Turning down the towel rails

9 Mar 2011
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United Kingdom
Hi guys
I have a big towel rail in the bathroom and a smaller towel rail in the ensuite. Each one has two lockshields. Id like to turn both towel rails down as they make a bit of noise and get hot (I basically want to save a bit of energy!). Is it a simple case of removing the lockshields and twisting the valves with a spanner? Will that mess up any of the other radiators? (Its a new system fed by an air source heat pump and I dont want to mess anything up!)
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please put up a photo of the valves at each end.

Do you have a coal-fired, wood-burner or multifuel stove or boiler?

Do you have TRVs on your other radiators?

Is there one in the room with the wall thermostat?
The towel rails should have a valve on each of the flow and return sides.

One of these (normally on the flow side) will be what is called a wheel head valve. It should be possible to turn the head of this valve without grips / spanners, to reduce the amount of hot water flowing through the rail and thus reduce heat output from it. You won't do any harm to the balance of the system if you open / close this valve, even if you have to use a spanner or grips to turn it.

The other side of each rail will have a lock shield valve on it, which does require grips / spanner to open / close. This is the one used for balancing the system as it essentially set the maximum flow through that towel rail.
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This is the bathroom towel rail:


This is the ensuite towel rail:


All the radiators have TRVs on like the below.


We have an air source heat pump which heats the water. The rails are dual source.

Both ends seem to have lock shield valves. (The white plastic caps easily come off). The bathroom rail is quite loud, so I presume thats the water thats flowing through it. I want both the bathroom and ensuite towel rails turned down.
1. Turn heating system on and for ONE towel rail, see which incoming pipe gets hot first. This will be the flow.
2. Assume flow side is the one meant to be adjustable, but see below.
3. Remove white plastic cap and close flow valve fully, counting the number of 1/8 turns required to close it. Make a note of the number.
4. Open the flow valve to a point where the radiator feels the right heat.
5. Let the system operate for a couple of days.
6. If the system doesn't seem to be operating as it used to then:
6a. Close the flow valve completely and then re-open to the number of 1/8 turns previously counted.
6b. Repeat steps 3 to 5 above for the return valve.
7. Once all OK, repeat for other towel rail.
Thanks oldbuffer. Not quite as easy is I thought it would (should) be. Ill give it a go tomorrow.
Is the 'hissing' noise likely to be the water flowing into the towel rail? Its quite loud and is next door to the bedroom so is disturbing first thing in the morning. Turning down the valve will reduce this hiss I presume.
The correct point will be surprisingly near the "fully closed" setting. E.g. screw it fully closed then open half a turn. When adjusting it from there, only give it a quarter turn or less each time, then wait ten minutes, or preferably half an hour, to see if that's about right.
Ive just had an email from the installer. He said

You can adjust them to restrict or completely stop flow to them. You only need to adjust one on each towel rail, doesn’t matter which one. Close them by turning clock wise, you can do this incrementally if you still want some heat to them, or completely to shut off flow entirely.

Is that right? I only need to adjust one on each rail and it doesnt matter which?
1. Given that, from the photographs, you have lock shield valves at each end, then yes, for each towel rail you can adjust one, it doesn't matter which one, but not both.
2. It's normal to fit the lock shield on the return side, so you might like to consider the return (later one to warm up when first turned on) as the one to adjust. Far from essential but might avoid confusion in future.

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