Cost Of Installing New Radiators
A guide of the process for hiring a tradesman to install new radiators in your home, including the costs of labour and any materials.
This article will detail the process of fitting a new radiator system to an entire house and will look at the process, the pitfalls, and any points of interest while doing it. It will also present a few frequently asked questions regarding the fitting and commissioning process.
Fitting an entire central heating system is both a costly and complex job, and you will need to have extensive knowledge of heating systems to be able to achieve it successfully. While it is possible to install the whole system on your own, it is recommended to have it done by a professional installer due to the complex nature of central heating.
Costs involved with installing new radiators
This will very much depend upon whether you intend to carry out the work yourself or have it done by a professional plumber. If you do it yourself, there is really only the cost of parts, with a radiator costing between £60 and £170 depending upon the size. This will be multiplied by the number of radiators you actually need.
If you intend to have a professional fit them, then there is an hourly rate too, which could see the cost of each radiator rise to between £120 and £300. There will also be ancillary costs for copper pipes to join each radiator. The typical home has between 8-12 radiators.
What installing new radiators entails
Fitting a new radiator system will require the draining of the system, removal of the old radiators, assessment and cleaning of the pipework between them. It will then require the fitting of the new radiators in the same basic positions as the old ones, reconnecting the system and bleeding it to remove any air from the system. These steps, while following a logical series, are fairly specialized and many DIY enthusiasts may not want to tackle them. Furthermore, if any work is needed that interferes with the boiler system, this will have to be carried out by a CORGI-accredited engineer and signed off when complete.
Since this is a complex job, it will require a number of tools to be able to complete it. These will include:
- An adjustable spanner, or set of spanners.
- Spirit level
- Radiator key
- Tape measure
- Pipe cutter
- Stiff brush
- Pipe tape
- Dust sheets
This list may not be exhaustive and other tools may also be required.
Other jobs to tackle
If you are removing your radiators to replace them, you may find that the walls and skirting boards behind them have not been decorated to a good standard since it is difficult to decorate successfully with them in place and many homeowners are reluctant to remove them simply to decorate. If you are intending to install them in new areas, make sure that the wall and skirting boards are in good condition first, to prevent any issues later.
General advice when installing new radiators
Fitting all new radiators in your home is a large and complex task, and one that needs proper planning to ensure that the work is done well and remains free from trouble. If you are replacing, you will need to ensure that the system is cool and bleed it fully to remove all of the water before commencing the work. Make sure that you undo all connecting pipes before trying to remove the radiator from the wall.
If you are fitting radiators in new places or for the first time, position the radiators first so that you know how much piping you will need to connect them. Once they are in their final positions, you will be able to determine how much piping is needed to connect them – allowing for expansion of the system – and cut them to lengths accordingly. You will need to decide whether the piping is going to go under the floorboards throughout or some of it will follow the lines of the walls at skirting board level. If you decide on fully underfloor, it will cost more and will generally take longer to fit, but will look a much more professional job.
Who can install new radiators?
Anyone with the skills can install new radiators but the central heating system will need to connect to the boiler and existing systems such as header tanks, and this means that it will need connecting and checking by a certified professional. Any work that involves the boiler must be completed by a CORGI registered fitter. Once the whole system is in place, it will need filling with water – together with an appropriate corrosion inhibitor - and bleeding to remove any air from the system. This again, is best carried out by a professional.
Here is a list of commonly asked questions regarding installing new radiators.
Q What is the difference between cast iron, steel and aluminium radiators?
Traditional cast iron radiators have been used in period homes and the dense heavy structure takes time to reach optimal temperature but they remain hot long after the central heating is turned off. Constructed from a lighter less dense material, steel radiators will heat up and cool down quickly providing manageable control.
Aluminum radiators are highly efficient and conductive and will heat up almost instantly after the central heating is turned on, giving you total control over your central heating system, but they will lose heat quite quickly.
Q Where should I position my radiators?
In most homes, radiators are best placed in the coldest part of the room, which is usually found under a window. Large spaces are more effectively heated with two or more, smaller radiators rather than one large one.
A rule of the thumb often used in the trade is to have one radiator every four metres or so in the room. An alternative could be two tall thin radiators either side of the window or a long low radiator along the wall. You will need to examine your room to determine the best configuration.
Q Why are my radiators hot at the top and cold at the bottom?
This means that the radiator may be receiving an insufficient flow of water. Usually large radiators need a higher water flow than small radiators and they may not be getting sufficient water flow. There may be several reasons for this, such as incorrect balancing, incorrect pipe size or an under-performing or under-sized pump, there may also simply be a blockage in the radiator or there could be pockets of oxygen that need venting.
Q Can I use microbore pipework?
In most cases, yes, but large cast iron radiators can be problematic when balancing the central heating system. If in doubt, you should ask your plumber or installer.