Removing and/or replacing a radiator is a relatively quick job – if you know what you're doing. If you don't, then you could be looking at a plumber’s labour bill of around £100 and a day off work to supervise.

But removing or replacing a radiator is within the scope of even the most dispassionate of DIY-ers.

Here's how you do it....

Tools for the job

  • Towels/old sheets and a couple of bowls
  • Molegrips or pipe wrench
  • Pliers
  • Spanner (adjustable)
  • Wire wool
  • PTFE tape
  • Radiator key
  • A new radiator (if the old one is being replaced)

If you're not altering the pipework/upstands past the radiator valves, you won’t need to drain down the system. Equally, no drain down is necessary if you are replacing the radiator with one of the same dimensions (length).

However, in case something goes wrong, ensure you know where the gate valves/stopcocks are located.

Place old towels or sheets around the upstands, wrapping them around and behind the pipes. You need to turn the inlet valve, known as the “control valve”, to the “off” position. This is found next to the thermostatic radiator valves, if you have them.

Next, the “lockshield” valve needs to be closed. This ensures each radiator gets the right amount of flow, balancing the entire system. Remove the plastic cover and then shut this valve off with a pair of pliers. Note down the number of turns needed to turn off this valve.

Now the “union” nut must be undone. This big horizontal nut is found between the radiator and the valve. Under the control valve place a bowl, and have another as backup. Turn the union nut anticlockwise when looking from the radiator to the valve, simultaneously gripping the nut joining the upstand to the valve with molegrips/wrench. Don't force this too much; a little oil may help if the nut is particularly stubborn.

Water will escape as you turn this nut. You can quicken the process by turning the air vent bleed located at the top with the radiator key. Do the same for the lockshield valve. You should now be able to lift the radiator free from its brackets.

Using old-style valve adapters and blanking plugs? Take these off and give them a clean with wire wool.

Around the male threads wrap PTFE tape, ensuring a 50% overlap as you do so, then screw them into place. You can now hang the new radiator, or re-hang the old one.

On both valve tails wrap PTFE tape around the male thread. Reconnect the union nuts, being especially careful not to interfere with the pipework.

Turn the control valve so water can flow back into the radiator. This will also ensure air is let out of the bleed valve. Once the system is full again, shut off the bleed valve and, based on the previously recorded number of turns, open up the lockshield valve.

Have a plumbing emergency?

If your plumbing system has been damaged or you have suffered a burst pipe, you may be covered by your home emergency cover policy.

While regular home insurance does not, in general, provide protection against such events, home emergency cover can.


Read more about how can help you in a plumbing emergency. always recommend seeking the services of a professional tradesperson If you're not entirely comfortable carrying out repairs or maintenance by yourself.