Tuesday, 17 May 2011

My radiator isn’t as hot as it should be, why?

A cold radiator or a radiator with cold spots often indicates that the water is not flowing through the radiator as it should. This is almost always down to an installation issue and is very rarely due to a problem with the radiator itself.

This means that the issue should be easy to correct by following the step-by-step instructions detailed below.

1. Bleed the radiator

Firstly, you need to make sure the radiator has been “bled” properly. Bleeding a radiator means getting rid of any air that has accumulated at the top of radiator, using an air vent/bleed valve. Where air is present, there is no water, which means no heat.

Ideally radiators should be checked for air accumulation at least once a year. Bleed keys (vent keys) can be purchased from a plumbers’ merchant or home improvement store.

Bleeding a radiator is a simple process:

a) Ensure both valves at the bottom of the radiator are open;
b) Attach the bleed key (vent key) onto the bleed valve (air vent) at the top of the radiator;
c) Unscrew the air vent and have a cloth ready to catch minor drips;
d) Listen for the change in sound; you will hear a hissing noise at first (the sound of air escaping), then it will change to a steady squirt of water. At this point you can retighten the air vent.

Please note: On first filling a system it is air that is vented from a radiator. From then on the periodic venting required is actually releasing hydrogen that is the by-product of rusting in the system. If regular bleeding is continually required, then this is a strong indication that the system requires draining, cleaning and refilling incorporating a corrosion inhibitor to prevent further rust in accordance with BS5449 section five commissioning.

2. Check that the valves are open

Make sure the valve is fully open, to ensure water can flow into the radiator.

3. Is a “flow diverter” required?

Certain radiators need “flow diverters” that are fitted internally, to ensure that the water flows in the right direction around the radiator. A flow diverter is designed to ensure that all parts of the radiator get as hot as they should. If a flow diverter is required then it will be sent out with your radiator but occasionally installers do forget to put these in. Failure to install a flow diverter when it is required will almost always result in a radiator not performing properly.

4. Does your system need ‘balancing’?

Finally, if your radiator is still not hot all over, then you need to check whether your radiators need ‘balancing’. Your plumber or heating engineer should balance your system following installation or maintenance of your central heating system. Balancing is adjusting the flow of water through each radiator on a system so that all radiators are running at equal temperatures and take an equal amount of time to reach their operating temperature. Lack of balancing within a system is often the cause of cold spots on radiators, radiators failing to heat up properly, or radiators making noises. If your radiator is not heating up correctly then it is highly unlikely that the problem is caused by a manufacturing fault.

Please note: If you have paid a plumber or heating engineer to install your radiator(s), then unless there is a manufacturing fault with the radiator(s) (which is rare), then any newly installed radiators should function correctly before that person leaves your property. Your installer should also ensure that the performance of any existing radiators on the system has not deteriorated as a result of the work carried out. Problems are sometimes caused by installers failing to balance a system following maintenance but these checks should be included as standard as part of the service provided by them.

For more information on radiators including expertise and technical advice from a specialist, then contact Feature Radiators on 01274 567789, meet the team at their showroom in West Yorkshire or visit http://www.featureradiators.co.uk/

Helena Gerwitz, EzineArticles Basic PLUS Author

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The History of Radiators

When it comes to renovations, choosing the right radiators is now often considered along with the wallpaper and floor coverings. Many consumers are keen to select radiators from the right era, to bring stylish authenticity to a period property, or to opt for a funky radiator design, to add the wow-factor to a contemporary interior.

Research makes it clear that many changes have taken place in heating products over the years.

As many history buffs will be aware, the Romans were the one of the first to use “central heating” to warm their villas using a system called a hypocaust that used a furnace to heat air and conduct it through voids under floors. Similar systems were also used in ancient Korea, possibly even dating back to the Bronze Age. By 1700, Russian engineers had started designing water based systems for central heating.

Steam-heating systems were then developed and installed in the 1830s. The first was installed in the home of Governor of the Bank of England, John Horley Palmer, so that he could grow grapes in England's cold climate.

However, there are various people who are claimed to have invented the radiator as we would recognise it today. All evidence points to their development occurring sometime around the mid 19th Century.

Franz San Galli, a Polish-born Russian businessman, invented an early form of radiator between 1855-1857, and two distinguished inventors known as Joseph Nason and Robert Brigss also designed and produced a radiator using vertical wrought iron tubes screwed into a cast iron base in 1863. In 1872, Nelson H Bundy came up with the “Bundy Loop”, a popular cast iron radiator design that is still reflected in products we see today.

The Victorian period is greatly associated with the introduction of cast iron radiators that we are all familiar with and it was in this period that heating became not only a practical installation but also a decorative item.

However, it wasn’t until the 20th Century that radiators were popularised as even up to the 1970s comparatively few homes had central heating. Steel was then introduced as the most popular option for radiator manufacture in the UK, supporting the British steel industry. Consequently, pressed steel corrugated panels became commonplace, despite the prevalence of aluminium radiators elsewhere in Europe.

As interior fashions changed cast iron radiators were thought of being too big and obtrusive and steel radiators were consider ugly, so homeowners discarded them, boxed them in or simply painted them, but in the 21st Century we have seen the radiator market come full circle. Yet again radiators have become a desirable feature in our homes.

Cast iron remains a popular choice amongst today’s heating engineers and architects, particularly for older properties that could otherwise be prone to damp. Radiators made of cast iron stay warm long after the central heating has been turned off, providing a constant, gentle undulating heat, which retains the warmth in the fabric of the building, as well as heating the interior space. Today’s trend of restoring period properties back to their original splendour has re-launched the cast iron radiator that now claims pride of place in many homes.

Cast iron radiators available today are either “reclaimed”, meaning they have been salvaged from older buildings, or “reproduction”, meaning they are new but have been cast from original designs, with both options having a boom in popularity over the last decade. See our blog article “reclaimed vs. reproduction” for more information on this subject.

Contemporary radiators are now available in wide variety of wonderful shapes sizes and finishes, from sleek minimalist radiators that fit close to the wall to wow-factor feature radiators that make a unique and stunning statement.

Yet whatever style you opt for, be assured that there is no need to compromise on heat output, as good looks and performance are not mutually exclusive.

Radiators, be they Victorian in style or ultra-modern designs, no longer have a ‘humble’ status within a room; they are now an essential centrepiece that serves a functional purpose as well as being a stylish accessory to complement any interior.

For more information on radiators, be it reclaimed or reproduction cast iron, or the latest in designer models, then speak to an expert such as Feature Radiators. You can speak to their team in person and see over 250 models on display at their West Yorkshire showroom, call them on 01274 567789 or visit http://www.featureradiators.co.uk/

Helena Gerwitz, EzineArticles Basic PLUS Author