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Why, When and How You Should Be Balancing Radiators

Why is one radiator not getting hot? How will balancing radiators stop this from happening? Most importantly, how on earth does one balance their radiators?

At Only Radiators, these are the cries we hear often. This week on the Only Radiators blog, we are here to answer those cries and go deeper, sharing with you how to balance radiators like an absolute pro.

We’re known for our technical advice just as widely as we are for our expansive online store with the world’s very best radiators at your fingertips.

And by the time we are done today, you will never fear another radiator imbalance in your life. Welcome to the Only Radiators ultimate radiator balancing guide!

Why Do You Balance Radiators?

Before we get to the “how,” let’s start with the “why?” It’s a valid query – so now we shall explain it to you in the simplest possible manner.

Unbalanced radiators will not heat up at the same speed as each other, leaving some areas of the house colder than others. It always seems to crop up when you need that heat fastest and most, and obviously can become quite the issue when it gets to those fierce winter nights when you get home after a trip and the house feels like one giant fridge.

Perhaps you have one radiator not getting hot while another gets hot very fast. Perhaps you have many!

Balancing radiators means matching the speed of radiator heating across the various rooms of your home. It’s as simple as that but also very important as you can imagine.

Balance or Bleed?

Now, if you find that your radiators are showing cold spots across certain points of their frame, you will also need to bleed your radiators. This is not as hard or as gory as it sounds – in fact, you can check out our in-depth DIY guide on bleeding radiators right here.

How to Balance a Radiator

To begin, you need to gather some tools. Balancing radiators requires the following:

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

Now that you have gathered these tools, it’s time to balance those radiators and uniform your home heating system performance. It’s a simple DIY job, yet so important you will no doubt feel like the absolute don when complete. Here’s how…

#1: Turn Off Your Home Heating

To begin balancing radiators, all of the radiators in your home must be completely cold. So, time to turn off your home heating.

It also does help if you have recently bled them as your upcoming temperature readings will be more accurate.

#2: Working With Your Radiator Valves

You may already know the type of valve that your radiators possess. Perhaps you have planned it so that each of your home’s radiators have the same type of valve. Perhaps not.

Either way, balancing your radiators involves having the correct lockshield valve access. This could be a push cap or a screw cap where the correct screwdriver needs to be used. Whatever it is, get that valve cap removed.

You should also look at the other side of the radiator to see whether you have a Thermostatic Radiator Valve – most modern radiators will do.

#3: Open Your Radiator Valves

Now that your radiator valves are exposed, it’s time to open them up. Radiator valves open in an anti-clockwise direction (turning to the left).

Depending on the condition of your radiator, it may be done quite simply by hand. If they are offering up a bit more resistance, grab your lockshield valve key and get twisting. Radiator balancing, here we come!

#4: Observe Your Home Heating Up

With all of your radiator valves now open, it’s time to crank up the heat. Turn back on your home heating and make notes of the speed at which each of your home’s radiators heat up.

It helps to enlist a few friends or the kids at this point so that you can shout to one another throughout the home as you document your radiators’ heating competition. Otherwise, you’ll be the one who’s heating up fastest as you rush between all of your home’s radiators!

You’ll find those radiators nearest the boiler usually get hot the fastest. And by the end of this step, you will be left with a ranking of your radiators by which ones got hottest fastest.

#5: Turn Off Your Home Heating Again

Now you turn everything off and let your home’s radiators return to coldness. Hey – we never said that balancing radiators was the most thrilling of tasks!

Many perform the first half of the operation one day then wait the night before performing the second half. It’s up to you how you do it – just be prepared for this time-consuming yet vital step.

#6: Fastest Rad First

The dust has settled, the paint on the walls has dried – now let’s turn the heating back on.

OK – let’s turn our attention to your fastest-heating radiator. My, what a well-performing beauty she is! Let’s now close its lockshield valve in a clockwise direction (turn to the right) then, once closed, open it by exactly one quarter turn.

#7: Measuring The Temperature

With your fastest radiator nicely warm, it is time to take a couple of temperatures using your digital thermometer or multimeter with thermometer.

First, we take the temperature from the pipework next to the valve.

Next, we take the temperature from the pipework on the opposite side of the valve, where your Thermostatic Radiator Valve likely is.

Observe the difference, the gradually open the lockshield valve until the temperature difference between the two is 12°c precisely.

Do bear in mind that balancing radiators in this way requires some minutes between each lockshield adjustment for the temperature reading to respond accordingly.

#8: Onto The Rest of Your Radiators

Now that you have balanced your first radiator to an exact difference of 12°c, it is time to tend to your slightly slower radiators and balance them just the same. Do so in the order of their ranking.

So, close their lockshield valves and open once more by no more than a quarter turn. Open progressively, allowing some minutes for the radiator to catch up, until a 12°c difference is read.

What you will find when balancing radiators is that the amount the lockshield valve needs to be opened is correlative to the distance of the radiator from your home’s boiler.

When it comes to the slowest of your radiators – which may well be the furthest from your home’s boiler – you may find the lockshield valve even needs to be opened completely.

#9: Balance is Restored

If you followed the above steps correctly you will find that your radiators are now balanced and that the dispersal of hot water from your boiler is reaching the furthest radiator from your boiler as evenly as it is reaching the closest.

What a result – now that is how you balance radiators!

Here to Help

As always, the Only Radiators team is right here whenever you need us. Just contact us right here or give us a call for any advice you need.

Whether it’s on radiator balancing, radiator bleeding or any other topic, we are your first port of call for all home heating advice and we are eager to hear from you!

You can also browse the rest of our blog for all sorts of juicy articles covering every home heating topic under the sun.

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