It’s hard to believe that we are already well into the month of October, but the temperatures outside are now starting to remind us that winter is fast approaching. In the UK most of us are lucky enough to have central heating to get us through the colder months, but we need to take care of it in order to make sure it doesn’t let us down just when we need it most.
Boiler maintenance is best taken care of by a qualified expert, but there are some simple steps that we can take to help our radiators operate as efficiently as possible and hopefully prevent any problems during the winter.
Keeping Radiators Clean and Dust Free
The way that radiators work is by convection. The radiator heats up the air around it and, as hot air rises, this heated air rises up and draws cooler air into and through the radiator from below. These currents of air gradually heat up a whole room, so it is vital that air can flow easily through and around a radiator in order for it to heat a room efficiently.
For this reason radiators should be kept clean and free of dust, including the convector fins, to keep the air flowing freely through them and your radiators working properly. It will also stop dust from ‘insulating’ the heat from the radiator.
Keeping Radiators Clear
Following on from the last tip, you can also help your radiators to work better if you ensure that there is enough room around them to allow air to flow freely. Check that furniture and curtains aren’t blocking the movement of air around the radiators so that the room can be heated as efficiently as possible.
Checking for Leaks
Check beneath each of your radiators for any puddles of water or water staining. If there is any water escaping from your radiator this will also be affecting their operation, so if there’s any evidence of this, turn off the heating then tighten the inlet valve where water comes into the radiator. If puddling continues you may need to get a professional to look at it.
As most of us know, air can enter a central heating system, preventing it from working properly. You’ll usually notice that that the top of a radiator is cool even when the heating is on and this is because of the air that has accumulated at the top of the radiator.
You should always turn your heating off before you bleed your radiators. It can sometimes get a bit messy so it’s a good idea to put down some towels or plastic sheets to protect your carpets and floors.
You’ll need a radiator key, which you attach to the square insert at the centre of the valve at the top of one end of the radiator. (Some radiators will require a flat-blade screwdriver instead.) As you turn it anti-clockwise you will hear a hissing sound as air escapes from the radiator. Wait until liquid starts coming out instead of gas and then quickly turn the key clockwise to close it up again (make sure it is tightly closed).
If you’d prefer not to have to do this on a regular basis then another alternative is to get self-bleeding radiator valves that will automatically release the air when necessary, without any of the mess or fuss. This helps to keep your radiators working optimally at all times.