Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit

Is it steam or hot water?

seb Member Posts: 2
I am completely new to radiators, and we're moving into a place that has them. We have no access to the previous tenants, and the landlord doesn't know anything about the system either.

How do I tell if we have steam heat or hot water heat?

I'm also finding lots of conflicting info about how often hot water radiators need to be bled, can you help?

Thanks so much!


  • furnacefigher15
    furnacefigher15 Member Posts: 514
    A picture is

    worth a thousand words.

    Take a photo of one of the radiators, including the piping to it.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,334
    Go down to the boiler

    Take a pic & post it. Then we can tell you.

    As for radiators and bleeding, if they are steam, never. If they are for hot water, anymore then once in the beginning of the heating season indicates some kind of problem.

    Tell your landlord, who you pay, to get a little involved and get someone out there to go over the system, with you present
  • seb
    seb Member Posts: 2
    Thanks, I'll post a pic Monday

    Thank you! I'll post a pic on Monday when we get access to the house.
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,333
    steam and hw

    steam boiler has a sight glass on the side of the boiler, a tall skinny tube of glass maybe 12" in height and 1/2" in diameter.

    If you have one pipe serving each radiator it's steam. If there's two it could be either steam or hw.

    if this doesn't help, you gotta post pics
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 1,779
    Type of vent

    From where you looking at just the radiator , if the side vent is half way down the side of the radiator or no vent at all it would be steam... If the vent is high near the top of the radiator it would be water ... If an old ceiling tank is still on a hot water system air can migrate up to a radiator . you can tell if radiator is cool on top and warm on the bottom .. Just bleed the top vent until you see water .....
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
This discussion has been closed.