What is an Air Vent?
An air vent is a very simple device designed to help remove air that might get trapped in the heating system. It is typically a small valve or vent that is located at high points in the system where air is likely to accumulate. When air is present in the system, the air vent allows it to escape, while preventing water from leaking out.
Why is an Air Vent Important?
Air can enter a heating system during the initial installation, when the system is drained for maintenance, or through leaks or other issues. If air is allowed to accumulate in the system it can cause problems such as reduced efficiency, noisy operation and even damage to the system.
What Causes an Air Vent to Malfunction?
- Buildup of debris: Over time, debris such as dirt, rust, or sediment can accumulate in the air vent, causing it to become clogged and preventing air from escaping the system. This can cause the system to become noisy and inefficient.
- Corrosion: Air vents are often made of metal, which can corrode over time due to exposure to water and oxygen. Corrosion can cause the valve to become stuck or stop working properly.
- Mechanical failure: Like any mechanical device, air vents can fail due to wear and tear or other mechanical issues. For example, the valve or float mechanism may become stuck or break, preventing the air vent from functioning properly.
- Improper installation: If the air vent is not installed properly or is not compatible with the specific type of hydronic heating system, it may fail to function correctly or fail prematurely.
How Do I Know if my Air Vent is Broken? How Will it Affect My System?
- Noisy operation: If you hear a lot of noise coming from your heating system, particularly a banging or gurgling sound, it may be a sign that air is trapped in the system and not being properly vented out.
- Reduced heating efficiency: If your heating system is taking longer than usual to warm up or is not producing as much heat as it used to, it may be due to air trapped in the system. This can reduce the system’s efficiency and increase your energy bills.
- Leaks or water damage: If you notice any leaks or water damage around the air vent or other parts of the heating system, it may be a sign that the air vent is not working properly and water is leaking out of the system.
- Inconsistent heating: If some rooms in your home are warmer than others or if the temperature fluctuates significantly throughout the day, it may be a sign that there is air trapped in the heating system.
Air Vents vs. Steam Vents
An air vent and a steam vent virtually function in the same way, except that air vents sit unused most of the time and steam vents let air out of the system on every heating cycle.
When a steam boiler system is cold, the system is filled with air. When the boiler produces pressure, the system pushes the air out of the steam vents as the system fills with steam. A steam vent automatically closes when the steam reaches it so that steam doesn’t leak out.
Once the radiators are all filled with steam, the vent should stop venting.
If your vents are leaking steam, or if some of your steam radiators never seem to heat up, you might have a problem with one or more of the steam vents.
What To Do & What To Expect from a Levco Technician
To prevent air vent failure, it’s important to have your hydronic heating system inspected and maintained regularly by a professional HVAC technician. This can help identify and address any issues with the air vent or other components of the system before they lead to more serious problems.
Replacing an air vent on your hydronic heating system is a fairly simple task. The materials to complete this work range between $30 – $300 depending on the size and type of air vent needed for your system.