A heating repair / boiler service technician checks a heater in Chicago, IL.

How To Maintain a Hot Water Heating System: Best Practices

From washing dishes to hot showers, you rely on your hot water heating system for several tasks. As the cool weather approaches, it is essential to ensure that your hot water heater continues to function correctly. 

Knowing how to maintain a hot water heating system is the best way to prevent repairs and keep the hot water running. Scheduling a regular maintenance service with an expert technician saves you time and money in the long run by protecting your hot water heating system from potential problems.

Without proper maintenance, your hot water system won’t be able to heat the water in your home. Common plumbing problems such as odors or a banging noise of the heating system can result from a lack of maintenance. 

Most households have one of three types of water heater systems: 

  • boiler system
  • cast-iron radiator
  • hydronic heating system

Whatever type of hot water heating system you have, it is critical to know how to maintain it. Aside from professional services, there are several steps that you can take to keep your water heater working longer. 

Check the Boiler’s Heat Exchanger

The first and most important step to take when learning how to maintain a hot water heating system is checking for leaks. Leaks, whether big or small, waste water and can gradually deteriorate your system. 

One of the most common problems with hot water heating systems is a leaking heat exchanger. Regularly checking for leaking before and after using the water heater will help you identify any potential problems early on. 

Addressing a leak as soon as possible is the best way to prevent more significant issues. A minor leak that goes unfixed can grow into a more substantial leak and cause water damage. 

If you spot water leaking out of your heat exchanger, call a local plumber right away. 

Check the Boiler’s Chimney and Vent

Your boiler’s chimney and vent are the most susceptible to damage. Over time, a water heating system will deteriorate, and the chimney and vent are typically the first to weaken. 

Checking for holes and connection breaks at the end of every season will help you identify potential leaks. At the very least, you should examine the boiler at the end of winter. 

The connection between the vent and the boiler unit is especially prone to deterioration. When checking your hot water heating system, pay close to this connection. 

Lubricate the Boiler’s Circulating Pump

The circulating pump is the part of the boiler that circulates the water in your home’s plumbing system. Keeping this part of the boiler lubricated will increase the overall efficiency of your hot water system. 

Effective water heater system maintenance includes lubricating the boiler’s circulating pump at least once a year. To do this, pour a 3-in-1 oil into the oil cup of the pump motor. 

Keeping the circulating pump lubricated prevents grinding and other common motor issues. A broken circulating pump means that your water heater cannot produce hot water for your home. Taking a few minutes to lubricate your boiler’s circulating pump once a year is an essential and easy maintenance practice to keep your water heater working. 

Vent the Radiator and Drain the Boiler

Some radiators have an automatic drain or purge option. When you have to do so manually, follow these steps: 

  1. Open the radiator valve to let the air out. 
  2. Close the drain valve and let the boiler drain. 
  3. Turn off the main water and power. 
  4. Take the end of a garden hose and put it into the drain cock. 
  5. Open the radiator vent valves located on the top floor of your house. 
  6. Turn on the main water supply to let freshwater run through the system. 
  7. Finally, close the drain cock and vents when the water stops flowing. 

Draining the boiler is a job you can do on your own; however, hiring a professional technician creates a safer and more efficient process.

Hydronic Water Heater System Maintenance

A hydronic water heater is a relatively new type of hot water system. It is more efficient and takes up significantly less space than a boiler or cast-iron radiator system. 

The most common issue with hydronic hot water systems is standing water. If you notice any water around your hydronic system, check the unit for leaks and call a professional plumber. 

Maintenance for a hydronic water heater is similar to that of the more traditional models, but it does require a few extra steps. 

First, check the temperature and pressure of the water. Ideally, the water temperature should be between 180°F and 200°F with water pressure between 12 PSI and 25 PSI. For more accurate measurements, check the water pressure and temperature after the water has been running for at least an hour. 

Once you verify the temperature and water pressure, the following steps are the same as previously mentioned:

  • Lubricate circulating pump
  • Vent and purge the radiator
  • Drain the boiler 
  • Turn on the water and let it run through the system

Once you flush out the system, it is time to clean away soot from the combustion chamber and straighten the fins on the baseboard heaters. These two steps are typically the job of a professional technician. 

The final maintenance step is to use a vacuum to dust the radiator surface. This should be done regularly to prevent debris buildup. 

Heating and Air Services in Chicago, IL

Your hot water system heats multiple gallons of water in your home every day. Knowing how to maintain a hot water heating system is the best way to ensure that your home continues to have sufficient hot water. 

Heating services by A Custom Services will restore your home’s water quickly and effectively. Our professionals understand the structural complexities of every hot water system and are always ready to provide quality and friendly services. 

Whether you need a repair or want to protect your water heater with an expert maintenance service, A Custom Services is here for you. Call us at 773-819-6284 to schedule an inspection in Chicago, IL. 

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