How to Balance Radiators? A Step by Step Guide
What does balancing radiators mean?
Are the radiators in your house taking a long time to heat up? It could be that your radiators need balancing which is a simple procedure. In this this guide, we will give you information about balancing radiators, the tools required and restoring balance in your home's heating system.
This means adjusting the radiator valves to control the level of water flow so that your radiators heat up at an equal speed.
Difference between bleeding and balancing radiators
While balancing radiators, you let more water flow through the colder radiators and restrict the flow to the radiators that are too hot.
For instance, if the radiator in your kitchen heats up quickly, but the one in the lounge does not, the indication is that your radiators need balancing.
When bleeding a radiator, you let trapped air escape via the valve by using a radiator key. Your radiators need bleeding if you hear noises coming out while heating or if you find cold patches at the top of the radiator.
Balance or Bleed?
Balancing your radiators is easier if you have bled them first, as this will give you a more accurate temperature reading. If you are unsure as to whether you need to bleed or balance your radiators do both, but bleed them first.
When to balance radiators?
Your radiators might give out uneven temperature levels if they don't heat up equally and at the same speed. This will cause some areas of your home to feel warmer while the other areas feel colder.
An imbalance happens in the radiator when the hot water flowing from your boiler is unevenly distributed, and this will be an issue during those freezing winter nights.
Tools Needed To Balance Radiators:
- Radiator bleed key
- Lockshield valve key or adjustable spanner
- Digital thermometer/multimeter with thermometer
Types of Valves
There are mainly 3 different types of valves when it comes to radiators. So let's see what they are
This valve is an old-fashioned one and can be used to turn your radiator on and off. A manual valve is also known as a control valve or a wheel head. It only has two actions - on and off and so controls the amount of hot water flowing into the radiator.
Most radiators today have a thermostatic valve instead of the manual one. This valve has numbers on it and looks like a dial.
These valves have thermostats in them, which automatically regulate the flow of hot water into the radiator once the surrounding temperature has reached your desired level. This results in an efficient usage of energy.
Note: Where is more than one thermostatic valve in the same room, keep them all set at the same level.
This valve is covered with a small domed plastic cap. It looks like there's not much you can do with it. But the fact is, you need to use some grips to pull off the plastic cap. Specific lockshield valves will have a screw through the top of their cap to be removed before you pull off the plastic cap.
Here is a step-by-step guide to balancing your radiators:
Steps to balance radiators
Bleeding your radiator will help you improve your heating efficiency and home warmth. You might need to bleed your radiators to keep them free from air traps so that the heat will be maintained consistently throughout your home. You can quickly identify when your radiator needs bleeding; if your system is running fine yet you find some cold patches at the top of one or more of your radiators, then this means that some air trapped inside is preventing the hot water flow from reaching all the fins in there.
You should check out how to bleed a radiator to learn more about bleeding radiators.
Turn Off Central Heating
Turning off central heating is the first step towards balancing your radiators because you need to have your radiators cool to start the procedure.
Note: Bleeding your radiators before balancing them gives you an accurate reading.
Open All Radiator Valves
Turn all your radiator valves in the anti-clockwise direction to open them. Thermostatic valves and manual valves can be easily opened by turning them with your hand.
Lockshield valves generally have a plastic cap to be removed which can be done using a lockshield valve key or adjustable spanner.
Check the System Heating
Once you are done opening all the valves, turn on the central heating back and take note of the flow in which the radiators heat up.
Generally, the ones nearer to the boilers get hot soon.
Identify Fastest Heating Radiator
Turn on the heating back and walk around your house with the list of radiators. Find the radiator that heats first. Mostly, it will be the radiator that's closer to the boiler. Once identified, give each radiator on your list a number and rank them according to how fast they heated up.
Turn Off heating, then Turn On Again
You'll need to turn everything off again and let your heating system cool down. This may take some time, so most people leave it overnight.
Once the radiators are completely cooled down, turn your heating back on and go to the radiator that warmed up the fastest.
Turn Lock Shield Valve of the Fastest Heating Radiator:
Adjust the fastest heating radiator first and fully close the lockshield valve on this radiator. Then slowly open it by a quarter turn. Once it is heated, with your digital thermometer or multimeter, take the measurements. Firstly, check the pipe's temperature near the valve, opposite the radiator, where the thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) is. Ensure that you take note of these readings.
Turn the lockshield valve gradually until the reading of both pipes results in 12 degrees difference (in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions). Balancing radiators will take time, so you must understand that you must wait to check the radiator temperature each time you adjust the lockshield valve.
Check Temperature of Each Radiator and Pipes:
After balancing your first radiator, repeat the steps for your other slower radiators. Generally, your lockshield valve needs to be opened based on the distance between the radiator and the boiler; the farther, the more. You might need to open the lockshield valve fully to balance your radiators perfectly.
Radiators Balance is Restored
Repeat this for the rest of your radiators to get the balance restored.
How frequently should you balance radiators?
You need to check if the radiators are heating up evenly every so often. If they are not, you need to balance them again.
Instances when a heating system needs balancing:
- After removing radiators for decorating.
- After replacing radiators and valves.
- After flushing or cleansing.
- If any alterations to the heating system have been made.
- On replacing the central heating pump.
- On replacing the boiler.
Even after following the above-given steps, you may still face issues with balancing radiators or radiators may not heat up properly; then, it might be due to either a weak pump or a sludge in the system that would restrict hot water from freely flowing around the system.
You can find out if it's a sludge by checking the water coming out while bleeding the radiator. Spotting some cold patches on the bottom middle section of the radiator is also a sign.
If you feel that your system is blocked, you have to add some sludge removal. Please leave it to circulate for around 3 days before draining the system completely. Then, add an inhibitor to avoid further corrosion.
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