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Radiator valves explained: types and uses

When it comes to radiators - valves are the vital components that allow your home to heat up effectively and quickly. With a range of radiators available, there are a few factors to consider. Research, research, research. Understand what it is you’re buying. 

What are the different types? What is best for your radiators? In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about radiator valves, the problems you may face, and what to look out for!

Before we begin, it’s worth talking about your boiler. If you know your boiler is particularly old, or you’ve been having a lot of trouble with it, then out with the old and in with the new might be the best option. The good news is that with each new boiler installation from BOXT, we’ll offer a replacement Stelrad Softline radiator too if you need it.

Radiator valve types.

When purchasing your first radiator, it’s easy to overlook the importance of radiator valves. An incorrect valve equals an ineffective radiator. To get the best out of your home heating - a valve that fits appropriately is required. 

There are two main types of radiator valves. Both of which come in a variety of designs with have multiple 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 radiator 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 advantages; economical and energy saving. 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. That’s why if you prefer a lower temperature in a certain room, changing it is easy. 

However, there is a risk of some thermostatic radiator valve problems. One issue is the possibility of them becoming stuck in a certain position. This means 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. If this doesn’t work, you may need a replacement. Make certain you always purchase the best thermostatic radiator valves for your radiators. This minimises 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. This can be modified to meet your preference.

Manual radiator valves are usually smaller than thermostatic valves. The main difference being monitoring 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. This enables you to control the temperatures of your radiators from a mobile or tablet device. You’ll have ultimate control of your heating wherever you are - all thanks to 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. This will always remain at the same position - unless it’s removed or changed manually.

Angled, straight, cornered or H-block?

These types of valves 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 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 save plenty of space. They work in a similar way to angled radiator valves. 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 efficient, easy to install, and even simpler to adjust.

Which size radiator valve do I need?

It’s important to remember that it’s not necessarily the size of the valve itself, but the size of the connection to pipework. Of course, if you’re short on space surrounding your radiator - the valves size may be something you do consider.

Pipework for radiators can sometimes vary from 8 mm to 28 mm. The most common size is usually 15 mm. Valves tend to be manufactured to fit this specific size, but variation can occur. It’s unlikely that you’ll find an 8 or 10 mm radiator valve. Adapters are available for purchase if you’re struggling to find the appropriate size.

Do you have a room with a specific theme? Don’t want the radiator to ruin the aesthetic? That’s not a problem. As well as size, there is also an array of alternative valve styles available for purchase. Choose from brass, chrome, or even more traditional styles. All simple to install and replace.

How to fit radiator valves.

If you have a conventional boiler system, you’ll 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’s successful. Here is the basic procedure:

  • Firstly, switch off your heating system and water supply. Once this is done - locate the drain off. Connect a hose to the drain off and position the other end of the hose so that it allows water to run 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’s 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 tips and tricks 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 an array of designs and functions - it can be difficult finding the right radiator valve for you and your home but help is at hand...

If you’re after a new boiler and are also interested in a brand replacement Stelrad Softline radiator, use our web chat to speak with an expert. If you’re in need of a new boiler, our ‘Find A Boiler’ tool will pick out the best one for you. 

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