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HOW- TO HOW-TO REPLACE A RADIATOR

As they get old, radiators begin to look tatty. Rust spots appear, which eat outwards from within the radiator
and eventually cause leaks. No amount of painting can stop the process.
This How-To guide explains how to replace an old radiator.

MATERIALS
• Radiator • Jointing paste
• Radiator extension connectors • Straight solder connectors
• Radiator valves, wheel and lockshield • Solder
• Copper pipe • Flux
• Round head screws, No. 12, 50mm x 5.5mm • Wire wool
• Wall fixings for screws • Duck tape
• PTFE tape

TOOLS
• Hammer drill and masonry bits • Valve Allen keys to suit valves
• Blow torch • Spirit level, 1200mm
• Heat mat • Steel measuring tape
• Centre punch • Combination try square
• Pipe cutter • Pencil
• Claw hammer • Small bowl or dish
• 2 adjustable spanners • Brass wire brush
• Screwdriver to suit screws • Bucket
• Half-round file, fine cut • Old towels
• Radiator bleed valve key • Polythene sheet
• Dust sheets
HOW - TO 1
F1

SIZING AND SELECTING A REPLACEMENT RADIATOR


For any type of radiator (other than single or double panel) measure the height and length of the old one and
select a radiator of similar type and dimensions.
BTU (British Thermal Unit) x 0.2931 = Watts
Watts x 3.4124 = BTU
To replace a single panel radiator with a single convector:
1 Multiply its height by its length, for example 520mm x 1850mm = 0.962m2
2 Multiply this number by 1417 (the approximate heat output per square metre in Watts for a single panel radiator)
0.962m2 x 1417 = 1363 Watts output.
3 Buy a single convector radiator of the same or slightly shorter length, giving the same or a slightly greater
heat output.
If you wish to replace a double panel radiator, multiply a single panel area by 2834 to give its approximate
wattage output.

BEFORE YOU START


To find out more about jointing copper pipe and draining heating systems, please see How-To: Work With Small
Bore Copper and Plastic Pipes and How-To: Drain Down Your Central Heating System.
There are five basic types of radiator found in domestic situations: single panel; double panel; single convector;
double panel plus and double convector (F1). Single and double panel radiators have largely been superseded
by the other three types.
A double panel plus radiator comprises a single panel joined to a convector panel. A convector radiator has fins on
the rear of the panel, which help disperse the heat more efficiently. Because convector radiators are more efficient
than panel radiators, they are usually smaller. For example, a single panel radiator measuring 520mm x 1850mm
with a heat output of 1323 Watts or 4515 BTU/hour (British Thermal Units) could be replaced by a single convector
radiator 420mm x 1850mm with a heat output of 1700 watts (5802 BTU/hour).
The distance from the wall to the centre of the radiator tail tapping (pipe connection point) is similar for single
panel and single convector radiators (F1). There is usually sufficient play on the pipe to overcome the difference,
but to replace a single panel with a double convector necessitates altering the pipe-work.
HOW - TO 2
F2

F4

F3

P R E PA R I N G T H E R O O M
1 Clear furniture away from the area of work.
2 If possible, lift and roll back the carpet. Alternatively, lay heavy-duty polythene sheet under the radiator and up
the wall. Hold it in place with Duck tape.
3 Have old towels, a bowl or dish and a bucket ready.
4 Lay dust sheets between the radiator and the doorway.

REMOVING A RADIATOR
Ask yourself these questions:
1 Do I need to carry out maintenance on other parts of the system, such as replacing a faulty valve?
2 Do I need to alter the pipe-work, such as to change the position or type of radiator?
3 Do I need to replace any valves?
If the answer if ‘yes’, carry out the instructions in How-To: Drain Down Your Central Heating System, then
carry on from Point 5 below.
If the answer is ‘no’, follow the instructions below.
1 Tighten down the manual control valve until it is well seated (F2).
2 Remove the cap from the lockshield valve, then tighten down the spindle. Note how many turns this takes;
later you will need to open it by the same amount (F3).
3 Place the towels around the pipe and a small bowl under the valve.
4 Loosen the bleed valve with a radiator key, then unscrew the cap-nut that holds the valve onto the radiator.
Be prepared to tighten it when the bowl fills. Have a bucket handy into which you can empty the bowl.
5 When the radiator is empty, undo the cap-nut on the other valve. Carefully lift the radiator off its brackets and
tip the remaining water into the bucket. If the radiator is large and heavy, get someone to help you.

WA R N I N G
If the radiator is fitted with a thermostatic valve, remove the sensor by unscrewing the knurled nut. In place of the
sensor, use the special screw-down plastic cap supplied with the valve. This will shut off the valve (F4).
HOW - TO 3
F5

F6 F7

FITTING A REPLACEMENT RADIATOR


To fit different brackets
Compare the new brackets, supplied with the radiator, with the old ones. If they are the same, hang the new
radiator on the old brackets. If the old ones are rusty, swap them for the new brackets.

1 Mark points on the wall level with the horizontal centres of the valves (F5).
2 Draw a line between the two points.
3 Mark onto this line the position of the brackets and use a spirit level to draw vertical lines at these points (F6).
4 Lay the new radiator face down and place a bracket in position on the support lugs (F7).
5 Using a combination try square, measure from the bottom of the radiator to the bottom of the bracket (F7A).
6 Measure from the bottom of the radiator to the centre of the valve tail tapping’s threaded socket (F7B).
7 Subtract distance B from distance A. The difference gives you the position of the bottom of the bracket above
the centre line of the valves (F6).
8 Align the brackets. Ensure there is a slight upward slope towards the lockshield end.
9 Position the first bracket and mark the slotted fixing points.
10 Drill the wall, insert plugs and screw the bracket to the wall. Repeat for the other brackets.
11 Mark the position of the round fixing holes. Drill and plug these, then screw the brackets to the wall.

HOW - TO 4
F8

F9

C O N N E C T I N G T H E R A D I AT O R
1 Fit the blanking plug supplied into the top tapping at the manual (wheel valve) end of the radiator (F8).
2 Fit the bleed valve into the opposite top end (F8).

NOTE
If the plug and bleed valve are not fitted with rubber ‘O’ rings, wrap PTFE tape round the threads. Most modern
bleed valves and plugs are inserted using a spanner. Some, however, require a special hexagonal key.

3 Centralise the radiator between the valves. If the new radiator is more than 5mm shorter than the old one, go
to the next section.
4 Remove the tails from the old radiator. If these prove difficult to shift, apply penetrating oil and leave for 30-40
minutes, then try again. Alternatively, heat applied with a hot air gun may soften the joint paste.
5 Use a brass wire brush to thoroughly clean the threads on the tails.
6 Make sure the cap-nut is on the tail and is the correct way round. Starting at the tail end, wrap PTFE tape
round the thread, overlapping each turn by 5mm (F9).
7 Insert the tails into the tappings and tighten them home.
8 Work a little jointing paste into the female thread of the tail cap-nuts.
10 Tighten the cap-nuts onto both valves.
11 Close the bleed valve and open both radiator valves, undoing the lockshield valve by the same number of
turns used to close it.
12 Use the bleed valve to release any trapped air.
HOW - TO 5
F10

F I T T I N G E X T E N S I O N TA I L S A N D C H A N G I N G T H E VA LV E S
1 Having drained the system and removed the old radiator, fit the new radiator to the wall. Its base should be
between a minimum of 114mm and up to 200mm off the floor.
2 Fit the top blanking plug and bleed valves (F8).
3 Measure the distance between the radiator and the valves. You may now decide what type of tails to use.
A standard tail is 15 to 20mm and an adjustable extension tail is 30 to 45mm (F10).
4 Fit the most suitable combination of tails (F5 and F6), which must be compatible with the new valves.
5 Remove the old valve and, using the old nut, fit the new valve.
6 If the new valve and old nut are incompatible, cut the pipe 75mm above the floor. Join in a new piece of pipe
to connect the new valves and the radiator tails.
7 Refill the system
8 Check for leaks.
HOW - TO 6