Are your radiators winter ready?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve finally given in and switched on the heating a few days ago. The middle of November feels like an appropriate time, and if there’s one thing I cannot deal with it’s cold feet at night.

Since radiators are key for our health and wellbeing throughout winter, it’s always a good idea to check them even when they’re not in use – but it’s even better to double check they’re in ship shape once the colder months hit.

After all, you don’t want to have to call an emergency plumber because your heating stopped working and your home is freezing.

So what do you need to watch out for? Well, I came prepared – here are a few things you can check throughout the year and again before winter hits to ensure your radiators feet and your home will stay nice and cosy throughout.

Let’s get started…

Leak-proof your radiators

This might be one of the biggest issues you could face in winter – the heating springing a leak.

Not only can it take the radiator our of commission, but an unspotted leak can also damage furniture or the flooring, sometimes to the point where you need to replace them.

Apart from the obvious – that is, a puddle of water – your boiler losing pressure can be a sign of one of your radiators leaking. Hissing, gurgling, or knocking sounds might also be an indicator.

So what to do?

First of all, don’t forget to bleed your radiators to get rid of any air pockets. Also make sure to check the valves. If they haven’t been sealed properly, they could cause a leak.

image credit: iStock / Mariakray

If you do find a puddle, also check the pipework for any damage and, if you don’t find anything, consider the spindle might be loose or damaged,.

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Also look for rust or corrosion, which can be a cause of leaks, too.

In terms of prevention, try to not bump or knock radiators, to reduce the risk of accidentally damaging them and make sure the valves are correctly sealed.

Check your thermostatic valves

If you notice that your radiators are not changing the temperature correctly, or you feel no resistance when turning the valve, it’s time to check your thermostatic radiator valve (TRV).

They can get stuck in an on or off position, especially if they’ve been in one position for a long time – for example over summer.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, check your TRV and turn them occasionally, even in summer. This’ll keep them moving but also alert you to a potential issue earlier than when the cold hits.

Also make sure your TRVs are compatible with your boiler, or you risk them not working correctly.

Spot radiators in need of replacement early

Sometimes, there’s no other option than exchanging your existing radiator for a new one. But how do you know it’s time?

Apart from your radiators needing frequent repairs, which makes them expensive to maintain, there are a few other signs that a replacement is due.

image credit: iStock / Thomas Faull

Do they require frequent bleeding? Do they leak often? Or maybe your radiators don’t reach the right temperature?

If you spot any of these, it might be time to give your home system an update.

As for the causes, these sorts of things can be caused by your radiators being old or simply not being compatible with your home’s heating set-up. But it can be even simpler: if a radiator has been dropped while decorating, for example.

Make sure your boiler and hot water tank are in their best shape

With your radiators have been checked, it’s time to turn your sight onto the bigger elements – your boiler and water tank.

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Some hot water tanks can last up to 30 years, but once they reach 10 years old, it’s good to frequently check them to catch any issues early.

If you find your water is cloudy, discoloured, or smells unpleasant, check your tank for rust or sediment build up. To prevent these, regularly flush your system to save yourself expensive repairs.

And in case your tank leaks or produces not enough hot water, have a look at the valves and check if the pressure-release valve is working as it should. The thermostat might also be broken, so check that one, too.

And what about my boiler?

This is something we don’t ever want to face emergencies with, but even less in winter. Cold showers when it’s cold outside? Please, no.

So if your boiler is slow to heat, you find visible water pooling near it, or it doesn’t sound right when in use, it’s high time to give it a once over.

It might be that it has been installed poorly, the connections are loose, or there’s too much pressure in the system; plus, your pipework might be corroded.

What you can do? Check the visible pipework to see if you can spot signs of corrosion – and regularly take a look at your boiler’s pressure.

And when in doubt, it’s always best to ring up a professional rather than attempting repairs yourself.

So, are you ready? Because I just realised I have some radiators to take a closer look at…

Featured image: iStock / RuslanDashinsky

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