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Your central heating is an integral part of the home, especially during the colder months where we rely on central heating around the clock to keep us warm. We understand how frustrating it can be if you’re having problems heating your home when firing up your boiler – the last thing you need is the thought of an expensive repair bill for your central heating system. 

Whether you find that your radiators aren’t properly heating, or are stone cold even after 20-30 minutes, this article will discuss some of the most common issues (and fixes) behind your central heating not working. 

My radiator is not working

First things first. You need to determine whether or not this is an isolated incident – is it just the one radiator not working, or is it several if not all of them?

If you identify that it’s just the one radiator not working, then there are some several quick checks and tests you can carry out before considering the need to call a professional. 

Your Radiator Thermostat

Now, this is a real simple one that can be overlooked at times. Check your radiator’s thermostat valve to ensure it’s not been switched off or set to a cold temperature. If you have selected a higher temperature setting, then the valves on your thermostat may have seized up slightly. 

This can be a relatively quick fix if your central heating is not working, as you can check by taking the top cover of your thermostat off of the valve. This can be undone with your hand, as a knurled nut is often used to secure the valve. It’s important not to undo any other nuts around your radiator, as this could cause water to flow out of the radiator. 

After you have removed the cover from the valve, you’re going to want to check your radiator center pin isn’t sticking by moving it up and down by a few millimetres. If you cannot move it, then it may have seized. Try gently tapping the pin to see if you can free it. If not, we’d recommend the valve be replaced – which would require a trained plumber. 

Radiator Air Pockets

If you’re seeing that your radiator is only partially heating at the bottom, but remains cold at the top, this could indicate that your radiator is filled with air. This can happen over time and is one of the most commons causes of why your central heating is not working. Air gets into your central heating system and takes up the space that water would normally occupy. When you fire up your boiler, there is not enough water in the radiator to be heating up – which is where you get a partially heated or lukewarm radiator. 

This is a relatively simple fix, and requires you to bleed your radiator. You can ever so slightly unscrew the bleed screw at the top or bottom of your radiator using your radiator key. Turn this screw until you begin to hear air hissing out. Continue to allow the air to hiss out until water appears. Once you notice water is coming out from the radiator, tighten the screw back up to seal your radiator. 

Removing the air will allow water to rise to the top and heat your entire radiator once again. Always check your boiler system pressure after you bleed your radiators to ensure the pressure is still within the correct limits. 

Radiator Blockages

You may find on a very rare occasion that your radiator is hot at the top, but cold at the bottom. This would indicate a potential blockage of debris or sludge build up in your central heating system which has accumulated over several years. The build-up of sludge and debris at the bottom of the radiator is why your central heating is not working. 

Unfortunately there is no quick fix like bleeding a radiator for this one, and the safest most effective way to fix this is to get the help of a professional plumber. The process of fixing the blockage is known as power flushing – where any sludge or debris causing the blockage is flushed from your central heating system.