Most old radiators are solidly built but not as efficient as modern ones and corrode in the course of time. Replacing them can be a DIY job.
Your walls must be sound. On hollow walls, new supporting brackets must be attached securely into studs to take the weight. Use a multi-purpose detector to locate the studs and reveal hidden cables or pipes.
To avoid extensive plumbing, buy new column radiators the same length. However, there are modern plumbing fittings easy for the layman to use at all modern DIY stores.
Suppliers such as Apollo offer a full range of stylish column radiators, as well as designer alternatives and towel rails.
Isolate the radiator by closing the valves at either end. Assuming your valves are sound you do not need to turn off your mains water. Some valves have knobs but others have a nut that must be turned with a spanner. Clockwise is off.
When you begin detaching your old radiator, water spillage is inevitable so remove carpets and be ready with rags and bowls to catch what you can. You can control the rate the radiator releases water by loosening or tightening the bleed valve at the top.
Next, to loosen the nuts between the valves and the radiator you may need both a wrench and spanner – one to turn the nut and the other to support the pipe so it does not twist. When the valves are loose, you can release the radiator from its brackets and lie it down.
Finish disconnecting it, plugging the open pipe ends with rags.
While you have free access to the wall, consider fitting heat reflecting foil. Even on insulated cavity walls most people agree these improve radiator efficiency.
Fitting the new radiator
Check if you can reuse the old supporting brackets. If not, prepare the wall for the new ones. You can also reuse the valve connectors from the old radiator – but clean them and check the thread is sound. You can apply PTFE tape or plumbers sealing putty when screwing in connectors.
Attaching pipes and mounting the radiator is now just the reverse of disassembly. Finally, open the inflow valve, letting air escape through the bleed valve until water appears. Then open the outflow. If you have no leaks, you’re all done!