Proper maintenance of your home radiators will keep them working efficiently so your family stays warm when the temperatures drop, without spending too much on the heating bill. Although it is recommended that you hire a professional to check your radiators a minimum of once a year, there are a few things you can do yourself to ensure that the radiators are working efficiently:
1. Check for air in the radiator
The three common types of radiators are the hot water radiator, storage heaters, and electrical panel heaters. Irrespective of the system you have, radiators warm the room by transferring their heat to the air in your room through convection – mostly. If your hot-water radiator is not heating enough, the likely cause could be trapped air, especially if you feel some cold spots when you place your hand near the radiator.
To bleed the system or remove the air, you simply use a small screwdriver or radiator key to turn and open the radiator bleeding valve. When open, you’ll hear air rushing out. Place a cloth over the valve to keep water from spilling. When all the air is out and water starts to pour out, close the valve.
If you spot a leakage, it is more likely to be caused by loose cap nuts than actual valve leakage. Cap nuts are the large nuts placed at the horizontal and vertical connections. If they are the cause of the leakage, you can fix the problem by tightening the nuts. If the leakage is coming from beneath the valve, you may have to remove the valve head to access the gland nut (top nut) for tightening. For other types of leakages, you may try using J-B Weld – remember to clean the area properly.
3. Blocked Vents
Over time, the radiator vents can get blocked due to corrosion and rust, causing air to get trapped within the radiator. This, in turn, prevents steam from entering and heating the unit as required. Blocked vents are easy to replace since the parts can be found in most hardware stores. Before you unscrew and replace the vent, give the radiator some time to cool until it’s easy to work with.
4. Correct Positioning
If you find that some rooms are colder than others, it may be because the radiator is too small for that room. It also could be because the heat is being blocked by drapes, especially if the unit is positioned underneath your windows. So, remove any obstacles that may inhibit proper air circulation in the rooms, or upgrade to a unit with higher output to satisfy your heat requirements.
Finally, you should consider upgrading the boiler controls and radiator thermostats if you have an old heating system. Corroded valves, malfunctioning sensors, and a poor maintenance can cause costly inefficiencies. So, get your system checked by a professional technician every year.