Why You Should Bleed Your Radiator

Radiator bleeding is a common household maintenance procedure. It simply refers to releasing air that has become trapped inside your central heating system. This is an extremely common issue in unvented central heating systems. Air that gets stuck in the radiator prevents hot water from heating the whole radiator. This trapped air creates cold spots and prevents your central heating system from working optimally. It is important to note that radiator bleeding is also sometimes referred to as ‘bleeding your boiler’. This routine procedure to release the trapped air should be done on all the radiators within your household at least once per year, ideally before you start heating your house in the winter months. Bleeding your radiators ensures that your house will be able to maintain a comfortable temperature during the cold months of the year without your boiler struggling to keep up.

How do I bleed my radiator?

Before you start you will need a cloth to catch any water and a radiator key. You can pick up a radiator key from any hardware or DYI store. Next, make sure you turn off your boiler temporarily to ensure that your radiator is not using hot water as it may be too hot and can potentially hurt you. Now, follow these steps:

  1. Use your radiator key to turn the valve at the top of the radiator by attaching the key in the small square groove.
  1. Turn the key counter-clockwise slowly as you hear a hissing sound of the air coming out of the radiator. As you turn, put the cloth underneath the valve and key to catch any water that comes out.
  1. Once the valve has stopped hissing, all the trapped air has been released and you can retighten the valve with the key by turning it clockwise. Make sure that you do this quickly to prevent too much water from escaping.
  1. You can repeat this procedure for all the radiators in your household. Once you have completed bleeding all your radiators, make sure that you turn your boiler back on.

As you turn on your boiler, check the pressure gauge on the front of your appliance. Bleeding radiators often causes the water pressure of boilers to drop and it might struggle to provide your household with consistent hot water. If the pressure drops, wait a few hours, and check it again to see if the pressure has increased itself. If the pressure is still low, you can use the ‘filling loop’ on your boiler which is often a lever or tap on your boiler allowing you to top it up. If your boiler’s pressure is still struggling to increase, call a professional gas engineer/plumber who is licensed to open up and fix your boiler.

If you are unsure how to perform this procedure, it is recommended that you contact a professional central heating engineer for advice and guidance.

When is the right time to bleed your radiator?

The best time to bleed your radiator is before you need to start heating your house for the colder months of the year. This might be either autumn or winter depending on where you live and how cold it gets. Bleeding your radiator before they are used during these months ensures that your heating system is running optimally, without any air trapped in the system.

Is radiator bleeding dangerous?

Bleeding your radiator can become very dangerous if you do not turn off your boiler before you start the procedure. If not careful, potentially scalding water can burst from the release value which you will be turning with a radiator key to release the air.

What happens if I don’t bleed my radiator?

If you don’t bleed your radiator at least once a year, air can become trapped within your radiators. These air bubbles contribute to cold spots in your radiator which make it more difficult to heat up your home. This means that your central heating system could struggle to reach the desired temperature within your house. This will make you heating system highly inefficient as your boiler will use more gas as it tries to reach the temperature that you have set on your thermostat. This problem could also lead to much higher utility bills during the winter months, costing your family significant money.

Benefits of bleeding your radiator regularly?

There are many benefits of bleeding your radiators regularly. Firstly, if done once per year, you can ensure that your household is always at a comfortable temperature, particularly during those cold winter months. Bleeding ensures that your radiators and boiler are running at optimal efficiency. This routine household maintenance will save you from freezing winter nights, will prevent your central heating system from overworking as it tries to reach your desired household temperature, and this will ultimately save your family a lot of money on your gas bill.


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