It is surprising how many different faults radiators and TRVs can suffer from but even more surprising is the fact that the majority of radiator faults can be fixed by just turning the radiator on and setting the thermostatic radiator valve properly. Often referred to as TRVs the purpose of these valves is to enable control of the temperature in individual rooms, turning off the hot water flow when the room reaches the set temperature. If radiators are not fitted with these there is considerable scope to improve the efficiency of the heating system by fitting them. Unless there is a bypass system one radiator, usually the bathroom, should not be fitted with one otherwise when all rooms reach their set temperature the pump will be trying to force water through a blocked system.
Setting Thermostatic Valves or TRVs
The valve is set by turning the control knob to set the desired room temperature. Since rooms can take a long while to reach temperature setting these valves correctly isn’t a quick process. The best way is to do it for each room over several days, before adjusting the valve make sure the heating has been on for a few hours to make sure it has stabilised. If the room is too hot screw the valve clockwise one mark and check the temperature again the next day. Unscrew the valve one mark if the room is too cold.
The pictures show a typical thermostatic radiator valve with and without the control mechanism which usually just unscrews. Note the set temperature markings on the control in the top picture. The centre control pin is visible in the lower picture.
The temperature markings on these valves do not represent specific room temperatures because the temperature at which the valve operates depends on the air flow around the valve, the water temperature, the size of the room and the losses through walls, windows, doors, floors and ceilings. It is quite normal to have very different settings for the same temperature in different rooms because of this.
With some types of thermostatic valves opening them fully just means they switch off at a higher temperature rather than being fully open independent of temperature. This can cause a problem when balancing heating systems and it is usually safer to remove the adjustment mechanism when setting up and balancing the system.
Looking for tips to make your heating more efficient or make it work properly before winter comes. The radiator fault finding and radiator efficiency pages in the heating section have been updated. To work properly radiators have to be set up correctly and the heat radiated efficiently in the right directions. This means the temperature drop across the radiator needs to be correct (12C or 20F) – see central heating set up for more information. There must be no air in the radiator and the air flow around the radiator must be unrestricted – this means keeping furniture as far away as is sensible. Painting radiators is not a good idea since every layer of paint acts like an insulation reducing it’s efficiency, the proper solution to rusting radiators is to remove them, strip all the paint off and start again with a proper radiator paint which is a big job and not for the faint hearted. Make sure thermostatic valves are set properly. Another way to stop radiators working properly is to hang towels or clothes over them or in front of them. Some radiator have radiation fins on the rear of them to improve air flow and heat transfer, these can get clogged up with dust, cobwebs and other debris which reduces efficiency.so it is well worth hoovering behind radiators (can be difficult due to limited space) once a month. It is also important to maintain efficiency that the central heating system is free of debris and corrosion products which build up over time if the system does not contain an inhibitor which is effective.
The lighting pages in the electrical section have been updated. Light emitting diode (LED) low energy lamps are a great way to reduce electricity use and save money but as you can see below as well as advantages there are a few potential disadvantages to take into account before deciding to use LED energy saving lamps. Over time as prices come down they will replace both incandescent and CFL lamps completely. When comparing the brightness of an LED bulb to an incandescent one it is best to compare the brightness or light output in lumens. For example a 100W incandescent clear bulb is equivalent to approximately 1600 lumens or 16 lumens per watt since there can be wide variations between manufacturers of LED lamps. The beam angle will also have a bearing on the effective brightness with narrower beams concentrating the light more effectively.