How and why to bleed your radiators

Radiators are excellent tools for getting heat around our homes, but they will start to become less efficient over time. It’s down to the fact that air bubbles in your central heating system start moving around your home, and eventually end up getting stuck in your radiators. The trapped air builds up and can cause a whole range of issues from less efficient heaters to strange, annoying noises emanating from your system.

The solution is simple enough, however. Regular radiator bleeding is the best way to maintain their performance throughout the year and ensures that trapped air isn’t resulting in cooler radiators and higher electricity bills. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about bleeding your radiators.

Why bleed your radiators?

As we discussed above, the air bubbles that are created by your heating system end up getting trapped in your radiators, affecting performance and efficiency. Ultimately, if you want to ensure you have a warm home and keep your heating bills down as much as possible, you need your radiators working to their best.

How often should I do it?

Most heating experts will tell you that radiators should be bled at least once a year. The best time to do it is in the autumn, as soon as the colder weather starts to come in. When your heating is off during the summer months, air bubbles often build up, and it’s worth doing to ensure you aren’t overspending on heat during the winter.

How do I do it?

Bleeding a radiator is a fairly simple process, as long as you have the right tools! You will need a radiator key to fit into and turn the valve, and also a tray or container to collect any wastewater. Wear gloves or use a cloth to protect your hands, too – and always bleed the radiator when it’s not in use and cold. To get started, turn the valve key – usually in a counterclockwise direction – and wait for the hissing sound to stop and the radiator water to begin flowing out of the valve. Turn off the valve, clean up and dry off any excess water, and move onto the next radiator – it’s that simple. Once all radiators have been bled, check that your boiler is on at the right pressure – you may need to boost it.

Has it worked?

Once you are finished, it’s a simple case of putting on the heating and rechecking the radiators to ensure there are no cold patches. If there are still parts of the heater that don’t seem to be working, call a professional for their advice – it might be down to a buildup of sludge, and require expert removal.

Do my radiators need bleeding?

If you are bleeding your radiators once a year, it’s usually enough. However, if you notice things aren’t working as they should, there are a few signs that will tell you it’s time to start the bleeding process. If there are any cool spots or strange noises coming from the radiator, it’s often a giveaway that you need to bleed. However, bear in mind that it could be another, more serious issue, so if the bleeding process doesn’t work, it might be worth calling in a heating and plumbing expert.