Radiators are the emitters that radiate the heat energy produced by the heating appliance, which for the sake of this article will be a gas boiler. The water passes through the heat exchanger of the gas boiler where it’s heated to the set temperature before being pumped around a network of pipes and radiators known as a heating system. There are lots of common faults and problems which can occur within a heating system, this article should help with three of the main ones:
If you’re experiencing uneven heating, very slow heating, cold patches on some or all the radiators or some are just not working at all it’s likely due to one or more of the following reason:
As a very general rule of thumb if the radiators are cold at the top but hot at the bottom, they’ll likely need bleeding, if they’re hot at the top but cold at the bottom they’ll probably need cleaning and if some are hot while others are cold the system might need balancing. This is a very general rule and, any of the faults can display any of the symptoms, this is just where an engineer would start their diagnostics.
This is perhaps the most common issue we come across when being called out to a lack of sufficient heating. As above if the radiators are cold at the top but hot at the bottom it’s a good indication they need bleeding, towel warmers, designer radiators, vertical radiators and loft extensions are all prone to air locks. It should be noted that if you need to bleed your radiators frequently, more than once or twice a year, this will suggest there is an underlying issue such as an incorrectly sized pump, poor system design or a build-up of sludge in the system and further diagnosis would be advised.
Follow our step-by-step guide:
If you notice an uneven heat across the radiators with cold patches and a noticeable difference between the top and bottom of any radiator it’s likely the system needs cleaning. There are a few checks you can do to determine the health of your heating system:
Once you’ve confirmed your heating system is dirty and needs a clean it’s best to call a competent engineer, the cleaning process involves very strong chemicals and correct PPE must be always used.
If you notice an uneven heat distribution across the heating system with some radiators getting hotter or heating faster than others it’s a sure sign the system needs to be correctly balanced.
Balancing just means manipulating the flow of the water to encourage it to flow effectively and fully around the system, to do this the “easiest path” must be restricted.
As with most things in the heating industry there is a correct way and a fast way to do this, the fast way involves closing all the radiators and then opening the furthest away from the boiler fully and restricting the valves a ¼ of a turn as you get closer to the boiler.
The correct way is known as hydronic balancing, this is a lot more effective and complicated, it involves measuring flow rates, pump speeds and temperature differentials across each radiator individually and at the boiler to make sure the system is operating at its highest efficiency.
It would typically require assistance from a trained plumber or heating engineer as it can be quite complex!
These are just three of the more common issues we see daily but there are lots more reasons why your heating may be faulty.
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