We had the hottest summer since 2003, and Autumn is at our doorsteps. It is time to get out and enjoy the last rays of the sun to warm our skin, go for a walk on foggy mornings, hike up the mountains and to prepare ourselves for the frosty winters.
Bracing for winter isn’t only about collecting firewood, taking out our winter coats, boots, and snow shovels, or changing our car tyres. It is also about ensuring that our houses are genuinely ready to face sub-zero temperatures.
The first thing to do is to ensure that your heating radiators are working well. Ideally, you should check that every part of your heating system is working correctly before winter officially starts.
This article will discuss prepping your wall radiator for the winter months in detail. We will divide this article into two sections
The Simple DIY Checklist
The Slightly Advanced Checklist
The Simple DIY Checklist
#1 Bleed the Radiators
The first point in the checklist would be to know whether air is trapped in the radiator system or not. Common signs of trapped air include flowing or clucking sounds from the radiator or lowered heating rate. If your radiator shows any one or both of these indications, it is your cue to bleed the radiator.
Before you bleed your radiator, ensure that the power supply to the heating system is turned off and that the water in the radiator has cooled down.
Open the bleed valve located at one of the top ends of the radiator using a radiator key.
You don’t have to take the screw out completely; instead, you only need to turn it twice or thrice until you hear the sound of escaping air. Make sure that you keep a cloth to catch the escaping water from the radiator. Tighten the screw and double-check that no more water is coming out from it.
While this might sound easy, we suggest you read the step by step guide on bleeding a home radiator
#2 Check the Thermostatic Radiator Valve (TRV) & Balance the System
If you have a TRV, it is advised to remove and check the valve before winter. Remove the TRV from the radiator and check whether the TRV pin on the radiator moves freely or not. Once this is done, move to the lockshield end, see whether the lock shield is turning freely.
Close the lockshield valve completely and then open it by giving it half a turn or three-quarters of a turn to balance the system.
#3: Properly Insulate the Feed Pipes
The last thing you want during a frosty winter is water in the boiler's feed pipe freezing. If you have installed insulation over the pipes, ensure that they are still intact. If you haven't installed one, get a suitable insulating material and get the pipes insulated.
The Slightly Advanced Checklists
Now that we have checked the wall radiator, it is time to review the other vital systems.
#1 Check the Circulating Pump
Before winter, you must check how the circulating pump is working. The first thing to look for is whether the impeller in the pump can rotate freely or not.
Most pumps available in the market would have a detachable end cover. All that you have to do is to unscrew a couple of screws and get the end cover out.
Once the end cover is removed, you can see and access the impeller. Wiggle around the impeller on the inside to ensure that it can move freely.
It is essential to check the impeller's movement because an impeller that is stuck can sometimes burn the pump out when the power is turned on. If the impeller is stuck, get it repaired.
#2 Check the Zone Valves
Most modern heating systems use zone valves, and it is important to ensure that they are working correctly. You can use the lever outside the valve to ensure that the valve body moves freely.
But we suggest you go into the valve and check its movement. Unscrew the small screws on the valve casing and access the valve body. Ensure that it is not rusted and see if it is moving freely or not.
Well if they aren’t, you might have to replace them.
#3 Get a Professional to Inspect your Boiler
Well, this is something you would need a professional's help. It is advised to get your boiler inspected/serviced before winter to ensure that your boiler is still efficient and that no problems are left unnoticed.
Once you are done with the checklist, turn on the heating system and see whether all the systems are functioning properly or not.
Keep in mind that the efficiency of radiators determines the overall efficiency of the heating system. It is important to be conscious of how they're performing. If you radiator is nearing its age range, we suggest you get a new one.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I bleed the radiators?
A radiator is bled to remove any trapped air from within the system. When air is trapped inside the radiator, it prevents the hot water from reaching all the space inside, creating cold points. Trapped air inside the radiator disrupts the even exchange of heat, which eventually lowers the system's heating efficiency.
When should you bleed the radiator?
You should bleed your radiator when it shows indications of air trapped inside the system. The following are the signs to look for:
- Flowing or bubbling sound from the system when you turn the heating on
- Feel your radiators; see whether the radiator is hot at the bottom and cold at the top. This is caused because of the trapped air that prevents the heat from being evenly distributed.
How often should you bleed the radiator?
There are no standard rules or recommendations on the frequency to bleed the radiators. Bleed the radiators only when they show any one or all of the indications mentioned previously.
How long would it take to bleed the radiators?
Well, it depends on the size of the radiator and the amount of air in them. On average, it can take anywhere between 30 to 45 seconds to bleed a radiator fully. Sometimes it can even take longer.
Ideally, you should keep the bleed valve open until the hissing sound stops, and water starts to come out of the radiator before closing the valve back up.
Properly maintaining the radiators is vital in keeping the heating systems efficient. Make it a habit to inspect the wall radiators every year before winter to avoid any hiccups at the last moment.