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As we settle into the cold winter months, nothing is more satisfying after a long day than a good meal, a stimulating shiur, a bit of chilling with family, and finally hitting the sack.

You do the usual evening dance (making sure the doors and windows are secured and double checking the thermostat), and then la-la land. Zzzzz.

Then, reveille! Is it already 6 a.m.?! It’s still dark outside, and - why are your nose and ears so cool? No, they are just plain cold. Did you leave the windows open? No, you always make certain that’s part of the nighttime routine.

Then you realize - through your early morning haze - you’re not hearing the pitter-patter of steam pipes clanking and banging away! You have grown fond of that morning symphony. They have been that way for as long as you can remember.

You quickly grab your robe and put your hands on the nearest radiator. It’s sort of warm…ish? It’s fine, you’re sure.

With reluctance (and with some prodding from your better half), you make your way to the thermostat…it’s at 55 degrees! That pitter-patter symphony was a strong warning from the “maestro,” your boiler, that all is not well.

Whatever heating systems your home is equipped with, they all need yearly maintenance before the winter months come upon us.

Now, I know a lot of you are thinking: My boiler is like a chynick (French for kettle). Cold water goes into my boiler, heats up, and bada-boom - heat! Not exactly. Before we even feel the warmth from the radiator, the heating system has a multitude of internal systems that keep us safe, and of course, warm.

Homeowners may appreciate a few pointers to avoid the stress of morning frostbite:

During those months when we don’t use the heating system, a great homeowner’s tip is to crank up the thermostat to around 80 degrees (just make sure your A/C can’t turn on). Listen to the “maestro.”

For a Steam System, listen for a little hissing, (unless you have snakes!), or for a Hot Water System, the gurgling sound of water (those with inside mikvehs, please ignore lol). Within a few minutes, heat should flow into your home. Banging, clanging, excessive amounts of water sputtering from a steam valve, funny smells (no cooking allowed!), puddles around the radiators are signs that the system requires servicing. (For those homes that have a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, we will bypass that subject due to its complexity.)

In either case, if things don’t sound the way they should, a licensed plumber or HVAC technician should be contacted as soon as possible. Generally, they are less busy during the warmer months, and can attend to your issues sooner!

Have your favorite heating person (not necessarily a plumber) come in and perform maintenance on the system. They will first test, clean, and then retest to ensure that all is well. I recommend getting serviced one month before the colder months hit.

If your thermostat is a bit dated, replacing it with a more efficient digital unit is a great idea. They clearly show the current temperature, the temperature you set, and some even give general information on how your system is doing!

Heating systems can be intimidating, and for the typical homeowner, it’s best to call in a professional to maintain them on a yearly basis.

Jay Aron is a licensed certified NYS home inspector and seasoned electrical engineer, and owner of Bodeck Home Inspections in Kew Gardens Hills. He is available for home inspections including houses, condos, and co-ops. For questions or more information, call 516-417-6111 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..