In this video: Don't be scared of an older heating or cooling system. Systems can be inspected or retrofit to maintain the integrity of your older home.

Boilers & radiators

A boiler system can be an efficient way to heat your house - if you know how to use your equipment effectively.

Maintenance and safety

Boiler systems need regular maintenance to keep them operating efficiently. There is a danger of scalding or steam burns when working around a boiler system, so maintenance should be left to professionals.

And if you have small children in your family, be sure to watch them closely around the radiators. You might want to wrap foam pipe insulation around pipes and valves for added safety.

Radiators

Radiators usually aren't the most attractive element in the room, so most people try to disguise or hide them. But this can significantly reduce the amount of heat that reaches the room.

Air needs to circulate underneath the radiator, so avoid pushing furniture up against the radiator or covering it draperies. If you like to have a shelf or cabinet around your radiator, make it easy to remove during the heating season.

If you paint your radiator, be sure to use the right kind of paint - choose one that's made specifically for "high-heat" applications. Otherwise it may crack or peel within a few days. Keep in mind that multiple layers of paint can also cut down on the amount of heat that reaches the room.

There is an easy way to improve the efficiency of your radiators - just add a reflecting panel behind it. You can purchase them at a home center or hardware store, or you can fashion your own with a piece of plywood and a smooth sheet of aluminum foil.

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