How to deal with a leaking radiator

by: Mary-Anne Bowring

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Leaking radiator can cause concern

For those that live in residential blocks, issues such as a leaking radiator can cause concern. suggests ways to tackle the problem. Modern radiators are made of pressed steel and are used to emit heat from hot water which is pumped around a building to heat it. The principle of radiators is that they should be sized to have an adequate surface area to supply heat to the room in which they are installed. Although radiators are an efficient way of heating a room, common problems may arise from a radiator heating system: High pressure on the pressure gauge. If the pressure is too high it is advised to let off water at the boiler or bleed the radiator. Low pressure on the pressure gauge. If the pressure is too low, introduce new water and fill up the system at the boiler. Green residue around pipes or rusting on radiators. Rusting is a common problem, especially for older aging radiators. Rusting occurs as a result of a chemical reaction between the leaking water and air.

Visible leaks

The most common leakage point is at a radiator inlet pipe, perhaps a compression joint is not tight enough or the thread thread on the valve may have worn. Air and knocking noises. When air builds up in the system, the radiator will need to be bleed to remove this. Who is responsible for fixing the leak? If you are unsure of who's responsibility it is to fix a leaking a radiator then the question to ask yourself is where is the radiator located? If the radiator is located a communal area then it is the responsibility of the Freeholder or Management Company to repair and maintain it. If the lessee has their own boiler then the central heating system and radiators are the responsibility of the lessee to repair and maintain. If the radiator is connected to a communal heating system, then the repair and maintenance of it is the responsibility of the Freeholder or Management Company with all lessees contributing towards repairs via the service charge. The obligations of the parties are set out within the covenants of the lease, a covenant being a promise to do or not to do something.

Is the radiator new and is there rust present?

If the radiator is new, the chances are that is covered by at least a five year guarantee. If the heating system is not maintained correctly and air forms in the system, rust may form which prevents efficient operation. Urgency of action required: A large leak on a radiator system will stop once the radiators and heating system have emptied themselves of water and will empty gradually by gravity action, with the speed dependent on the size of the hole. This is not the same as a mains water intake leak which should be treated as a priority as (a) it will not stop and (b) it will only get worse. Consider if the system is communal as the effects of gravity drainage will be increased by the size of the building (height) and number of flats.

Turn off the inlet into the system to ensure that whilst a leak is ongoing, the system is not filling up with new water. Most combination boiler systems will have a filing loop under the boiler which can either be disconnected or the tap to it, turned off. Turn off radiators at the valve to try and contain the water within them rather than leaving them to totally drain down. A small leak such as a dripping radiator is not an emergency and should wait to be dealt with during working hours. For leaks at valves, wrap a rag or towel around the leaking valve or put a bowl under the leaking radiator.