Radiator care is an important part of home ownership, as it can save you a lot of money in the longer term. It also ensures that your heating system is working whenever you need it, so you don’t have to freeze indoors or call out a heating engineer at an awkward time. Taking time to learn how to look after your radiators can save a lot of money further down the line. This is because a clean, well-maintained heating system will last longer. It will also work more efficiently, reducing energy bills and keeping you warmer in the winter.
Five steps to radiator care
Working out on radiator care is easy to do. If you include radiator care in your normal household cleaning and maintenance routines, it will become second nature to keep them in good working order. Here are five ways to look after radiators in the home.
1. Give your radiators a health check
Start your radiator care regime by getting to know your radiators. Check whether you have a steam-heated or water-heated system. Locate the valves on the radiators. Learn how to operate the switch to turn the radiators on and off and adjust their heat settings. Make sure you understand how your central heating system and boiler work overall. Find out where the water stopcock, central heating operating panel and boiler switches are located in the house.
Go round the house and note where each radiator is located. Feel each one in turn to check whether they are warming up properly. This will help you work out if there are any problems. If there does seem to be an issue, you can call a heating engineer or try to fix it yourself. Unless the problem is easy to fix or you are knowledgeable in radiator systems, it’s usually best to call professional help. One easy maintenance job you can do yourself is bleeding radiators to release any trapped air in the system.
2. Learn how to bleed a radiator
Bleeding a radiator is one of those household jobs that sounds scarier to do than it actually is. The good news is that, with a few simple tools, it is actually pretty straightforward. A sign that your radiator needs bleeding is when it feels cold, even when the heat is on. This is often caused by trapped air inside, which blocks normal warm air flow. Protect your hands when bleeding a radiator, even after you turn off the heat and let it cool down. You can do this by wearing gloves, for instance.
Make sure the intake and exit valves are both turned to the “open” position. Open the bleed valve (looks like a small square) with a radiator key or wrench. Turn slowly, moving anti-clockwise, until you hear a hissing sound. This is air escaping the radiator, which will be replaced by liquid from the pipes in the heating system. Catch any drips with a cloth. When these drips turn into a stream of liquid, tighten the bleed valve up again and it is done. This is a simple way to learn how to look after your radiators.
3. Spick and span
Next on the list of radiator care is making sure everything looks at its best. A clean, dust-freer radiator not only looks great, but it also saves on energy bills. Clean your radiators weekly to keep dust levels down. This also helps the heating system to work at its most efficient.
Start by turning off the heating to protect your hands. Start with a vacuum cleaner to suck up as much dust as possible. Then, place an old towel underneath the radiator. Go over the radiator with a feather duster or radiator brush to dislodge any dust that may have been missed. This will help a lot in radiator care.
This dust should fall onto the towel for easy removal. Next, wipe everywhere down with a damp, soapy cloth, carefully rubbing at any stubborn stains to get rid of them. Pay attention to the pipes, valves and switches too. Dry all over with a microfibre cloth to prevent any remaining water rusting the metal. This also helps leave a glossy shine.
4. Paint it perfect
If your radiator is looking shabby even after cleaning it thoroughly every week, you may need to do some basic DIY to bring it back to its former glory. For instance, if your radiator is painted, it may have scratches or chips on it. Use heat-resistant paint to give it a new coat and cover up grubby marks, chips and scratches.
Paint sparingly to avoid creating drips and leave to dry at least overnight before touching it. Adding a gleaming new coat of paint like this can be an extremely satisfying part of standard radiator care.
Do the same for the pipes, skirting boards and any painted shelves or window sills over the top. It is best to paint radiators when they are cool to protect your hands and prevent accidental burns. Always open windows when using radiator paint. This is because the fumes can be unpleasant to work around. If your radiator cannot be painted but still has scratches and marks on it, call a cleaning expert to help for better radiator care.
5. Regular servicing
Finally, as much as you can help keep radiators clean, bled and painted, you should still call in an expert for servicing. This should happen at least once a year when you have your annual boiler check. A heating engineer will be able to diagnose problems, carry out leak checks and bleeding. They will also be able to suggest ways to help you cut energy bills and keep your radiators clean and working properly. They will also replace parts such as valves or switches if your radiator care requires new replacements at any stage.