Radiators – Vital Part of an Efficient Central Heating Systems


They are a vital part of your domestic central heating system, yet radiators rarely make it to the front row of the central heating components list. Central heating systems are often associated with a good boiler and a large cylinder in most people’s minds. However, radiators form a crucial component of the system together with other controls and TRV (Thermostatic Radiator Valves). A well built modern radiator can make a major impact on the performance of your central heating system, as well as have a major visual effect on the look of your rooms.

Radiators are over 150 years old. Franz Sangalli from Germany has registered a patent on radiators in 1855. They are effectively a hollow metal case, normally flat in shape that is attached to the wall of the room. Most UK radiators are made of sheet steel with attached fins to emit more heat.  The heating medium, most frequently water, is pumped into the top of the radiator. The hot liquid emits the heat into the room and as it cools off it drops to the bottom of the radiator and eventually out. The air around the radiator heats up and creates a convection effect drawing in colder air to heat up.

A typical domestic central heating system has a closed loop of pipes (normally copper) that over time develop pockets of trapped air inside them. The source of these air bubbles is either seeping through tiny cracks in the system of a result of chemical reaction that results gasses creation within the closed system. If such gasses (e.g. Hydrogen) are trapped within the central heating loop, it normally remains at the top of the radiator preventing the water from getting there and using the full area of the radiator for heating. In such case it is recommended to ‘bleed‘ the radiator from a bleeding screw at the top of the radiator. Radiators on upper floors tend to have more air pockets locked in them, due to the air’s natural inclination to rise to the upper-most point of the loop. As such, top floor radiators will require more frequent bleeding.

Most boiler manufacturers these days require the heating engineer installing the central heating system to power flush the central heating prior to commissioning. This ensures the system is clean from any debris that might have accumulated during the years (for example inner corrosion in older systems). Furthermore, most UK Corgi registered plumbers recommend adding a corrosion inhibitor chemical into the closed loop circulating water, to inhibit production of Hydrogen that would otherwise occur as a result of hot water coming in contact with iron.

The radiator should be sized according to the space to be heated and ensure the temperature is pleasant. Recommended temperature for the living room is 21c and for bedrooms and kitchen 18c. A correctly sized radiator will ensure the boiler is not overworked and is used in the most cost effective way.

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Source by Tal Potishman