One radiator bleeding key to rule them all? Not in this house

A man holding a radiator bleeding key up to the camera. His face is visible through one of the key's holes.

Disclosure: This post has been updated to include an affiliate ad. If you end up buying a radiator bleeding key, I may earn a few pence!

Whether you like it or not, autumn is definitely here now. For the record, I really don’t like it but I’ve mentioned that before. I’m one of those people who insist on not using the central heating in September so, for me at least, today is the official first day of the season.

As it was chilly this morning, I decreed that the heating could go on. And that’s where the day started to unravel. With a sense of almost smug satisfaction, I told Google Home to make it happen. It replied quoting a web page extolling the virtues of making sure I actually needed it.

I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and speculate that I mumbled. Although it has to be said that it seems to have developed the same selective hearing as my kids of late.

Too tired to argue with something with the entire internet at its disposal, I turned the heating on the old-fashioned way. Yep, via the companion app on my phone.

The comforting sound of the boiler whirring back to life after a few months off ensued, followed by the equally welcome gentle tapping noise as the radiators filled. I went around the house dutifully checking them.

All of the radiators were nice and hot except for one. The one in the main bedroom/my office. Typical! I went to find the radiator bleeding key.

To my amazement, I found one in mere minutes. It was behind an almost empty tin of paint on a shelf in the cupboard under the stairs.

Even though I had to remove a mini trampoline, a dehumidifier and three scooters to reach it, I was happy. This was the first year in living memory in which I won’t need to buy a new one.

I joyfully danced around with it in the same way Gollum does when he finally obtains his precious – well, he ends up nice and warm afterwards too – before hurrying upstairs.

Then I remembered. That radiator is the only one in the house that the key doesn’t fit. I needed something to turn it from inside the valve rather than out. The aperture was square, but I was confident the right-sized Allen key would do it with aplomb.

I braved the cupboard under the stairs once more to get my toolbox. It was under the same clutter I had removed earlier. I liberated and unpacked it looking for said hexagonal keys.

During this process, I noticed an alarming creaking noise coming from directly underneath me. I thought it was dodgy floorboards or even groaning hot water pipes before realising it was actually my knees. Oh well, one less job!

The Allen keys weren’t there. I put everything back and got to my feet. They were right in front of me. On the same shelf that I found the radiator bleeding key on. Man alive. I took them upstairs. They were all either too big or too small. So that was time well spent.

Then I remembered something I had to do to fix another radiator last year. Namely checking the other valve on the other end. I went back to the cupboard under the stairs, freed the toolbox, found a screwdriver and pliers, put everything back again and returned upstairs.

That did the trick. One of the kids must have somehow turned the valve off with a bit of brute force and ignorance. Bless them. Anyway, five minutes later the problem was solved. And I didn’t need to use the radiator bleeding key at all.

An hour or so later, I was too warm.


  1. Nige

    No you are not alone it took me 2 hours the other to find the radiator key that I apparently put in a safe place six months ago haha! And yes I was too warm an hour later fab post mate

  2. Stephen

    This all sounds very familiar to me! It always happens just when you need it the least. My plumber actually showed me how to bleed a radiator but I’m still always losing the keys or putting them in obscure purposes… Thanks for writing this post though, I can relate to it a lot.

  3. Pingback: How central heating could help increase our living space - Diary of the Dad

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