How Should I Maintain My Home's Radiators?

Hissing. Clanging. Banging. Growling. No, we’re not reading off the script of the next Transformers movie. Instead, we’re willing to bet these are sounds that some of you are hearing in your Chicago home right this second. And the culprit isn’t some monster from outer space, but the radiator sitting over there in the corner of your living room.

Want to make sure your radiator is in prime working condition for the coldest months of the year? Curious about when to call in the heating pros? Here are four simple ways to monitor and maintain your radiator units, all year long:

1.) Know What Type of System You Have

While this won’t necessarily get you out of any tight spots, it’s important to recognize what type of radiators you have throughout your home so that you can properly inform a professional about your problems when the time comes.

There are two main types in use in homes and apartments around Chicago: steam radiators and hot water radiators. In a hot water system, boilers distribute heat by means of small hot water pipes, which warm up in-room units. Hot water enters on one side, and cooled water typically leaves on the other (this isn’t always the case, however, and some hot water radiators may have just one connection). Steam radiators operate by means of warm steam; scalding hot steam enters on one side, and then condenses into water that may exit the radiator on the opposite side, or through the same pipe.

Broadly speaking, the differences between both systems are minor, and have more to do with the boiler in your building than the cast-iron radiators themselves. It’s not uncommon for some older Chicago buildings to have switched out one type of boiler for another without touching the radiators themselves, so you may have to check out your heater in order to determine which type of system you have in place.

2.) Check the Slope

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How Do I Stop My Basement From Getting Wet When the Snow Melts (Source: - used as royalty free image)

There’s nothing like snow in Chicago! Piling up high, crunching under your boot, powdering the sidewalks and streets, melting down into your basement…

For as pretty as it can be, snow can also be a quiet source of pressure for many Chicago homeowners. The white stuff piles up in our yards and on our walkways, poses a freezing hazard to our outdoor plumbing, and can lead to a lot of water damage to the foundations, walls, and floors of our homes.

Don’t let that winter snow turn into mold, mildew, and structural damage for your home. Here are three ways to protect your basement from the effects of melting snow:

1.) Inspect Your Sump Pump

Why Does My Dishwasher Stink? 

Your dishwasher should bring cleanliness and lemon-y freshness to your kitchen, right? So what’s to blame when it’s actually making the whole room feel rotten?

Here are three common culprits behind stinky dishwashers – and what you can do to get your unit back on track:

1.) Clogged or Gunky Screen

This screen at the bottom of your dishwasher, generally made of plastic or metallic mesh, helps prevent utensils and other small objects from falling into your drain. Over time, these screens get gummed up with gunk, liquids, and food debris, which can lead to a deeply rotten odor (along with some ugly views).

To clean your screen, remove it from your dishwasher and wipe it down by hand, then replace it and run your dishwasher once, without loading it up with dishes. Be sure to take care of this screen regularly – it’s an easy fix if you catch it early, but the stench can be bad if left untreated.

2.) Mold or Mildew

Why You Should Let Your Faucets Drip In Freezing Temperatures (Source: - used as royalty free image)

Tell anyone from out of town that you live in Chicago, and what’s the first response you get? We’re willing to bet it’s something along the lines of:

“Oh, what a great city! But how on earth do you handle the winters?

Chicago is known for its windy, frigid winters for good reason – they’re awful (no matter how much we locals try to downplay the chill). We've had some mild weeks this year, but only a few weeks back we were freezing our wrenches off!

And, what’s more, our legendary winters can wreak havoc on the parts of our homes that many of us take for granted, including our plumbing systems. One of the most common problems that winter poses to your Chicago home? Frozen pipes!

The Problem With Frozen Pipes

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Water Heater

One of the most important parts of your plumbing system is also one of the most mysterious to many Chicago homeowners. We’re talking, of course, about your water heater.

We get questions about these all-important systems all the time; now, it’s time to shed some light on that monster in the basement.

Looking for help with your water heater? Here are the six big water heater FAQs we answer every day – and what you can do about them right now:

1.) Are there different types of water heaters?

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