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Air Vents

I just have a few quick questions regarding air vents. I have a one-pipe system with air vents on the end of each radiator.

1. What is the easiest way to check if they are still working properly?

2. How often should they be checked?

3. How often do they usually last?

Thank you so much for any help you can provide. I have learned more lately about steam heat than I ever thought I would. It has definitely been an experience though!


  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    edited November 2012
    Checking Radiator Vents

    Hi- Welcome to the Wall!  In answer to your questions:

    1. What is the easiest way to check if they are still working properly?

    DO NOT test them with you bare hand!!  Live steam can give you a very bad burn!

    The easiest way is to use a strip of newspaper and dangle that near the vent hole. If it is is working properly, the paper will move when air is released but will immediately stop when steam reaches the vent and the vent closes. On some vents you will hear a "click" when the vent closes.

    2. How often should they be checked?

    They should probably be checked each year at the beginning of the heating season or if you feel that they might not be working properly.

    3. How often do they usually last?

        That  depends.... I have some that, if they qualified, would be old enough to vote!

        If the vent isn't working properly you can remove it (with the system shut OFF of course!) and boil it in vinegar. Sometimes this will get the vent working properly again.

    There are some really good books on steam heating in the Shop section of this website. The book to start out with is titled "We Got Steam Heat!" Here's a link to it:


    It's written so that the homeowner new to steam can understand it and with the knowledge it gives you, you will save a lot of money. My copy has easily saved me well over 100 times its cost.

    - Rod
  • NewlyPuzzled
    NewlyPuzzled Member Posts: 30

    Thank you so much for the information, I really appreciate it! I am new to steam heating and very glad I found this site. Actually, I already have the book you suggested. It has been a great read and been very well used. In fact, I have referenced it so much, the binding is broke and the pages are falling out!

    Thanks Again!!
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