As homeowners throughout the nation prepare themselves for the inevitable winter, thoughts will begin to turn to how they can stay warm in the most energy-efficient manner possible. A major way of achieving this goal is to balance the radiators throughout your home.
What is Balancing Radiators?
Balancing radiators should not be confused with bleeding a radiator, which is the act of rectifying one problem heat source that warms up extremely slowly, or in some cases not at all. As the name suggests, the act of balancing radiators is the process of ensuring that all radiators throughout a home emit a steady, consistent heat when central heating is switched on.
In many houses the radiators in different rooms will heat at different speeds, and provide different levels of warmth. Balancing all the radiators in a house will ensure that an even flow of water is applied to each source, and maintain a constant temperature throughout each individual room.
Why Should I Balance My Home’s Radiators?
As we have just established, balancing the radiators of your home will ensure that each room enjoys the same benefit of central heating. If you find that a bedroom takes longer to heat than a lounge or kitchen, and bleeding the radiator does not help, balancing is the next logical step.
This will prevent certain areas of a home from growing too hot or stuffy, and others remaining cold no matter how high you turn up the heating. This shouldn’t cause any spike in your heating bills, as the same amount of energy and water is being used to heat your home – it’s just being divided more equally among recipients.
The reason for these discrepancies in temperature stems from the distance from the boiler. If your radiators are not balanced, the flow of heat will be uneven and priority will be granted to the heat sources located closest to the boiler. There is only so much warmth to go around, and you may find that some rooms stay chilly in comparison to others until you balance your radiators and provide a more equal distribution.
How to Balance Radiators
Anybody can balance the radiators in their home, but if you are not confident or comfortable partaking in such a job you should summon a professional tradesperson – the job should not be too expensive. The most essential tool that you will need to complete the task yourself is a digital thermometer, as you will looking to take precise readings of all temperatures in order to balance the flow of heat.
The first thing that you should do is bleed all the radiators in your home so you are operating on an equal temperature footing when you begin the balancing act, and turn off the central heating at the boiler so they can all cool down.
Next, take a look at each radiator in turn and familiarise yourself with the lockshield valve. This is usually found at the end of any radiator, and often comes with a screw-on cap that must be removed. Once you are confident that you understand the components of the various radiators in your home, you’re ready to start balancing them one by one.
Once you are ready the make a start on your first radiator, fully open all of the valves – including the lockshield valve. Some of them can simply be unscrewed by turning the lead anti-clockwise, while others will require the use of a spanner or a specialist plastic adjustment tool.
Next turn the central heating back on, checking which radiators heat up fastest, and seeing just how warm they tend to get. Making a note of the order as you go, remembering that those closest to the boiler will almost invariably be the first to increase in temperature.
If you only have two or three radiators in a small home you can do this yourself, but if you’re looking at running from room to room to assess closer to nine or ten, it can get tricky to do this without a second pair of hands.
Once you are confident that every radiator in your home is as warm as it’s going to get, and the information has been recorded, switch your heating back off and wait for your radiators to cool back down once again.
Once this is complete, turn the heating back on once more and head to the first radiator on your list – the one that heated up first. Close the lockshield valve by turning it clockwise until it’s firmly shut, then re-open it very slightly – roughly a quarter of a full turn.
This is point that you’ll need your thermometer; once the radiator is fully heated, take the temperature of the pipe that feeds into one valve. Once you have this, wait a minute or two then apply your thermometer to the pipe that leads into the other valve.
In order to balance your radiator, you will be looking for a difference of 12 degrees Celsius between the two temperatures – so if your first reading was 47C, you’ll want this one to be 35C. You will achieve this target temperature by very gently opening the lockshield valve until you reach that magic number.
Once it’s done, move onto the next radiator and repeat the process. Don’t worry if other radiators offer a different temperature as a core, or if you have to completely open the lockshield valve on the final radiator – provided you manage to get that 12O discrepancy on each heat source, your radiators will be balanced and create a steady and even flow of heat throughout your home. It may be a time consuming task, but the benefits speak for themselves.