It is one of the worst nightmares a homeowner can wake up to on a cold morning: broken heating.
It is hard enough getting out of bed in deepest, darkest December, without waking up to a cold bathroom. The whole morning routine is thrown as you shiver your way around the house before being faced with a chunky bill for repairs or specialist tradesmen to come in and diagnose your issue. Homes in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the US are most at risk from this as they use more energy on space heating due to the climate, according to the EIA. That means colder winters and more impact if there is a problem. Still, there is no need to panic just yet.
One cold radiator is not always an indication of a big bill coming your way. HomeServe argues that a cold radiator does not necessarily mean serious problems. It could be something simple and easy to do, such as bleeding your radiator or adjusting the pressure. Saving money is something many homes will certainly be looking to do in parts of the country. The Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency reveals that millions of US homes do not have access to natural gas and instead rely on furnaces fueled by heating oil, propane, or even electricity. These are not as cost-effective as some installations in warmer parts of the US, and with an increased outlay on home heating, any workaround in terms of repair costs will be warmly received.
With that in mind, we have put together a handy guide to help you through what could be a simple fix to a major problem.
Bleeding Your Radiator
The first thing to do, should you wake up to a cold radiator is to bleed it. This is relatively straightforward with a simple bleed key. Firstly, make sure your heating is turned on and that some of the radiators are warm in the house. If they are all cold you may have a wider problem. Once they have warmed up, check all hot water radiators individually. Are some cold completely, others partially warm? If so, these are the ones to bleed. Find the side of the radiator with the valve, which should have a head that you can unscrew. A radiator key can then be attached to the square section in the center for you to turn. Using cloth for grip and to soak up any water that comes out, turn the key in an anti-clockwise direction. You will hear a hissing sound if the air is emerging, once that has stopped liquid will come out. Quickly close the valve, especially if you have a modern one, as it will produce a jet-like stream rather than a dribble.
It may be prudent to have a towel on the floor where you work to prevent water from getting onto your floor.
Another possible issue could be the pressure levels in your system. There is a gauge on your boiler which should indicate its pressure levels. And if it is too low, you will need to top it up. This shouldn’t be difficult, your boiler will have a tap or level which will allow you to adjust the pressure accordingly. Once you have done this it is easy to check too, just switch on your heating and go around each appliance checking for cold spots. If there aren’t any, you have fixed the problem.
What if the Top Half is Warm, But Not the Bottom?
If you have done the steps above and still have issues, then you may need external help, but it might not be expensive. If you have warmth at the top, but not the bottom, it suggests there is sludge at the bottom of your radiator. This is not pressure-related, as the previous problem was, so you will need to clean it out. Do not worry, this is a bigger job, but it is not impossible. You can do it yourself, but a good plumber will be able to instigate flushing of the system for you and it should come in at a reasonable rate.
For further tips on how to renovate your home, be sure to check out our article How to Install a Bathroom Fan Without Attic Access.