Removing a Radiator for Decorating or Changing a Radiator

Summary: Removing a Radiator: Taking off a radiator from the wall for decorating. Advice on isolating radiator valves, undoing valve nuts and stopping them dripping. Information about how to change a radiator.

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There are a number of occasions when removing the radiator would make life very easy indeed. Decorating, replacing the floor or skirting boards, flushing the central heating out. Its not a hard job, and providing you take adequate precautions, not a messy one either. If you want to take this opportunity to change radiators or insert a towel rail then go to our project on towel rails.

Types Of Radiator Valve

Every radiator has two valves, one to let the water in and one to let out again. Mostly the valves will be as shown below. One valve will be operational in that it actually turns the spindle to open or shut the valve. This one is called the wheelhead valve. The other is generally a white, cone shaped cover which simply pulls off to reveal the spindle underneath. This one is called the lockshield.

A third variety is getting more and more common now and that is the thermostatic valve. The principle is the same. If the valves are off, no water can come from the pipes, so the first thing to do is isolate the radiator

lockshield valve

Lockshield Valve

wheelhead valve

Wheelhead Valve

How To Remove A Radiator

Pull off the locksheild head (sometimes there is a little grub screw holding it on) and, using a small adjustable spanner, turn it as far, clockwise, as it will go. This will close the valve. Now do the same with the wheelhead valve, just by turning the handle clockwise. There is no need to remove anything from this one.

Between each valve and the radiator there is nut. This nut is part of the radiator and not the valves. The left hand nut will undo by turning the nut toward you, the right hand one will undo by turning it away from you. The nuts will stay on the radiators as there is a small lip on the radiator entry point which will hold them on.

The most important thing to remember when undoing the nuts, and later, when tightening them, is to hold the valve solid with another spanner. We use two adjustable spanners, one to hold the valve and one to undo the nut. It is very important the pipes are not allowed to bend as if they kink they may leak.

Undo valve nuts with stilsons

Undoing Valve Nuts with Stilson Grips

The picture above shows the right hand valve and the nut will open away from you. The valve must be held steady. Introduce some rags around the base of the pipes and under the valves at this point. There will be some spillage from the radiator as it will be full off water.

stop radiator valve from dripping

Stop Radiator Valve from Dripping

Undo both the nuts until they are just loose (you will need some help here). Now undo them all the way and pull the valve gently away from the rad. Get your finger or thumb over the hole as soon as you can to reduce spillage. When you have both holes blocked you will be able to lift the radiator straight up from its bracket. You may have to pull it forward slightly as well as upward. The brackets are shaped as below, so you can see how the radiator will lift off.

radiator bracket

Radiator Bracket

radiator bracket side view

Radiator Bracket Side View

Having lifted the rad off, take it outside and either turn it sideways to empty the dirty water out, or turn it completely upside down and set it on the ground. This way is easier if it is a large radiator and it will give you time to catch your breath before you get round to emptying it.

Flush and replace radiator

Flush and Replace Radiator

Replacing the radiator is exactly the reverse procedure.

See also our project on radiators, how to calculate their size and BTU values.

For a practical demonstration on removing a radiator go to our video sections on radiators and how to remove a radiator. There is also a short film on how to replace a radiator valve in our troubleshooting section.

Don't fancy doing this project yourself? We work with Checkatrade to ensure that we recommend only reliable and trustworthy tradesmen.

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