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How To Prevent Heater Repairs on Your Old Radiator in Big Bear

Bear Valley Plumbing & Heating


Long before antibiotics, light and fresh air were considered some of the most effective ways to curb the spread of diseases. Being the dominant health theories of the age, they informed the designs of residential and public health facilities. They also led engineers to focus not only on comfort but the utility of the heaters they designed. However, to make them last longer you’ll want to search, “HVAC contractors near me” to find an experienced and highly reviewed heating contractor in Big Bear.

In this article, we discuss the history of steam heaters and the role they played in public health, why your old radiator is so noisy, and ways to maintain it to get the best output. Keep reading to learn more.

The Disease Prevention Role of Steam Radiators

Spanish influenza was a headline disease from 1918 till the 1920s. By the time it was over, about 50 million people had been killed across the globe, 675,000 in the United States. New York, in particular, suffered around 20,000 casualties from the deadly flu. Upon realizing that enclosed, crowded spaces could contribute to infection rates, the New York Board of Health ordered that windows be kept open even on extremely cold days.

This was the era of the “fresh air movement,” and what followed were heating system designs that allowed occupants to open their windows while warming their interiors. The systems were built to powerfully emit heat using sizable boilers. However, while these designs are still seen in older homes today, the radiator has become less acceptable. The decline here is due to the fuel it uses and the evolution of other methods of distributing heat.

But with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the factors that influenced the design of steam heat may once again come into play. While older people are the vulnerable population, in this case, Covid and the Spanish flu are similar in their transmission through crowded spaces. Therefore, don’t wait for the breakdown, instead research on the “HVAC contractors near me” and find the best one. Remain in touch with it to be on a safe side.

Why Old Radiators in Big Bear Produce Noise 

How Your Radiator Works

To understand why your radiator is noisy, you first need to know how it works. Heat circulation in steam heaters is quite straightforward. The process starts in a central boiler which heats water till it becomes gas. This gas is distributed to radiators in the building, which, in turn, provide warmth.

Eventually, the heat cools, and the radiator returns to liquid form. The water is usually collected, reheated in the boiler room, and reused.

Why Your Radiator Produces Noise

Above, the cycle is ordinary and should work perfectly. However, in reality, it hits some snags. The sound your radiator makes, similar to the noise of a hammer, is due to water hitting the interior at extreme speeds.

This occurs when water that should be recollected comes in contact with oncoming steam. The steam tosses the water around, creating the unpleasant noise that you hear.

The result of this encounter is that steam cools faster than it should and leaves empty spaces in the radiator. The spaces are taken by water which only aggravates the noise.

How Can You Prevent Noise?

One of the ways to do this is by tilting your radiator so that water flows with a little help. Usually, radiators are level on either side but tilt the system towards the intake valve to encourage flow.

You can place paint stirrers or a wooden shim on the other side of the component. Ensure the tilt is around five degrees.

Also, you may want to check your radiator valve. Ensure it is either fully open to allow a smooth flow of steam and condensate or closed to prevent both from entering altogether. If not sure about it please get in touch with the nearest hvac expert instead of experimenting on your own. Take note to yourself, “I will find the hvac contractors near me and will stay connected”. Because that’s the only way you can avoid future mishaps.

How to Maintain Your Radiator to Avoid costly Heater Repairs

Even the most efficient heating system requires regular maintenance to stay in the long run. Therefore, consider the following maintenance steps to maintain and enhance your radiator’s performance.

Check the Water Level

It would be best if you did this once a month. There are valves on either side of the water-level gauge. Open both to ensure that the water level is average. If there’s no water, turn off the boiler and wait till it cools before adding water.

The best way to go is to use an automatic water valve. This ensures that your steam heater gets the supply it needs in the right quantities.

Examine the Safety Valve

You should also do this every month. The safety valve removes steam when it is in excess and crosses safe levels. When the heater is hot, work the handle to see if it emits steam. Be sure to stand back for safety reasons. If there is no steam, look out for the best among “hvac contractors near me” and get your system checked right away. 

The Steam Gauge

Check the gauge regularly to ensure it stays within acceptable levels. Once that is not the case, call an expert to diagnose it.

The Vents

It isn’t unusual to have air trapped within your vents. This can be caused by paint or corrosion. To improve airflow, replace the vent when you discover a blockage. Blocked vents prevent steam from entering the radiator.

You may be able to fix your vent by boiling it, but you will often need to replace it. You can procure a new one from a hardware store. Here are steps to follow when installing the vent.

  • Stop the flow of steam by closing the radiator valve. Also, turn off your thermostat if you have one.
  • Unscrew the old vent with counter clockwise motions. Be careful not to break it. If hot, wrap your hand in a piece of cloth.
  • Now, place Teflon tape along the threads of the new vent and attach it. The tip of the vent has to face upwards.
  • Finally, turn the valve on and restart your thermostat.

The Low Water Cutoff

The cutoff is located at the lower section of the boiler. Cleaning it helps to remove any dirt that may have gathered on it. Before opening, ensure you have a bucket beneath.

Boiler Pressure

Check to ensure that the pressure tool is set to low.

Regular Cleaning of Your Radiator

When dust collects on the radiator, it insulates the component and prevents heat from being put to use. Therefore, clean your radiator regularly with an appropriate vacuum cleaner to maximize output.

Pros and Cons of Steam Heaters

To help you determine whether to install a steam heater or get a home that has one, the following are the pros and cons of this unit:


  • Steam heaters are an efficient way of warming your home. The continual circulation of water ensures that the system conserves energy.
  • Also, steam heaters are very durable. If you stumble on one installed long ago, you may have little to fear as they are known to last a while. So long as there are no leaks, the system should function perfectly. Also, you should check for clanging sounds as you survey your potential living space.
  • Steam heaters are quite reliable, so long as you maintain yours properly.
  • Moreover, they supply clean heat. Unlike modern systems, which often float dust and harmful allergens, steam radiators provide heat in a cleaner manner.


  • Because there is only one zone supplying the entire house, steam radiators can produce unequal heat. As a result, you may find some spaces hotter than others.
  • There is also the problem of air conditioning. Homes with steam heat may not be equipped with air conditioning. Therefore, a factor you will have to consider is whether you are willing to pay extra to install an AC.
  • In addition, you have to consider the maintenance procedure. Periodically, you have to check various components to keep them in optimal condition. Even if I have the best hvac system installed, I would also need to know about hvac contractors near me, to get my system examined every year to maintain it. However, remember that maintenance levels also depend on the number of pipes the system uses. It could be a one-pipe system, where the pipe conveying steam also returns condensate or a dual-pipe setup where both are carried through different pipes.
  • In terms of efficiency, a steam radiator is not the best offer on the market. Delays exist in the time heat transfers from the boiler to the radiator.

When to Repair or Replace Your Steam Heater in Big Bear

Your steam heater may have issues when you don’t get sufficient heat, or there are leaks in the system. You should call a professional to determine the issue.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Steam Radiator

Replacing a radiator in its entirety can be quite costly. Here, we discuss things to consider when replacing your steam heat system.

Stay in touch with best HVAC contractors near me

To avoid unnecessary costs a wholesale replacement attracts, have a professional troubleshoot your system to determine what is actually wrong. Sometimes, the problem might be your pipes or the boiler itself. Hence, we would suggest you to google “hvac contractors near me”. Having a list in front would help you choose the best that fits in your budget. Or you never know if negotiating with them might narrow your expenses.

Radiator Replacement Cost

Replacing your radiator will typically cost between $150 to over $500, depending on the size and configuration.

Boiler Replacement Cost

As stated earlier, your boiler might be the part in need of replacement. Replacing your boiler can cost between $500 to around $1500, making it the costliest component.

Installation Costs

Installing a radiator should solely be handled by a professional. When contracting, be sure to take several quotes. Labor and installation will hover around $800. Also, avoid selecting a technician based on low prices.

Cheaper rates may only translate to poor-quality materials, which will cost you more in the long run. Additionally, attempt to make repairs whenever an issue comes up. Compared to the expenses of a full repair, this will be relatively low.

Speak with Big Bear Heater Repair Expert Today! 

This article has explored the full range of steam radiators. We have discussed the design motives, reasons for the noise they make, how to maintain one, and the cost of repair.

No need to search for qualified “hvac contractors near me”, if you are living in Bear Valley, California. Contact Bear Valley Plumbing and Heating now and get a free case evaluation. We are available at your service 24/7. 

If you are looking for a Big Bear plumbing, heating & air conditioning contractor, please call (909) 584-4376 or complete our online request form.