< Back to guides

Radiator Valves Explained: Types and Uses

To maintain the correct water flow to your radiators and to ensure your home always heats up effectively, the right radiator valves are a must. With the variety of radiators so large and with so many things to consider, it’s important to fully research the types of radiator valve and which will be the best option for your radiators and central heating system.

How do radiator valves work? What are the different types? In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know and answer some common questions homeowners face when deciding on a valve for their radiators.

Radiator valve types.

When buying a radiator, you also need to ensure you buy the right radiator valves to go with it. It’s an easy mistake to overlook their importance, which can sometimes result in a purchase of the wrong valve. An incorrect valve can result in your radiators not working correctly and in most cases, they simply will not fit.

There are two main types of radiator valves, which can come in a variety of designs and have different functions:

Thermostatic radiator valves: How do they work?

Thermostatic radiator valves, or TRVs, are used to control the temperature in different areas of your home. They give you the option to control the temperature of your radiators by turning a dial and are usually found on the side of your radiators. When used correctly, these valves can help to reduce the amount of energy and heat you use. This efficiency will help you to save money on heating bills in the long run. Fitting thermostatic radiator valves has its economical and energy saving benefits. They consist of two different parts; the head and the body. They can change the flow of water when the temperature reaches a certain point, preventing your radiators from getting any hotter.

To do this, the head of the valve expands, moving a pin to open and close the body of the valve. If the temperature of a room becomes too hot, the valve will close, slowing the movement of water to the radiator. If a room becomes too cold, the valve will open, allowing more water to flow through. Each radiator with a thermostatic valve can be amended individually, so if you want a lower temperature in a certain room, this can be done.

There is a risk of some thermostatic radiator valve problems, however. There is the possibility of them becoming stuck in a certain position, meaning that your valve won’t be able to open or close depending on the temperature. The easy fix is to remove the head of the valve and loosen it manually, but if this doesn’t work, you may need a replacement. Ensure you always purchase the best thermostatic radiator valves for your radiators to minimise the risk of having to replace them.

Manual radiator valves: How do they work?

The manual radiator valve is possibly the most simple to operate as well as being the most common type. They can easily be turned up and down depending on how you warm or cool you require your room to be. As the valve is turned, the flow of hot water is altered depending on your preferences.

Manual radiator valves are usually smaller than thermostatic valves, but the main difference being the fact that you need to monitor them carefully. Unlike the thermostatic radiator valve, it won’t increase or decrease the flow automatically depending on the temperature; this must be done manually. If not, you risk wasting energy and money from excessive heat usage.

Other types of radiator valves include the following:

Smart radiator valves.

Smart or wireless radiator valves work alongside a smart thermostat to control the heat you use in your home. The smart thermostat connects to a WiFi signal, enabling you to control the temperatures of your radiators from a mobile or tablet device. You can control your heating wherever you are from an app.

Lockshield radiator valves.

A lockshield radiator valve is easily distinguishable from the other types due to its plastic cap. This cap prevents the valve from being changed by accident and it will always stay at the same position unless it is removed and changed manually.

Angled, straight, cornered or H-block?

These types of valve allow you to cater for a range of radiator positions. Wherever your radiator is located, there will be a valve to suit its position.

  • Angled radiator valves are placed at a right angle (90°) and are one of the most common valve shapes. They’re perfect for pipework which needs to come out of the wall or from the floor.
  • Straight radiator valves allow your water to flow along a wall or straight from the floor. Towel radiator valves for example, are mostly straight or angled.
  • Corner radiator valves work in a similar way to angled radiator valves but are much better in terms of saving space. These can be a little more fiddly to adjust as a result.
  • H-block valves are made for radiators with a central connection. These can be space saving and easier to install and adjust.

Which size radiator valve do I need?

When thinking of the size of a valve, it’s important to remember that it’s not necessarily the size of the valve itself you need to keep in mind, but the size of the connection to pipework. Of course, if you’re short on space around your radiator, then the size of the valve itself may be something you do consider.

Pipework for radiators can vary, sometimes from around 8mm to 28mm. The most common size is usually 15mm. Valves are usually manufactured to fit this specific size, but they do vary. It’s unlikely that you’ll find 8 or 10mm radiator valves, but you can purchase adapters if you’re struggling to find the right size.

As well as size, there are also a number of different styles of radiator valve available so you can always match them to your room themes and décor as much as possible. There will be many to choose from, including brass and chrome radiator valves to more traditional radiator valves. A lot of these different types will also be easy to install and replace too.

How to fit radiator valves.

If you have a conventional boiler system, you will need to seek the help of a registered professional before fitting radiator valves. To fit or change a radiator valve, there are a number of steps you must follow to ensure it is successful. Here is the basic procedure:

  • You firstly need to switch off your heating system and water supply and locate the drain off. Connect a hose to the drain off and ensure the other end of the hose allows water to run off into an outside drain, if possible.
  • Wait for the water to drain completely from your radiator. This can take up to 10 minutes.
  • Remove the old radiator valve.
  • Fit the new radiator valve. Ensure it is tightened.
  • Turn on the water mains again and wait for it to refill the system.
  • Bleed your radiator to get rid of any air.

For more information about bleeding a radiator or changing radiator valves, get in touch with your radiator manufacturer or registered professional.

Do both valves on a radiator need to be open?

Valves need to be ‘open’ to allow the flow of water to enter the radiator. To ensure all radiators heat up at the same rate, you may need to ‘balance’ your radiators. Radiator balancing is basically adjusting the valves so they all operate simultaneously. The further your radiator is from your boiler, the more you’ll need to open your valve.

Follow our guide for help and advice about radiator valves.

With so many types, designs and functions to keep in mind, it can be difficult finding the right radiator valves for your home without the right help. Hopefully, after reading our guide, you are more knowledgeable and confident in making the right decisions when heating your home.

For expert help in finding the right boiler for you, we’ve created a ‘Find A Boiler’ tool to make things easier. Simply input a few details and we’ll present you with ideal recommendations for you in two minutes!

< Back to guides