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Adding or changing a radiator on a central heating system

rusty radiatorAdding or changing a radiator on a central heating system needn’t be too hard, but it’s important to get the sizing right if you’re adding a radiator to a system in a room that hasn’t had one before. Not only that, but it pays to check that the boiler has spare capacity to account for the requirements of whichever one you’re fitting. A heat loss calculation will need to be done firstly to establish how much heat is lost through the building fabric (walls, windows, loft spaces etc), and therefore how much heat is required from a radiator to not only maintain heat, but also be able to effectively ‘warm up’ a room from cold. A company such as Gas Xpress can do this for you if you’re not able to do it yourself. It’s worth noting that it should ideally always be done, even if you’re replacing like-for-like, because the calculation may have been done incorrectly in the first place. Modern radiators are capable of producing a greater heat output than they used to anyway due to building techniques and materials used these days. Not only that, but an old radiator is likely to contain lots of system sludge and possible rust deposits built up from years of use, with no corrosion protection. A good indication that this is happening, is if you feel how hot the radiator is when the heating is on. If it’s warm at the top but cool at the bottom (particularly in the middle), then there’s likely to be a lot of sludge in there! I recently came across a rusting radiator which the customer was considering replacing. He informed me that it was leaking somewhere. As I searched for the leak, a pin-sized hole suddenly appeared near the bleed valve from the top, squirting system water out and onto the wall it was hanging from! As the radiator had corroded badly anyway, there was nothing more that could be done except replace it with a brand new one. Radiators always corrode from the inside out (the theory being that water, metal and air mixed together usually always equals rust and some point sooner or later), so if you can physically see rust on the radiator itself, chances are it won’t be too long before the internal corrosion will create a hole in it and start leaking. On this particular example, the customer’s existing radiator was a very wide single panel affair. Having done the heat calculation, I determined that he could get away with a double panel radiator, but nearly half the size. The pipework also had to be tidied up beneath the floorboards, but this needed to be done anyway, as the old radiator was an imperial measurement rather than metric, meaning that the new one could not simply be hung on the wall and connected. Once installed, the system was refilled, and a corrosion inhibitor added to the internal heating water to help prevent a further build up of corrosion. As soon as the heating was put on again, it was getting nice and hot, all the way down to the bottom of the radiator. Another nice, neat job done!

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