We all know that radiators are the most common and crucial part of our central heating system, which provides heating for our home. But in many cases, especially if you live in a two- or three-storey building, the heat flow gets disrupted and doesn’t reach all the radiators. That’s why balancing a radiator is essential.
In this article, I will explain why and how to balance radiators so you enjoy a consistent heating flow around your home.
Why Should You Balance Your Radiators?
First, let’s discuss why you should balance your radiators. Balancing radiators helps distribute consistent heating flow around your home, whether downstairs or upstairs. Balancing your radiators is a great way to ensure that all your radiators in your home heat at the same speed.
What Causes the Need to Balance Your Radiators?
We all know that the central heating system is vital to heating our homes. The boiler first heats the water, which then passes through the central heating pumps and a diverter valve. From the diverter valve, one side is transferred to the hot water storage tank to provide hot water, and the other is transferred to your radiators for heating.
But what happens is that, due to certain flow restrictions, complex pipe networks, and the location of your radiators, not all receive water at equal pressure, causing an uneven heating flow in your homes. Due to this, many areas of your home remain cold, which can cause a real problem in the winter. This is why you must balance your radiators to keep your central heating system balanced.
Unbalanced Radiator Symptoms
When your radiators are unbalanced, you will experience a difference in room temperatures when you turn on your central heating, as some rooms will be hot and some rooms will be cold. Plus, your rooms will take a much longer time to get to the ideal temperature; you will also need to set your thermostat higher or lower to make your rooms reach the desired temperature.
What is better? Bleeding or Balancing a Radiator
Both techniques have their advantages. The need to bleed out the radiators arises when the air gets trapped inside them, causing cold spots and strange noises to come out of them.
On the other hand, the need to balance your radiators arises when there is an inconsistent temperature of warmth around your home, i.e., some rooms are hot the way they should be but some remain cold. In this situation, you will need to balance out your radiators.
If you are facing a problem with only one radiator, then bleeding out the radiators is the right option. But if there is a problem with multiple radiators, then balancing out the radiators is the right option to maintain a consistent heating flow.
Before balancing out your radiators, bleed them out to get a more consistent and accurate temperature. If you are facing difficulty bleeding out your radiators, read our blog on how to bleed out a radiator. In case you don’t have a bleeding key, explore our article detailing how to bleed a radiator without the need for a key.
How Do You Balance Your Radiators?
After discussing why you should balance your radiators and what causes the need to balance the radiators, let us now take you through the step-by-step process to balance your radiators.
But before we move on to the process, here are some tools you will need to perform the procedure:
- Radiator bleeding key
- Lock shield valve adjuster or adjustable spanner
- Digital thermometer
1. Completely Turn off your central heating system
The basic step is to turn off your central heating system and let your radiators cool down completely.
2. Locate and open all the valves in your radiator
The next step is to locate the valves on your radiators and get familiar with them. One valve is the lock shield valve, which has a push-on cap secured with a screw.
To open the lock shield valve, you must remove the cap with the help of the lock shield valve adjuster or adjustable spanner and turn it anti-clockwise.
The other valve is the thermostatic radiator valve opposite the lock shield valve. The thermostatic radiator valve head can be easily removed by turning it anti-clockwise.
3. Try to understand the heating nature of your system
After opening all the valves, turn your central heating back on again and understand the nature of your heating system by observing which radiator heats up faster. Generally, the radiator nearest to your boiler will get hot first. However, if you have more radiators in multiple rooms, you will need help checking all the radiators.
4. Turn off your central heating system again
After opening the valve and turning on the heating again, observe the heating’s nature. Turn off your central heating and wait for your radiators to cool down. This step is important to balance your radiators.
5. Turn on the heating and adjust the lock shield valve for each radiator
Turn your heating back on and move to the radiator closest to your boiler. Then close the lock shield valve by turning it clockwise with the help of an adjustable spanner, then open it once again slightly until it reaches the desired temperature. After doing this, move on to the next radiator. Make sure you leave a gap of one or two minutes before adjusting the valves of other radiators.
6. Take the temperature readings of your radiators and pipe work
The last step is to take the temperature reading of the pipework leading towards both valves and ensure you get a difference of 12 °C between the readings. To do that, measure the temperature of the pipework next to the valve. Take a couple of readings with the help of your digital thermometer. After that, take the readings from the pipe on the opposite side of your thermostatic radiator valve. Then open your lock shield valve until you get a difference of 12 °C. Repeat this step for the rest of your radiators, and hopefully you will be able to balance your radiator.
The process mentioned above for balancing radiators is not only the quickest way but also the most effective way that does not require a certified professional’s assistance.
Following the above steps, you can maintain a consistent heating temperature in your home. If you still face problems after following the step-by-step process, the problem might be internally related to weak pumps or sludge and debris buildup somewhere in your central heating system. For that, you will need to contact a professional. If you don’t know who to contact, call 24|7 Home Rescue, and we can help you by booking an appointment with a gas-safe engineer.
Why is it important to get a difference of 12 °C between the temperature between the two valves while balancing a radiator?
The main reason behind balancing a radiator is to ensure that an appropriate amount of water flows into the radiator to provide heating at an ideal temperature. That’s why it is suggested to maintain a temperature difference of at least 12 °C between the flow and return valves. If the temperature rating is too low, your radiator might not be able to receive the ideal amount of water to provide a consistent flow of heating around your home.
Vice versa, if the temperature difference is too high, your radiator is receiving too much hot water flow, which might result in energy waste. That is why it is suggested to maintain a temperature difference of 12 °C to keep your radiators well balanced.
Do you need to balance radiators with thermostatic valves?
Yes, you will need to balance the radiators with the thermostatic valve (TRV). TRV is crucial to balancing the flow rate of water across your radiators. Additionally, they act as an on/off switch if the pressure across the valves becomes too high or too low. TRV adjusts the flow rate based on the current and desired room temperature difference.
Why are some radiators hotter than others?
Some radiators are hotter than others because the flow of hot water from your boiler is not properly distributed to your radiators. The reason could be the pipework, pumps, or distance, as you might have noticed that radiators closest to your boiler get hot faster than radiators far away. Due to this, some rooms get warmer, and some spaces remain cold, so you need to balance the radiators to enjoy a consistent flow of heating temperature around your home.