Not getting the desirable temperature from your home radiator? Hot and cold air patches in your home may not only cause discomfort but also can be irritating to live with. Don’t worry there is a DIY solution to your problem and we are here to guide you with this.
How does a radiator work?
Before learning how to fix your radiator, you must know how a radiator works. The central boiler in the building releases hot water to individual radiators in each room. The cold air around the radiator casings gets heated when it comes in contact with the surface, hence making your rooms warm and cozy.
This whole system makes use of a single pipe which loops around in the whole house and finally returns back to the central boiler where it originated from. The thermostat helps to maintain the water flow in the pipes which eventually helps in achieving desirable temperature in the rooms according to your comfort level.
What is balancing and how does it help?
As hot water passes through the pipe, there is a significant drop in the temperature and pressure by the time it reaches the radiator of the last room. This implies that the last room receives less heat and hence creates an undesirable temperature difference in the building.
By making certain adjustments in the whole system from the initial to the last radiator, this problem can be countered and this is known as radiator balancing. It involves adjusting the radiator valves to control the water flow so that a consistent heat flow is achieved throughout the home.
Colder radiators should be supplied with more hot water and the radiators that are too hot should receive less hot water from the central boiler system, hence balancing out the heat difference.
Balancing Vs Bleeding
While the meaning of balancing is clear now, bleeding is required when the surface of the radiator has cold spots across certain points. Bleeding is simple and it involves releasing the trapped air out of the valve with a radiator key.
If your radiator is not functioning properly, you may bleed and balance both. Bleeding the radiators first will ensure a more accurate temperature reading.
When to balance your radiators:
Radiators need to be periodically checked for consistent heating and should be balanced if there are inconsistent heating issues in the central heating system.
One may need to balance the radiator following the replacement of valves, any flushing/cleaning activity, replacement of the boiler and any changes made in the central heating pump.
Tools required for balancing
- Radiator bleeding key
- Lock-shield valve adjuster or adjustable spanner
- Digital thermometer or multi-meter with thermometer function
Before learning how to balance the radiator, one must be equipped with the knowledge of radiator valves.
- Manual Valve: These old fashioned valves, also known as wheel-head or control valve, offer only binary positions – on or off and hence doesn’t really allow controlling the amount of hot water to be supplied.
- Thermostatic Valve: With an inbuilt thermostat, this valve comes with a numbered dial to control the hot water flow and hence uses only the amount of energy required. It is usually attached to the radiator on the opposite side from the lock-shield valve.
- Lock-shield Valve: This valve comes with a domed plastic cap which can be removed with the grips.
Balancing radiator without any fuss- step by step guide:
- Step 1: Turn off the central heating and allow all the radiators to cool down.
- Step 2: Open all the radiator valves. Thermostatic valves could be turned easily off by rotating anticlockwise and lock-shield valves can be turned off with the help of a plastic adjuster or a spanner to open it.
- Step 3: Tracing the radiators connection route. Turn on the central heating and record the order in which the radiators heat up. You might like to have some help in this step as it can be tiring if you have a large house.
- Step 4: Again turn off the central heating and allow the radiators to cool down.
- Step 5: Turn on the heating and go to the first radiator (the radiator which heats up the first as recorded by you). Turn the lock-shield valve clockwise to close it and then open by a quarter of a turn.
Once the radiator is heated up, take the temperature reading using a thermometer or multimeter at the pipe leading to one of the valves. This is the flow pipe which receives the hot water.
- Step 6: With the help of a thermometer or multimeter, record the temperature at the pipe which leads to the valve on the opposite side of the first radiator valve. This is the return pipe from where the water is returned to the system. Gradually release the lock-shield valve until a difference of 12degrees is achieved from the previous reading.
- Step 7: Repeat the above step for the following radiators. A simple rule being, further the radiator from the boiler, the more the lock-shield valve has to be opened. The final radiator may be checked with fully opening the lock-shield valve.
The balancing process is completed and should work fine now. Enjoy your perfectly heated home with your loved ones.
Things to keep in mind:
- The body of the radiator is very hot and can give skin burns
- Accidentally releasing the wrong joint can cause a blast of hot water
- Water released from the radiator can damage the precious items in the room
Still not able to fix up your radiator?
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