Radiators not doing their job properly? Gaff Goddess has the key to fixing that

Household Hacks: How to fix a radiator that is cold on top and hot on the bottom

‘There is only so much an extra layer of cashmere will do for you when you have underperforming radiators.’ Photograph: iStock

‘There is only so much an extra layer of cashmere will do for you when you have underperforming radiators.’ Photograph: iStock

 

Just turned on your heating for the first time this autumn? Are your radiators not warming up like they used to? Tops cold to the touch while the bottoms are gloriously hot?

There is only so much an extra layer of cashmere will do for you when you have underperforming radiators, so instead we need to bleed them. While this sounds a little drastic, it is in fact super easy once you have the knowledge under your Moschino belt.

The problem we are facing here is air trapped in your radiator – this has risen to the top and so water cannot fill it and heat it all up. To remove the air, we need to open a valve and let the air out to make room for the water to reach the top.

Supplies:
Radiator key (universal size; go for brass, simply gorgeous and yours for life)
Rag
Bucket (she’s not essential, but safe is chic)

Let’s begin by turning the heating off and ensuring all radiators are cooled. Never bleed when a radiator is on or hot. Not only will you risk scalding, it’s awful for the whole system to be on when bleeding. If you are tackling more than one radiator, always start on the ground floor.

The valve in question will be at the top of your radiator, usually on the right. See her square pin? Turn your radiator key around and you’ll see she is a perfect match for the pin. Slot the key over the valve, holding your rag under, bucket nearby just in case.

To open the valve and release the air, you want to turn her just a little, very slowly, anti-clockwise. If you turn her fully or too quickly you risk losing the pin and water flowing out. Let’s avoid this disaster. Instead, twist a little and you will feel air flow out; she may even hiss if she’s having a good day. Once the water appears, close the valve – the air is now out of the radiator. You can carry on to any other affected radiator.

Bleeding will always cause the pressure in your system to drop, so pop over to your boiler once you are done. She should read between 1 and 1.5 bars. Your manual will show you how to top up the pressure and bring her back to the right level after a good bleed.

A word to the wise: you shouldn’t need to bleed a radiator more than once a winter. If you are finding this is a regular issue, air is getting into your system somehow. You need to book an appointment with your plumber, and she will see you right.

Laura de Barra, aka the Gaff Goddess, is a property manager, author and She-IY enthusiast from Cork, now based in London

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