When it comes to heating and cooling your home, you want to have the best of the best. But sometimes, it’s really not the heating or cooling unit that’s the problem, but improper maintenance that is the problem.
One of the most common problems with radiators is that they aren’t bled often enough. Radiators need to be bled occasionally to keep them heating and to prevent serious problems. Here’s how to do that.
What Is A Bleeding Radiator?
Bleeding a radiator is the process of releasing air that has become trapped inside your heating system. This air can take up the place of hot water that will heat your home. It’s necessary to release it whenever there is a problem.
In fact, bleeding your radiator can be done about twice a year to prevent the need for the radiator to be bled. It may need to be done in between these times but this is a good place to start for preventing problems.
How To Bleed A Radiator
Bleeding a radiator may be something foreign to you. If this is true, then chances are you have no idea where to start when it comes to bleeding yours. Here are the simple steps you can take to do so.
Step 1: Turn Heat Off
The first thing you should do is turn the heat off to the radiator. This will prevent accidents and make it much safer to make adjustments to the radiator bleed valve. So make sure this is your first step.
Step 2: Get A Radiator Key
Now there’s a good chance that you have a radiator key somewhere but if you can’t find it, you can go to the hardware store and get one. Most radiators have the same key or at least there are universal keys.
If you can’t find one or don’t want to mess with finding one, then you can always opt for using pliers. This is a little more difficult to use but it works just the same as a licensed radiator key from the store.
Step 3: Find The Radiator Bleed Valve
A bleeder valve is where you put the radiator key to bleed the radiator. The bleeder valve on the radiator is usually found on top of the radiator but it can also be found on the ends, but never on the back and rarely on the front.
This is where you will put the radiator key so make sure you know where this is and that it is the correct valve as some radiators have a valve that also shuts the radiator off which is what you may have done in step one.
Step 4: Use The Key
Slowly turn the radiator key counterclockwise about half a turn to release the air pressure. If you hear a hissing sound, don’t worry, this is what it is supposed to do, it means you’re doing it right.
The sound is the trapped air leaving your radiator. This is the “bleeding” that we are referring to where the air leaves and the hot water enters once again. It’s okay if it leaks a little, just keep a bucket below it.
Step 5: Tighten The Valve
Whenever you only see water coming out, it’s time to tighten the valve. You can do so by turning the radiator bleed valve back clockwise to tighten it. After you do this, then you’re all set and ready to feel the heat again.
Turn the heat back on and check on your boiler to make sure everything looks right. Feel free to have someone come and check both of them to ensure you did everything right without paying the price for repairs.
When To Bleed A Radiator
If you are still unsure of when to bleed your radiator, there are a few simple rules that may help you find out when that best time is. Check out this short list of times to bleed your radiator to keep it working.
The Beginning Of The Season
This is the best reason to bleed your radiator because it prevents the need to bleed your radiator. Instead, you can bleed it right before it starts to get cold each year and then again at the end of winter.
This gets it ready for this season and the next cold season without you ever having to wait for it to stop working before fixing it. Preventative measures are always better and cheaper than doing repairs.
The Radiator Gets Too Loud
If the radiator is getting loud and there are pipes banging and steam hissing often then you should probably go ahead and bleed the radiator. It never hurts to bleed it even if it doesn’t need to be bled, so this can help.
If it doesn’t help and the sounds remain after you bleed the radiator, then call a professional. A plumber can usually take a look but call them ahead of time to ensure they work with radiators of your type.
The House Isn’t Warm Enough
If your house is getting cooler and your radiator isn’t radiating enough heat, then you should definitely bleed your radiator. This may be the simple fix to a serious problem. The radiator should be doing its job.
Tips For Bleeding Radiators And Using Radiators
If you have a radiator and you came here to find out how to bleed one, chances are that you need to know more about radiators in general. Here are some tips that can help anyone who uses a radiator.
Only Bleed Cool Radiators
This is important. Your radiator needs to cool down before you bleed it. Hot steam and hot water can really do some damage to your floors and more importantly, to you. You could suffer serious injuries.
So give the radiator time to cool down, even in the dead of winter. If you are afraid you will be without heat too long, stay at a friend’s house and call a radiator repair company to repair while your family is gone.
Keep Proper Air Flow
There should always be space open all the way around the radiator. Without this space, the radiator can’t disperse heat properly and there will be areas of the home that aren’t heated well or not heated at all.
So always keep at least six inches, preferably more, of open space around the radiator. The front and ends need even more space but the back can function with only a foot or less, just ensure there are a few inches.
Don’t Let Children Near Them
Most heating systems are very dangerous around children but radiators are extremely dangerous. Especially if they are hot to the touch, as many radiators are. So don’t leave children unattended in the same room.
What you can do is get a small fence to put around the radiator to act as a barrier. Dog pens work well for this with metal being better than plastic in case it gets near, you don’t want the pen to melt away.
Add Heat-Resistance Behind
Heat-resistant wall coverings and insulation are important near any heating system. If you’re still worried about a fire, then add another layer of heat resistance by adding a heat barrier onto the wall.
You can get these in many forms but perhaps the most common and easiest to install afterward is panels. Panels of fireproof material can be put up directly behind the radiator as that extra bit of protection.
Keep Items Away
Keep everything far away from a radiator. Don’t let people put blankets, paper, or stuffed animals on the radiator. In fact, don’t let any material come into contact with the radiator, even if you think it’s fireproof.
You should check the radiator a few times a day to make sure nothing is nearby, such as furniture that got scooted too close. An important item to keep away is anything combustible like cans of chemicals.
The Annual Check
Finally, this is a great way to keep your radiator in great condition. Have a professional come once a year to check the radiator. You can do so twice a year if you live in a cool climate and you want them to bleed it.
Keep a list of concerns and questions nearby so you will know what you need to ask them. You may think you’ll remember but it can be hard to remember everything in the moment and you don’t want to have to call them back.
Should You Upgrade?
At this point, you may be asking yourself if you should simply upgrade your heating system. If your radiator is working fine and you don’t have any problems heating your house, then chances are you don’t need to.
But if you have safety concerns or if your house isn’t being heating properly, then upgrading to something more modern is a good idea. Have someone come and remove the radiator for you as it can be dangerous to do it alone.
There are many HVAC systems that can replace radiators. Mini-split systems can be a great choice but so can a standard space heater. Find what works for you and your family and commit to trying the new system out!