How to balance your home heating system

If your home heating system takes longer to heat up, it’s possible that your radiators need balancing. Boiler Choice has put together this guide to walk you through how to balance your home heating system. 

Balancing Radiators

Unbalanced radiators do not heat up as fast as the others, essentially making some areas of your house a lot colder than the others. This means that the hot water flowing from the boiler is not being distributed properly. This can pose an issue, especially during winter nights when you absolutely can’t do without proper heating – and you need it – NOW!

Balance or bleed?

First off, if you happen to discover that some of your radiators are showing cold spots in some patches across the surface, you will have to bleed them first, and here is how you do it. 

Our guide on how to Bleed a Radiator: 

While balancing radiators, you let more water flow to the colder radiators in the house. But, at the same time, you restrict the flow from the radiators that are too hot. So, if you find that some areas or rooms of your home are colder than the others, it means some of the radiators are heating up faster. Hence, if your radiators are not functioning correctly and you can’t decide whether to balance them or bleed them, then do both. 

Required Tools

  • Radiator bleed key
  • Adjustable spanner or Lockshield valve key 
  • Screwdriver
  • Digital thermometer/multimeter with thermometer

It’s time to familiarise yourself with your radiator valves.

But, first, you need to know about three main types of valves to fix the issue.

Manual valve

This is the most basic and old-fashioned type that you can use to turn your radiator on or off. It is called a control valve or a wheel head. It has only two positions – on or off, so this is the only control you have over the amount of hot water flowing through the radiators in your house. 

Thermostatic Valve (TRVs)

Almost all modern radiators come with a thermostatic valve instead of a manual. It looks like a dial with numbers on it. As is evident with its name, the thermostatic valves have their own thermostat. When the surrounding temperature reaches the preset level, the valve sets the hot water flow into the radiator and uses as much less energy as possible. It is best to keep the TRVs away from your general house/room thermostat; if they happen to be in the same room, they will compete and hinder each other. 

Lockshield valve

A small dome-like plastic cap covers the lockshield valve, and it seems like you can’t do much with it. In reality, you need to use grips even to pull off the plastic cap. Some of these come with a screw-on top of the cap that should be removed before taking off the plastic part. Under the cap, the valve looks like the end of a flat-head screwdriver. 

Balancing Radiators – A Step-by-Step Guide

Follow the below ten steps complete guide to balancing your home heating system/radiator.

Bleed the Radiators

Firstly, you have to bleed the radiators, which have cold spots, and then again check if they are heating all over the radiator’s surface properly now or not. 

Switch off your Central Heating

Turn off your central heating system and let all your radiators cool down. 

List the Radiators in the house

Make a list of all the radiators in your house. You can do this on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet. You will need this sheet later once you have opened all the valves. 

Open Radiator Valves

Now it’s time to open both radiator valves on each radiator entirely by simply turning them anti-clockwise – to the left. Again, it is pretty easy for manual valves and TRVs to do it by hand. First, however, remove the plastic cap as instructed in the above section for the Lock Shield valves, and then turn the metal valve anti-clockwise –to the left, using a Lock Shield valve adjuster or the adjustable spanner. 

Find the Fastest Heating Radiator

Switch the heating back on and walk around the house with your earlier prepared radiator list. This shall help you locate the radiator that is heating up first. The most likely contender is the one that is closest to the boiler. You might need a family member to help you do this part, or you’ll be warming up yourself pretty fast. Now award each of your radiators on the list a number based on how quickly they started to heat up. 

Turn the heat off and then on once again.

After turning the heating off, check to see if all of your radiators have cooled down completely and again switch on the central heating back again. You are almost there, and it is going to be all worth it! Next, turn the Lock Shield valve of the fastest heating radiator.

After locating the fastest heating radiator through the list, turn its LockShield valve clockwise until it is closed completely – and then open it by a quarter of a turn. 

Note Temperature Readings

Once that radiator has heated up, note down the temperature reading and then take the task at the pipework connected to the Lockshield valve, meeting the floor or the wall. Now note down the pipework temperature that leads to the manual valve or TRV. Now slowly open the Lockshield valve until the temperature reading reaches around 12 degrees Celsius, unlike the Lockshield valve reading you took earlier. Again, please remember this will need to be by the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Repeat until the Balance is Restored

Repeat this process for the rest of the radiators, and the overall balance of your home heating system is restored. 

How frequently should you balance your radiators?

Every so often, check to see if your radiators are heating up roughly at the same time. If this is not the case, you might have to balance your home heating system again. However, now that you know how to do it, the process gets overly simple, and your boiler will evenly distribute the heat. So you can look forward to enjoying an evenly heated home every cold morning or evening. 

When do you need to balance your home heating system? 

There are a few examples below about when you should plan to balance your radiators; 

  1. After the removal of radiators for decorating
  2. After the radiators or their valves have been replaced 
  3. After each cleansing and flushing activities 
  4. After any alterations that were made to the heating system 
  5. If the central heating pump was replaced 
  6. After a boiler replacement 

Written by Julie Hanson

Julie is passionate about property – development, investment and portfolio planning. Along with husband Alec, Julie is actively building a property portfolio while helping others to do the same.

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