Did you know 1 November was National Radiator Day?! If you didn’t spend the beginning of the month maintaining your central heating system and showing your radiators some TLC, here are 5 top tips on improving radiator efficiency now the cold winter days are here.
Bleed your radiators
Over time, the air becomes trapped in your central heating system, resulting in radiators that no longer heat efficiently. If your radiators have cold spots, particularly if the heat isn’t reaching the top of the radiator, it’s time to bleed them. This is surprisingly easy and straightforward to do and can save on bills by improving efficiency. You’ll need a radiator key or a flat head screwdriver, a cloth and a bowl.
First, turn the heating off after identifying the radiators you’ll need to bleed. Now insert the key or screwdriver in the valve and turn slowly, anti-clockwise. Have a cloth and bowl ready to catch any drips, and be aware that modern screwdriver operated valves tend to release water in a jet, not a dribble. Once that liquid comes out, you’ll need to shut off the valve as quickly as possible by turning clockwise.
Check the boiler pressure and top up as necessary from the filling loop. Now turn the heating back on and admire your handiwork in the form of fully functioning radiators.
Take control and install TRVs
Thermostatic radiator valves (TRV) allow you to take control of the heating in individual rooms. Even with a balanced central heating system, you won’t achieve the same levels of comfort and heat distribution as you will with TRVs in place. You can quickly and easily set a lower temperature in rooms that are used less often to keep the chill off, then just as quickly increase the heat when required.
TRVs can look attractive and have obvious benefits for energy saving and radiator efficiency. If you’re not confident in fitting them yourself, we can supply a full plumbing and installation service to bring comfort and control to your heating system.
If your central heating system is newly installed, this won’t be a problem. But if you live in an older property where radiators have been subjected to a succession of paint jobs, those layers of old paint can really reduce the efficiency of your radiator. Yes, you can go through the rigmarole of stripping down radiators – and if they’re old cast iron models that are particularly attractive and in keeping with your property, you may want to go down that route – but the quick fix is to replace with newer models. The other advantage of replacement is that you can choose energy efficient designer models that can make a real impact and design statement.
Stick to one metal
If you do decide to replace a radiator, make sure it’s manufactured of the same metal as your existing installation. Why is this important? Because using different metals in the same central heating system can lead to corrosion and shorten the lifespan of components. Once the new radiators are properly installed and the system has been flushed, it’s a wise move to ensure that your plumber adds a corrosion inhibitor to the system.
The same thing applies if you decide to add another radiator to heat a cold spot in your home. And of course, you’ll need to make sure they’re fitted with TRVs.
Ditch the radiator covers
What’s more important – a comfortable warm home with controllable TRVs or hiding that ‘ugly’ radiator? At Watertite Plumbing, we’re not fans of the radiator cover for a couple of very good reasons.
First, the radiator cover prevents warm air from circulating freely around your home. However many holes or whatever the laser cut pattern, the fact is that the bulk of your radiator is boxed in. The result? Your central heating boiler ends up working overtime to heat your home, and that’s just not efficient. Plus your heating bills will be even higher than normal.
The other reason radiator covers aren’t a good solution is that they prevent the TRV from working properly. TRVs work by sensing the ambient air temperature and adjusting the flow rate accordingly. Enclose the TRV and it’ll think the room is warmer than it is, by only sensing the warm air trapped between the cover and the radiator. You can choose not to cover the TRV, but you’ll still have the problem of poor warm air flow.
So show your radiators a little love this November and they’ll reward you with efficient heat for the rest of the winter!