Top Tips for Preparing your Radiators for Winter

Every single year, it feels like winter creeps up on us. One day we’re wearing tank tops and flip flops and melting in front of the office fan, and then suddenly it’s freezing at night, and you have to put the ‘winter duvet’ on the bed. No matter how many seasons you’ve cycled through, no one is ever fully prepared for the winter seasons – but here are just a few ways you can make the colder seasons a bit more bearable by preparing your radiators for the big freeze.

Step one: is it working?

After all, the only efficient radiators are the ones that work! Start your preparation by doing the most obvious step first – see if your radiators are working. The best way to do this is to do a trial run overnight, preferably when it’s not too cold.

After putting your heating on, give it a couple of hours to finish warming up. At this point, you should be able to ‘feel’ the radiators to see if they’re getting warm. We recommend either feeling the air near the radiators or using a tea towel to ensure you don’t burn your hands – and as with anything containing hot water, be careful.

If your radiators are warm all the way through, congratulations – you’ve saved yourself some work, and your radiators are all set for winter. However, it’s still worth reading on to find out more about what maintenance you should carry out on your radiators to keep them in tip-top shape. If on the other hand, some or all of your radiator is cold, this suggests your radiators have air in them – and it’s time to start the radiator bleed process.

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Step two: time to bleed

Bleeding sounds a lot more dramatic than it is; in fact, it’s a straightforward process and is a good thing to check occasionally to make sure your radiators are kept in the best shape. Start by turning the heat down, so there aren’t going to be any burnt hands involved in the process. Next, you’re going to want your hands (or pipe wrench pliers), and a cloth or tea towel to catch any leaks.

At the top or side of the radiator, there is a key – a bleed screw – that you can loosen carefully, either with your hands or with the pliers. At this point you should hear a hissing noise, indicating that all that air is releasing itself from the radiator, which will allow it to be filled up with house-warming hot water once again. As soon as the water starts to come out of the radiator, you can tighten the screw back – as this means all the air has been removed. Though this is more common in upstairs rooms, it can happen anywhere in the house, so make sure you check all your radiators for this.

Step three: don’t panic

If – after following the above steps – you’re still having trouble with preparing your radiators for winter, there are a few things you can look at. First, check that there is water in the expansion tank; without this, your radiators can’t fill up. You can also check if your radiator valve is blocked, but if you’re unsure about the process for either of these things or don’t want to further mess with your radiator systems, our advice would be to call the experts.

That’s all there is to ensuring your home has efficient radiators: just a little bit of planning, some testing and a bit of technical bleeding. We hope our guide has helped you prepare your household for winter – and don’t forget to pop the timer on for toasty mornings with your freshly bled radiators!

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