Dedicated: Get Ready to Bleed Your Radiators

It’s almost that time of year – the leaves are turning orange and the nights are getting longer – the time you turn on your heating after the summer. It’s always a special time, as you never know quite what your boiler will do, which is why you’ve already had it serviced, ready for the winter, right? You’ve also had your delivery of oil from and you’re all set to brave the cold.

But hang on a minute…what are all these cold spots at the tops of the radiators? They’re also taking forever to warm up and start sending heat out into your rooms, certainly longer than they did last winter. Yes, you have air pockets and your radiators need bleeding. Those air gaps are making your radiators less effective and this is wasting oil and money. Thankfully, it’s easy to bleed a radiator.

You’ll need a tool or two

Most often, you’ll need a radiator key, or maybe a screwdriver for some types of radiator. Most of these keys have four different heads, so you’ll be able to find one that fits. You should also have a towel handy so that you can soak up any water that comes out from the release valve – you’ll usually find this valve at the top right-hand corner of your radiators.

Turn on your heating

This is so you can check each radiator to see which ones need to be bled.

Then you need to turn it off again

This is to allow the water in your radiators to cool down to a safe temperature as it can sometimes gush out when you open the valve. It also prevents air from getting into your system, as you’re trying to get it out!

The process itself

Put the towel under the radiator to catch any water and then insert the key or screwdriver into the valve. Carefully turn the valve anti-clockwise and listen; you might hear a hissing noise as trapped air escapes. Let the air keep escaping until water comes out, then turn the valve clockwise to seal it up again.

Repeat this process with the radiators that definitely need bleeding, as well as the ones that don’t seem to – you might as well.

When you’ve done

You should check your boiler pressure to make sure it hasn’t fallen to below its recommended level. If it has, you’ll need to re-pressurise it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Turn the heating back on and go to each radiator to make sure the cold spots have gone. This is also the time to look for leaking valves and to tighten them up properly.

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Instant comfort

You might be surprised by how much difference to your temperature there is after bleeding your radiators. It’s also reassuring to know that you don’t have to ask your boiler to work overtime just to maintain a comfortable temperature.

You should check your radiators for cold spots once a month and certainly when you turn on your heating after the summer, so you can make the most of your fuel. If bleeding hasn’t improved your radiators’ performance, there may be something else holding them back, so call in your heating engineer.