Methods to improve radiator ‘efficiency’ – job you ‘must’ do

Heating expert shares top tip on using radiator valves

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Before heating up the home and paying lots of money for heating, it’s a good idea to check if your radiators are working efficiently. Britons can do this by bleeding their radiators as well as moving furniture away from the heat source. Nick Duggan, Managing Director, The Radiator Centre, shared his top tips on ensuring they are operating efficiently.

The expert explained: “Bleeding radiators at least once a year is a must to ensure they are operating efficiently. Air will build up in radiators as they are often the highest points around a system and where there is air, water will not be able to reach. 

“This means that straight away you will not be benefitting from the radiator’s full heat potential, which may then mean you are tempted to turn the heating up or keep it on for longer, both of which will add to the cost.”

Radiators might also need to be bled if they are noisy, making banging or gurgling noises. Bathroom towel radiators also need to be bled when they are hot at the bottom and cold at the top.

Toolstation spoke to Mark Biles, Operations Director at M & M Mechanical Services, who shared top tips for those looking to bleed their radiator. He said: “When filling the system make sure all bleed valves are closed.

“Some people forget to close the valve when draining the system and this can be very messy if one is left open when filling the system and can cause potential damage.

“One by one, start at the lowest radiator and gently open the bleed valve, using a cup and a bleed key.”

The expert recommended having a paper towel on hand to wipe off any excess drips. He added: “Continue opening until water is present and all air has left the radiator. Then close the valve, and repeat the process on each radiator in the house.”

Nick also said to look at things which can improve the energy efficiency of a room. He said the less heat you lose, the less you will need to top up with more heat from the radiator.

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This can involve moving furniture away from radiators which may block the heat. The expert added: “Filling the gaps around doors and windows helps, as does installing a chimney cushion in the fireplace. These measures can all have huge benefits.”

According to the pro, up to 20 percent of a room’s heat can be lost through an open chimney.

Nick continued: “To improve efficiency further, consider installing thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) on the radiators. These help to regulate the heat in a room in order to provide a more constant temperature, rather than the continual intervention that a manual valve can require. 

“These days, they come in a wide range of styles and finishes that can suit almost any situation.”

As well as this, keeping radiators clean and free from dust and dirt is important to help reduce heating costs. When dust and dirt accumulate between the radiator and blade blades, they hinder natural convection.

One way to get rid of dust inside of the radiator is to use a hairdryer or feather duster when the radiator is turned off to remove the unwanted dirt.

Also wiping the outside of radiators while they are off can help to improve their efficiency. 

Experts at Stelrad said: “You will want to stick with non-corrosive formulas to prevent harsh chemicals that can deteriorate the quality of the metals.

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“Common cleaning products like vinegar and bleach can be particularly damaging and shorten the lifespan of your radiators.

“To begin, remove any accessible dust, remove any accessible dust by using your vacuum cleaner underneath, above and along the sides of the radiator.

“Once you’ve picked up what you can, it’s time to tackle the tricky to reach areas that you’ve been putting off. An effective yet affordable way to get in-between the fins is to buy a radiator brush, a long and thin duster which perfectly slots in those tricky spots.”

Households can then use a radiator cleaner or a natural soap with warm water and slowly pour it from the top to the bottom to flush out any dirt. A container can be placed at the bottom to catch any dirt coming out.

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