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How to Balance Radiators

Why Do I Need to Balance My Radiators?

Radiators that are heating unevenly across your house may be in need of balancing. This uneven performance can be identified by a number of identifiers such as; cold radiators or uneven temperature across an individual radiator, different temperatures of radiators throughout your home, or excessively long times to reach a desired temperature. If you experience any of these issues, it’s very likely that your central heating needs to be balanced.

We generally recommend any home central heating system to be properly balanced at least upon installation or after any maintenance work, though there are often situations where you may need to balance your radiators again. This might seem daunting, but it’s a relatively simple process and can work wonders for ensuring your central heating system is operating efficiently and your home is kept nice and warm.

What Does Balancing Radiators Mean?

Your home is heated through your central heating system, where heated water is pumped throughout your home and through each radiator. Not all radiators receive equal flows of water however, and it is the flow of water that can determine how hot a radiator can eventually get.

The difficulty of water flowing to a radiator can be affected by location, connecting pipes, and a number of other factors, however this can fortunately be adjusted through the balancing process. Ultimately, a well-balanced system will give each radiator the necessary flow of water to allow for even temperatures throughout your whole home, rather than certain radiators heating quickly whilst others remain colder.

Should I Balance or Bleed My Radiators?

These are seemingly similar actions, but they are each used to solve different problems that you may face with your central heating system. To decide whether you should balance or bleed your radiators, check your system against the following statements to give you a better understanding of which process is required.

If your heating system does any of the following, it’s likely that you need to bleed the radiator:

• Rattles, makes excessive noise, or gargles

• Has specific spots or areas of a radiator that will not heat, often near the top of the radiator

If your heating system does any of the following, you’ll be looking to balance your radiators:

• Large difference in room temperatures throughout your house

• Certain radiators failing to heat up

• Long heat-up times for radiators across your home

It’s important to note that an individual radiator can be bled, yet a proper balancing job requires that all radiators are checked and potentially adjusted. We’ll run you through the process to balance your central heating in a simple step-by-step process, so you’ll have your system running it’s best.

Step-by-Step Guide to Balancing Your Radiators

What Tools Do I Need?

• Radiator bleed key

• Lockshield valve key or adjustable spanner

• Screwdriver

1. Turn Off Your Heating System and Allow Your Radiators to Cool.

The first step you’ll need to take is to turn off your heating system. In order to assess which radiators need to be adjusted, you need to observe your heating system heating up from a completely cold start. This is to allow you to test how long each radiator takes to reach a desired temperature.

2. Open the Valves of All the Radiators in Your Home

This will be done by using the TRV - thermostatic radiator valve - and by adjusting the lockshield valves. TRVs are easy to manually adjust by hand, though not all systems will have them. Meanwhile, lockshield valves will have a plastic cap that needs to be removed in order to adjust it using the adjustable spanner.

Note that you need to open both valves on each radiator in your home during this step, and you should turn anti-clockwise to open the valve.

3. Turn On the Heating System and Order Radiators by Speed of Heating

Turn on the heating system and monitor each radiator around your home as they heat up. Make a record of the order in which the radiators reach full temperature - typically those closer to the heating system will be first.

This step can be a little tricky if you have a larger home, so it can help to use a partner who will handle radiators on another floor to avoid rushing around the house.

4. Turn Off the System and Allow It to Cool Once More

5. Turn On the Heating System and Adjust the Lockshield Valve for Each Radiator Accordingly

This step involves closing (clockwise turn) the lockshield valve of all your radiators - done in the order you noted for speed of heating up - and opening (anti-clockwise turn) them roughly a quarter-turn. Do this for each radiator, opening far away radiators a small amount more than the earlier radiators.

Once you’ve followed all these steps, you should have a better balanced system that will deliver water in a more even fashion throughout. To verify, keep performing a test from a cold start and monitor how your radiators are heating up until they’re close together.

Summary

Balancing your radiators can be a fantastic way to ensure your heating system is running efficiently and you’re not suffering from specific hot or cold rooms throughout the house. As with all home heating system maintenance, we always advise for work to be undertaken by an accredited heating engineer should you feel uncomfortable at any point.