How To Prepare Your Heating Radiators for Winter Use

Radiators have been used to heat homes for hundreds of years, although they’re rarely used in new homes these days. But, many older homes still use radiators as their main heating system. One of the great advantages of radiators is that they need very little work to keep the hot water system maintained.

However, there are a few things that need to be done to keep your radiators providing the most heat possible for your home or apartment. Before you start using your radiators for the winter, you should check them to make sure that they’re working properly.

When your homes radiators sit all summer, air can leak into the system. The air will take up extra space inside the radiators and prevent the hot water from circulating properly. With less room for the water to circulate through the system, the radiator will produce less heat.

Much like you do brakes on a car, you need to bleed your radiator to remove he excess air. Turn the heat on and allow the system to build up some heat. If you have more than one floor in your home, start with the radiators that are in the upstairs rooms first. You want to start with the radiators that are located in the furthest room from the boiler.

There is a small air vent or bleeding valve located on the top end, it is made specifically for releasing trapped air. Depending on your radiators, you’ll need either a radiator key or a screwdriver to open the valve. Some will be equipped with a handle.

Be very careful when you open the valve, not only will the trapped air come out, some of the hot water will to. Hold something underneath the valve to catch any of the water that leaks out. The air will make a hissing noise as it leaves the radiator, after the hissing stops and water starts to come out, close the valve.

The radiators pipe connections should also be checked each season. The packing that is used around them can wear out and over time the connections can become loose. If you notice any signs of dampness and moisture around the connections, try to tighten them with a wrench.

If they still get damp after you’ve tightened them, you will need to replace the old packing. Pipe packing resembles string, it’s wrapped around the pipe threads and can be purchases at more home centers or hardware stores. Turn the supply valve off and loosen the nut and remove the old packing. Wrap new packing around the threads tightly and then tighten the nut back up.

Those old well known bangs and clangs from radiators is caused by loose pipes. The water will cause the pipe to contract and expand as the water is constantly heating and cooling. This causes slight movement in the pipes and will eventually cause them to become loose.

These noises can often be stopped by making sure that all of the pipes are securely attached. You can also use insulation to pack any slack or holes around the pipes where they enter the wall or floor. Another cause of radiator banging is walls, moulding, framing and other materials being placed too close to the heater.

Each radiator should be on a slight slope. The slope should be leaning towards the inlet pipe that is coming up from the floor or our of the wall. If your radiators don’t have a gentle slope, place a small 1/4 inch wood wedge under the end of the radiator where the vent is located.

Check all of your vents to make sure that there aren’t any blockages. Corrosion, rust, paint and dirt can keep the hot air from escaping from the vents. If you find that your vent is blocked, it’s easy to replace and can be purchases at most hardware stores. Let the radiator cool down and unscrew the old vent and replace it.

You should also check the position of your inlet valve. The valve should be all the way open for the winter months, or all the way closed during the summer. One that is just partially open can cause noises and can’t regulate the heat. All you have to do is turn the valve to either position you want.