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Preventing radiator problems
No one likes being stuck without heating. And if you don't know how to stop a radiator leak, your home could end up a lot worse than just cold. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do yourself to keep your radiators and heating system in top condition. We’ve teamed up with James from Plumber Parts to bring you a series of videos that can help you keep your plumbing systems in top condition – so you hopefully won't need to call us at all. Here are a few tips to help you keep warm and toasty all year long:
1. Add an inhibitor to your systemAn inhibitor stops the water in your heating system from reacting with the components inside your boiler and your radiators. Without it, the reaction can create rust, which in turn creates sludge. This sludge can collect in your radiators, stopping them from heating up properly. For a step-by-step guide to adding an inhibitor yourself, just take a look at the video above.
2. Install an in-line magnetic filterAn in-line magnetic filter is usually fitted into the return pipe that leads into your boiler. It'll remove any rust or debris that might be in your heating system before it gets inside the boiler, where it could cause damage. When an engineer comes to service your heating system, they'll flush out the debris and rust that the filter has removed, and your boiler won't have to suffer from any internal corrosion.
3. How to stop a radiator leakOne of the most common places for a radiator leak – and also one of the easiest to fix – is around the water shut-off valve. This is the valve that controls the flow of hot water into the radiator, and it's used for balancing the heating system. Pull the cover off the water shut off valve, and you should see a horizontal nut at its base. Using an adjustable wrench, simply tighten the horizontal nut to stop the leak. It usually only needs a little tightening – often less than an eighth of a turn – and that should be enough to stop the radiator leak. If there's a leak coming from one of the nuts on either side of the water shut off valve, you'll need a pair of adjustable wrenches. Use one to grip the body of the valve, and the other to tighten the nut to the side of the valve. That should hopefully put a stop to your radiator leak.
4. How to fix a thermostatic radiator valveOn the other side of the radiator from the water shut off valve, you might have a thermostatic radiator valve (TRV). These work by sensing the temperature of the room, and then regulating the amount of hot water entering the radiator until the room reaches the temperature you've set on the TRV. One common problem with TRVs is that, after staying closed for months at a time over the summer, they can get stuck into the closed position. Luckily, it's easy to get them going again. After removing the head of the TRV, you should see a pin underneath where the head was fitted. Using a pair of pliers, start to work that pin up and down until it's moving more freely. Once you've got it moving, you can use a spray-on lubricant to make sure it doesn't get stuck again. Then you can simply replace the head of the TRV, tighten it up, and set it to the right temperature.
5. Learn how to balance your heating systemSometimes, boilers and central heating pumps don't always treat each radiator equally. If you've noticed that some of your radiators aren't heating up as much as you like, it could be because your system in unbalanced. Fortunately, it's really simple to make it balanced again. For each radiator in your home, remove the cover from the water shut off valve, and turn it clockwise with a pair of pliers or grips until it's completely closed. From the closed position, you can then open each valve with just a quarter or a half-turn, turn on your heating, and let it run for an hour or two. If all of your radiators are working, your system is balanced and you don't need to do anything. If one or two of your radiators aren't heating up properly, you can adjust each one individually by opening the water shut off valve by an extra quarter turn until they're all heating up to the same amount.
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