Let’s be fair, if you live in the UK then there’s a significant portion of the year when you are reliant on the good working condition of your central heating system. Which means that if you have a fault radiator that needs replacing in any of your rooms, then it’s something that needs to be addressed as soon as you can manage it.
For anyone of reasonable competency at home improvement, plumbing and DIY, then replacing a radiator is a relatively straightforward procedure. Of course, if you are going to carry out a replacement yourself, then it’s a good way to keep your costs down – assuming that you do it properly.
On the other hand, if you’re not entirely confident of carrying out the job as well as you would want, or you are looking at some additional installation work to help improve the overall heating system, such as thermostat, then you are going to need a qualified and professional plumber or heating engineer.
Table of Contents
- 1 Like For Like Radiator Replacement Costs
- 2 What Will the Work Entail?
- 3 How Long Does The Radiator Replacement Take?
- 4 The Importance of Bleeding
- 5 How To Repair A Leak
- 6 Adding Another Radiator in the Room
- 7 It’s Important to Replace or Repair Faulty Radiators
Like For Like Radiator Replacement Costs
Where you live will play a part in the amount you might have to pay to have your radiator replaced. As with most work of this type, rates and parts will vary from region to region, with costs typically lower in the North of England, for instance, to those in the Home Counties or London.
In the case of a like for like replacement, basically, installing a new radiator that’s the exact size and style as the old one, then you can expect to pay a professional plumber somewhere in the region of £150 to £300, inclusive of the installation work and the radiator itself.
Top Tip: If you decide to purchase the radiator yourself for your plumber to install, then it’s really important to ensure that it is the exact same size as the one you are swapping it with.
What Will the Work Entail?
When getting a quote from a local plumber or heating engineer, then you should expect them to price the job based on the these steps in the process:
- Draining or bleeding the old radiator before moving it
- Cleaning off corrosion from the bleeding valves and blanking plugs – they will do this if they happen to be retaining them. If they will be discarded with the radiator, this part of the process will be omitted.
- Detaching the old radiator from the wall
- Changing any of the pipework, if necessary, if there are connection variances in the new model
- Attaching the new radiator onto the existing brackets and fixing in place
- Connecting up the adaptors and the valves
- Opening up the new valves, filling the new radiator with water
- Bleeding to ensure that the pressure is correct and the radiator will provide appropriate heat
If you find that the faulty radiator removal has made you lost a lot of water, then it might be necessary to top up the water in your system, if you have a conventional (not combi) boiler unit.
How Long Does The Radiator Replacement Take?
For an experienced plumber, radiator installation (including removal of the old one) is generally one of the simpler jobs they undertake.
From draining and detaching the old rad, to bleeding and testing the new one, it should take no more than two hours.
The Importance of Bleeding
Maximum performance and the greatest efficiency in your central heating can be achieved by ensuring that the entire system is well maintained. While this means having your boiler regularly serviced, it should entail bleeding of your radiators.
Over time, air pockets (or air bubbles) form and build up in the pipes. These air pockets affect the flow of the hot water around the system, creating cold spots in your radiators, meaning less surface area emitting heat. The problem with this is that your system needs to work harder to generate the heat needed to keep your rooms at the temperature you require. Which makes the system less efficient and your energy bills high.
By bleeding the radiators, you can remove these air pockets and ensure that they’re working efficiently; providing warmth for the room and less of an impact on your bills.
It’s also an easy task to carry out.
Using an appropriate valve screw or even a flathead screwdriver, you can bleed your radiators simply and, generally in, within an hour.
Turn on your central heating and check all the radiators to see which ones have cold spots and in need of bleeding. Then switch the heating off and allow to cool down. This is important as you don’t want air being sucked into the radiators when the valves are open.
Working on each radiator in turn, twist the valve until a small amount of water leaks from it; then move onto the next one. Having bled all the necessary radiators, turn your heating back on and check the heat levels. If you have a conventional heating system, then you might also need to top up with water.
Of course, you may not wish to carry out this work yourself and prefer to call upon the services of a local plumber or heating engineer. The cost for this work would typically be between £75 and £100, although, again, this will likely vary depending on where you are in the UK.
How To Repair A Leak
It might not always be necessary to replace a faulty radiator. If you discover a leak, for instance, then it can often be possible to fix the existing unit, rather than going to the hassle and expense of a completely new one.
If you are going to attempt to fix the problem yourself, then the first thing you ought to do is try to minimise the damage by putting down towels and something to catch the water.
Then you need to find the source of the leak. Use a towel to completely dry the radiator, and then check each fixture to locate where the leak emanates from.
If it’s the valve that has the leak, then this should be a relatively simple thing to fix.
It will often be caused by failure, or wear and tear, of the spindle, which can create a leak when it’s in the open position.
Closing the valve, therefore, will stop the leak. However, if you have a thermostatic radiator valve (See below), then you will want to replace the faulty item to ensure a full working radiator in the long-term.
- Turn off the central heating and drain the radiator
- Switch off the supply valve
- Have a bowl or bucket handy to capture the water that will inevitably escape
- Undo the union nut between the pipe and the radiator with an adjustable spanner
- Bleed out the water in the radiator
- Wrap the valve tail firmly and completely with waterproof tape.
Thermostatic Radiator Valves & How They Work
A thermostatic radiator valve is another addition to provide further versatility and efficiency to your heating system.
They are fitted to each radiator to regulate the flow of water dependent on what setting you apply, providing you with the means to control the air temperature in each individual room.
As the room temperature heats, the valve expands, restricting the water into the unit accordingly. As the room cools, so the valve contracts, letting more water into the radiator to emit the right amount of heat.
Adding Another Radiator in the Room
If you’ve had work done in your home, perhaps knocking two rooms through to make one larger room, then it’s possible that the existing radiator is no longer able to provide the required amount of heat.
This might be another reason to either replace the old one with a more powerful one, or possibly to add another radiator to the existing one so that you get the heating power you need.
By installing an extra radiator you can increase the amount of heat that will be delivered to the room.
For those with a competency in DIY and plumbing work should find the installation of an extra radiator fairly straightforward. However, you need to be mindful of the capacity that your boiler has for any additional units. Most heating systems will have built in additional capacity to cope with extra radiators. Nevertheless, you need to know the amount with which your boiler can handle, or you risk the new radiator not working adequately or putting too much strain on the system and failing.
This is why calling upon the expert services of a heating engineer should be considered for these types of work. A heating engineer will understand the implications for the boiler when a new radiator is added, making the correct calculations to ensure you are installing a unit that’s appropriate.
The solution is to install an additional radiator to increase the surface area available to deliver heat to the room. In itself, installing an extra radiator is not too complicated. If you have worked with heating systems, replaced a radiator and are comfortable with plumbing, then you can do this yourself.
When it comes to the cost of installing an extra radiator, then it will depend (as usual) on regional pricing, but also on things such as the amount of additional pipework that will be needed, and how much work might be needed to create access between the pipes and the new radiator location.
Typically, you will find that the work will take an experienced engineer less than a day to complete, adding a new radiator costs somewhere between £150 to £300.
It’s Important to Replace or Repair Faulty Radiators
If you have a radiator that’s faulty or no longer working adequately for the room in which it’s installed, then it should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. It means that your room will not have the temperature that you want, and that your system will be running inefficiently, costing you money.
While the work itself is not especially difficult, given the importance of your central heating system to your home, ensuring the replacement or repair work is carried out correctly is essential. Investing in the services of a heating engineer might be an expense at the time, but liable to save you money in the long-term.