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Steam Heat

During the period that Chicago bungalows were built, most heating systems were comprised of a boiler, radiators and piping. Steam heating systems are remarkably efficient when properly maintained.


Ideally, have a professional inspect your system every Fall:

  • Make sure the pilot light is working

  • Make sure the condensate drain is not clogged

  • Check for evidence of a water or gas leak

  • Inspect piping for corrosion, leaks, and pitch

  • Banging noises are usually caused by your pipes being pitched incorrectly

  • The pitch of your pipes makes a huge difference in how well the steam is able to reach
    your radiators, and these pipes are often moved around over time

  • Cut-off valves (don’t adjust them often)

  • Cheap valves are often the culprits of hissing noises


Consider a high efficiency boiler if it’s in the budget.

  • Air filters can be changed at the same time your boiler or furnace is inspected. They should be changed more often than this, but grouping tasks together will cut down on steps.

Common Plumbing Issues

Leaking Pipes
  • Regularly check for leaks in places like below your bathroom and kitchen sinks. Small leaks can lead to much larger issues such as water damage, rot and mold.

Low Water Pressure

This can be caused by:

  • Corroded galvanized pipes, which expand and block or slow the flow of water

  • Calcification build-up

  • Hair and other blockages in the pipe

  • A broken or partially blocked main sewer line in the yard. Older drain pipes may have separated over time or may have tree roots messing with them. To determine this, hire a licensed plumber to snake the line to find the issue underground.

Slow Drains

Drain pipes need gravity to properly bring water towards the sewer source. Drain pipes should have a 1/4” per foot pitch, although 1/3” per foot is allowed if the drain pipe is 3” in diameter or larger. An improperly pitched pipe can allow for leaks and/or slow draining of a sink or bathtub.

Slow drains can also be caused by corrugated drain pipes, which are sold at many hardware stores and used under a kitchen or bathroom sink. A licensed plumber would never use these because plumbing standards forbid them due to their tendency to clog and because they're difficult to clean. Drain pipes should have a smooth interior wall.

Non Functioning Drain Stop
  • Older drain stoppers in bathtubs or sinks use a chain system to stop the flow of water when the lever is engaged. Sometimes one or more parts of this chain system come apart and the lever gets stuck. A licensed plumber may need to be called in to make needed repairs.

Frozen Pipes
  • Your pipes will only freeze if they are in unconditioned spaces, outside of your thermal boundary. This isn’t common for bungalow owners unless there has been piping added to your enclosed back porch, adjacent to your exterior walls.

Sewer Gas
  • All plumbing fixtures (other than toilets) require a trap in their drain pipe. A trap helps prevent sewer gases (and vermin) from possibly entering the home through the drain pipes. Holes caused by corrosion can also allow for gases to escape into the home.


General Maintenance Recommendations

  • Insulate hot water supply pipes

  • Turn off and drain exterior hose bibbs each Fall

  • Repair faucets when they begin to drip

  • Maintain caulking around tubs and sinks

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