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Adding More Radiators to a System

At least one extra radiator can normally be added to a modern central heating system, which will be designed for extra capacity as requirements increase, although the boiler may need to be upgraded if you plan on doing a major extension.The addition of extra radiators is simple in principle, involving cutting into the existing flow and return pipes at the most convenient points and connecting tails that will link up to the new radiator.  This necessarily involves drainage of the heating system before you begin work, and this is an ideal opportunity for flushing out any sludge, descaling the boiler and incorporating a corrosion inhibitor. Like a lot of other DIY jobs, the addition of a radiator can have ramifications, or opportunities if you like.Draining and refilling the entire system can however be avoided if you are in a rush, by using a pipe-freezing kit.   This will form plugs of ice on each side of the place where the tee will be connected, effectively isolating the area from the rest of the system.  Once the tees have been connected into place, you simply hang the new radiator on the wall by its brackets and connect it to the rest of the system.The first step is to decide on the position for the radiator and fix it to the wall, then bend the pipes and run them down to the below-floor connection point.  Then connect the upper ends to the valves and tee the other ends in to the supply pipe.

Making a Statement with Bathroom Radiators

If there is one room in a house where it is likely that people will be peeling off their clothes, then that room has to be the bathroom.  And because people will be stripping off in this area, it is imperative that the space is adequately heated in order for everyone to be able to enjoy their ablutions in comfort.For this reason it is important that bathroom radiators fulfil their intended function.  However, bathroom radiators need not necessarily be all about the performance.A carefully chosen bathroom radiator can make a great functional feature and can help add to the character of this space, which is likely to be visited at one point or another by any guests to your home.  Bathroom radiators come in a wide range of shapes and styles with something available to suit all tastes and budgets.Choose from an exciting replica design that is reminiscent of the institutional installations of days gone by (also available in their original form from architectural salvage) or opt for an ultra modern sculpted standing piece that could double for a work of art.For those who wish to keep the focus on the functional, it is possible to buy designer radiators that serve a dual purpose - doubling up as towel rails for space saving and offering bathroom users a warm fabric embrace as they step from the bath or shower.Whatever bathroom radiators appeal to your own sense of style, it can be helpful to take advice from a plumber to ensure your choice will work in the available space.

DIY Tips - Removing a Radiator

There will be times when you might need to remove a radiator, for example, to paint or wallpaper the wall behind it.While removing a radiator is not particularly difficult, you do need to take care and use the correct tools, which include adjustable spanners, a radiator or bleed key, old sheets or towels, a small bowl and a bucket.These instructions apply to modern radiators and may not be suitable for older versions.•    Manually turn off the control valve on one side of the radiator.•    Remove the cap from the lockshield valve, which is situated on the opposite end of the radiator from the control valve.  Turn the exposed spindled clockwise using an adjustable spanner.•    Have a bucket or small bowl to hand and turn the radiator or bleed key so that the water can escape. •    You will need two adjustable spanners for this.  Holding the manual control valve with one spanner to keep it still, attach another spanner to the cap nut holding the manual control valve and loosen the nut.  Have a small bowl ready to catch the water•    Repeat the previous step, but this time slacken off the lockshield valve.•    If the radiator is very long you may find it useful to get someone to help you gently lift the radiator off its supports.  Excess water is likely to remain in the radiator and you should simply pour it into a bucket.•    Depending on what you intend doing next, it is advisable to cover the exposed pipe ends with tape.

DIY Tips - Central Heating

Central heating is included in all modern homes, and most people have had it fitted.  Gone are the days when frost used to build up on the inside of windows in winter and the coal fire had to be got going before the rest of the family got out of bed.  Now, double glazing and central heating are the norm.Understanding the essentials of the system will help you to sort out problems when they occur, and save you money by not calling out the professionals.There are a number of different types of central heating system, but they all work along the same lines.The boiler is at the heart of any central heating system, and can be one of three types.  The conventional boiler uses a hot water storage cylinder and two cisterns in the roof space for storing cold water.  One of the cisterns supplies the hot water cylinder and the other the central heating system.  Most boilers were of this type until the 1980s. Combination boilers, or ‘combis’ as they are more commonly known, are now far more popular because of their convenience benefits.  With the combi, hot water is available literally on tap, instantly, and space is freed up in the loft because there is no need for water tanks.  Included with most combis is a temperature control that can be adjusted conveniently as required, and a timer so the heating can be set to come on and off at pre-set times.A system boiler is a combi used only for the central heating, with the domestic water supply handled separately. 

Installing Underfloor Heating

Underfloor Heating: the BasicsThe benefit of underfloor heating is that the heat is directed into a living area from below.  Traditional types of home heating revolve around wall fitted radiators, open hearths or stoves.  What these types of heating have in common is that the heat is dispersed quickly by rising to the ceiling of the room. Underfloor heating is dispersed more slowly; the heat takes longer to rise and is emitted over a longer period of time through the material of the floor (e.g. bricks or tiles).PreparationBefore you start laying the underfloor heating, consider carefully where it is best placed.  It may be costly and time consuming to have to dig out again in case you have made a mistake.  There are two main types of underfloor heating: electrical wires and hot water pipes.  Electrical wire heating is most suited to floors made from wood or other relatively porous types of material.  Hot water pipes can be laid with harder material such as brick or tiles.Test the SystemBefore you refill the floor, having laid the underfloor heating, you should test the electrical wires or hot water pipes.  This is again so that you do not have to dig it up in case of faulty connections or leaks. The hot water pipes should normally function well, but some may have been damaged inadvertently. You naturally should avoid any chance of leaks.

Electric or Water - Two types of underfloor heating

If you are thinking about installing an underfloor heating system, you have two primary choices: a warm water system or an electric one. Whichever system you choose, there are definite benefits to underfloor heating that go beyond aesthetics.How Underfloor Heating WorksWhether choosing an electric or water system, underfloor heating works the same way - by warming a room from the floor up. This means that people begin to feel the effects more quickly than they would with conventional radiators. The heat is also radiated rather than convected, which means the room is warmed more evenly across its space. Warm Water Underfloor Heating SystemA warm water underfloor heating system uses flexible pipes looped under the floor and connected to an existing boiler or radiator via a manifold. Any type of fuel can be used to heat the water, including conventional substances like gas and oil, or contemporary methods like Agas or solar panels. Because water underfloor heating systems rely on long-duration heating, a condensing boiler is often recommended as a cost-effective choice. Electric Underfloor Heating SystemAn electric underfloor heating system usually comes in thin, installable ‘mat’ form. Placed underneath flooring and connected to a power supply, this type of system uses a thermostat to control the heating activity. Underfloor mats are much easier to install than warm water piping, and can often simply be glued beneath the floor tiles. However, electric underfloor heating systems tend to cost more money to operate than their warm water counterparts.

An overview of floor heating systems

Electric underfloor heatingElectric underfloor heating systems can be quickly and easily installed in a home and work well in small spaces. Electric underfloor heating comes as a length of cable that is placed on the floor in a weave pattern, or as a cable mat that is rolled out and cut to size. While cheaper to install, this type of floor heating system is more expensive to run.Water underfloor heatingWater underfloor heating (or wet underfloor heating) is more expensive to install, but more economical to run. Furthermore, by using systems with full lengths of piping, without joints, a wet underfloor heating system can last the lifetime of a building, remaining virtually maintenance free in the duration.Carbon floor heatingCarbon film heating systems work with wood, laminate, or under carpet or vinyl when placed in combination with a plywood overlay. The advantages of carbon floor heating are that it is fast working and controllable. It is an inexpensive choice, but easy to install (as a DIY underfloor heating project), and has little effect on your floor height.InsulationProper insulation plays an important part in maximising the benefit of any floor heating system, especially when using low temperatures. When building a new homes or extending an older one, insulation can be incorporated into the flooring at the design stage.  For already-built homes, underfloor heating insulation boards can be used. In general, these boards are made from low-conductivity material and provide the needed strength to support thick screeds and tile and laminate floors.

Advantages of Wet Underfloor Heating

There are two types of popular underfloor heating systems on the market in Britain today - underfloor electric heating and wet underfloor heating. While both have their advantages, when it comes to long-term running costs, wet underfloor heating systems win hands down.What is wet underfloor heating?In a water underfloor heating system, warmed water is circulated through a series of pipes laid into the floor that form a continuous loop between two central manifolds.Why is wet underfloor heating better than radiator heating?Your radiator system works by creating currents of hot air and distributing them throughout your room. As it does this, it picks up fine particles of dust and distributes them, along with the warmed air. This means that the much-needed warmed air tends to end up above your head, and unwanted dust tends to end up on your furniture.With a wet underfloor heating system you do not have these problems. The wet underfloor heating system emits radiant energy that is partially reflected by other surfaces and partially absorbed. On surfaces where it is absorbed, a second emitter is created. The end result is a room that is evenly warmed.Why is wet underfloor heating better than underfloor electric heating?As mentioned earlier, one of the primary benefits of a wet underfloor heating system is the low running costs. Using this type of heating is not only cheaper than using an electrical system, it is also cheaper than using radiators. Furthermore, a well-designed, joint-free wet system will provide its owner with a long, maintenance free life.

Underfloor heating electric mesh

Underfloor heating is a common alternative to heating rooms with conventional wood, gas, oil or coal burners, electric heaters or water radiator networks. The latter means of heating use convected heat, which circulates heat in air currents in a room.  This quickly tends to rise to the top of a room, thereby being lost somewhat to the occupants. Underfloor heating uses radiant heat spread out more evenly over the floor surface and is longer lasting; therefore more efficient. Underfloor heating is typically water based, using a series of underfloor water pipes, or electric based, using electric cables or mesh.As indicated above, one of the key requirements for a successful underfloor heating system is that it is spread out under the surface of a floor so that the heat is spread out very evenly across a room. In effect, the whole floor acts as a radiator. Electric mesh is particularly successful at achieving this effect.One of the benefits of electric mesh is that it is easy to install, either by a professional or on a DIY basis as part of an underfloor heating kit. It does not need to be stuck onto the selected heating areas but is simply laid out over it.  It is normally easy to cut into desired shapes so as to fit into the room area.Also, electric mesh mats can be used with either wooden, laminate, tile or stone floors as it is thin enough to fit into most underfloor spaces and is unlikely to damage softer material such as wood.

Solar Powered Underfloor Heating

Solar panels convert sunshine to solar electric power and the solar electricity is then used to run the electrical devices in a building. Any surplus power that is created can be sold to the power company which helps to eliminate the cost of expensive batteries and can also help with running costs.Using solar power to heat your home is a good low cost option, and using it for underfloor heating is something well worth considering. The new solar panels are highly efficient and the running costs extremely low and even in the UK this is a practical option for most homes.Because underfloor heating runs at a lower temperature than conventional heating - between 35 and 50C - it is ideally suited to using solar power. Each room of the house has a separate circuit and thermostat and underfloor units are ideal for both carpeted and wooden or laminate flooring. The solar panels are fitted into the roof and then connected to batteries which run the underfloor panels and the hot water system. The benefits include a healthier, allergy free environment and no radiators, making furnishing and decorating your home easier. As with all underfloor heating systems, it is cheap to install in a new home but can be more expensive in an existing property.Although solar heating seems risky where there is less sunshine, the new style solar panel can adapt even the smallest amounts of sunshine into solar power, saving money as well as being environmentally friendly.

Installing Underfloor Heating Yourself

Although probably not a project for the absolute novice at DIY, most DIY enthusiasts can easily install their own underfloor heating system. There are a range of kits available both through the internet as well as DIY stores that come complete with all the parts necessary to install the system. These kits are available in different sizes enabling you to fit the system in one room or even a whole house; the packs are available to suit the type of heating and control that you want to use. There is technical help available in most cases as well as there being full instructions supplied.As with all DIY installations, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly, especially where the sizes of the mats and the electrical connections are concerned as the mats must not be cut or altered in size. It is imperative that they are exactly the right size for the space you are working on. Overloading electrical circuits can lead to fires so this is a reason for extra vigilance in these areas. However, despite these concerns this type of installation is not beyond an average able workman.Many of the large DIY chains sell all of the equipment to install underfloor heating and also provide a back up service should any problems arise. Whether starting from scratch or just adding on to an existing heating system, it may be a cheaper alternative to do it yourself.

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