Quick Hints and Tips for Radiator Troubleshooting
If you are having to bleed them a lot, check for leaks, or lack of inihibitor in the system. No inhibitor means your radiators rust form the inside, and the gas is mostly hydrogen, a by product of the Iron taking the Oxygen from the water, in the absence of air.
If your system is old, check for any leaks around the BOTTOM SEAM, particularly in BATHROOM and SHOWER ROOM radiators. These can corrode in damp conditions in a few years. If showing signs of corrosion at the bottom, plan to replace ASAP before the worst happens.If replacing, remember to remove the old side connectors. A large 14mm allen key usually fits (or you can get a more versatile version, a “RADIATOR SPANNER”, part 11467 from SCREWFIX. Normal thread (i.e. anti-clockwise to unscrew), but they can be tight. A NEW RADIATOR WILL NOT COME WITH THESE. Refit on the new radiator with plenty of PTFE tape.
New valves or Thermostatic valves (TRV), WILL have the connectors.If fitting new TRV’s, don’t throw away the plastic caps that come with them, put them in a safe place. Unless your valves come with an OFF position, you will need those to screw on to the valve, to force it into the OFF position, if removing the radiator (the thermostatic part is held on with a screwed collar, and will need to be removed to fit the plastic shut-off cap on the valve, in its place). You may otherwise find that the minimum, or FROST position does not completely stop the water flow.
In Summer, ensure you leave all your TRV valves in the FULLY OPEN position, that is, at the highest number, to avoid sticking in the closed position, when you will need them open in WINTER! Since your ROOM THERMOSTAT will be set lower than the ambinet temperature, this will NOT be a problem in the hot summer weather.
If your new radiator is slightly “out” as regards meeting the existing pipework (or a bit narrower), use a UNION VALVE TAIL. These are telescopic, and move in or out to meet the pipework, with sliding “O” ring seals. An absolute GEM of a plumbing idea, allows up to 50mm lateral movement. See SCREWFIX PART 17552.
New radiators will come with new style brackets (certainly those new side-panel and top-grill types will be a different size), and it will be highly unlikely to match the hanging tabs on the new one, with the existing brackets. The STELRAD ones come complete with a nice diagram of all the measurements, so you can get your new brackets positioned correctly, but for the others, it is well worth taking 30 minutes out to sketch out a diagram, and measure from the valve connection centres to the floor, and the bottom of the rad to that centre, and from the bottom of the rad to the BOTTOM of the hanging tabs. The tabs fit into the bracket SLOTS, so don’t forget to account for slot depth when marking out where the brackets go. The lateral position is important too, as you MUST be able to clear the radiant fins the the back, with BOTH BRACKETS. Ensure you use the CENTRE OF THE LONG SLOTTED HOLES for the bracket fixings, so you can use the maximum up and down adjustment. See 7 below.
Where the radiator pipes come put of the wall, if they look a bit rough and the hole is tatty, you can get white or chrome covers, that have a slit and just twist on. Make sure that the slit is at the bottom, or towards the wall where it is least visible.
TOWEL RADIATORS:This is a useful tip, if you have NOT Already fitted it: so that you can easily remove the radiator for redecorating at a later stage (otherwise, the in-line valves are vertical, so there is no way to empty the radiator for removal): obtain 2 special RADIATOR TAILS (UNION TYPE) WITH VALVES. These replace the “normal” radiator tails, supplied with the in-line valves, that is, the part that screws into the bottom of the radiator. They have a small half-turn valve-screw on one of the “flats” of the tail, so the water stays inside the radiator, and it is just lifted off the brackets, after you have isolated the feed and return by shutting off the NORMAL part of the original radiator valve. They are a bit expensive, at £5.49 each, but well worth it on an expensive Towel Radiator. The SCREWFIX number is 30364. I would not use these on a LARGE radiator, as the weight with the water inside might be a problem if you are working alone. NOTE: the special tails are no longer available from SCREWFIX, but may be available elsewhere. An alternative is to use the DRAINEASY KIT To make draining radiators easier (if you have vertical valves fitted). See: http://www.waldco.co.uk/instructions.htm The main home page shows current stockists: http://www.waldco.co.uk NOTE: if you have a towel radiator with vertical valves, this kit will avoid having to drain down your system, and allow draining JUST the radiator itself, without any mess! A great idea.
SIZING:If you need to check that you have the correct heat output and Radiator Sizes for your rooms, check out these very useful sites and pages at: http://www.inspiredheating.co.uk/radiators.htm or http://www.theradiatorcompany.com/heatoutput/