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Steam or hydronic? What do we have?

We have a boiler and radiators. There is clanking in the basement and I bought "We got Steam Heat" to help us understand the system and what to do -- but maybe we have Hydonic heat? Water not steam? What's the difference and how do we tell?

Also we had a bad experience with a heating company - they came out twice to "service the system" and it has clanked ever since. How can we tell if they know what they are doing?

Thanks for any help.



  • Mark Custis
    Mark Custis Member Posts: 539
    clanking is not good

    Look at the boiler. If it is steam you should have a water level sight glass about two thirds of the way up the "box" on some side.

    Follow the pipes around and see if there are pumps.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,272
    and if there is a sight glass

    you should see a water line in it, anywhere from a quarter to half way up when the boiler is off. If you don't, you still have steam -- but the boiler is either too full or, much less likely, too empty (it shouldn't run if it's too empty!). If the boiler is too full, there's your problem!

    Either try to get a different fellow from the heating company, or... just possibly... try a different company!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • steve_29
    steve_29 Member Posts: 185

    Maybe you should try another company. They're not all the same.
  • scrook_2
    scrook_2 Member Posts: 610

    Also, how many pipes attach to each radiator? If only one (w/ a metal vent on the other end/side of the radiator, half way up - not at top) it's steam. If two pipes it's probably hot water/hydronic, but could be a two pipe steam system.
  • Jesse Singerman
    Jesse Singerman Member Posts: 2
    where are we located

    Iowa City Iowa
This discussion has been closed.