Replacing a Central Heating Radiator

By Rob Hull on July 23, 2010

Like most appliances in the modern home, over time a central heating radiator can become damaged and unreliable.

This is often caused by the sporadic nature of use on a radiator over the British summers, in comparison to the almost constant usage in the winter months, like central heating boilers radiators my need to be serviced at the end of summer when they are once again in switched on, and found to have seized up or become blocked from under-use.

Once repairs no long are cost-efficient, it is time to have the radiator completely replaced, especially with the advances in radiators – making them more energy efficient as well as reliable.

Finding a Plumber

If you would rather not risk removing your central heating radiator yourself, there are a number of ways you can get in contact with an plumber that will do the job for you. There are a number of plumbing companies available that will send out one of their qualified plumbers, as well as independent plumbers available in the yellow pages.

Always be sure to check the plumber has all the relevant qualifications and experience to carry out the job safely and effectively, as well as allowing yourself the time to ring around several plumbers or companies to get the best quote possible without compromising on quality.

Replacing a Central Heating Radiator Yourself

If done correctly, the removal of a central heating radiator can be a simple task. Here is a basic step by step guide:
Firstly, all radiators have two valves – one valve to let the water into the radiator, and another to let the water out. One of these valves turns the spindle inside to open or shut the pipe valve, called the wheelhead valve. The other valve is generally has a cone shaped cover in white, that will be easily removed to show its spindle beneath. This is called the lockshield.
A variety that is becoming more common recently is called the thermostatic valve, and operates on the same principle.
Now, we must use these valves to isolate the radiator.
To begin, remove the lockshields head, and turn it as far as it will go using a small adjustable spanner. In doing so, you have closed the valve. Do the same on the wheelhead valve by turning its handle in a clockwise motion.
You will notice that in between the valves and the radiator there will be a nut, which is part of the radiator itself. These nuts need to be undone, with the right hand nut turned away from you, and the nut on the left hand towards you to undo. These nuts stay on the radiator.
What is very important when undoing these nuts, and tightening them again later, is to be sure that you have a firm grip on the valve with another spanner. It is best to use two adjustable spanners for this, one to undo the nut and one to hold the valve firmly in place. Do not allow these pipes to bend, as they have a tendency to leak if they do.
The radiator will be full of water, so be sure that you put some old rags or anything absorbent you don’t mind getting wet under the valves and around the pipes base, as there will be some leaking of water.
You will need some help to undo both of the nuts, and now gently pull the valve away from the radiator. Your finger and thumb will prove useful at the point to put quickly over the hole made to reduce water spilling out. With both holes blocked it is time to lift up the radiator from its bracket. Depending on the type of radiator you may need to pull it up and forward to lift it off.
To fit your new radiator, simply follow the reverse of these instructions exactly.

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