A HEATING UNIT is classified by the medium that moves the heat from the heating system through your home. Required air, hot water and steam are the most common systems in the United States.

Lots of homeowners in the Northeast are surprised to hear that two-thirds of the homes in the United States are heated with forced air. This is not the case in the Northeast, where most houses use either steam or hot-water heat. Heating systems that use water or steam are grouped together in the classification of hydronic heating.

Hot-water systems have some benefits over forced-air heating. Generally, hot-water systems are quieter. (This is not true of a steam system, which can be loud.).

Hot-water heating provides radiant heat, which lots of people find more comfy than forced-hot air. Hot-water systems take up less room since the water circulates in small-diameter pipes. On the other hand, the forced-air system relies on large-diameter ducts to move the air around.

Hot-water systems do have their problems. They are normally more costly to set up than forced-air, and they are not easily adjusted for air-conditioning or cooling. Water leakages are rare, however should one occur, it can lead to major damage.
The heart of the hot-water system is the central boiler. The water in the boiler is warmed by gas, oil or, in some older systems, coal or wood. The hot water circulates through pipelines to radiators or heating panels that radiate the heat into the rooms.

Early hot-water systems relied on gravity to distribute the water. As the water heated up, it broadened and pushed into the radiators, where it relinquished its heat. After quiting the heat, the water dropped to the boiler.

One disadvantage to the gravity system was that it took time for the water to expand enough to circulate. To make the system more responsive, hydronic designers added a circulating pump to move the water through the system.

In addition to the boiler, pipelines, radiators and circulating pump, hot-water systems also have an expansion tank. The expansion tank is just a metal container full of water and air. It allows the water in the system to broaden or condense without bursting the pipelines or fittings in the network.

The annual repair schedule for a hot-water heating system must start with a heating system tune-up by a specialized service specialist. The professional need to examine and clean the combustion chamber and the fuel nozzle, and run a combustion test.

The heating system tune-up is a job for an expert, however there are a variety of easier upkeep jobs that every homeowner can do. Water systems often build up sludge in the form of mineral deposits and corrosion. If the sludge is enabled to collect, it can hinder the water circulation and eventually harm the system. To get rid of the sludge, merely drain a pail or more of water from the boiler. First shut off the burner; then close the water inlet valve to the boiler. Now position a pail under the boiler drain valve.

The water in the boiler will certainly be hot; to avoid being burned, it’s finest to wait an hour or two prior to opening the drain valve. Drain the water until it runs clear; then close the drain valve, open the supply valve and switch on the furnace. Newer systems ought to be drained yearly, however older systems gather sludge more readily. With such a system it may be necessary to drain more often.

If you have an old hot-water system that’s never ever been drained, drawing a few pails of water may not suffice. You might have to contact an expert to eliminate the system with chemical additives and extremely warm water.

After draining the boiler, check the growth tank. Newer systems have a diaphragm tank, which is sealed, so it’s not essential to drain it. Older systems have tanks that should be eliminated yearly. You can quickly acknowledge this type of tank because it has two valves; a shutoff valve entering into the furnace and a drain valve on the bottom of the tank.

To drain the tank, first close the shutoff valve. Position a pail under the drain; then open the valve. The water should drain, however if it does not, it may be necessary to open the vacuum-breaker plug (not all tanks have this plug) on the drain valve. You can open the plug with an adjustable wrench. After the tank has been drained, close the drain valve and vacuum-breaker plug; then open the shutoff valve. If all this seems like a great deal of difficulty, you may wish to consult a heating technician about replacing your old expansion tank with a newer diaphragm design.

Next, bleed the radiators. Air is frequently trapped inside, and it can prevent the hot water from entering the radiators. Bleeding releases the trapped air. To bleed a radiator, first position a pan under the bleed valve. Then open the valve. Depending on the type of bleed valve, you can utilize either a screwdriver or a radiator key (offered at hardware or plumbing supply stores) to open the valve. At first air will come out of the valve, then water. At that point, close the valve. You must bleed each radiator once or twice each year.

Draining water and bleeding the radiators are easy jobs within the abilities of the average house owner. They can assist to the system working efficiently.