Installing a new radiator yourself isn’t impossible – but a professional heating engineer or plumber is more likely to get the job done to the highest quality and in half the time.
Seeing as you regularly bleed your own radiators and tinker with your boiler from time to time, it might seem like a good idea to install a new radiator by yourself too. After all, these new, lightweight models are often small and compact designs that weigh next to nothing; making them particularly easy to move around and hold against a wall by yourself.
That said, radiator fitting can still be a tricky business. Not only do you have to install the new radiator to the wall, but the process also involves draining the entire heating system of water and messing around with the boiler controls while you’re at it. It’s not a job everyone’s comfortable with, and there’s no reason why you should have to go at it alone if you don’t want to. To help you decide the best way to fit a radiator, we’ve put together this handy radiator installation guide, which outlines both the benefits of hiring a professional and some essential DIY tips on how to fit a radiator by yourself.
Radiator Replacement Tools
Before you set to install you new radiator you should ensure you have all the correct tools. To carry out this job effectively you will need the following items:
- Adjustable wrench
- Tape measure
- Spirit level
- Radiator key
- Pipe cutter
- Pipe wrench
- Radiator brush
- Dust sheet
- Pipe tape
If you have most of the items you should be able to pick up the rest at your local DIY store. However if you need all new equipment it may be more cost effective to call out a plumber to carry out the work.
How To Install A Radiator
If you really want to try to install a radiator without the help of a plumber, then you’re going to have to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing before getting started. This includes carrying out a preliminary risk inspection, and following common-sense safety procedures at all times.
More detailed instructions on how to install a radiator can be found here, but to help give you a brief idea about what the job might entail we’ve outlined a basic, step-by-step set of instructions that summarise the main points for a successful radiator installation:
1. Firstly, turn off the hot water and leave it to cool for half hour or so. This allows you time to prepare for the radiator installation and removal, gathering all the equipment you need and making sure you know exactly what you’re doing.
2. Now, turn off the specific radiator you are planning to replace by turning the plastic handle clockwise. At the far end of the unit there should also be a protective cap, which is also known as the lock-shield valve. Remove the cap, and close this valve using an adjustable spanner by turning it clockwise too. Make sure you count the number of turns as you go, because it needs to be turned back the same number of times once the new radiator is fitted to ensure even distribution and a balanced hot water system.
Learn how to turn off the radiator here
3. Now you can bleed the radiator to get out any excess water. Turn the key at the far top corner and have a cloth or small container ready to catch any liquid that might drain from the unit. Place your bucket under the control valve ready for the excess water. Use your wrench to grip the valve, hold it in place whilst you loosen the nut that connects this bleed valve to the adaptor piece screwed on to the radiator. Now vent the radiator of air to break the vacuum inside and allow the water to flow out of the control valve. You will need your radiator key to open the bleed valve to do this. Allow the radiator to drain fully, until the flow stops.
Learn here how to bleed the radiator here
4. Once you have drained the radiator, you will need to remove it. To do this you should loosen and undo the nut that connects the lock-shield valve to the adaptor in the radiator. Lift the radiator up to remove it from the wall brackets; you might need to grab a spare pair of hands for this part! Use your radiator key to close the bleed valve.
5. The radiator is now ready to be removed! Grip the valve assembly at the bottom of the model with a steady wrench to prevent it being pulled loose along with the unit itself, and then undo the necessary nuts and bolts before hoisting the radiator from the brackets on the wall (be aware that you may need an extra pair of hands at this point if the radiator proves to be slightly heavier than you were expecting!)
6. Once the unit is removed you need to drain any excess water still inside; simply hoist it at an angle and allow the liquid to flow directly into a bucket or container you’ve already positioned into place.
7. Dispose of the old unit safely and carefully – preferably outside or in a hire skip if you can afford it.
8. Now the new model is ready to be installed. Fitting a radiator becomes a little trickier at this point, so take your time and don’t rush any of the next steps – you don’t want to break anything before the unit is even up and working.
9. Before you fit a radiator, you should wrap a short length of PTFE tape around the thread of the unit (that is, vertically around the radiator); this keeps it secure while you’re attempting to manoeuvre it into position.
Find out how to use PTFE tape here
9. Next, lift the unit onto the walls and make sure its securely in place.
Learn how to hang a radiator to the wall here
10. Fitting radiator valves is a delicate job, so you should also make certain that these are correctly positioned before using the wrench to bolt them down permanently.
11. If everything looks as it should, tighten the valves while holding the valve assembly in place. Don’t over-tighten the valves, as you will only end up with a faulty system that doesn’t heat properly and have to start all over again.
Find out how to tighten the valves here
12. Now, open the bleed valve at the top and the flow valve at the bottom of the unit. The flow valve is essentially your on/off switch by which you can control the temperature of your radiator. Wait until water begins to leak from the bleed valve, and then close both up – your radiator is now filled with water.
13. Open the return valve (or lockshield valve) at the bottom of the model by the same number of turns as you did before, but this time turning it anti-clockwise; this allows the water to circulate and distribute evenly throughout the radiator.
14. Finally, check for leaks and switch on the hot water to test out your new model – your new radiator unit fitting is all complete!
Lear how to find and fix radiator valves here
Hiring a Professional Radiator Installer
If you regularly carry out household improvement tasks then those DIY instructions might sound like a bit of a breeze; but if you lack the necessary experience then even a simple job fitting a new radiator can seem a daunting prospect. That’s why professionals exist. There are several contractors out there who are able to fit a new radiator in just a couple of hours, and there are also numerous benefit of hiring a professional to do the job for you – including the following:
- They can provide all the appropriate materials (including a butane torch, pipe cutter, valve key, adjustable spanner and copper piping) for radiator installation, so you won’t have to buy any new tools for a one-off job.
- Because it’s part of their everyday work, plumbers can turn off the boiler and drain the water supply safely and in a matter of minutes.
- They also have the appropriate skills and experience to ensure your radiator installation is of the highest-quality, leaving no marks to the interior walls and cleaning up any dust or debris before finishing the work.
- Plumbers also know most tap connections and pipe-work by sight, allowing them to get the work done and radiator hooked up in half the time.
- They are also familiar with a host of corresponding jobs that might enhance the performance of your radiator or heating system; such as how to fit a towel radiator or how to fit a radiator thermostat and hook it up to the new unit.
- Finally, they can even paint and/or varnish the radiator once it’s fitted to ensure maximum heating efficiency for your home.
Of course, whether you choose to fit your new radiator by yourself or hire a professional plumber to do the work for you is entirely up to you. If you do opt for DIY, make sure you work carefully and with someone else close by for the entirety of the procedure – just so there’s someone to help out in case anything does go wrong. Similarly, you should check a potential employee is Gas Safe registered and accredited with the CIPHE (Chartered Institute of Plumbing, Heating and Engineering) before signing any kind of contract.
Cost of Replacing a Radiator
It depends whether you plan on replacing the radiator yourself or hiring a professional and qualified plumber to do the work for you.
If you plan on doing the work yourself, then the only cost factor you need to consider is the radiator itself. The cost will depend on the style and size of radiator and will vary between £60 – £170+on your needs. (You may also find this central heating cost guide helpful)
However, if you want to hire a plumber to do the work you will also need to factor in labour costs. The cost of installing a radiator ranges from £150 to £300 per radiator, depending on your location and the size of the company that you will hire for the job. Small companies tend to charge between £150-£200, while larger ones around £180-£300.
If you want to know exactly how much to fit a radiator in your property is worth, you will also need to compare a number of different quotes from a variety of prospective employees – from local plumbers to online companies and big-name contractors. It might sound like a lot of hassle, but only by looking around are you sure to get the best deal possible. Why not start from requesting free estimates from our network of contractors?