Radiators do not have any moving parts, but they still need maintenance like any other mechanical devices in order for them to stay efficient and effective. If you do not maintain it, efficiency will eventually diminish and you will be left with a noisy radiator that never heats up.

Luckily, repair and maintenance of radiator heating systems can be performed by do-it-yourselfers.


If dust has accumulated behind your radiators or even between the two panels that many radiators have then it will impede heat transfer and you need to get the dust out. You can use the vacuum cleaner crevice tool or a long handles duster to do this.

Bleed Your Radiators

Radiators run using water. However, as water runs in the heating system it reacts with the iron in the steel producing a gas, hydrogen. After some time, there will be a build up of hydrogen gas (generally called ‘air’) in the system causing the radiator’s efficiency to reduce.

A simple solution to this is ‘bleeding’. Bleeding will increase the heat that your radiator produces and you may be able to reduce your boiler temperature as a result.


Here are the simple steps to bleeding your radiator:


  1. In order to check if the radiator needs bleeding, touch the top surface. If it feels cool to the touch and the bottom is warm, you definitely need to bleed it. The same goes with a radiator that is cool to the touch from top to bottom or if it’s cooler than the thermostat setting
  2. Before doing any work on the radiator, turn off the central heating system first to avoid injury.
  3. Next, fit a bleed key in the bleed valve. A bleed valve is normally located at the side or back of the radiator. The bleed key is a special key to open and close this valve.
  4. Wrap a cloth around the key and valve to protect your hand. Turn the key counterclockwise and open the valve to let ‘air’ hiss out. Keep the valve open and wait until water starts to bubble.
  5. When closing the valve, turn the key clockwise and close it firmly. Remember not to tighten it too much. Repeat the process from 1 to 5 until you’ve bled all radiators in all the rooms. (Bleed all the radiators in your home once in a while to ensure your entire heating system stays efficient.)
  6. Turn on your thermostat. If it has a circulating pump, set it to high and the pump should start circulating the water. If there’s no pump, the boiler should do its work and heat the water. If it still doesn’t heat up, turn the thermostat back to normal and give it time to warm up. If all else fail, then it’s time to call for professional help. Perhaps your pump or thermostat needs replacement.


Turn up the Pump

Central heating pumps normally have three settings. If you turn up the pump it will make more noise but it will pump more hot water around your radiators, making them hotter. The pump will wear out faster at the higher settings, so it is best to run it at the lowest setting that gives you a comfortable temperature.

Other Solutions to Consider

Reflector screens can also increase the heat coming from your radiator. These are placed behind the radiators to keep the heat from seeping into the walls. It will rather reflect the heat into the room. You can also try increasing the water temperature on the boiler. Do this little by little throughout the day or for two days to give your system time to adjust the heat in your rooms.


Curtains and other obstructions like furniture, drying clothes rack, etc. may also prevent your radiator from emanating enough heat. Move away anything that is covering your radiator. If you feel the radiator is working fine but it’s still insufficient for your heating needs, then you may need to opt for a radiator that gives out a higher output.