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Radiator Valves: A Guide

A new radiator can work wonders for the comfort and energy efficiency of your home and your heating system, but it all depends on the type of radiator you get.

Because every home life is unique, it requires a unique radiator valve – they’re not a one size fits all kind of part. Let’s take a look at what a radiator valve is and figure out which one is best for your home.

radiator valve

Different Types of Radiator Valves

Let’s take a look at different types of radiator valves:

Thermostatic Valves

These type of valves can give you more control over the temperature in your house because they are slightly more sophisticated and advanced than their manual counterparts. They can be set to the temperature that you prefer.

The liquid inside the valve can sense how warm or cold the room is, and when it has reached the temperature you set, it will shut off the water flow. This means that for the most part the radiator can control itself and you also won't be spending money on extra, unnecessary heating.

Manual Valves

One of the most popular valves out there is the manual valve. This obviously means that you are in control of turning the valves up or down, which means you get to decide what the temperature of the room is. When you turn the radiator valves, this changes the volume of water coming into the radiator, which is going to determine how much heat your radiator can give off.

This type of valve is easy to operate and also are usually a bit smaller than thermostatic valves. The downside, however, is that you have to monitor them regularly and even remember to turn them off unless you want to waste money and energy.

What do Radiator Valves Do?

All of the radiators in your house are going to have two valves attached that act like the taps in your sink. In this way they help to keep track of how much heat the radiator is releasing. One valve is in charge of the amount of warm water coming into the radiator, while the other is in charge of how much heat leaves it.

This latter valve is called the lockshield valve, and it's usually protected by a plastic covering. It is responsible for controlling how much water goes in and out of the radiator. Typically, it's set so that you can't turn it easily, and the professional who installed it would have set it for an even flow of water.

What do Radiator Numbers Mean?

Radiators valves come with symbols or numbers that represent how much heat the radiator emits. This is scored on levels from 1-6. Typically, if you have the radiator set on 3, the temperature of your room should be approximately 20 degrees.

This number system is used in lieu of precise temperatures as the radiator cannot guarantee the temperature of the room as there are external factors that also contribute to this, including how insulated your home is.

It's essential that you keep track of what temperature your radiators are set to because you may want to have different temperatures around the house, depending on what room you’re in. If you’re happy to keep the temperature a little cooler, this could end up saving you a lot of money when it comes to heating and energy bills.

manual radiator valve

How to Change a Radiator Valve

If you feel confident enough to change the radiator valves on your own, here’s a step by step process on how to do so:

Shut off Water: before you change any valves on your radiator, you'll need to make sure no water is flowing through. It's important to shut off your heating system and the water, and it's also recommended that you turn all electronics off just to be safe.

Find the Drain Off: you’ll need to find the drain off in your home – this is usually located at the lowest point in your home. You’ll also need a hose that you can connect to the drain off which is going to run the water from the radiator into an external drain or soil.

Remove the Old Valve: to take off the old valves, release the top and bottom nut which will let you take the valves off altogether. This may be the kind of job for a wrench depending on how tightly screwed the nuts are. You’ll also want to remove the chrome tail that connects the radiator and the valve.

Put Your New Valves in Place: place your new chrome tail where the old one sat and place the olive and nut onto this. Find the water pipe and attach the other olive and nut. Take the body of your radiator and connect this to the water pipe as well. Once you’ve got everything in place, you can tighten the nuts. Once they’re snug, take the protective cap away from the valve and connect the valve to the valve body. Tighten the nut up again, but not too tight.

Once everything is in place and tight so that there aren’t any leaks, you can turn your water mains back on. While you’re refilling the system, keep an eye out for any leaks around your new joints. You can even open up the radiator valve at this point to allow water to come through.

Once you’re confident that your radiator isn’t leaking anywhere, drain the valve so that any air inside the radiator can be released. Any air inside is going to stop the radiator from filling up with water. Open your lockshield valve and remember how many turns it took to get the water flowing. Connect the power back to your boiler and run the heat for an hour or so before checking everything one more time.

Which Radiator Valve Should I Buy?

There are a number of things to think about when considering which radiator valves to purchase. From the type of radiator you already have to the piping that goes into your home, there are a few things that are going to decide the type and size of the valves you buy. The last thing you want is to get radiator valves that don’t fit with the radiator model you already have.

We recommend consulting with a professional, either a plumber or a gas safe registered engineer with a gas safe certificate who can help you choose the right radiator valves for your radiator size and home heating system.

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