Keeping our domestic radiators in tip-top condition is essential if you want to stay warm this winter. But suppose a radiator has reached the end of its life or developed too much rust for proper operation. In that case, it’s worthwhile considering a replacement.
But, how much does replacing a radiator cost?
A new radiator costs £20-£120 depending on size, while fitting ranges from £150-£250. In the UK, a typical room will usually have only one radiator. However, large rooms might have 2-3 small radiators. In this case, three small radiators cost £120 while the fitting costs around £450.
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But, why do you want to replace them? There are two main reasons:
- Over time, radiators build up a sludge consisting of rust and other debris that restricts the water flow through the system and reduces heat output. Furthermore, sludge build-up eventually leads to serious damage to your boiler and pump. Usually, the plumber can flush out the debris. But, ultimately, the radiator walls become too thin, and the entire radiator needs a replacement.
- Radiator and central heating technology improve all the time. Therefore, modern radiators have significantly improved compared to installing a radiator in previous years. They are now smaller and more compact yet produce more heat than ever before, thus reducing your energy bill.
How Much To Replace a Radiator?
The table below outlines the type of job associated with changing a radiator and the estimated labour cost. All homes are different, and the plumber must match individual rooms with its radiator’s heat output, and ultimately with the boiler. Therefore, we cannot give definitive information on the requirements of your house; leave that to a professional after inspecting your home.
We’ve compiled the data from various online resources, so the information should be used as a guideline and a starting place for your research.
|Radiator job||Estimated cost|
|Remove and repair radiator||£130|
|Replace a large radiator||£300|
|Remove and replace double panel radiator||£200|
|Move a radiator||£280|
On average, radiator replacement costs mainly depend on the size of the radiator, its heat output, and how much it costs to fit a radiator (labour costs).
Additionally, the amounts shown here assume that the plumber charges an hourly rate. Furthermore, the charges reflect that he works singly except where the job requires an assistant.
Let’s have a look at each of the table entries in a bit more detail.
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Remove and repair radiator
Suppose you have a radiator that leaks from various joints. The plumber has to remove the radiator fully to remove and replace fittings and joints. Furthermore, he will also flush the radiator’s interior to remove all traces of sludge and rust before refitting. You can also take advantage of this time to paint the wall before replacing the radiator.
The typical duration needed for taking off a radiator, repairing leaks, and replacing is around a couple of hours.
You might wish to remove the radiator altogether and cap the pipe tails. If so, this is the simplest job for a professional and takes about an hour.
Replace a large radiator
Changing a radiator can be difficult if it’s large. Moreover, big radiators are heavy and awkward to carry. Therefore, most plumbers will use a labourer to assist. Furthermore, it’s common for old radiator fittings to be sized in imperial rather than metric as a new one would be. Both these problems put up the price.
On average, a professional takes around two hours for this job.
Remove and replace a double panel radiator
This job is similar to replacing a large radiator. Double panel radiators use twice the amount of metal compared to a single panel. Therefore, it’s twice as heavy.
Although replacing a small one might be easy to do, it will certainly be more difficult to lift if it’s a large double panelled radiator.
A typical plumber will require help from a labourer to do this. Therefore, the price increases because of additional wages. Typically, the time taken when fitting a radiator of this type will be around 1-2 hours.
Move a radiator
Moving a radiator will cost more than removing, cleaning, and replacing a radiator in the same place. The plumber must cap the existing pipe tails. And install suitable pipework at the new location. Depending on the location of the new radiator, you might be able to use the current pipe circuit. Alternatively, you might need entirely new pipes.
Typically, moving a radiator takes around 2 hours, depending on the complexity of the new installation.
Radiator Replacement Cost Factors
Many factors affect the cost of replacing a radiator. So, it’s a good idea to find out what makes some jobs more affordable than others.
Radiator size and output
Although both these factors are linked, you should treat them separately.
- Simply put, a large radiator costs more because it uses more material in its manufacture. And vice versa.
- Next, we look at the heat capacity. Although a radiator with a large surface area gives off more heat, this isn’t always the case. Other factors come into play, too, including material and design.
Heat capacity in the UK is measured in kilowatts (kW), although traditionally, the units were British Thermal Units (BTU). You will still find old radiators measured in BTU, in old houses (and indeed old plumbers using these units). Therefore, it’s useful to know how to convert one unit to another. One Watt of heat is equivalent to 3.41BTU (1W=3.41BTU).
Generally, radiators with a high heat capacity value cost more than those with a low capacity.
However, you can’t go and buy radiators regardless of size. Instead, a professional heating engineer or plumber must calculate the optimum radiator size and match this with the room’s volume and the boiler’s output. Once everything matches, you can buy the correct size radiator for the room without wasting money on your heating bills unnecessarily.
Standard style radiators are the cheapest you can buy. Prices for this type of radiator, supply only, will range from £20 to £120.
However, there are other radiator types on the market:
- Period-designed cast iron radiators add lots of character to your home. These vary in price from around £150, up to £1000 at the other end of the scale.
- Flat-panel radiators are affordable and popular, as they look very modern. Typically, these cost from £70 to £300.
- Column radiators look like period cast iron variations. However, they’re made from steel, so they cost much less, usually from £100 to £500.
- Stainless steel radiators, on the other hand, also look modern but are more expensive. Typically these cost from £200 to £1000.
- Vertical radiators are great if you haven’t got much space to spare. However, rather than the radiator stretching horizontally across the room, these reach from the floor towards the ceiling. Designer versions cost anything from £100 to £1000.
- Towel radiators, coated in chrome plate, look great in any bathroom. Not only do they warm the room, but they also keep the towels dry and fresh. There are various versions of these available, ranging in price from £20 up to £500.
Adding or replacing a radiator
If your budget is tight, try to flush and replace existing radiators rather than fit new ones. Then, you won’t have to fork out the cost of a new radiator, and the labour rates will be much less too.
Remember, only heating engineers have the qualifications to work on boilers and gas pipes. In contrast, a plumber can only add and change central heating pipes and radiators.
Thermostatic Radiator Valves
Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs) fit on each radiator to regulate the hot water flow. Each TRV can be set to govern the local temperature of water in each radiator. Suppose the main thermostat is somewhere, such as in the hall or lounge. In this case, the other rooms will suffer accordingly. It’s much better to set the temperature for each room by adjusting the TRV rather than rely on the main thermostat. You have better temperature control and save money on the heating bill.
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Over time, the pipes and radiators of a central heating system corrode, forming a sludge that travels around the pipes and collects mainly in radiators. This sludge causes blockages and restricts the hot water flow, reducing the efficiency of the system.
The solution is to flush chemically treated water around the circuit at high pressure to remove all impurities. A qualified plumber has the training and experience to handle corrosive chemicals working at high pressures, so don’t try this if you’re an amateur.
Typically, a power flush costs £300-£700 depending on the number of radiators in the circuit and how much sludge is present.
How To Install a Radiator
As we’ve already said, every home is different, so every central heating circuit is different. Unless you’re an experienced professional and know how to design a central heating system, you shouldn’t attempt adding a radiator. The number of radiators and their heat output must match the size of your room and the boiler. It’s much easier and quicker to hire a professional to do the job.
However, it’s useful to know what the job entails.
- Drain the old radiator and remove it from the pipework. If you intend to remove one radiator, then you don’t have to drain the system. Instead, use the valves to prevent water loss from the pipes. But, suppose you want to change the pipework or remove many radiators. In that case, it will be better to drain the system completely.
- The new radiator might need pipe tails at different places. If so, now is the time to alter the pipework accordingly.
- Fit the radiator brackets on the wall in the correct positions.
- If installing the same radiator, flush the sludge from inside.
- Fit TRVs to the radiator.
- Hang the radiator on the brackets.
- Fit the valves to the adapters.
- Open the valves, fill the radiator and bleed the central heating system. Even though you’ve only changed one radiator, you must bleed each radiator in turn to remove all traces of air from the system.
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How to Remove a Radiator Permanently
Until now, we’ve talked about replacing a radiator. But what additional work must you do to remove a radiator permanently?
- Drain the central heating system until the water level is below where you intend to cap the pipe tails. That is, drain the radiator and all its associated pipework. However, if you’re on the lowest floor, you must drain the system completely.
- Remove the radiator using the same steps as mentioned previously.
- It’s much more professional to cut the pipes below the floor level. So, lift floorboards to access where the pipes connect to the system circuit.
- Cut off the pipe tails as close to the circuit pipe as possible while still leaving enough length to solder a cap onto the end.
- Fill the system with water and check for any leaks where you soldered the caps.
- If everything is okay, replace the floorboards and tidy the work area.
Signs Your Radiator Needs Replacing
Usually, most radiators can operate happily for years without any more maintenance than removing the air in the system by bleeding each radiator in turn.
But, you should regularly inspect the radiators for problems. It’s better to fix issues before they go disastrously wrong and the floor gets covered with dirty sludgy water. Here are a few of the commonest problems to look out for.
Most radiators make no noise at all, but it’s quite common for some types to gurgle now and again. If your pipes are the quiet type, then listen out for noises that you can’t explain. Similarly, if your pipes regularly make sounds, listen for louder noises that you haven’t heard before. The unusual sound might be a sign that the radiators need attention from a professional.
Slow to warm
Are your radiators taking a long time to warm up, and bleeding doesn’t seem to help? This situation might signify that you have restricted flow because of sludge or, even worse, you might have problems with your boiler or central heating pump. Whichever is the cause, you must call in a heating engineer to determine the problem.
Puddles or drips
Have you seen small puddles or small droplets of water appearing around the radiators? Alternatively, if an upstairs radiator leaks, you might see damp patches on the downstairs ceiling. Keep an eye out for these, and don’t let them worsen because a small leak always turns into a big one. Call a plumber straight away.
If you’re having a new boiler fitted, it’s often worthwhile to consider changing the radiators too. Radiators have a finite lifespan, so it’s better to pre-empt any problems by buying new ones.
Bleeding radiators too much
Usually, you won’t need to bleed the air from a central heating system more than once a year. So, if you find you have to do this more often than that, it’s time to call in a plumber for an inspection. They will tell whether this is a problem caused by sludge or whether you need some new radiators.
Water & fuel usage
Keep an eye open for changes in your fuel and water bills. If you start to use more water than normal, you might have a leak somewhere. Similarly, increases in fuel bills without a corresponding increase in heat might mean that the radiators are becoming full of sludge and need either a power flush or replacement.
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Replace Radiator FAQ
Can you replace a radiator yourself?
Yes, you can. But, if you haven’t any experience with plumbing or central heating systems, do not attempt it. Many things can go wrong, such as when tightening valves and adapters, it’s easy to pull too hard on the wrench. This might either strip the thread or break a joint. Similarly, if the system has some old soldered joints, they can easily crack, causing a leak. These and many other things might go wrong, so hire a professional.
Is it worth replacing old radiators?
Definitely! Over time, the metal components in your central heating system corrode, and rust particles break off. The rust then accumulates in the radiators to restrict the water flowrate or returns to the boiler, where it causes lots of expensive damage. Furthermore, old radiators start to crack and form micro-fissures in the metal, which, if left, can cause leaks. It’s much better to replace them before this happens.
Should I replace 40-year-old radiators?
Yes, you should. The acidic water within the central heating system causes the steel components to rust. After 40 years or so, the central heating system and your boiler have probably become clogged with lots of debris and sludge.
Should I replace a single radiator with a double?
Not necessarily. Ask a qualified heating engineer to calculate the expected heat output for the existing radiator and whether it matches the room’s volume. Also, you need to know whether the boiler can supply a double radiator rather than a single one in that location. Nowadays, it’s common practice to install a boiler with more than enough capacity. But, this wasn’t necessarily the case in the past.
So, if all the calculations work out favourably, book your heating engineer to come and fit one for you.
Are old radiators better than new ones?
No. Mostly, a new radiator will be far superior. This can be for many reasons, but the most important are:
- Central heating technology is much more advanced now than it was back in the day.
- An old radiator, say 20-years old, can be half as efficient compared to a new one.
- If you have installed a modern boiler in recent years, then there’s a good chance that your old radiators no longer match the new boiler. Therefore, you will be wasting money trying to heat your home. Check that the old radiators and new boiler match for optimum efficiency.
- Many years of acidic water running through the old radiators will corrode the metal radiators from the inside. Therefore, probably you won’t notice any issues until suddenly they develop a leak.
If I remove a radiator, will the rest of the circuit work?
If you remove a radiator, it will cause no problem at all. Consider what’s happening; it’s a similar situation to turning off a radiator in a room you never use. However, when you’ve removed the radiator, cap the pipes and try to hide them under the floor so that no one accidentally damages them.
Find a Pro In Your Area
Okay, you’ve decided that it’s time to replace one, two, or all your old radiators in your home. Unfortunately, you don’t know where to start looking for help. Don’t worry. Complete the form on this page, and you’ll receive up to four quotes detailing radiator replacement costs from qualified plumbers or heating engineers near you.
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