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Six Things You Should Know Before Adding a Radiator

Adding a new radiator or changing an existing radiator is a relatively simple job, but if you don't know one end of a valve from another, it is a good idea to ask a plumber to tackle the job. It shouldn't cost you a fortune and at least you don't have to worry about flooding the place. However, if you are reasonably competent at DIY, changing or adding a radiator in a wet central heating system (the most common type in the UK) is well within the capabilities of any DIY savvy person. However, before you begin, there are a few things you need to consider.

Can the Boiler Cope?

Boilers don't have an unlimited energy output. If there are too many radiators on a system, they will work but they won't get hot enough. So, before you go adding extra radiators all over the place, check your boiler's BTU—this will tell you the maximum output of the boiler. It is normally ok to add one or two extra radiators, but use a BTU calculator for radiators in the home and cross reference this against the boiler output.

Check It's All There

Buying a new radiator online may seem like a cheap solution, but unless you buy from a reputable company, you could end up missing a few vital pieces. The worst-case scenario is that you remove your existing radiator, only to discover that the new one doesn't have any screws to hold it and the stores are now closed. So check the package before you start the job.

Location, Location, Location

If you are installing a radiator in a new location, think carefully about where the pipes are going to go. It is a lot easier to fit a new radiator to existing pipe work than it is to pipe in from somewhere else. Do you want the pipes to feed up from the floor? If so the floor boards will have to come up, which could be messy. Give this some thought before you make a snap decision.

Air in the System

Adding a radiator means draining down the system, which invariably leads to trapped air in the pipes. Air locks are noisy, but bleeding the radiators should solve the problem.

Top Up the Boiler Pressure

Draining down the system will also reduce the water pressure in the boiler so don’t forget to top this up once you have everything running smoothly. A loud, whining pump is a symptom of low water pressure. If you ignore it the pump will eventually wear out—and a replacement pump is unlikely to be cheap!

More Inhibitor Needed

Another side effect of draining down the system is that you will need more inhibitor (the product that stops sludge building up in the system). The good news is that inhibitor isn’t very expensive.

If in doubt about your DIY skills when fitting heated towel rails for small bathrooms, call on the services of a reputable plumber to do the job. It might be more expensive, but at least your carpets won't be ruined.