How to replace a radiator

Radiators now come in all shapes, sizes, and colours. Finding the right fit for you depends on your style or how much heat you need in a room. You may even want to add some period features back into your room using a column radiator.

It is fairly simple to change and swap out a radiator yourself. As long as you're confident in connecting the pipework and fitting the radiator to the wall, it is a great way to utilise low online purchase prices and save on fitting costs.

Before you begin, read the instructions for your specific radiator. Certain brackets may be required, and you may need dedicated wall plugs for your wall type. Everything is explained below.


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You will need:

  • Radiator
  • Wall fix brackets x4
  • Radiator bleed key
  • Wall plugs
  • Screws, bolts, washers
  • Wrench
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Spirit level
  • Drip tray and bucket
  • Pipe cable
  • Multidetector
  • Hammer drill
  • Drop cloths

Don't forget your PPE. When drilling holes, eye protection and a dust mask are needed. You should also wear gloves and work boots, especially when handling your radiator.

Get someone to help when lifting the radiator and dispose of your old radiator correctly.


How to remove and replace a radiator

Firstly, analyse your walls. Are there any cracks in the plaster? If so, carve out the crack and fill it before leaving to dry and then sanding.

Then, you want to check the material of your wall. A masonry wall is more substantial, and with dedicated masonry fixings and wall plugs, almost any radiator is suitable.

For plasterboard walls, this is slightly different. You will have to use a stud detector to find the noggins from which your radiator must be hung. You may be limited in location or size depending on where these are.

You won't be able to hang a radiator that is too heavy from a plasterboard wall, but as a bonus, you won't need a wall plug, just dedicated plasterboard screws for the brackets.

Choose a radiator with the same pipe centres as your existing radiator. If this is impossible, a plumber must reroute the pipes for your new valves.


Step 1: Isolate the radiator

If you need to remove the radiator, turn off your heating and isolate the radiator. This is done by closing off the valve at either end.

A manual valve can be turned clockwise until it won't turn any further. A thermostatic valve can be turned to 0 or 'off'. Once you've removed the plastic cover, a lockshield valve can be turned clockwise using a spanner.

Place a drop cloth and tray under each valve before turning. Once the valves are turned off, use a spanner to loosen the nuts connecting the valve to the radiator.


Step 2: Drain the radiator

Open the bleed valve at the top of the radiator using a bleed key. You'll hear trapped air hissing, and then the water will trickle out. Don't rush this or open the valve too much at first until you're comfortable with the water flow.

Keep going until all water has drained; you may have to retighten it and empty the tray to prevent spillage before carrying on.

Repeat with the other valve. Once happy all water has drained, lift the radiator from the brackets. Ensure the drop cloth is still in place before leaving it on one side. Some excess water may drain from the radiator during this move.

Fill the outlets with cloth or tissue to prevent further leaks.


Step 3: Fit the brackets

Your existing brackets may be fine for your new radiator, but if not, these will have to be removed using a screwdriver. Any holes left behind must be filled, left to dry, and then sanded. Also, do any painting required before moving to the next stage.

Once the wall is ready, use a multidetector to assess the walls. Pipes, cables, and studs will be detected. Make a note of any hazards.

Once happy, use a tape measure and pencil to mark where the new holes must be. Drill a pilot hole before installing the wall plugs and attaching the bracket to the wall. Use a spirit level to check everything is straight.


Step 4: Hang the radiator

A radiator will be fixed to the brackets and then secured. Get someone to help you lift the radiator into place and secure the radiator to any brackets if needed.


Step 5: Reconnect the water supply

Close the bleed valve of your new radiator and reconnect the valves and piping. Once everything is secure and tightened, switch your water supply and heating back on.

Monitor the radiator for any issues.



How do I dispose of my old radiator?

Once your old radiator is disconnected, tip in all directions to remove water. Your local council-run household recycling centre may accept radiators free of charge. If not, contact a local metal scrap yard. However, if it's in working order, don't underestimate the possibility it could be resold online.

Radiators are almost 100% recyclable, so don't just throw them away in general household rubbish.

Also, check whether the company delivering your new radiator has a recycling scheme.



Whether you need the above tools to replace a radiator or some professional plumbing tools to redo pipework, Speedy Hire has everything you need.

You'll find all the power tools and hire equipment you need here. Why not start planning your next DIY project and open a Speedy account online or on the app for all your tool hire needs?

Speedy has more than 200 local service centres nationwide, hire counters in selected B&Qs and nationwide 4-hour delivery. It has never been easier to hire the tools and equipment you need.


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