/ Home & Energy

Are your radiators on yet?

It was National Radiator Day yesterday (yes, such a day exists), so come and share your hot tips on how to keep your radiator snugly warm throughout the winter. That’s if you’ve switched them on yet.

From clunky cast iron to sleek white, how do you make sure your radiator stays in toasty tip-top condition?

And how often is it necessary to do those essential jobs like bleeding your radiator? Once a year, twice a year or perhaps never?

Bleeding your radiators

The first time it ever occurred to me that a radiator would need ‘maintaining’ was when I was a student. I had a big draughty room and a tiny, inefficient radiator. The room was freezing and by the time December came around I was wearing a hat to bed.

After many grumpy phone calls to my landlord complaining that the radiator needed replacing, the handy man came round and within two minutes my radiator chugged in to life. I marvelled that with the magic of a little key, I had the joy of fully-functioning central heating.

Clearly it’s best not to leave it that late – in fact now’s probably a good time of year to bleed your radiators before it gets too cold (to release trapped air).

Nowadays I’m lucky enough to live in a house that has under-floor heating. At this time of year it’s a real treat, rather than faffing around finding radiator keys or dealing with inefficient chugging radiators, I can just flick a switch and wait until my toes are nicely warmed by the floor boards.

Radiator maintenance tips

I’ve also discovered, thanks to National Radiator Day, that there are a few other tips that I can do to keep my radiators running efficiently throughout the winter. Things like dusting the convection fins (the zigzagging metal strips on radiators) and rearranging furniture to help airflow. It’d be interesting to hear if you have any other tips on how to keep your heating and radiators in tip-top condition.

So, have you bled your radiators yet? Oh, and don’t be shy about sharing your radiator disasters – have you virtuously tried to flush your radiator of gunk only to have radiator sludge ruin your carpets?


My hall radiator always gradually accumulated air and had to be bled. Fortunately this radiator is easily accessible and the job took little time. I did fit an automatic vent which has worked well for years. It’s a good solution for anyone who has air accumulating in a radiators that are not convenient to bleed.


Heating on? Already? You’ve got to be joking!

I can see why yesterday might have been NRD though: it was officially the first day of the Public Buildings Heating Season (in the UK) ….when we were sensible enough to follow such things and not have heat all year round.

My heating is NEVER on before the start of Public Heating Season and NEVER after the end either.

I have, though, had the gas fire on in the lounge a few evenings last week, but it’s warmer again this week up here.

“Onesies” have become trendy .. and after being rather sceptical and thinking they were a stupid fashion craze, I’ve bought one from the all in one company limited and it’s FANTASTIC. I can see me using the heating less than ever this year! Maybe which? could do a product test on onesies?


P.S. – forgot to say, only times I have ever had to bleed any rads since the heating was installed in 1979 have been when I’ve drained all or part of the system, such as taking a rad off to decorate, having a rad replaced (just the one) or when the boiler was moved when the workshop was built. In between times I seem to have been incredibly lucky and never ever had to bleed any of them.

Flushing the system is easily done using the system drain c**k that is supposed to be fitted at the lowest point of every system and has a hose tail on it to connect to a garden hose taking the dirty water outside. Got to say I rarely do this – I rely on Ferronox inhibitor in the system as recommended by the plumber who services the boiler each year. Seems to work – 33 years for a boiler and all but one of the rads can’t be bad.


It does depend on where you live .
Have had the heating on for a 2/3 weeks now, as I do feel a temperature of >18C is necessary in the occupied rooms and with outside temperatures struggling to hit 10C that isnt going to happen without some help !!

Usually check for seepage from the radiator/valve joints and top up the inhibitor during the summer.
Always a good idea to exercise all the valves as well – it stops them seizing up.


@rarrar – very true, though personally I could not stand 18 or higher indoors (unless I’m going to walk about starkers!). My heating has always been set to 15 which is just about right for me, though on very bitter winter mornings getting undressed for a shower can be a little chilly at 6 a.m.!!!

I think we’re quite lucky here in South Yorkshire – we don’t often seem to get the bitter cold of the Pennines, even though I am barely 8 miles away from the start of the Pennine Way. We do get all the East-Pennine rain though! 🙁


Oh dear .. Which? profanity filter doesn’t like plumbing terms .. drain c**k was what I tried to type above. I won’t even test it with gas n1pp1es and ba11 taps!


My boiler, radiators and pump are all about the same age as Dave’s and are working fine. I have Fernox in the system too. Rarrar makes a good point about giving radiator valves exercise to prevent them sticking. Despite this, I have had to replace several thermostatic valves.

Anyone whose water is heated by gravity should run the pump every week or two over the summer months to prevent it seizing or silting up. That should not happen if the pump is sited correctly but some installers ignore the recommendation and mount pumps horizontally at the lowest point in the system.

I don’t like ‘National Radiator Day’ because it seems to be promoting one company’s product.


My boiler and I assume many others have a pump exercise function built in this spins up the pump and activates the CH diverter valve once every day if unused.


Hello Dave, believe it or not, we’re all sitting in Onesies in the office right now. 😉 And sorry about the profanity filter, but I’m reticent to add your word to the ‘safe’ list, as in other contexts it can be rude. Thanks.


No worries Patrick – I don’t seriously expect Which? to mark C**k as acceptable as it is likely to be abused.
My plumber and I do, however, have regular conversations about how crazy it is that in order to be politically correct plumbers’ merchants are no longer supposed to use the three words I alluded to, which is mad given that they are the technically correct words for the items.

DELIGHTED to hear the Which? team are in onesies! When’s the review / report on them and when do we see a pic of you all wearing them in the office?! Great news – see how much Which? saves on heating the office this year! (No, I know you won’t really all be wearing them all season!)


Good job you dont live in the recently flooded town of C###ermouth .
I failed to set up Yahoo accounts for a couple of organisations there a few years ago just wouldnt accept the name even as a username !


@rarrar ….. Scunthorpe council had a similar problem several years ago …. dunno if that will pass the filter.

However, we digress ….. this convo is meant to be about heating rather than profanity filters. We’ll get told off by the top cat in the onesie 😉


Ahem. If you say draincock as one word you should be fine – though the mispelling might wind you up. My radiators haven’t been turned on this side of the year yet… I quite like the cold fresh air and have the window open. We’ll see how long that lasts.