Radiator Help
December 2, 2004 5:37 AM   Subscribe

RadiatorFilter. I live in a student flat in the UK built in the last two years, that has a radiator with a large turning knob and a small dial on the end of the knob. How am I supposed to set it?

The knob has the following markings:

* . 1 ^2.^.3..4--5-| p

The dial has the following markings:

* . 1 . 3..4 5 |

No one really seems to understand what they do--most people didn't even notice there were two controls. I've tried setting them by trial and error but I don't really understand what is going on. Any explanations?
posted by grouse to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
I can offer an answer to the general case, but unfortunately not this one with certainty.

The valve adjustments on most radiators are not meant to be set by the users, but by the installers. It's likely these knobs are intended to control the flow of hot water and/or steam into the radiator; this is to adjust for the radiator's position within the system itself, not the temperature at which you would like your room.

Find someone responsible for maintenance of the property or the steam plant/heat pump itself and have them come and confirm or deny this. You'll probably want them to unfuck the settings, now that you have played with it.
posted by majick at 6:01 AM on December 2, 2004

Response by poster: D'oh!
posted by grouse at 6:04 AM on December 2, 2004

Although, with it being a student flat, countless meddlers like yourself will have fucked the settings hundreds of times before you got to them.

Ask a plumber, or get out your Yellow Pages and ring up and ask a service engineer. Try to make him give you advice for free.

As for what you can do in the meantime, I reckon if it's cold, turn them both up (ie. to 5). If it's too hot then, turn them down a bit. Your boiler (most likely a combi in a student flat) might house your central heating's timer (a circular dial with tiny switches around it's perimeter), which you can work with to set when the heat goes on or off.

Are you in a privately rented student flat, or is it halls?
posted by armoured-ant at 6:38 AM on December 2, 2004

And also; you're a PhD Computational Biology student at Cambridge and you can't work your radiator?!
posted by armoured-ant at 6:40 AM on December 2, 2004

I've got those knobs on mine. To be honest, it's the first I've heard of them being engineer controls. (I always thought that was the small one on the other side of the radiator, although in your case it could well be the small one on top). They're too big and user-friendly looking.

It might be just a British thing to have each one adjustable?

Basically, turn the large knob to determine how much heat you want from the radiator. You want yours hotter than all the others in the flat? Turn them to 3, yours to 5. The * setting is for keep-just-enough-through-it-to-stop-it-freezing-up-thanks.
posted by bonaldi at 7:00 AM on December 2, 2004

The valve adjustments on most radiators are not meant to be set by the users, but by the installers

This is definitely not applicable when in Spain, Hong Kong and/or the Netherlands.
posted by magullo at 7:33 AM on December 2, 2004

Response by poster: armoured-ant: I don't see anything computational or biological about my radiator. I can certainly figure out how to turn it all the way up or down. And still no one has told me what the little dial does.

I'm in college accommodation. It is more like a hall of residence. And I too, never imagined that it wasn't resident-settable since the college has never sent out notices about not touching the radiators (unlike countless other things), and I assume they would change to some kind of control that requires tools if they didn't want us to touch it.
posted by grouse at 9:42 AM on December 2, 2004

my wild guess is that the dial itself doesn't adjust anything (does it feel as if it does?), but is some kind of adjustable scale that makes sense in some way i can't currently imagine (maybe it's meant to be fixed and yours is broken?). and the knob itself is just a thermostat control for the radiator, with * keeping it above freezing and the other numbers giving various degrees of warmth.

i agree that it's user-adjustable, if it's anything like the ones i've seen and fiddled with in the uk. no-one in their right mind would design a thing like that and then expect people not to change it.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:54 PM on December 2, 2004

Best answer: this valve seems to have a day and night setting! maybe that's why you have two scales?
posted by andrew cooke at 1:02 PM on December 2, 2004

Andrew Cooke might be on the right track.

Having worked for student housing at the University of Leeds for a few months, I can tell you that the best person to ask would be your housing officer. I just glanced over the Cambridge site, but I don't know what college you're at, so I can't really point you in the right direction. Anyway, if the housing staff don't know what it does, they'll probably have the phone number of someone who does.

Some Halls flats have heating controlled on a building-wide or flat-wide level; as in, the thermostat and the timer are hidden behind a maintenance door that someone else will have the keys to. So, worth asking.

You're probably paying a fair bit, so it's definitely worth bleating (albeit politely - those guys have to put up with a lot of shit) about the temperature, especially in December.
posted by armoured-ant at 4:00 PM on December 2, 2004

Response by poster: andrew cooke: you might indeed be on the right track! The thermostat doesn't look exactly that one but the concept of a small dial with a big knob is spot on. At least now I have a hypothesis I can test.

I have already asked the college housekeepers and they have no idea, but said they will ask the plumbers next time they see them. I have no idea when that will be. The general rule for the students regarding the housing officer in this college is regrettably to avoid when possible.
posted by grouse at 4:31 PM on December 2, 2004

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