A dummies guide to replacing a radiator.

A while ago when we upgraded the upstairs of our house, we tried various plumbers in the area. Some didn't appear, some appeared and caused devastation, etc. And so when Squids' office radiator stopped working, we though we had to do something quickly, and so we'd have to do it ourself.

We correctly guessed that the fundamental problem was that the thermostatic valve on the right of the radiator had frozen, and no amount of swearing or beating with a hammer would release it. Okay, I thought, lets get a replacement, and fit it ourselves. After all, how hard could it be?

So off I pop to the local DIY store. Its about 35 miles away, and huge, and I thought mistakenly, would have everything. So we returned with a new value, and various odds and sods to the tune of around £100.

We of course drained the system (3 hours), which involved buckets, towels, lots of manky water on the floor and SWMBO's constant advice and commands. A good time was had by all. Not.

(Most radiator systems have a handy wee 'drain me' tap which dumps the horrible water straight into the waste pipes and out of the house. Guess what my summer project will be next year?)

And when we compared the new value to the old, we suddenly found out that whilst all new radiators have 15mm fittings (that is are geared towards 15mm pipes), the old radiator was seriously old. Perhaps 15 years old, and had old Imperial fittings. Bums.

So back to the DIY store (and another 70 mile drive), to see if we can get alternative values. I found some to the back of an old dusty DIY store, and drove home, another £20 lighter in the pocket.

No. Wrong size.

So lets go and get a new radiator. BACK up to the DIY Store, and guess what - it was a non-standard size. NOTHING was even close, without digging up the floor. Not going to happen.

Rats. So lets just replace the radiator with a nice shiny modern one. 'Next Day Delivery' shouted the website, and £130 worse off, ordered it.

So 10 days later, I finally shout at them, and 14 days later, get the new radiator. Fine. Now. The problem them was finding 8mm microbore to 15mm fittings. Back to the DIY store. And found a very helpful man (a plumber himself) who worked there, and went to his van and gave me two new internal reduction fittings, as the store was out of them.

Great! Back home, drained the system AGAIN, lots of shouting AGAIN, and FINALLY - got the old faulty valve off, and mounted the new radiator. By this time, water was coming out of the old pipe (but not quickly) so I hacksawed off the old valve, fitted the new one and....

Yes. Since I'd shortened the pipe, the radiator had to be moved down the wall. And since more of the lack-of wallpaper was showing, the wall had to be fixed, and a radiator reflector attached, which meant ANOTHER trip to the DIY Store.

But hey, after all that, We got the damn thing up and fitted on Saturday night, and filled the system, and.... it leaked. Again.


So Sunday, BACK TO THE STORE to buy YET MORE dammed FITTINGS, and we find that hacksawing copper pipe isnt good, so you have to get a PIPE CUTTER, and I treated myself to a new big spanner to HIT THE DAMMED THING WITH, and we drained the SYSTEM yet AGAIN

And I got soaked when SWMBO decided to lift her end of a 3m long tray of stinking Eau de Radiator and a wave filled my trousers. Once she'd stopped laughing some 12 hours later, we then CHOPPED the end of the damned pipe, and re-cut it using the pipe cutter, fitted a NEW BLOODY VALVE, and put it all back together again, around 11pm last night.

And went to bed. So at 6am, I crept down the stairs, and inspected the dammed value, and it wasn't leaking.


So. At least 10 trips to the DIY store (700 miles), drained the system over 6 times (at 3 hours a time), new parts and radiator (£400) and TWO WHOLE WEEKENDS wasted.


Postscript. The flash new designer radiator upstairs still doesn't work. I think we'll tackle that in the spring..