How to fix a leaking towel radiator or rail

How to fix a leaking towel radiator or rail

A heating engineer or plumber fitting a heated towel rail to a wallA heating engineer or plumber fitting a heated towel rail to a wall

Over the last couple of decades, having a heated towel rail in the bathroom has become almost as common a sight as the main bathroom suite. Whenever homeowners start to plan a new bathroom, it almost always includes the installation of a towel radiator.

They look great and are incredibly practical, so it makes sense to have one fitted. However, as with all components of a well-used central heating system, towel rails will occasionally need to have some maintenance performed on them. In this article, we'll look at how to fix a leaky towel rail, which is an important job to be dealt with as soon as possible.

Leaking from the valve

If your towel rail is leaking from the valve, then it's important you switch off your central heating before tackling the issue. Turning off your heating and leaving it for around 30 mins will allow the water to drain out of your towel rail so you don't get any nasty spillages when you're fixing the problem.

Turn off both valves (clockwise) and have a towel ready in case any water leaks out as you do it. You can then undo the union nut (the nut connecting the pipe and the towel rail) and open the bleed valve, while being mindful that some water inside the rad may leak out. It's a good idea to have a plastic bowl ready to catch the dirty water.

Take some PTFE tape, wind it around the male end of the valve tip around 10 times. This should hopefully tighten up the connection and stop water from leaking out. You can then tighten up the union nut and open up your radiator valves again. Switch on your central heating and allow the radiator to fill with water. Once it is full, you can close the bleed valve and see if the leak has stopped.

If water continues to leak from the valve then it's time to call in a professional to identify the problem.

Leaking from the spindle

A radiator spindle is the connection between the radiator or rail and the pipework. From time to time, the spindle can get damaged or degrade, which can cause a slight leak when water flows from the pipes into the radiator, or vice versa.

In order to fix it, you can try tightening the gland nut and seeing if this stops the leak. If not then undo the nut and wrap some PTFE tape around the spindle and tighten up the gland nut. Hopefully this should make the seal watertight and stop the problem.

If water is still coming out of the spindle then the valve might need replacing, though it's best to get the opinion of a professional before proceeding any further.

Leaking from the top nut

The bleed valve/vent and blanking plug on a heated towel rail are normally located at the top of one or other of the arms of the rail and these can sometimes start leaking a small amount of water.

The first thing to try is to tighten the nuts and to see if that solves the problem. One of them may have come slightly loose and simply need to be tightened up again.

If this doesn't work, it could be that the O rings within the top nuts are not sealing properly and are allowing water to escape. If this is the case then you need to turn off your towel rail valves (clockwise) and bleed the air out of your rail at the bleed valve. You can trying winding some PTFE tape around the seal and then reattach the bleed valve or blanking plug, turn the valves back on and see if the leak has stopped.

If not, you could buy a new pair of bleed valve and blanking plus, fit them and that should hopefully solve the issue. If you aren't comfortable with doing this or find that toe problem has not gone away, call in a professional heating engineer.

Leaking from the body of the towel rail

If there is water leaking from the main body or chamber of the heated towel radiator, then it is possible that some severe corrosion has occurred internally and the rail is rusting from the inside out.

Internal radiator corrosion can occur when water reacts with the metal and small shards of rust break off and settle in the bottom of radiators. This forms a sludge that, if left untreated, can eventually rust through causing small holes and leaks. The best way to avoid internal corrosion in your radiators is to ensure that your heating system contains enough chemical inhibitor.

If internal corrosion has become bad enough to cause a leak from your heated towel rail, one option is to try adding leak sealer into your towel rail to see if it can plug up the hole. However, this is often only a temporary fix before another hole forms, so you may want to consider getting a brand new heated towel rail.

Heated towel rails at TradeRadiators.com

If you are looking for a new heated towel rail to go in your bathroom, kitchen, utility room or other area of your home, you'll find a huge selection at Trade Radiators. We have a massive variety of sizes, finishes and styles enabling you to find the perfect towel rail and radiator for your home.

11 May 2021