The cost of replacing a home radiator

The cost of replacing a home radiator

Replacing a radiator can be costly and time-consuming. For best results, make a plan.

Factors to consider when replacing a radiator

  • Purchase price of major and minor components
  • Labor costs to service, repair and replace
  • Cost of tools and time commitment if you DIY
  • Benefits of covering it with a home warranty

How much does it cost to replace a radiator in a house? It’s a common question that many homeowners have wondered, and the answer varies widely. While replacement and repair costs for radiators can be substantial, they’re often less expensive than repairing or replacing a more modern HVAC system. In a house, radiator maintenance — sometimes known as boiler maintenance or furnace maintenance — refers to the regular upkeep of any of the parts related to your radiator system. These involve hot water, which boils in the boiler and combines with forced air to heat your home with baseboard heat. This heat radiates throughout a room, earning the radiator its name.

Is it time to replace your home radiator?

Radiators are often solidly built and can last decades, and sometimes the real problem in your system is due to the boiler, a broken seal or a bad pipe. If you experience problems with your radiator, one good way to troubleshoot is to try bleeding it, which is recommended once a year or so anyway. Bleeding a radiator simply involves releasing old air and water from the system. To do this, you’ll need a cup, a flat-head screwdriver, a large sheet of plastic and a dry cloth. First, wait for the radiator to cool, then follow these steps to bleed it:

  • Lay the plastic sheet on the floor under the radiator.
  • Open the valve by turning it counterclockwise (less than a full turn) with the screwdriver.
  • Place the cup under the valve to catch water. You’ll hear the air hiss as it escapes.
  • Once the water begins to trickle out, close the valve without over-tightening it.
  • Try the radiator again to see if you resolved the problem.

If your radiator still isn’t working properly and you see evidence of a leak, you may have a bleeding valve, which is easier to replace and much less expensive than a new radiator. If you see no evidence of leaking water or air and still have a problem, it may be time for a professional diagnosis. Unless you have a comprehensive home appliance and system warranty, it’s always a good idea to get multiple quotes from area professionals. Be sure to ask questions. A suspiciously low bid sometimes means cheap parts, which can end up costing you more in the long run.

Is replacing your radiator worth it?

Is it worth replacing old radiators? If yours aren’t working as they should, and repair isn’t an effective option, removing and replacing them is a viable solution that can both lower your energy costs and get essential heat back into your home. However, removing radiators from a house can be a time- and labor-intensive undertaking with considerable opportunity for injury. 

Sometimes an easy fix is all that’s needed, and replacement isn’t required. If you feel pretty handy with a pipe wrench, you may even be able to do it yourself. If you think you’ve got what it takes to DIY, read on for some tips that could help you avoid mistakes, a mess and potential damage.

Replacing it yourself

Can I replace my radiator myself? The answer is yes, you can — but it’ll take some work and cost you some money. One of the advantages of radiators, when it comes to repairs, is their relatively accessible, modular design, which makes it easier to target one unit without taking apart a complete system. 

However, even if you choose to repair or replace it yourself, you may want to consider having a licensed heating professional diagnose the problem first. They will test your radiator for leaks, inspect the boiler, check all the pipes, and pinpoint leaky valves, usually pairing this diagnosis with an estimate on repair, replacement and removal costs.

Determined to DIY?

If you’re still determined to DIY, first check the wall behind the radiator for any signs of water damage, which is not uncommon. If you find any, you’ll want to fix the wall behind the old radiator before putting in a new one, and this could involve masonry work, plaster repair, and drywall removal and installation, along with mounting new brackets on studs. This work to prep the site could take you several hours and cost at least $100. 

In addition to the tools we mentioned before, you’ll want to have a stud finder, wood screws, a power drill, pipe wrenches, various sections of pipe, and a spud wrench. Along with the new radiator you’re installing, you might also want to pick up a radiator repair kit, which typically comes with four brackets for the wall, wall plugs, an end cap and bleed cap, and assorted washers, screws, bolts and fasteners. Some radiators require special brackets that typically come with the unit. 

Once the wall is fixed and dry, and you’re ready to replace the radiator, you might also want to grab a few more items. These include more dry cloths, some steel wool, a masonry drill bit, a set of Allen wrenches, a couple of crescent wrenches, a paint tray, a pipe dope, a bucket and a pipe cable, along with a TRV (thermostatic radiator valve) and lockshield. Then follow these eight steps:

  1. Turn off the boiler. If the pipe centers don’t match, you’ll have to reorient the new valves.
  2. Release the radiator by loosening the nut, and close the valves at both ends.
  3. Place your tray, bucket or cup beneath the valves and remove the old radiator.
  4. Replace the valves by using two wrenches moving in opposite directions.
  5. If you need a new spud, remove it with the spud wrench and replace it.
  6. Dope all the threads, and use the pipe wrench to reestablish the connections.
  7. Move the new radiator into place while also minding the bracket positioning.
  8. Open the hand valve, turn on the boiler, close the bleed valve, and reconnect the water.

What will a plumber charge?

It does start to sound a little overwhelming, particularly if you find you’re not quite as handy as you thought you were. Replacing radiators and related components can get expensive pretty fast. Some people end up taking out personal loans or home equity loans to pay for them. How much will a plumber charge to replace a radiator? As a general rule, you can expect to pay between $250 and $500 per new radiator, plus somewhere around $800 for labor to install the whole system. If you end up needing to replace the boiler as well, expect an additional cost of between $500 and $1,500. Usually, boilers run on gas or electricity, but a geothermal heat pump is a more expensive option that could save you money in the long term.

However you choose to proceed, you might also want to refer to some of our other helpful articles on related topics such as important steps in radiator maintenance or putting together a furnace maintenance checklist. Meanwhile, if you’re wondering whether a home warranty covers water heaters, here’s your answer

Sometimes the benefits to your budget and the free time and peace of mind that come from a home warranty covering systems and appliances — like radiators — are pretty tough to beat. If you’d like to cover your entire radiator system, including your water boiler, so you can set it and forget it and stay within your budget, here’s a free quote.

The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.

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