There is no need to bleed steam radiators, you only have to bleed hot water radiators. Many older building are equipped with radiant steam heat, and this type of heating system operates by circulating the steam from a boiler through a series of pipes and radiators that are run throughout the building.
Steam remains a popular and effective way to heat larger, multi-unit buildings, and while a properly built system can run quietly and efficiently for decades, it can require some maintenance in order to operate as it was meant to.
Part of this may involve cleaning the air vents. The air vents located on the radiator which release excess steam sometimes become clogged. They can be cleaned or replaced if necessary by a qualified repair person.
Another thing to watch for on steam radiators is a clogged steam trap. Located towards the bottom of the radiator by the outlet pipe, this sends collected condensation back to the steam boiler. Sometimes deposits of mineral can make it stick in the open position, or stick in the closed psotion, keeping the radiator from heating up.
Hot Water System
Do not get mixed up, though; a a steam radiator system is different than a hot water system. Bleeding hot water radiators is the process that is used to remove trapped air from the system.
You Need a Key
The only tool that is necessary for bleeding radiators is a key. There are several different styles and they are available at most hardware stores. The key is used to open up the valve that controls the bleeding process. If you can’t find a key that fits your system, you can generally make it work with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers, but the key is ideal.
You may also want to wear safety glasses when opening the valve, as hot steam may come rushing out if the system is under a lot of pressure. The steam can cause serious burns, so you should take caution.
When you consider that bleeding radiators is the biggest maintenance problem that most people face with these systems, it really isn’t a bad way to go. While there are much more efficient and user friendly ways to install HVAC systems in newly constructed buildings, the cost of retro-fitting an old building with radiant heat is usually not worth it. These heating units are simple in principle, design, and as long as they are properly maintained, will last for a very long time.