Should You Keep Your Radiator System?
Radiators have been around for a long time and are a staple of many heating systems, especially in older homes. They often provide heat throughout the winter at a lower energy cost than some other heating options, since true to their name they allow heat to passively radiate into the surrounding air. Unfortunately, some older radiator systems can require a lot of maintenance to keep in service year after year and may not be the best at providing even heat in your home.
Because of this, some homeowners will consider getting rid of radiator systems even if they’re still in mostly good repair. If you’ve got one of these heating systems in your home, you might even have considered it yourself. Let’s look at the topic and see whether it’s a good idea to get rid of your system, or if you should keep it around for a bit longer.
Pros and Cons of Radiator Heat
While radiator systems aren’t as common as they used to be, there are definite advantages to using them in place of forced air or other heating options. With that said, there are some downsides to radiator heating as well. Here are some of the pros and cons to consider when trying to decide whether to keep your radiator system.
- Heat from a radiator is often more humid and comfortable because water isn’t removed from the air by blowing it over a heat source
- Better room-by-room control than other heating options
- The modularity of radiator systems makes it easy to replace individual radiators or other components without having to replace major sections of the system
- Very little noise compared to other options
- Radiators typically require a lot of room, both for the radiator itself and space around it for safety purposes
Cleaning radiators can be difficult, especially around the elements
- Poor maintenance can result in steep drops in heating efficiency, especially when compared to other heating types
- Radiators are much slower to react to changes in the thermostat than other heating options
- If you’re still on the fence, perhaps it’s time to look at your existing radiator system to see if it needs to be replaced.
Evaluating Your Radiator
There are a few things that you should look at when trying to evaluate how well your radiator system functions and whether it needs to be replaced as a result.
First, give your radiator a visual inspection and look for signs of damage, corrosion, or other potential indicators that there’s a problem with the radiator. Be sure to remove any radiator covers and similar items so that you can see the radiator clearly. Make note of anything that seems out of the ordinary, because even small cracks can cause large problems over time.
You should also shut a radiator off and then turn it back on when it’s cool, timing it to see how long it takes to get back up to temperature. If it seems to take an excessively long time, especially compared to past performance, then it might indicate that there’s a problem with the heating elements or other components. You should also listen to the radiator as it heats up to see if it appears to be louder than before or makes noises that you aren’t used to.
Keep track of the maintenance that you have to perform as well. Do you seem to be doing some tasks more often than you used to? Are there problems that you keep having to correct that didn’t used to be an issue? If maintenance is increasingly an issue, it may be time to make a replacement.
If you do decide to replace your radiator, you might simply go with an updated radiator system, or you could do a full swap for forced air. Regardless of what you choose, though, it has the potential to be a big job.