How to Choose and Change a Radiator

How to Choose and Change a Radiator

Sep 29, '22

Before you start your search for the perfect heater to suit your home, it’s important that you make an informed decision to ensure your radiator is both efficient and stylish. This might include spending time researching the right shape, size and style of radiator for your living space, as well as finding one that will align with the colour scheme of the room. Radiators are designed for a variety of spaces, so it’s important to ensure that the style you select is economical and will heat your space efficiently. Once you’ve decided on the style, it’s then down to the fitting, and, for those thinking of installing it yourself - you’ll need to make a list of all the components required to do this before you begin.


Whether you’re shopping for a room specific renovation, or you’re planning a full radiator refresh throughout the home, our radiator guide will help you make the right decision for your heating needs. And if you’re eager to have a go at installing these yourself, our Panel Company guide on how to choose and change a radiator will help to point you in the right direction. Introducing you to the different types of radiator available, as well as providing a practical, step-by-step installation guide that will have you fitting radiators like a pro in no time.

Do you need a plumber to change a radiator?

Choosing a radiator is a relatively straightforward job to tick off the list, but if you’re not feeling confident when it comes to installing it, calling a trusted plumber to do this for you is often the most sensible option. This is particularly important if your new radiator is a different size to the  existing one, as adjustments will need to be made to the plumbing and pipework to cater to this. Changes like this can often require work to be carried out below the floorboards, and in this case, it’s best to hire a professional to carry out the work to ensure these are installed safely and securely to reduce any risk of damage that could be caused by improper installation. 


If, however, the radiator you’re installing is the same size as the previous and requires no further groundwork, this could be installed yourself with some research. So if you’re an avid DIY enthusiast, eager to attempt the installation yourself, read ahead to discover how to install a radiator without a plumber.

How to measure a radiator for replacement

One of the most important steps when replacing your radiators is making sure that you have the correct measurements before purchasing your replacement. This is particularly important if you’re looking to perform the installation yourself. However, if you’re wanting to switch up the style entirely and your new radiator is different in size, for the reasons mentioned above, it’s safer to call a plumber out to do the job for you. 


To measure your existing radiator, you’ll need to be familiar with the ‘pipe centre’ number. This can be found by measuring the distance between the valves, located at either end of the radiator. One Panel Company tip to ensure an accurate measurement is to avoid measuring along the top of your radiator - as this can often result in an inaccurate reading. 


Depth should also be considered when measuring for your new radiator. If your chosen radiator is closer or further away from the wall than the previous one, you might encounter issues when connecting this to the pipework. As for the height of the radiator, this shouldn’t be an issue as long as there’s enough space that it won’t overlap with any wall decor or fixtures. Next, make sure you have a spanner on-hand and follow our step-by-step guide below.

How to change a radiator

Changing a radiator can require a high amount of dedication and focus to ensure a proper fit. Below we’ll guide you through exactly how to replace a radiator, going step-by-step to ensure all necessary areas are covered and you’re left with a fully functioning heater that will keep you warm during the colder months.

  1. Firstly, it’s important to check your wall - You need to ensure your wall is sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the new radiator. If your wall appears damaged, or shows any other signs of wear - tackle this first before taking any chances. You should also check for any wires or pipes that might be hiding in the walls to avoid drilling into these and causing damage or potential hazards. Placing old towels and sheets around the area is also advisable, particularly if you have a carpet, which prevents damage caused by dirty water shooting out of the valves.

  2. Turn off your water supply and central heating - Once you’ve done this, it’s important that you allow enough time for your radiator to cool completely before moving on to the next step, when it’s time to tackle the valves. At one end, you’ll find the manual control valve, which is used to switch the radiator off and change the temperature - It’s crucial that you turn this off before proceeding. The lockshield valve will be located at the other end of the radiator, this should be turned clockwise until you’re unable to turn this any further. While you’re doing this, you should keep a note of how many turns were made - as you’ll need to adjust this to the same setting once the replacement is set up. By completing these steps, you will have stopped any water from flooding into the radiator.

  3. Drain the radiator - We recommend using a bucket and  some old towels on hand to prevent potential spillages. Once the towels are laid, go back to the manual control valve and turn the nut that connects the pipework and the valve away from you to loosen it. Whilst you’re doing this, use another spanner to keep the control valve in place. Have the bucket and towels close before you unscrew the air bleed valve using a radiator bleed key. The water will start to drip out (it’s worth having two buckets for this in case the first fills up quicker than expected). There’s also a chance of water escaping near the top when you open the valve - so keep a towel over it to reduce clean-up time.

  4. Remove the radiator - This can be a two person job as radiators can be heavy and awkward to lift, and can be one of the most challenging steps, requiring strength and focus. Firstly, ensure that the nut at the control end is loose before moving on to unscrewing the vertical nut connecting the lockshield valve to the main body of the radiator. Next, lift the radiator off the wall with your helper holding one side, and you holding the other. Be aware that while lifting it, you might need to move the pipes around to allow the valves to come free - but ensure this is done carefully. Tilt the valve over the bucket to make sure all leftover  water has been released. Finally, place the radiator on the towels to prevent any further leaks from causing a mess or potential water damage.

  5. Replace the wall brackets - Check in advance if your new unit comes with brackets. If it doesn’t and your new radiator can’t be used with the previous brackets, you’ll need to purchase new ones before carrying out any of the above steps.However, if you own a freestanding cast iron radiator, you will need to fit a wall slay instead of a bracket. When fitting brackets, first measure the distance between the fixtures on your new radiator, then measure the length from the bottom of the bracket to the bottom of the radiator. Next, use this to plot on the wall where the brackets are going to be positioned, using a spirit level to make sure they are straight, before drilling them into place. When you place the radiator on the brackets, the bottom valves should align with the pipes in your floor.

  6. Hang or position the new radiator - Once everything is correctly lined up, you should place the bleed valve and valve tails on the new radiator. Then, position this on the brackets and tighten up the nuts using a spanner to attach the radiator to the existing pipework on the wall. Finally, you should locate the lockshield and control valves that were used to drain your old radiator. Get these working again by ensuring that exactly the same amount of turns are made as were used to close these in step 2. Next you should open the bleed valve to release any excess air, before securely closing it again when all the trapped air has been let out. If all steps have been carried out correctly, then the radiator should gradually start filling with water.

  7. Add a radiator corrosion inhibitor - An essential fixture that helps to protect your central heating system, an inhibitor prevents water and metals from reacting to each other, which could cause rust and corrosion. When you have your new radiator, it’s likely this will need replacing.

  8. Turn your heating back on - Last but not least, once you’re confident that everything is secured in place (it’s advisable to double or even triple check this) you can go and switch your central heating on and experience the luxury of having a brand new, working radiator.

    Types of radiator 

    Whether you prefer contemporary or traditional, tall or shorter styles, there are a range of stylish radiators available to browse at the Panel Company. Whichever radiator you choose to heat your living space, it’s important to ensure you select one that will appropriately align with your own taste requirements, as well as meeting the heating requirements of the room that you’re installing it in.

    Horizontal radiators

    Horizontal radiators are the most popular style that can be found in most homes across the country. Following a classic design, due to the demand for these, you can often find them in a variety of shapes, styles and sizes.

    kartell panel radiator

    If you’re searching for a simple, convenient design, this Kartell panel radiator will provide a minimal look, but will be a highly functional addition to your living space. Featuring a premium build that boasts a sleek appearance, this horizontal radiator adds a simplistic touch to any room - and includes retaining stays, tapping bushes and an air vent for maximum heat output. 

    space saving radiator from kartell

    Prepare your home for winter with our space-saving Kartell radiator. One of our favourite options that features an incredible heat output, this stylish fixture boasts a traditional and compact design, perfect for smaller spaces. Finished in a pure white colour, this versatile heater can be placed in a room of almost any colour and design - and is bound to add an extra hint of style to your living space. And whether you’re searching for a smaller or larger style to fit the size of your room - this Kartell radiator is available in a wide variety of different sizes on our website. 

    Vertical radiators 

    A unique option that has increased in popularity in recent years, vertical radiators provide the perfect solution for a smaller room, or one with limited wall space. These contemporary radiators provide heat and style to your space, and leave more space for furniture and other decor. 

    vertical kartell radiator

    Style your home for winter with this vertical Kartell radiator. This stunning heater boasts a sleek chrome design and is ideal for placing on a darker wall to add a statement contrast to help brighten your living space. Available in a wide range of colours and sizes to meet your preferences, this radiator comes with a fixing kit including plugs and vents for quick and easy installation.

    vertical radiator kartell

    If you’re searching for a more rustic style, this Kartell vertical radiator boasts a unique, raw metal design that will blend seamlessly in homes that follow a more traditional aesthetic. Providing a high heat output that will warm up your room in no time, this radiator is available in several different sizes to suit your interiors.

    Radiator styles at The Panel Company

    Whether you’re looking for a vertical radiator to make a statement style, or you’re searching for a horizontal column radiator boasting a more classic design, we have everything you need to find a radiator that will add character to your home at the Panel Company. If you’re looking for further inspiration, find our collection online, which features a range of stylish radiators and valves designed to complement and heat your home interiors. 

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