Redecorating your home brings with it the excitement of choosing new radiators. With so many different styles and materials on the market, you are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a new radiator.
Whilst it is possible to remove an old radiator and install a new one yourself, some people prefer to spend their time more wisely and enlist the help of a professional company such as Perfect Plumbers. We can help with all aspects of radiator installation, so if you are considering this as your next project please ask us for a no obligations quotation.
To help make your decision even easier we have compiled the guide below on the cost of installing a radiator. Here you will discover everything you need to know including what to look out for while you are shopping for a new radiator, how to remove an old radiator and even the steps to take if you discover a radiator that is not working.
- Shopping for a New Radiator
- Best Place For Radiators
- Removing an Existing Radiator
- What to do if a Radiator Is Not Working?
- Finding a Professional Plumber
- The Cost of Installing a Radiator
Shopping For A New Radiator
With so many different radiator styles available, finding the right ones for your home is a task that should not be undertaken lightly. A home is a place that we want to feel warm and inviting – a space for relaxing and even entertaining guests.
When selecting the right radiators, you will want to choose a style that effectively warms your house and looks great at the same time. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that a temperature of 18C (64F) is suitable for healthy adults and children wearing appropriate clothing. This means that in colder weather you should dress in warmer clothes such as jumpers around the house to maintain the right temperature. For people with allergies or respiratory problems, the WHO recommends that the temperature within the home does not drop below 16 (60.8F) In a household with sick, disabled, very old or very young people a minimum temperature of 20C (68F) is recommended.
When replacing your radiators keep in mind that different styles work for different spaces, so you may not want to have the same radiator in every room of your house. The short guide below outlines the best kinds of radiators for each room of your home.
The BTU rating
The BTU rating or British Thermal Unit is a way to work out how much radiator power you need per room. The BTU rate is calculated by the size of your room, the number and the type of windows, and what the room is used for. Based on these criteria the BTU will tell you how much warmth you need from your radiators in the room. This warmth can be delivered by one single radiator or by a collection of smaller radiators. Radiators are classed in different BTU outputs and should be clearly marked in the shop.
Living Room Radiators
Families often spend much of their time in the living room and it is usually one of the most comfortable rooms in the house. It is often also a space to entertain guests so finding a radiator that offers enough warmth and looks stylish at the same time is a must.
As the living room is frequently used, you will want to keep it heated to a good temperature. The living room is also usually one of the largest rooms in the house and so requires a higher heat output. A radiator of around 5000 BTU should be suitable for most living rooms.
Science shows that we sleep better in a cooler room and bedrooms are often smaller than living rooms and dining rooms. As such, a radiator with a BTU of around 1000-3000 should work fine for a bedroom.
The bathroom is a room that you want to keep warm, especially when taking a bath or a shower. Due to the nature of the materials used in the room such as tiles and extractor fans, bathrooms can be naturally cooler than other rooms in the house. When choosing a radiator or heated towel rail for the bathroom, select one with a BTU that will keep it cosy.
Like the bathroom, the kitchen can also be cooler than other rooms, but keep in mind that when in use they can heat up a lot. Cooking produces a lot of excess heat so you will want to find a radiator that keeps your kitchen at a comfortable temperature when in use and when empty.
Radiators for Different Fuel Types
Radiators are available to suit different types of heating systems and it is important to make sure you have selected the right ones for your home.
There are three main types of radiator:
- Central Heating: The most common style of radiator, central heating radiators transfer heat from the boiler using water that is circulated the home.
- Electric Radiator: This type of radiator works independently and is not connected to a central system. Instead, the radiator contains thermal fluid that is heated up using electricity from the socket.
- Dual Fuel: Less common than central heating and electric radiators, the dual fuel radiator is a mixture of both. It is usually heated via the central heating system but with the option to switch to electricity if required. This is useful if you just want to heat one room without turning on the whole central heating system.
Single or Double Panelled Radiators?
The panel of the radiator is responsible for storing the hot water that travels around your central heating system. Some designs have one single panel, also known as a flat or Type 11 radiator. A single panel radiator will give you more room as it sits closer to the wall which makes it ideal for smaller rooms or hallways where space is at a premium. Single panel radiators also have a single layer of convector fins.
Double panel radiators, also referred to as Type 22 radiators, are fitted with two hot water panels and a double layer of convector fins. The extra panel doubles the amount of heat the radiator can produce, making them suitable for bigger rooms. They also take up more space than a single panelled radiator.
The bigger the radiator is the more heat it gives out, so the size of the radiator is another important consideration for each room. In some rooms, it might not be possible to have a large radiator so you will have to settle for a smaller size.
When looking for a vertical radiator consider the sizes below:
- 120mm – 300mm radiators are ideal for smaller spaces without compromising on heat output. A slim radiator will also give you the option of going higher, as the slimness of it will take up less space.
- 300mm – 400mm is a small to medium-sized radiator suitable for smaller rooms.
- 400mm – 500mm is a medium-sized radiator suited to a medium-sized room that requires a higher heat output such as, the living room, bedroom or bathroom.
- 500mm plus is considered a large radiator most often available in a vertical style. These radiators have an exceptionally high heat output and work best in large rooms.
For a horizontal radiator, switch the sizes listed above from width to height.
The right material for your radiator will depend upon your budget, where the radiator is to be placed, and the type of room it is to be used in. The most common materials used to make radiators are stainless steel, aluminium and cast iron, all of which have different conductivity properties. This means that they vary in the time it takes them to heat up and to cool down.
Different materials also work better for various shapes and styles so you may want to consider both the style and the material before you make your selection.
- Cast Iron Radiators: Often used for traditional Victorian-style radiators, cast iron radiators can be more expensive to buy and to install due to their weight. Cast Iron typically takes longer to heat up but also retains the warmth for longer making them just as efficient as other materials.
- Steel Radiators: Also known as ‘mild steel’ this is a popular choice for many radiator manufacturers. It is a cheaper material that can be easily shaped into different styles, colours and finishes.
- Stainless steel radiators: Not as cheap as mild steel, stainless steel radiators are very efficient as they are quick to warm up and also hold the heat for a considerable amount of time. Stainless steel can be used in a variety of shapes and styles and have a longer life than other radiators.
- Aluminium Radiators: The most expensive material, aluminium is known as a superconductor as it is fast to warm up and quick to spread the heat. Aluminium is also a hard-wearing metal but can be prone to dents if not treated properly.
Energy Efficient Radiators
An estimated 60% of our energy bills goes into heating our homes, so if you want to cut down on your bills and be kinder to the environment, you might consider opting for energy-efficient radiators. Several factors contribute to a radiator’s efficiency rating:
- The size of the radiator. Choosing the correct size of radiator for the room is one of the best ways to ensure that the heat is used efficiently and not wasted. If you choose a radiator that is too big for a small room the level of heat released likely is too much. This makes it less efficient. Similarly, if you choose a radiator that is too small your boiler will need to work harder to produce the amount of heat required. A larger radiator has a bigger surface to work across and can achieve the right temperature with cooler water.
- Electric radiators are often considered to be the most efficient type of radiator because all of the energy that goes into them is converted into heat. Electric radiators can also be used to heat individual rooms instead of turning on the full central heating system.
Best Place For Radiators
The location of a radiator will determine how effective it is in heating the room. While many people prefer to keep their radiators in the same place as the originals, it is possible to extend and move central heating pipework if you wish to reposition them. Electrical radiators can be fitted anywhere where there is access to an electric socket.
Under the Window
Many radiators are positioned under windows for several reasons. Firstly, before double glazing, the window was the coldest part of the room, so it made sense to place the heat source here. In many homes, central heating pipework also runs alongside windows and outside walls, so it is easier to install the radiator along the same wall.
Positioning the radiator in the coldest part of the room will help to distribute the heat, as the cold air pushes the warmer air further into the room.
Keep Away From Furniture
When decorating a room or relocating a radiator, try to keep it away from furniture – especially large items such as sofas or wardrobes. Large items of furniture will absorb the heat from the radiator making it much less effective at heating the room.
Keep Away From Curtains
Just like placing large items of furniture in front of your radiator, having curtains that drape over it will also result in reduced output. Curtains that hang over a radiator will redirect all of the heat out of the room through the windows. It can also be dangerous if you have a convector radiator and flammable curtains that pose a fire risk.
Positioning a Radiator Behind a Door
In particularly small rooms you may be left with no choice other than to install a radiator behind a door. If the door opens to a colder space such as a hallway or other large open area this could cause the heat to become lost through the door. You should also make sure there is enough room behind to door so that it can open properly.
Removing an Existing Radiator
Once you have settled on the perfect radiator that both matches your style and has the right heat output for the room, it is time to think about installing it. Before you can hang your new radiator though, you will first need to remove your old radiator.
Having the right tools for any DIY work is important to protect your safety. To remove a radiator, you will need the following tools:
- A radiator bleed key
- An adjustable pipe wrench
- An adjustable spanner
- A bucket
- A dust sheet
- A screwdriver
Turn Off the Water Supply
Before you do anything else, first make sure the radiator is disconnected from the water supply of the central heating system. At the bottom of every central heating radiator are two valves that control how the water flows around the radiator. The manual control valve turns the radiator on and off, and when in the off position redirects the water through the pipe running along the bottom. Find this valve and turn it off, if it is a thermostatic valve make sure that it is fully turned off and not just on the ‘frost’ setting.
The second valve is known as the lockshield valve and controls the water being supplied via the central heating system. Take the protective cap off the lockshield valve and using an adjustable wrench turn the square top piece clockwise as far as it will go. Keep track of how many turns this takes as you will need to do the same amount of turns in the opposite direction when you connect your new radiator.
Draining the Radiator
Once you have cut off the water supply to the radiator, you will need to drain it so that it can be moved. Take a bucket and place it under the manual control valve and then grip the body of the valve with an adjustable wrench. Using a second wrench, gently loosen the nut that holds the valve to the radiator.
The air inside the radiator will create a vacuum that stops the water from draining out, so you will need to bleed the radiator to release this air. Taking a radiator key, open the bleed valve at the top of the radiator. You will hear a hissing noise once the air starts to escape and once it has all been released the water will start to flow out of the manual control valve at the bottom of the radiator.
Taking the Radiator Off the Wall
Once the water stops flowing out of the manual control valve you can safely remove it from the wall. The first step is to loosen the nut holding the lockshield valve to the adapter within the radiator. Once this is free, pull the radiator away from the wall to free it from the central heating valves and pipes. Be especially careful not to bend them, as this will cause for a repair job to be in order!
Once the radiator is free of all connections you can lift it free from the wall. Due to the size and weight of some radiators, you may need a helping hand to do this. After the radiator is separated from the wall carefully tip the end towards the bucket to drain away any remaining water.
Disposing of an Old Radiator
Once you have successfully removed your old radiator you will need to dispose of it correctly. Radiators cannot be left out with normal household waste and will need to be taken to a scrap metal yard for recycling. If the radiator is made from aluminium or copper you may even be able to get some money back with scrap metal dealers offering between 25 to 40 per pound, with copper fetching more.
What Do I Do if a Radiator is Not Working?
Radiators that are not working will put extra strain on your central heating system and drive your energy bills higher. Often, a radiator that is not working or has cold spots will just need bleeding to remove any trapped air that is preventing the hot water from circulating properly around the system. However, if you notice that all of your radiators are cold and have stopped working, this is likely to be a problem with your boiler or central heating system.
The first thing to do is to check your boiler and central heating system to make sure it is not switched off. Also, make sure to check to see if there is any hot water coming from your taps. If you think your boiler has stopped working, call a plumbing professional such as Perfect Plumbers so we can give you the correct advice.
Bleeding Your Radiators
If you have checked your boiler and central heating system and notice that it is just one or two radiators that are not heating up properly. It is likely that you just need to bleed the offending radiators.
To bleed a radiator, we have listed the steps you will need to take below:
- First, turn on the central heating and identify all of the radiators that need bleeding. Signs that a radiator needs bleeding are cold spots at the top with warm bottoms, gurgling sounds when the radiator is on, and in severe cases, the radiator might simply stay cold whilst the rest of the system is on.
- If you find more than one radiator that needs bleeding, start on the ground floor first with the radiator that is furthest away from the boiler.
- Next, turn your central heating system off and wait for the radiators to cool down. This step is very important. If you do not wait for the radiator to cool down, you risk boiling water spurting out when you open the valve. It is also good to let the contents of the radiator fully settle to make the bleeding process more effective.
- Place a cloth or a bucket underneath the radiator to catch any water.
- You will also need a radiator key to open the bleed valve. If you do not have a radiator key, some bleed valves can be opened using a flathead screwdriver
- Locate the bleed valve at the top of the radiator and insert the key or screwdriver into the bleed screw. This is often a round hole with a square inside of it that you will need to turn anti-clockwise to open it.
- Never open the bleed valve fully as water will start to gush out as soon as the air has escaped. You only need to open it using one quarter to half a turn.
- You will hear a hissing sound coming from the radiator as the air is released. Once all of the air is gone, water will begin to trickle out of the valve. It’s for this reason that you must only open it a little bit to minimise the flow of water coming out.
- Wait until this trickle turns into a steady stream so you can be sure that all the air has been released and retighten the valve to close it.
- Bleeding a radiator should usually take between twenty to thirty seconds, but if you are bleeding a large radiator is could take up to a minute. If you find anything unusual, give us a call at Perfect Plumbers and we’ll be happy to take a further look for you.
Cleaning Your Radiator
If you notice that the radiator is warm at the top and cold at the bottom, it probably needs to be cleaned. As you run your heating system a magnetite substance (often referred to as black sludge) from the water will start to collect in the pipework and the radiators. As the sludge accumulates, it beings to put pressure on the system and to block the water from circulating properly around your radiators.
To clean the radiator, you will need to turn off the heating system and wait for it to cool down. Once complete, close the lockshield valve and disconnect the radiator. You will also need to remove the thermostatic radiator valve and open the bleed valve using your radiator key.
Take the radiator outside or place it into a bathtub and run clean water through it to dislodge the debris that has settled at the bottom. Bear in mind that this water will be dirty so you might want to place protective coverings over the floor to prevent carpets and other furnishings from becoming stained. Once the water starts to run clear and you are certain that you have removed the sludge you can then rehang the radiator on its wall brackets and reconnect it to the heating system.
Check the Valves
If the other radiators in your house are heating correctly and you have one that is still cold, it could be that the valves are broken and need to be replaced. Replace the valves to see if this solves the problem.
Having your system power flushed can help to fix any radiators that are not working. It is always best to ask a professional plumbing expert to do this for you as it affects your entire central heating system. Power flushing will remove any debris and dirt from the whole system without the need to remove individual radiators. It will cost between £200 – £400 depending on the size of your central heating system and where you are located.
Finding a Professional Plumber
As with any trade, you will need to find a reliable and trustworthy plumbing professional to install your radiators or diagnose any problems with them. When searching for a plumber or a plumbing company here are some of the key criteria to consider:
If you are confident that you only need help with the radiators and pipework of your central heating system, then finding a plumber with the right experience will suffice.
However, if you suspect that you need help or advice relating to the boiler as well, you must find a heating engineer that is a member of the Gas Safe Register. The Gas Safe Register is the only official register of engineers that are legally qualified to work on heating systems involving in the UK.
To give yourself extra peace of mind, make sure to find a plumber that is a member of a trade body or organisation. Trade bodies including The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS) and Which? All demonstrate the competency and professionalism of their members.
Check for Reviews
Always read customer reviews before working with a new plumber or plumbing company. This will give you a great insight into the level of customer service and the quality of the work from people who have worked with the company previously.
Local or National?
Local and national plumbing companies will be able to help you with installing a new radiator, but both offer different benefits. For example, a smaller local company may offer a more personal and friendly feeling service. They may also be willing to negotiate on the price of the work and be more flexible with times.
However, if you require a plumber on a smaller timescale you may wish to turn to a larger company. Many people also feel more comfortable working with a large plumbing company as they have already built up a customer reputation and have engineers available at all times, getting to your property quickly.
Check the Website
One of the best ways to get a feel for a company is to look at their website. The website should provide all of the information you need including prices and customer reviews. Additionally, if the site has a blog full of useful information and tips this shows the expertise of the plumbers and that they are willing to help their customers.
Before settling on a plumber, you should obtain quotes from 3-5 other companies for comparison. This will give you a clear idea of how much the job should cost at a fair market rate. When collecting quotes, look for the following information:
- Has the plumber clearly outlined the job and taken your requirements into account?
- Are the goods and services that will be supplied clearly listed?
- Are the costs clearly itemized?
- Has the plumber outlined how and when they expect to be paid?
- Is the work guaranteed or protected by any insurance?
- Does the plumber or plumbing company have the right level of business insurance and will it protect your home if anything goes wrong?
- Are there any additional terms and conditions? If so, they should be included in the quote or a contract.
- Are you being charged for additional costs such as parking and travelling?
- Will you incur any extra costs such as waste removal?
The Cost of Installing a Radiator
The price to install a radiator in your home will vary on where you are in the UK, the type of radiator you want to install and how much work is involved in the project.
Like For Like Replacement
If you are replacing a like for like replacement where the new radiator is the same size as the original the plumber’s job is simpler. The full job should include draining the old radiator and removing it from the wall, dealing with any pipework modification that might be required, hanging the new radiator onto the wall brackets and connecting the valves to the adapters, and finally opening the valves to fill the radiator with water.
For a simple job like this, most plumbers will charge under £500 but realistically closer to £200. The job itself should only take one to two hours including bleeding and testing the radiator for leaks once it has been installed.
Installing Thermostatic Valves
A thermostatic valve lets you control the temperature of individual radiators in different rooms and makes your central heating system more efficient. Also known as a TRV, the valve works by setting a temperature for the room, and once the temperature is reached the valve will automatically switch off the hot water supply to the radiator. This cycle repeats as necessary to keep the room at the desired temperature.
Your plumber should not charge you extra to fit a thermostatic valve, but the valve itself may be an extra cost to the price when purchasing the radiator.
Installing Additional Radiators
If you have a room that requires more heat, or you have added a room via an extension, you will want to install a new radiator. In this scenario, you will need to check that your boiler can handle the additional radiator. Consult your heating engineer who will be able to work this out for you.
The price for installing additional radiators around the home depends on the amount of work required to add new pipework and how accessible the existing pipework is. Again, the actual price will depend on which region you live in, but as a rough guide, it should cost between £150 -£300. Installing a new radiator should not take more than a day to complete.
Radiator Bleeding Costs
When the air becomes trapped in a radiator it reduces the efficiency of your central heating systems and causes cold spots to appear within radiators. The less efficiently your heating system is running means the more energy you consume to achieve the right temperature. This will also increase the cost of your energy bills.
While bleeding a radiator falls comfortably into many people’s DIY skill set, you may prefer to hire a plumber to do it for you. If you hire a professional, they will check all of the radiators in the house to determine which ones need bleeding. We’ll be more than happy to help with all your radiator maintenance needs. Get in touch with us at Perfect Plumbers today!
Once the central heating has been turned off and the radiators left to cool, the engineer will bleed each radiator to let the air escape. Following this, the engineer will then turn the heating back on and check that the bleeding has been successful and resolved any problems.
The total cost for radiator bleeding should not be more than £150 and in some areas as little as £75.
Where is the best place to install a radiator?
Typically, a radiator should be installed in the coldest part of the room, but you should avoid putting large items of furniture in front of it. You should also keep the radiator away from curtains as these will take most of the heat, rather than heating the room.
What size radiator do I need?
The right size for your radiator depends on the size of the room it is heating and what the room is used for. A plumber or heating engineer will be able to help you calculate the right radiator size using the British Thermal Unit (BTU) scale.
Can I paint my radiators?
Radiators should only be painted with radiator paint that has been designed to stay on hot metal surfaces without discolouring. The radiator should also be primed before being painted and turned on within 24 hours to properly ‘cure’ the paint.
When painting a radiator, take care not to paint over any valves or nuts as it could make them hard to loosen in the future.
What is a lockshield valve?
A lockshield valve allows water from the system to flow into the radiator. Lockshield valves are used to control the flow of the water and ensure that the radiators all heat up at the same rate.
What is the difference between thermostatic radiator valves (TRV) and manual valves?
A thermostatic radiator valve works to control the temperature of an induvial radiator using a built-in thermostat. The valve automatically opens and restricts the flow of water into the radiator to keep the room at the desired temperature.
A manual valve can only control the temperature of the radiator without taking into account the room temperature. With a manual valve, the radiator is either on or off.
Can a thermostatic radiator valve be fitted to a heated towel rail?
Yes, a TRV can be fitted to any radiator. However, you should keep in mind that in rooms that are often humid such as bathrooms and kitchens can cause TRVs to give false readings.