What Does it Mean When Radiators are Cold at the Bottom?

January 27, 2020 | Radiators

Boiler service

One of the most common problems experienced by homeowners when it comes to their central heating system is that their radiator is cold at the bottom. While this is annoying and can lead to your room being cold and unpleasant to spend time in, it usually isn’t too serious an issue and you can usually resolve the problem yourself. If your radiators are cold at the bottom, read on to find out what you can do about it and when you should get professional help.

Why Are My Radiators Cold At The Bottom?

If the radiators in your home feel cold when you touch the bottom but feel warm when you touch the top, that’s usually a sign that your radiators are suffering from a common problem known as sludge. While this may sound unpleasant, it’s something that can be dealt with relatively easily.

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What Do I Need To Know About Central Heating Sludge?

Central heating sludge is composed of two things:

  • Dirty heating water
  • Limescale

If you have no filters fitted to your heating system, heating sludge usually builds up inside your radiators quite quickly. Yet it can still take several years for the sludge to result in serious problems such as your radiators failing to heat correctly.

Limescale is produced from the natural minerals that occur in water. If you live in a hard water area, you will experience this problem more often than those who live in a soft water or moderate water area since there are fewer minerals in the water in those areas, yet even those in a soft water area may be affected by a limescale problem, it will just take much longer for the effects to be noticed in your central heating system.

Over the years, the inside of your pipework, heated towel rails and radiators will start to rust. The rust will then break off and get into the water inside your central heating system and the more the water circulates, the more the rust breaks down. Over time, the result is dirty, black, thick sludge that settles down in the bottom of your radiators. This causes them to be cold at the bottom.

When dirty water and limescale circulate around the central heating system it starts to get into the microbore pipework, the radiator valves and the bottom of the radiators creating a blockage. Naturally, radiators are warmer at the top since heat rises. However, when the bottom of your radiators is blocked with sludge, the heat goes straight to the top since no water is circulating through the radiator’s bottom.

How Can I Fix My Radiator?

If your radiator is cold at the bottom, there are ways to repair the problem. First, though, you need to determine which and how many of your radiators are experiencing a problem. Are all your radiators exhibiting symptoms? Or are some working and not others? Check all the radiators in your home to see if the problem is restricted to just one or two radiators, a single floor or all the radiators in your home. In some cases, one radiator will be causing the blockage and all the radiators after it in the system will fail to heat.

Add A Central Heating Inhibitor To Your System

All central heating systems should have central heating inhibitor added. Many boiler manufacturers actually make it part of their warranty conditions as a central heating inhibitor helps to break off any loose bits of limescale and rust in the heating system.

Carrying Out A Central Heating Power Flush

The best way to eradicate central heating sludge from your system is to arrange for a central heating power flush. This is something that you should call in a professional central heating cleaner to do. Our qualified team have the necessary skills and equipment to power flush your system and to get rid of the unwanted sludge that has built up in your radiators, preventing them from heating up correctly.

Fitting A Filter And Scale Reducer

Once a blockage of sludge has been cleared from your central heating system, it’s important to prevent it from building up again. You can use a scale reducer to catch limescale that has been broken down by your heating inhibitor and have a boiler filter fitted to catch other deposits like dirt and rust that break off inside the heating system.

The filters will store all the waste rather than allowing it to circulate freely in the system and to build up inside your radiators. When you next arrange a boiler service, the engineer will then be able to empty the filters and get rid of the sludge that has been trapped. Our team of skilled engineers will be able to fit a filter for you to protect your system from further build up over time.

Can Every Radiator Be Saved?

Although in most cases it’s possible to save your radiator if it is not heating up properly at the bottom, there are some situations in which a replacement radiator will be necessary. If yours is old and you’re living in an area with hard water, it’s possible that the build up of sludge in your radiators will be too difficult to remove even with a central heating power flush. We can replace these radiators for you with a modern, energy-efficient, affordable radiator and improve the heat in your home while also saving you money on your energy bills.

If your radiators are cold at the bottom, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team of Gas Safe heating engineers today. We’re on hand to help restore your central heating system and to help keep your home warm and comfortable all year round. Whether you need a new radiator to be installed or simply a central heating power flush, you can rely on us to get the job done at a price you can afford.

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