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How to improve the appearance of a bathroom radiator

Do you have a radiator in your bathroom?  If so, you are sure to appreciate the warmth it provides on a cold winter morning. You might not care for the appearance of your radiator, however, especially if you live in an older flat or house.  How then can you improve the look of your bathroom radiator without detracting from its purpose?

Combi boilers

Combi boilers

Combi or combination boilers are now the popular choice as they do away with the hot water cylinder and hot water is instantaneous when you turn on the hot water tap or shower control. The combi boiler is fed directly from the mains water supply also, which also means that the tanks in the roof space are no longer needed, a lot of existing installations that require a new boiler are replacing conventional boilers with combination boilers.Installing a combi boiler is not a DIY project unless of course you are an oil or gas registered person, but there is no reason why you cannot carry out all the new pipe works, fit the radiators if they are not already in place and employ a registered fitter to commission the boiler. In an existing installation, when a conventional central heating boiler is replaced with a combi, the cold water head tank and hot water cylinder become redundant; this space can usually be used as extra storage space and the cylinder cupboard can be turned into a cloakroom or shower room, or if in the bathroom a shower enclosure can be put in the space, or it can be extra useful storage space.There are of course some drawbacks to combi boilers, for example they can only provide maximum water pressure through only one tap at a time. They’re not suitable for big homes where multiple sources of water might be used simultaneously. There is also a short delay as the boiler has to warm up the water, they are also not suitable for power showers, plus of course if a fault develops, or the gas supply is interrupted or you run out of oil, with no immersion heater you have no hot water.If you do decide on a combi boiler, remember get a condensing boiler as they are more efficient than standard boilers and save fuel.

How to balance radiators

When your heating system was installed the size of the radiators was established according to the size and position of the various room and the temperatures that are usual normal for bedrooms sitting rooms and hallway, for example. Thermostatic radiator valves with ensure that the temperature is correct, but there is another factor. If the radiators are not balanced the system will not be correct. Balancing the radiators will ensure that this is correct and knowing how to do it is a handy trick that can make the difference between a miserable winter and a harmonious one. By doing this you will ensure that all radiators are at the same heat level.This is not difficult to do, you do not have to be a gas, oil, or solid fuel registered engineer to do this but, you do need to know the technique and have the time to go through the process methodically. The signs that your radiator circuit will need balancing will be different radiator temperatures at different points of the house; it is often the case that those radiators furthest from the pump, often fitted within the boiler itself, will be significantly colder than the others. The process can be both time consuming and tedious, don’t do it if you haven’t the time pr patience!You will certainly need two clip-on pipe thermometers; we suggest you hire these as they can be expensive. First open all the radiator valves full, including the small lock Lockshield valves which normally have a cover on the, a pair of grips, or as key will be required to adjust them. Start at the nearest radiator to the pump and turn the Lockshield valve fully closed and then open it until the inlet pipe is eleven degrees Centigrade higher than that of the return pipe. Repeat this on all the radiators and you should find that they are all recording the same temperature difference between the feed and return pipes.

Multi-purpose radiators

How many times have you stepped out of the bath or an electric shower to grab a cool, damp towel, or put the towel on a radiator and felt the cold when going to get it because you have blocked the heat with it?  The solution is to install a towel radiator from UK Bathrooms.  It provides you with the best of both worlds, keeping you warm and giving you an inviting towel to snuggle into.When these radiators were first available there were limited options, but now the choice is wider in terms of style and size.  They are usually connected to the central heating or hot water system, although some can be connected to the electricity supply.  The majority have horizontal rails, often with varying gaps between them to accommodate different sizes of towels or clothing.  The rails can be straight or curved.  As with ordinary radiators, there are a range of sizes to suit different bathrooms.  Towel radiators generally come in two finishes, chrome and white.  They can be installed in the same way as an ordinary radiator, though instructions should always be followed.

Removing Airlocks

When air gets into the heating or plumbing system and becomes trapped, you get what is called an airlock. It usually happens at a system’s high point and it can have a variety of different causes.The predominant cause of bad pipework design is the wrong sizing being used for pipes when they were installed or replaced. A pipe that transports hot water from the hot cylinder, for example, should be fitted to ensure that it slopes in a downhill direction in relation to the cylinder. If such a pipe is fitted to slope the other way, any air that may collect in it becomes trapped and cannot get out via the vent pipe, and this will result in an airlock.If the cold supply pipe for the hot cylinder is not large enough, air may get into the system through the vent pipe when someone in the household is running a bath.When any of these problems occur they can be effectively cured only by pipe replacement, otherwise they will keep on coming back. As a temporary measure only, an airlock can be cured by driving it out with water at mains pressure.Turn off the stop tap on the branch from the rising main that feeds the header tank, and then turn off the boiler before draining the system. In a direct system, the immersion heater should also be switched off. Connect a hose to the drain cock at the lowest point in the system and lead it to an outdoor gulley. Then open the drain cock and as the level of water goes down open all radiator vents to assist the process. Refill the system again by restoring water to the header tank and closing off the drain cock.It is always a good idea to have a few buckets and rags handy when draining any system in the house, just in case of spillage.

Heating DIY - Bleeding a Radiator

Bleeding your radiators is a simple and easy way of improving the efficiency of your central heating system.When you touch your radiator, if the top feels cool while the bottom feels hot, it is an indication of air trapped in the central heating system. It is desirable to release this air to allow the system to function better and generate more heat around your home. This easy DIY job is known as bleeding a radiator.First, you need to establish if your central heating is a gravity fed or combination boiler system. If it is a combination boiler, ensure you know how to re-pressurise the system afterwards if required. Check the manufacturer’s brochure for instructions on how to do this.Radiator bleed keys can be obtained from all major DIY outlets. To bleed the radiator, the special key should be fitted onto the bleed valve, which is located at the top left, right or rear of the radiator. An old cloth or bowl is useful to catch any drips that may leak out. The key should be turned half a turn anti-clockwise. The escaping air will be audible. Once water starts to drip from the bleed valve, return it clockwise to the closed position. Beware of over-tightening the valve as this can damage the thread.It may be necessary to bleed more than one of the radiators in your central heating system, so check them all in the same way.Remember that if you have a combination boiler, do not forget to re-pressurise the system afterwards, as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Underfloor Heating Kits for your Home

Underfloor heating is becoming an increasingly popular option for heating new buildings in the UK.  The main advantages are that the room is heated more evenly and you can get the same level of warmth from a lower temperature, making savings of up to 20% on other forms of central heating.DIY ProjectsUnderfloor heating systems are now more affordable than ever and as each room can be dealt with one at a time they are perfect for restoration or refurbishing projects.  Underfloor heating kits are also fairly easy to install and so can form part of a DIY project.The easiest system to install for a DIY enthusiast is electric underfloor heating, which is ideal for tiled, laminate or carpeted floors.  These systems are programmed by using an underfloor heating thermostat in each room and are controlled throughout the night and day.  DIY water underfloor heating kits are also available, but are slightly trickier to install.DIY Underfloor Heating KitsA variety of underfloor heating kits are available and it is important to ensure that the one you purchase is suitable for the room and the type of flooring where it is to be installed.  Underfloor heating kits should provide all the equipment required and some companies offer a bespoke kit, which is custom made to suit your specific requirements.All underfloor electric heating kits should come with a guarantee.  When purchasing electric cable underfloor heating systems it is important to check the power consumption.  If this is less than 3kw the cables can be wired up as a fused spur on a ring main.  However, if the total power consumption exceeds 3kw it will have to have its own separate circuit and be fitted with a 30 or 32 amp MCB at the consumer unit.

Protecting Water Tanks from Heat Loss and Freezing

The cold water storage tank is normally located in the attic of the house, and is vulnerable to freezing in winter conditions.  Prevention is better than repair, and insulating a cold water tank can save a lot of money and trouble.Insulating jackets can be purchased, but if you have some roof insulating material handy a perfectly adequate jacket can be made at home, and secured around your water tank.  Fill some large plastic bags with insulating material and stack them around the water tank; remember to include the top.  Once the bags are in place they can be secured using bungee cords or duct tape.The hot water tank may not be subject to freezing, but a huge amount of heat can be lost from a non-insulated tank, and that is a waste of money and energy.  It is better to purchase a jacket for your tank than attempt to make one.  Considering the savings, it is a worthwhile investment. The ideal jacket should be 75mm-100mm thick.  It is better to buy one a little too large rather than too small.  The jacket can be secured with webbing belts or ties supplied with the jacket.

Radiators and Underfloor Heating: A Comparison

Radiators have long been a staple of home heating.  They have come to be relied on as the unquestioned method of choice when it comes to warming a house.  However, in more recent times underfloor heating has been gaining popularity as an alternative heating method.  So how do these methods stack up against one another?  To answer that question, a direct comparison is needed. Radiators produce heat through convection.  Heated water is pushed through pipes in the floor, ceiling and walls.  The heat is transferred throughout the house.  Underfloor heating systems operate differently.  They concentrate heat in the floor itself.  Either water or electric is used to create heat that rises up from the floor to heat the room. Underfloor heating systems have being calculated to save 10 to 40 per cent in electricity costs compared to radiators.  This is due to the minimal amount of waste created by underfloor heating systems.  The heat rises up through the room, rather than circulating throughout the entire area. Radiators also waste space.  A radiator in a home must be placed in a location where it will not be blocked in any way.  Furniture and draperies can block some of the heat produced by a radiator.  This is not an issue with underfloor heating, where the heat rises directly from the floor itself. Underfloor heating systems have also been shown to be cost effective in comparison to radiators, in part because they produce so little waste and heat so efficiently.

How to Bleed a Radiator

If you can feel that your radiator is cold at the top and significantly warmer towards the bottom, it will need to be ‘bled’ to release the air that has entered.  This will happen quite naturally over time as water enters the central heating system and is very difficult to prevent.  The air that has leaked will then distribute at the highest part of the radiator, leaving that much cooler than the bottom.Firstly, it is advisable to switch off the central heating system so more air cannot escape into the radiator.  Each radiator has a valve on the end of the top, with a square shaft in the middle.  This needs to be gently extracted with a radiator key.  These can be cheaply acquired from a DIY store, although specific shaft designs can be removed with a screwdriver.The idea is to slowly release the shaft until the air begins to bleed out.  This should be evident by touching the radiator to feel a rise in temperature of the higher part.  There is no need to remove the shaft completely or take the key (or screwdriver) out of the valve.  As soon as water starts trickling out of the valve, re-tighten it and the process should be complete.  It may be an idea to have a cup or other item handy to catch any falling water in case it flows faster than expected.

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