central heating system radiator

How to Remove a Radiator in 6 Easy Steps

Jun-2020 / 7 min read

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Since your radiator is an integral part of your central heating system, they are rarely moved. Aside from the maintenance checks and minor repairs, radiators are pretty much left alone

In any case, removing your radiator is left for the most drastic of situations. Some of the reasons include: replace radiator, repair back wall, change pipes, etc. Regardless of why you want your radiator gone, did you know that you can DIY it?

While removing a radiator can be done by an untrained individual such as yourself, know that any installations and pipework must still be done by the professionals.

Just remember to leave any installation and pipework to the professionals. It is illegal for people to do work that requires a certified plumber. With that out of the way, let’s tackle common questions about radiator removal! 

When Can I Remove My Radiator?

Before you take out your tools and get to work, think about the best time for home maintenance or renovation. The average temperature in the UK is around 10ºC. However, in winter, temperatures can go down to freezing temperatures of 0ºC-5ºC. It would not be to your best interest if you take out your central heating system during the winter.

Plan your replacements or renovations well. Do them during the summer when you won’t miss the warmth of your radiator. 

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What Do I Need To Remove A Radiator?

If you regularly do maintenance checks yourself around your home, then you’re in luck! There is a high chance that you have all the tools necessary to remove your radiator. If you don’t have a tool kit, hit the store first before attempting the rest of the steps. You can’t just finesse your way to taking the unit out without any tools. It is not effective or safe. Here is a list of things that you will need. Don’t worry. They’re quite common tools that you probably already have inside your house. 

  1. Radiator bleed key/ flat-top screwdriver
  2. Adjustable spanner/wrench
  3. Towels and sponge
  4. Bucket/ Small container/ paint trays

If you are planning on removing a radiator completely, leave the capping radiator valve and other pipework to the professionals. You might end up creating “dead legs” in the pipework. For temporary removals to clean your old radiator you might also want to also get these items, for cleaning as you go: 

  1. Replacement valves (Thermostatic radiator valve or Lockshield valve – depending on the damage)
  2. Old tights
  3. WD 40 or other metal lubricants 
  4. Rag

Regardless of what you’re doing for your home renovation, you should prepare a good amount of newspapers and old rags to protect your furniture and floor from dirt and debris. Radiator maintenance can be quite messy so it’s best to bring some failsafe.

Do You Need To Turn The Water Off To Remove A Radiator?

Water damage can get pretty serious, especially with hardwood floors. When working to replace your radiator, keep your place as dry as possible. You do not need to turn off your connection to the main water line to take out the radiator. 

Radiators have valves that can separate them from the central heating system. Close the valves and empty the water in the unit. You can opt to switch off the water if you have other concerns, but it is not an absolute requirement. 

Note: While your water can stay on, remember to turn off the heating! Stay safe and only work when your radiator is completely cold. 

How To Remove Radiator Without Draining The System?

In a home with multiple radiators, draining the entire system can take a lot of time. If you are only removing a couple of radiators though, you don’t have to! Just bleed the radiators you plan on removing and then proceed. 

Draining your central heating system is not a bad idea. It has to happen once and a while to clean out the system. While you are removing your radiator, you can take on two tasks at once. Other times you have to drain the system are for pipe cleaning, major pipe repairs, and leaks. 

If you decide to drain your central heating system while removing your radiator, you have to turn off your main water line. Draining your system shouldn’t take too long, it is around 20 mins to 2 hours depending on your set up. 

Steps For Removing Your Radiator

If your heater is big, bulky, or very old and extra pair of helping hands can get the job done safely. Do not overestimate your strength. Radiators can get heavy. 

Even professional plumbers need a helping hand with vertical radiators. If you are struggling with how to remove a radiator in your home, contact a professional. Plumbers can come in and take care of this work. 

However, if you still want to DIY, then read on. Gather your tools and prep your space, because here we will go through the steps for removing a radiator

Turn Off Your Heating And Wait For The Room To Cool

Before you get to work, there should be no heating. Once you’ve turned your thermostat off, wait for a bit and make sure the radiator is cool to the touch. You don’t want to accidentally burn yourself while removing your radiator. Do this during warmer months of the year. Dealing with cold water in the middle of winter with no heat is not a pleasant experience.

Close All The Valves

Now that you have done so, close the valves completely. Use an adjustable spanner for your thermostatic radiator valves (TRV) if you have them. Avoid using pliers because they can damage your pipes. While you are turning it off, take note of how many turns it takes to close for future reference.

Closing the valves means you isolate the unit from the water supply. As long as those valves are tightly closed, you can go to the next step. You can also choose to drain your system here. Since everyone’s home is different, look for other instructions for emptying the whole system. 

Bleed/Drain The Radiator

With your radiator separated, you can bleed your radiator. Use your radiator bleed key. First, a bit of air will release, then comes the water. Get a container ready to catch the leak. A painter’s tray or a shallow container that can fit under the radiator is ideal. For more thorough instructions for bleeding radiators, you can check out this post. 

Remove The Union Nuts And Wall Brackets

First, loosen one union nut and tip the radiator a bit to get the water at the bottom. If you do not do this step, it will leak when you lift the radiator. When there is no more water, unscrew both union nuts. Older radiators could have additional wall brackets or screws holding it in place. Take the time to make sure all of these pieces are gone.

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Remove The Radiator

With all those nuts and bolts out of the way, you can lift the radiator! Make sure that you keep all of the nuts and bolts in one place so that you don’t lose any. Find someone to help you here. Slowly lift the radiator and keep it in a vertical position when carrying it out.

Even when you properly bleed your radiator and take out the excess water, there is a good chance there is still some left. Covering your entire floor with newspaper and old clothes can help with the mess as you take out your radiator. 

Here you can use your cleaning supplies and clean your radiator. Use the old tights to polish the metal, and spray a bit of metal lubricant to help. After you get all the nooks, you can wipe it one last time with a rag. 

Temporarily Cap Your Pipes

You should be able to leave everything as is, but capping your radiator valve is a good safety measure. Now, you might be able to get away with temporarily capping it off if you plan on putting your radiator back. However, for any permanent pipework, get a professional plumber to do it. It is illegal and dangerous to DIY your pipework, especially with your central heating system. Contact your local plumber from Plumbingforce to take care of this for you. 

Common Removal Questions For Radiators

Everyone’s central heating system is a bit different. There might be questions that we didn’t get to cover in the general portion. Here are the common questions:

What Is The Difference Between Temporary or Permanent?

The main difference between the two is with the last step. Temporarily removing a radiator means you will install the same unit again. There are no changes in the pipework. As long as no one bothers that area, you can connect the union bolts and wall brackets again. Take away the temporary capping and proceed as usual and install your radiator back.

With permanently removing your radiator it implies you have other plans for your space. A new electric fireplace perhaps? Or maybe you are taking down the wall completely? Shoddy work can affect the heating of your home and resale value. You may need to get a plumber in to connect the two pipes with a pipe nipple or have them microbore or solder a cap permanently. 

How To Remove A Radiator With A Thermostatic Valve?

If your radiator has a thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) close it completely. There are two types of TRVs, the manual and the automatic. Twist the manual TRV clockwise to isolate the unit or set the automatic TRV to its lowest mark.

These valves are mostly automatic, so they adjust to different temperatures. After the first step, make sure it is not in the frost position. The drop in temperature will open the valve, and you get a leak on your hands. You may also want to cap your TRV when you take out your rad.

For those who want to make sure water damage is not a problem, you can switch off your water. It is an extreme step, but if you aren’t living in the home or flat yet, might as well be cautious.

How To Remove Your Radiator From A Combi System?

A radiator with a combi boiler or any kind of pressurised system follows the same steps. You do not need to drain the system either, just close the valves both the lockshield and thermostatic valve and proceed. You can repressurise your system with no problem. 

Your combi boiler should be within the ½-1 ½ bar, or you could follow your manufacturer’s recommendation. Use your bleed valve to release the pressure. When you try to adjust the pressure in your system, match the original number, and you are good to go. 

Repressuring your system varies depending on your model. Do you have a filling loop or repressure key? Follow the steps in your boiler manual. 

If your TRV does not fully close, try to release the pressure from time to time. Areas with hard water can build-up scale in the system which affects all the pipes and valves. You can get an inhibitor for it, but don’t use too much. 

How To Remove An Old Radiator?

All the steps for removing an old boiler are the same, but there are more things to pay attention to because of its age. The main unique feature of an old boiler is the many brackets and extra fixtures. Carefully take them out with a screwdriver and adjustable spanner. 

Another problem common in old radiators is poor maintenance. Rust, sharp edges, and sludge that can be as disgusting as canal water are common problems. Protect yourself with a good set of gloves and avoid being cut by rusty pieces of metal. Make sure that you have your radiator maintenance checked annually.

If you plan on keeping your vintage radiator, get a professional clean. Removing dirty water is just the first step. A certified plumber can better address these issues. 

Removing your radiator can be a scary task at first, especially when it is your first time. But never fear! As long as you carefully follow the steps, you can safely replace your radiator. Just keep in mind the type of work your plumber should handle. Capping, power flush, leaks, and major pipework are not DIY friendly, contact your local plumber at Plumbingforce for those jobs. 

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