water can’t reach your radiator, you won’t be able to feel any warmth. You can check the water pressure directly on your boiler. If you discover that your boiler pressure is too low, you can increase your water pressure using the top-up valve.

Now that you know some of the common causes and solutions for a faulty radiator, you can better identify any future problems. Remember to always call your local Pittsburgh plumbing and heating service if you are unsure of how to troubleshoot your system. Your heating system will be fixed and running properly before you know it!

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