Balancing Radiators: A Detailed, Step-by-Step How-to Guide

Balancing Radiators: A Detailed, Step-by-Step How-to Guide

Why spend money on balancing your house’s heat system when you can do it by yourself? Click here for our step-by-step guide on radiator balancing!

You might have noticed that some rooms in your house are warmer than others.

This becomes even more evident during that freezing winter night when everyone crams into the warmest room and leaves the rest of the house to look like a ghost town.

You don’t have to put through such an inconvenience, as the solution is pretty simple.

Your radiators need balance to work more in sync with one another and maintain an even temperature across your house.

I’ll help you embark on this DIY balancing radiators project with my simple, step-by-step guide to ensure you spend a cosy winter season at home.

Balancing vs. Bleeding a Radiator

People often get confused between the concept of radiator balancing as opposed to bleeding, so let’s get the differences out of the way.

Radiator balancing is all about adjusting the valves to ensure that the hot water flow is equal across different radiators all-around your house.

This way, all radiators heat up to the same degree and at the same speed. The goal here is to maintain a uniform temperature all over your house by limiting the flow to radiators that heat up fast and enhancing it to the ones that don’t heat up quite enough.

On the other hand, radiator bleeding is a whole different story. It aims to eliminate any trapped air inside your radiator by opening the valve using a dedicated key. So, it’s not as dramatic as the name implies after all!

You’ll know that it’s time to bleed your radiator if it keeps producing clicking noises coupled with heating problems. On checking the radiator’s frame, you’ll come across some cold spots that represent the areas where air bubbles are being trapped.

My general recommendation is to start by bleeding your radiators before balancing them.

It might be tricky to pinpoint the exact cause of your problems, so it’s safer to walk the extra mile and do the initial radiator bleeding step. This way, you ensure that the temperature readings you get down the line are as accurate as possible.

Get to Know the Different Valves on Your Radiator

There are basically two valves on any radiator. One controls the amount of hot water that goes through the pipe system, and the other determines the amount of heat emitted from the radiator.

Before you find yourself in the middle of your little DIY project, it’s wise to better understand how the different valves work.

Manual Valve

This is the most common valve that you’ll come across while adjusting your home radiators.

The old-school manual valve keeps everything simple. It can only be set to on or off, and accordingly, it opens or closes the channels that allow heated water to flow through the radiator’s pipe system.

Thermostatic Valve (TRV)

Fancy new radiators come with an integrated thermostat into the valve itself. This allows you to set your desired room temperature, and once the preset level is reached, the valve automatically adjusts the amount of hot water that the radiator receives.

It’s worth noting that the numbers you see on the dial are the thermostat’s readings representing your current room temperature rather than the radiator’s heating level.

It took me a while to reach such a conclusion, so I now saved you some of the confusion I had to go through.

Lockshield Valve

Finally, the lockshield valve is hard to miss as it’s the only one with a plastic cap. This valve controls the actual amount of heat emitted into your room, and the plastic cap is meant to prevent any accidental changes to your settings.

After unscrewing the cap, you can use a spanner to adjust the heat output to your liking.

Tools You’ll Need for Balancing Radiators

  • Radiator bleed key to open the vent valve
  • Lockshield adjustable spanner
  • Digital thermometer to compare the temperature across different rooms
  • Screwdriver to remove the lockshield’s plastic cap if it comes with a screw on the top

How to Balance a Radiator

Bleed Your Radiators

First of all, make sure you turn off your central heating system and wait until all your radiators are cold. I’ve already established that bleeding is a welcome preparatory step to ensure the subsequent digital thermometer readings are representative of the radiator’s actual temperature.

It never hurts to have a couple of dry towels nearby. On opening the vent access, you might be greeted by some dirty water that has built up in the pipes over the years, so you have to be prepared.

Open the Valves

With the radiator bleeding out of the way, it’s time to get started with balancing your home’s heat system. You need to make sure that all the valves on your radiator are fully open.

Whether your radiator comes with manual or thermostatic valves, you want to make sure that they’re set to maximum to allow the highest amount of hot water possible to go through.

It’s now the lockshield valve’s turn. Some models can have the plastic cap simply removed by hand, while others have an extra screw to work your way through.

Underneath the plastic piece, turn the valve all the way in an anti-clockwise direction, and you’re ready to move to the next step.

Test the Thermal Performance

With the valves fully open on all your radiators, you’re now set to turn on your heating system. Trace along with your central pipe system and take notes of how fast each radiator heats up.

It would be much easier if you recruit your family members to help you out with this task. With more people on board, you can put together an accurate sequence by which the radiators over your house heat up.

You can expect your list to go along how close or far away each radiator is from the central boiler. If you notice any discrepancies, check for faulty valves as these might be the cause of your problems.

At this point, you’ve earned yourself a well-deserved break. The follow-up steps are a walk in the park, and you’re now closer than ever to balancing your house’s heating system.

Balance Your Radiators

Let’s turn on your home heating one more time and head to the fastest radiator on your list, as this will be our first guinea pig. Close the lockshield valve then open it by a quarter of a turn.

Then, with the help of your trusty digital thermometer, measure the temperatures on both ends of the pipes; the ones at the back close to the water circuits, and the front ones close to the lockshield valve.

Slowly open the lockshield valve and wait a couple of minutes between each adjustment until the temperature difference between the two readings sits exactly at 12 degrees celsius. Voila, you’ve balanced your first radiator already!

Move on to the next radiators on your list and repeat the same exact steps to balance each of them separately. Do expect that the radiator furthest away from the central boiler might require opening the lockshield valve all the way to achieve the same 12 degrees celsius temperature balance.

Precautions to Bear in Mind

For your DIY balancing radiators project to come to a fruitful end, you should strictly adhere to some safety precautions.

I mentioned most of them in my guide, but if you’re anything like me and want to jump right into the action and get your hands dirty, you might have missed some of the safety tips.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, so let’s sum up some of the most important precautions to keep in mind before signing up for this radiator balancing task.

  • Make sure you can instantly reach out to a professional if anything goes south.
  • Never maintain direct contact with your radiator’s frame or pipes while the heat is up, as you might end up with serious burns.
  • Ensure that the central heating system is turned off and the radiator has enough time to cool down before opening any of the valves. If you’re not cautious enough, you might be greeted by a gush of hot steam, causing scald injuries in the face and chest.
  • Having nearby towels is a good idea to ensure no leakage gets through and messes around your carpets.

How to Balance Radiators – In Conclusion

Even minimal temperature differences between rooms in your house can induce a number of chest infections.

It’s also worth mentioning that an inefficient heating system might drive your electricity bills up as you’ll have to keep the heater on for longer to start seeing any differences in the cooler areas of the house.

You don’t have to deal with such issues anymore.

Balancing your radiators can be a straightforward task if you know exactly what to do.

I hope you found this guide informative, and you’re now ready to welcome the winter season with open arms.

And don’t forget; PHS is only a call away should you face any problems while balancing your radiators!