Energy bills savings: The six easy steps to bleed a radiator

B&Q explains how to bleed a radiator

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The average UK energy bill could reach £3,0000-a-year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine drove wholesale gas prices up by 28 percent last week. Bills have already risen dramatically thanks to the supply issues caused by the pandemic, and it’s tricky to cut this down and not go without. Fear not, energy expert Myles Robinson from Boiler Central reveals the six steps to bleeding your radiator to help you cut down your energy bills by a fraction.

Radiators with trapped air don’t circulate heat properly, making them less efficient.

Essentially, you’re paying full price for your heating without getting enough warmth, and your heating system will be using more energy to compensate.

Luckily, you can release the trapped air and improve the efficiency of your heating by bleeding your radiator.

This task can be done solo in six simple steps.

To bleed your radiator, all you need is:

  • A radiator bleed key (or flat-headed screwdriver if you have a modern radiator)
  • A cloth rag to catch water
  • Old towels and dust sheets

How to bleed a radiator

Step one

Before anything, you need to find out which radiators in your home need bleeding, as it’s important not to perform the procedure on a radiator that doesn’t need it.

If you try and bleed a radiator that doesn’t have any trapped air to release, water will spill from it as soon as you open the bleed valve.

This can rapidly lower your boiler’s water pressure, and your whole system could fail.

Once you’ve turned on your central heating, go around your property and check if any radiators aren’t warming up properly.

Myles said: “Remember that if radiators have cold spots or are warm at the bottom but cold at the top, they likely have air blockages.

“It’s a good idea to wear a pair of light gloves as you check your radiators, to avoid burning yourself on hot radiators.

“Don’t forget to check for rattling and gurgling sounds from your radiators, as these are also signs that they need bleeding.

“Make a careful note of the radiators which need bleeding during this check – a good tip is to put post-it notes or stickers on the malfunctioning radiators, so you can be sure which ones to start on.

“Once you’ve identified which of your radiators need bleeding, make sure you turn your central heating off as bleeding your radiators with the heating on could seriously injure you.

“Scalding hot water is likely to burst out of the bleed valve as soon as the air has come out.”

When all your radiators are entirely cold to the touch, you can get started on bleeding your radiators.

Step two

It’s impossible to avoid water spillage when you bleed your radiators, even if you close the bleed valve super quickly after you’ve let the air escape.

The energy expert explained: “You need to let at least some water drip out from your radiator so that you can tell when the trapped air has fully escaped.

“As a result, we suggest putting down towels and dust sheets to protect the floor around your radiators and avoid water damaging your floors or carpet.

“You can also use a container to catch any water spills when you’re bleeding your radiator.”

Step three

Take your radiator key (or flat-headed screwdriver if you don’t have a radiator key to hand), and attach the end of the key to the square slot in the centre of the valve.

Myles said: “When you insert the key into the groove, you’ll feel them click together.

“Remember that if you have an older radiator, the bleed valve may look different, and you’ll need a clock radiator key to open it.”

Step four

Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for, it’s time to bleed your radiator!

First, turn the key in an anti-clockwise direction (use a rag to help grip the key, if the bleed valve is particularly tight).

Myles said: “You should hear a hissing noise, which is the trapped air in the top of the radiator starting to escape.

“The release of the air from your radiator means that the water in your system now has room to rise.

“This will happen fairly quickly after you’ve bled out the air, so get your rag ready to catch the drops.”

Never turn the valve more than a half-turn when you’re opening it and be ready to close it quickly, the expert stressed.

He added: “Modern radiators can release water like a jet and you want to avoid as much spillage and low water pressure as possible.”

Step five

Once you’ve finished bleeding the first radiator, you can go and repeat the procedure on all the other radiators in your home that require bleeding.

Myles advised: “You should start with the radiator that is furthest away from your boiler.

“If your property has two stories, start with the most distant radiator on the ground floor, and work your way up to the top of the house, ending with the radiator closest to the boiler.”

Step six

Bleeding your radiators always involves some loss of water, and this can cause the pressure in your heating system to drop.

So, while you’re at it, make sure you check your boiler pressure as soon as you finish bleeding the radiators.

Myles stressed: “If your boiler pressure falls below a safe level, your heating system will become inefficient and use a lot of energy trying to heat your house, driving up your heating bills (the very thing you were trying to avoid by bleeding your radiators).”

To check your boiler’s pressure, look for the water pressure gauge, which is usually located on the front of your boiler.

The expert said: “If you have a hydraulic gauge (a gauge that displays pressure using a dial), the indicator needle will fall below one if there’s not enough water pressure.

“If you have a digital gauge, you should see a flashing reading if the water pressure is too high or low.”

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