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How to bleed a heated towel rail

A quick guide to bleeding a towel radiator

Over time air can build up in radiators causing them to be colder at the top than the bottom.

This makes your heating system less efficient, so it has to work harder to heat the room to the required temperature, which in turn results in higher energy bills.

This problem can be very easily fixed if you bleed the heated towel rail to remove the air.

Watch the video guide or follow the simple steps below for full instructions on how to bleed your heated towel radiator, and have it heating your room again, in no time.

What does ‘bleeding’ mean?

Bleeding is the process of getting rid of any air that has accumulated at the top of your towel rail.

This air stops water circulating through all parts of the towel rail. This means that the overall efficiency of the central heating system is therefore reduced and can cost you more.

Bleeding the towel rail involves simply opening a small valve and allowing any trapped air to be expelled.

How will I know if my towel rail needs bleeding?

You may notice that the towel rail is not heating up and, specifically, the top rungs of the rail are colder than the bottom ones.

You may also have heard knocking or tinkling through your pipes and radiators. This is usually caused by trapped air and bleeding will normally solve this.

If the issues aren’t fixed by bleeding your heated towel rail then you may need to contact a professional to diagnose the problem.

How do I bleed a heated towel rail?

To bleed a heated towel radiator, you will need a few tools:

  • A radiator key or slotted screwdriver
  • A rag
  • A towel
  • A spanner/hex key.
radiator key

BestHeating always recommends using a radiator key wherever possible. These can be bought at local DIY stores. This is to avoid damage to the bleed valve.

Step 1 – Turn the heating off

Front on shot of a heated towel rail on a wall in a bathroom

Firstly, turn off the central heating as otherwise, you may soak air back into the system.

Step 2 – Allow the towel radiator to cool

heated towel rail from the side, showing the depth from the wall

Allow the water inside the towel radiator to cool down for around 20 minutes to ensure you do not run the risk of scalding yourself.

Step 3 – Open all valves

a man holding a radiator key ready to bleed a towel radiator

Ensure the lock-shield and thermostatic radiator valves (TRV’s) are open if present. To open, remove the caps and open them fully anti-clockwise using a spanner or a hex (Allen) key.

Step 4 – Locate the bleed valve

a man turning the bleed nipple of a radiator anticlockwise

Find the towel radiator bleed valve. It tends to be at the top of the towel rail but is sometimes at the back. The screws are generally hexagonal or square. Also, many of them have a slot across the front so you can use a slotted screwdriver if a radiator key isn’t available.

Step 5 – Turn the valve anti-clockwise

towel radiator key turning in the bleed nipple

Get your towel or rag and place it on the floor underneath the bleed valve. Using your radiator key turn the bleed nipple anti-clockwise. You should now hear a hissing noise. This is the steam and air leaving the radiator.

Step 6 – Let the water flow

water spraying from the bleed valve of a heated towel rail

Once the air has left the towel radiator, bubbling water will follow so catch it in a rag and turn the bleed nipple back and close.

If the air stops coming out of the radiator but no water follows, your heated towel radiator has most likely run out of pressure completely so this will need to be topped up using the filling loop.

Step 7 – Check the pressure of the boiler

Central heating boiler pressure gauge

Check the water pressure gauge on the boiler and follow the user instructions for your specific boiler to top up the pressure.

On open vented systems it should refill automatically.

How often should I bleed my towel radiator?

For a well-maintained heating system, annual bleeds are fine.

It is also advisable to bleed a heated towel rail after any modifications, repairs or when the towel rail feels colder at the top.

If you find you are bleeding your towel rail continually, please contact a professional.

Get in touch if you need a hand

If you’ve got any burning questions or need advice from the experts, be sure to send us your questions. We may feature them in our next blog post, too. Questions can be sent via the comments section below, Facebook or Twitter.

Please note: Our ‘How-To’ manuals are intended only as a guide to assist you with common home heating tasks. Please do not attempt to undertake this task if any of the instructions are unclear, or if you are in any doubt about what to do. Instead, seek advice from a professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best time to bleed heated towel rails is just after summer, to make sure your system is fully operational and working as efficiently as possible ahead of the colder winter months when you will need it the most.

To find out more, browse our dedicated blog, How to replace a heated towel rail valve.

Heated towel rails should be bled at least once every year to guarantee the most efficient performance possible, and ensure your device is in top working order for when you’ll need it the most.

For a more detailed insight, explore our blog, How to replace a heated towel rail valve.

There are some obvious signs that could indicate your bleed valve is broken and requires replacement on a heated towel rail. If you notice that the bleed valve is corroded or worn down, or stuck, it may suggest that a new valve is required. Also, if your heated towel rail is leaking out of the bleed valve, it is likely the valve has broken.

To find out more, browse our dedicated blog, How to replace a heated towel rail valve.

Yes, a bleed valve is a key element of a heated towel rail. Essentially, the bleed valve on heated towel rails enable air to escape from the appliance by releasing any excess pressure that has built up over time. This will make sure your towel rails are working as efficiently as possible and stop cold spots from forming at the top of the device.

For a more detailed insight, explore our blog, How to replace a heated towel rail valve.

A bleed valve is the small metal square or screw located within the surrounding nut, usually found at the top of the radiator corner, either on the left or right hand side.

It can be opened to release trapped air from within your radiators or heated towel rails.

Our guide on How to Bleed a Radiator offers a more detailed insight into bleed valves, and how they can be adjusted to help you make the most of your home heating.

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