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When only heating is selected on my program timer the radiators all work fine and are hot. But when both heating and hot water are on the water gets hot but all the radiators go cold. When the hot water is up to temperature on the tank thermostat the radiators still don't get hot until I turn the heating off then the hot water off then on and off again. Then turn the heating on again and it works OK. I have a 3 position zone valve and this makes a banging noise when the water is first turned on. Could it be the valve that is faulty because I have had to replace it twice now in the past 3 years. The current one is about 13 months old. Or could it be the pump that's the problem?

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It does sound like the 3 way valve may be acting up. It shouldn't be the pump or you would never get heat. These valves are not the most reliable things, but they should last much longer than a year. – bcworkz Jan 23 '13 at 22:38
ok, thanks. I'll get a new valve and hope this cures it. – graham rodgers Jan 24 '13 at 18:13
@bcworkz -- make that an answer and I'll give you an upvote for it:) – ThreePhaseEel Dec 10 '15 at 5:24
In my system -- using zone pumps rather than zone valves -- water heating is configured to have priority over radiators, because the house cooling a bit for a few minutes caused fewer shrieks of outrage than running out of hot water for showers does. – keshlam Jan 9 at 14:21

It does sound likely that the 3 position zone valve is the problem, or likely more accurately the actuator that controls the valve is the problem.

To check that it is the actuator: remove the actuator from the valve body (there's normally a button to press which releases it), and then turn the heating on/off and the hot water on/off and see how the actuator moves - does it go into three different positions? (NB, the total rotation from all-heating to all-hotwater is a lot less than you'd probably expect; something like 40 degrees if I remember correctly.)

Possible faults with the 3 position zone valve (off the top of my head):

  • The actuator isn't wired in correctly and so isn't receiving the correct signals. If you've previously replaced the valve (including, I assume, the actuator), and wired up the new actuator however the old one was wired, then this might be the problem.
  • The valve itself is gunked up / not moving freely. A symptom of this would be that when the actuator is removed from the body it rotates as expected, but then when replaced onto the body it stops moving. Perhaps if you've previously replaced the actuator but not the valve body, this could be the problem.
  • One of the springs in the actuator has come loose/broken. The actuator relies on springs to return the valve to the default position when unpowered. Normally the default position is hot water though, so this would be more likely to be the problem if it you were getting heating but no hot water. If this is the problem you'll probably need to replace the actuator. Or if this is happening repeatedly, buy a better quality valve/actuator!
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