The baseboard heating systems are popular in the households for keeping the places warm quickly and efficiently. The maintenance of the system might require a bit more than just making sure that the metal framework remains dirt and dust free so that the heat can be distributed evenly and effectively.

And at least once a year make sure that you clean up all the water that has accumulated to make sure that it runs smoothly. Simple, right?

Well, not quite so – until or unless you know what you are supposed to do.

How Does It Work?

The boiler warms up the water which eventually heats up hydronic heating system baseboards. This ensures that the temperature remains even across the dashboard.

The main premise in draining to service any part of the heating system is to drain only as much as you need to in order to complete the job. Use any valves that may be available in order to drain only the section you are working on.

However, as time goes on, sediments start to build up in the system’s dashboard, pipes, and expansion tank. This results in lowering the efficiency of the heating system as sediment blockage impedes the flow of water through the baseboard.

As time goes on, the sediment buildup continuously diminishes the tank’s ability to manage the water pressure.

As this situation continues to worsen, it becomes essential to drain and refill the water from the baseboard heating system.

How To Drain & Refill The Water On Baseboard Heating System?

It’s simple. All you need to do is to have the following tools and follow these steps to ensure the seamless circulation of water throughout the system.

Tools Required

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Screwdriver set
  • Garden hose

Step 1: A Little Warm-Up

Start off the heater with a medium level heat to circulate the water throughout the system. Run the heater for an hour approximately and then switch it off. Make sure you turn off the circuit breaker as well. You don’t want to get electrocuted anyway.

Step 2: Finding the Heat Valve

You’ll find the main system tank in the basement. At the bottom of the tank, find the bleed valve which looks like a hose outlet, usually with a threaded edge.

Turn off the gas valve of the boiler by using a wrench. This should be a brass valve which connects the building’s gas pipe outside of the boiler unit.

Step 3: Putting Safety First

To avoid a lot of leakage on the valve, put an absorbent material over the nozzle during the bleeding process. Moreover, place a bucket on the floor, right under the nozzle to avoid a lot of spill on the base.

Also, give it a couple of hours for the heating system to cool. The water from the boiler must be cooled down before continuing, to avoid an accident.

Step 4: Managing the Leakage

Attach the garden hose (female) fitting to the drain fitting of the boiler. It may be marked at the bottom of the boiler with a “Drain “label. As for the male end of the garden hose, direct it towards the drain on the floor. Start off by twisting the valve clockwise to begin the drainage process. You may need a slotted or hex screwdriver to turn the screw counterclockwise.

Open the bleeding screw gradually, one by one, until all the bleeding screw threads fitted near the top of the baseboard are dismantled. This allows air to enter the system, which helps push the water out of the boiler much quicker than usual.

There may be a shrill hissing sound indicating the exit of hot air from the system.  Keep safe distance as the water and air leaking out of the system may be a little warm. Avoid direct contact with the water or the air during this period.

Step 5: Turn Off the Valve

Turn off the bleed valve counter-clockwise until you see a steady stream of water flowing in out of the valve. Keep a close eye on the male fitting of the garden hose.

After a steady stream of water outflow, it would stop draining out of the system. This indicates that the air has been removed, along with the debris and sediments that were part of the hydraulic system of the heater. Once that happens, it is time to remove the garden hose and close the boiler drain fitting.

Turn the hose fitting counter-clockwise to remove it from the central system and turn the drain’s fitting clockwise to close it. Plug in all the screws into the relevant slots and tighten them up with the screwdriver.

P.S: Some of the modern fittings have a diaphragm instead of the drain fitting.

Step 6:  Refilling the Tank

Turn the boiler’s supply valve clockwise to open the water supply and to start filling in the water again. Open the screw on the baseboard near the boiler using a screwdriver and turn the screw counterclockwise.

This is to ensure that the water that is pushed into the boiler pushes out any air bubbles that are driven into it. Once the water starts to come out of the bleeder fitting, close it and replace the screw back into the joint.

Step 7: Switch the Boiler On

Now turn on the gas valve of the boiler using the wrench by turning the valve’s handle in the clockwise direction. Light up the pilot as per the instructions on the guide.  Finally, switch the circuit breaker as per the guide.

Safety & Precautions For Baseboard Heating System

It is essential that the baseboard heating system is well managed and cleaned up to ensure its long life. And whenever you are doing that, make sure that you are investing enough time in ensuring that you are doing it the right way.

Always make sure that you turn off the power supply completely before handling the heating system

Draining Water Off Baseboard Heating System

The draining and refilling of your baseboard heating system can be agitating and a little time-consuming. Be patient. It’s worth it!

  1. Invest enough time towards understanding how your baseboard heating system works and its parts. Refer to the manual if needed or do it under the supervision of an expert.
  2. The main pipe or the coil feed is usually made up of PVC and leads directly from the main line towards the boiler. This is meant to drive cold water into a heated one, which is driven back out into the loft tank.
  3. The other pipe usually made up of brass, is the feed that goes from the bottom of the tank down towards the system. You need to turn the pipe off, to begin with, the cleanup process.
  4. Often this is the pipe that joins the main part of the heating system, and that’s where you can get some blockages, and that’s what you’d like to clean if you are having trouble filling it up.
  5. There are instances where you’ll find a valve in the pipe itself, but in case you don’t find it, and you’re clueless about what to do, then you may close the main water source pipeline. What it would do is turn the supply off to the bull valve, thus helping you drain down the system when you intend to do so.
  6. Find the lowest drain leakage. You may have it on the lowest floor, which may be the ground floor or the basement. It should be really close to the ground – about a couple of inches from the floor – and doesn’t have a drop-down leg as well.
  7. In case you have that, then you may end up draining and refilling the pipes separately here. So, make sure that you trace out the pipes closely, so you drain out all the water in one go.
  8. Make sure that you have the safety measures in place – towels and a garden hose. This may seem trivial or perhaps hectic, but some small steps can help you avoid a lot of trouble. Make sure the hose is of the right size and that it fits snugly into the opening of the drainage.
  9. Extend the hose towards the drainage. Do not shove the pipe into the drainage as you would like to see the progress with the flow of the water regularly.
  10. Effectively what you are doing done with your system is putting down the vacuum on each of the radiators. You have let the water out of the tank. Moreover, the main pipe must have also emptied, but each of the radiators is now going to need a bit of air blown out of it when it’s opened. You can do that with a radiator bleed key.
  11. It has a little bit of taper at the end of it, and it’s always handy to use, especially with some of those very old radiators as they tend to tend rusty and they get painted multiple times.
  12. Start by finding the highest radiator bleed in the house, often that you be in the bathroom, if you have got a towel rail, that’s the best place to start – perhaps right from the top of it.
  13. But if you’re someone who has got multiple (around four to five radiators in the house), so you need to go the top floor (where the radiator is situated), open that up and you’ll start hearing air getting sucked into that radiator.
  14. Just hold on the bolt with an adjustable wrench and twist the nut inside it with the help of the bleed key. You’ll start hearing some hissing out – an indication of air being sucked in.
  15. Do that systematically to each radiator and remember which ones you have opened because when it comes to fitting them later, you don’t want to forget to close any. Otherwise, this may result in a serious hazard.
  16. Finally, go down the house, after you have opened each of the radiators, once you have realized that the system level is going down, and each one of them is draining properly. If you aren’t sure whether any of the radiators hasn’t drained down completely yet, make sure that the lockshield is open, and if you have got those thermostatic radiators, make sure that its valve is open as well.

Refilling Water On Baseboard Heating System

After about 20 minutes to one hour, depending on how many radiators are fixed inside the house, the amount of water should eventually get drained off. You might want to leave it around for a bit longer, and that’s not a bad idea if you are sure that some of the water which is clogged somewhere in the pipe would eventually make its way down into the hose.

This should pretty much suffice for the drainage of the water. Next is the refilling of water into the baseboard heating system. As indicated before, make sure that all the radiator bleeds that you opened earlier are now closed. Each one of them.

Switch on the feed valve carefully now. Remember, that your drainage valve with the hose is still open, and we have a good reason for that. When you opened the radiator bleeds you pushed all the air in, but now you would like to get it pushed out so that there’s no air or vacuum in the heating system.

You’ll notice that the hose would start leaking some water. You may want to leave it like this for a while (approximately ten minutes) until all the air is pushed out of the system.

Typically, you’ll need to drain and refill your radiators if you wish to move or replace them – or if you are treating corrosion. First you’ll need to empty out the water, so switch off the central heating and the water supply to stop the system re-filling. Do this by turning off the water at the main stop valve.

Finally, after some time has passed by, shut down the drainage valve and pull out the hose safely from the vent. Then starting from the ground floor, make sure that each of the radiators is air free by opening the valves and checking if there’s any air being pushed out.

The idea to start off from the ground floor is that if you let the air pushed out from the bottom and then carry it on upstairs, it would be more effective.

Once you have done the above, you can consider starting off your heating system again. Enjoy the warmth in the comfort of your home. Repeat the process at least once every year, ideally right before the winter season so that you don’t have to bear to bear any trouble during that time.