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05/01/2017: How to balance a central heating system

If you have problems with one or two radiators not getting hot then it could be that your central heating system needs balancing. Many plumbers will try to sell you power flushing, saying that you have a blocked radiator, this is not normally required. If you have a radiator that is not getting hot, try opening valves at both ends of the radiator and turn off all the other radiators. If it then gets hot, it cannot be blocked and the system probably needs balancing. Why balance a central heating system? If your all your radiator valves are fully open on both sides, the radiators near the boiler will get hot whilst the radiators furthest away from the boiler would be starved of heat. The objective of balancing your radiators is to ensure that all radiators have access to the same amount of heat (hot water) from the boiler.

Your system may become out of balance over time when radiators have been taken off for example: to decorate, when you have added a radiator, or had building work completed adding additional rooms.
When taking off the radiator to decorate the valves would need to be shut off. When putting the radiator back on the valves will often be turned on full which can put the system out of balance.

In practice balancing is the process of turning down the hot radiators (probably those nearest to the boiler) and opening up those furthest away.
Each radiator has two valves, one is the user adjustable valve. Sometimes this is a thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) or it maybe a standard valve. The other valve is the balancing valve, this should have a top that has to be removed to adjust the valve. If both valves are the same then designate one as the user adjustable valve and the other as the balancing valve.

How to balance your system.

  1. Start with the system cold
  2. Turn all radiators on fully at both ends
  3. Turn the heating system on
  4. Now you have to run around the house and identify the radiators that turn on first
  5. Start with 2 or 3 radiators and turn the balancing valve down so that so that they are open at about 1 turn from the off position
  6. If you are quick you may be able to repeat steps 3,4 and 5 without waiting for the system to cool. If not, allow system to cool down and repeat.
  7. You may find that several radiators nearest the boiler are only open an eighth of a turn while others are fully open.
  8. When you have all the radiators coming on together then you can use the user adjustable valves to set the desired temperature on each radiator
  • PS:
    If you have any problems with that procedure, call us on the number shown above or click in the header of any page to email us for advice.

    See more news items in our blog.

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