Home repair and improvements can of course be far cheaper if you carry them out yourself.
There are lots of common, simple DIY tasks that can make your home feel more comfortable or slightly more sophisticated. For example, what about noisy radiators? Very often radiators are noisy because they have air trapped in them and by bleeding them and then increasing the pressure you can fix the problem and improve the efficiency of your central heating system at the same time.
How to Bleed Radiators
It is worth noting that even if a radiator appears to be warm all the way to the top, there may still be some air trapped so it is always worth bleeding all radiators in the system. The first step is to locate your radiator bleed key. Most systems are supplied with one but they have a habit of wandering over the years. If you cannot locate it, replacements can be purchased at your local hardware or DIY store. Do check the style of the fitting as they vary in shape. If your system has evolved over the years and you have replaced radiators, you may need to buy a key of more than one type or shape.
The bleed valve on each radiator will be located at the top, either to the right or the left. With the system running and an old cloth to hand to capture any water (which will generally be extremely dirty so do take care to protect carpets and furnishings), very gently loosen the valve anti--clockwise. You should start to hear the hiss of air escaping. If water appears immediately, the radiator does not need bleeding and you can close the valve by turning it clockwise until hand tight. If the valve is overly tight and is proving difficult to loosen, for example because the radiator has been painted over the years, a couple of very gentle taps with a hammer can help in loosening it, as can carefully chipping any excess paint away from around the valve using a hammer and the tip of a screwdriver. Under no circumstances attempt to lever the valve (for example using a spanner) as you may damage it or cause a flood of dirty water!
Repeat this process for all radiators throughout the system. You will almost certainly find some `rogue` radiators with more than their fair share of air, whilst others will have little or no air in them. At the end of the process, it may be necessary to top up the water level in your heating system in order to maintain the correct pressure level. Since systems differ widely, it is best to consult the system manual although you can also find online guides to topping up a system. It is worth bleeding radiators at least a couple of times every year. Not only will this reduce any strange noises caused by trapped air, but it will help in ensuring your system is working at optimum efficiency.
We hope that this article has helped to address your DIY questions and answers but it is worth emphasising that, if in doubt, you should always seek the advice of a trained professional and never attempt to work on system components you do not understand and in all cases NEVER work with gas and electricity which legally require the attention of qualified tradespeople. Your safety and that of those around you must always come first.