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Replacing a radiator

Published 07th Sep 2006

Your radiators and towel rails don’t just have to be a functional heat provider. The winter collections of designer radiators are arriving and these sleek, modern designs, will be a ‘work of art’ in your home, adding far more than warmth to your rooms.

Of course, radiator prices are one thing, getting a plumber to fit them might well be something else. So how easy is it to fit them yourself?

Well, it’s certainly not difficult for even the most basic DIY homeowner and B&Q have provided details on everything you need to know to select and install a brand new designer radiator or heated towel rail.

The new collection just in at B&Q features wall mounted, circular, free standing, stainless steel, wood, spiral and corner radiators to fit even the most awkward of spaces. You could also choose a radiator designed specially for the hallway with a fixed umbrella stand and coat hooks, or a radiator with built-in mirror, that is perfect for the bedroom.

The radiator you choose should ultimately depend on the heat requirements of the room. You will need to consider:

* The amount of heat needed - Will you be spending lots of time in the room?
* The space available - Will the door still open after a new type of radiator is fitted?
* Design and appearance - What is the overall style of your home?

To calculate the BTU (British Thermal Unit)/hour required, just follow these simple steps or use the BTU calculator at

* Multiply the room’s height, width and length to get the volume in cubic feet
* For bedrooms, kitchens and hallways multiply the volume by 4
* For bathrooms, living and dining rooms, multiply the volume by 5
* If the room has large windows or exposed walls, increase the total by 10%

Select the appropriate sized radiator for the BTU/hour required – always choose the next size up if the exact size is not listed

To update an existing radiator, simply select the style you require, and check that it fits the space. Then follow the step-by-step guide:

Fortunately you don’t have to drain the entire heating system in order to change a radiator. But you need to isolate it by closing off the valve at either end. Turn the manual valve clockwise until it won’t turn any further. Pull off the plastic shield of the lockshield valve at the other end and turn the square shaft clockwise with an adjustable spanner. Count the number of turns so that later you can reset it at the same flow rate; otherwise, you will alter the heat output of the new radiator.

Tools and materials needed:

* Two adjustable spanners - or preferably make one of them an open ended type spanner to fit the capnut exactly.
* Radiator bleed key
* Drain tray (shallow)
* Bucket
* Large allen key (if required)
* Pipe and cable detector
* Hammer-action drill with masonry bit
* Cloths
* Wire wool
* PTFE tape (for tighter seals)
* New radiator, brackets and screws

With both valves turned off, use an adjustable spanner to slacken the capnut holding one of them to the radiator. You may need to hold the valve body with a second spanner to prevent it turning and buckling the pipe.

Place a shallow tray beneath the valve to catch the water as it drains out. Have cloths ready to protect carpets etc. from water stains. Open the bleed valve at the tope of the radiator and loosen the capnut. When the tray is nearly full, re-tighten the capnut and empty the water. Be ready with cloths to mop up any spillage – the water will be filthy. Repeat until all the water had drained out, then disconnect the other valve.

Lift the radiator from its wall brackets and tilt it to drain any remaining water into the tray. Get a helper to stuff tissue into the inlet at the other end to stop it leaking dirty water. If the existing wall brackets don’t suit the new radiator, unscrew them and fit those supplied with the new radiator. Don’t forget to check for pipes and cables before drilling new fixing holes.

Remove the valve connectors from the old radiator, using an adjustable spanner or large allen key. Clean the threads with wire wool and wind PTFE tape around the threads about five times to ensure a good seal. Screw the connectors into the new radiator, making sure they are tightened fully. Hang the radiator.

Connect the valves and reset them, allowing water to enter the radiator. You will need to open the bleed valve about half a turn so that air can escape; close it when water starts to appear. If you have a central heating header tank in the loft you may hear this refilling. Otherwise, if you have a combination boiler you won’t have a header tank and so you will need to re-pressurise the system using the mains water feed valve near the boiler. Don’t over-pressurise the system and remember to turn off the valve again.

Many radiators come with a thermostatic radiator valve (TRV), which can be found on the pipework at the top or bottom of your radiator. This gives you greater control over the heat of each individual radiator, allowing you to be more energy efficient. However, if not, they can be bought separately and it’s a good idea to fit them at this time.

Source: ' Move Channel '

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