NYC Radiators: 5 Things You Need to Know

the openigloo team

Reading time: 3 minutes

80% of NYC buildings are heated with radiators – and 70% of those households report being chronically overheated. But what are radiators, how do they work, and what do you need to know about them to survive NYC winters?

​​Radiators work by drawing heat from water or steam and use that heat to warm up your apartment. They are made from metal because it is an excellent conductor of heat and can usually be found by your apartment windows.  Here are 4 things you should know about NYC radiators.

Heating season with wooden house

1. Radiators are supposed to be scorching hot.

In NYC, radiators have a few states – overworking, underworking and in some lucky cases functioning just right! But during the early 20th century, radiators were designed and installed to keep homes warm while forcing tenants to open their windows while operating them. This is because the city wanted to combat airborne illnesses and create ventilation in crowded apartments and buildings. So while your radiator may be creating sauna-like conditions, it’s doing exactly what it’s meant to do – overheat your apartment!

2. You can’t control them.

You may be tempted to open or close the knob on the side of your radiator, but it’s important to note that this is simply an on/off knob. This knob does not control the heat. Actually, leaving that knob turned only half way could lead to steam getting trapped – which can create loud clanking noises.

3. You can install a valve to control heat on radiators.

There are radiator valves that can be installed to control the heat emitting from a radiator. If you’re interested in installing one, it’s important to get confirmed permission from your landlord beforehand.

You can install a valve to control heat on radiators

4. You can request a radiator cover from your landlord if you have children under the age of 12 residing with you.

Radiators can be scorching to the touch, and can pose a real danger to young children. That’s why in 2013 a New York state bill passed requiring landlords to install radiator covers at the request of a tenant residing with a child aged twelve or younger. A radiator cover is a protector that covers the hot metal pipes but still allows heat to pass through. The landlord is required to pay for this installation and has 90 days from receipt of a request to install the radiator cover. If he/she fails to do so the tenant may install a cover and deduct the cost from the rent.

Radiator maintainance

5. You may need to bleed your radiator.

If your radiator is not working, or is making loud clanking noises, it may be a sign they need to be bled. Radiators need to be bled when air is trapped in the pipes – preventing steam and water to flow freely. It’s important to bring this to your landlord or super’s attention. You should NOT attempt to bleed your radiator on your own. In some cases, boiling water could come spraying out both burning you and flooding your space.

Submit an anonymous review about your current or previous building on the openigloo, and help a future renter with their apartment search.