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How To Temporarily Remove a Radiator

This guide is useful if you need to temporarily remove a radiator for papering or painting behind it, or if you are replacing the radiator with the same dimensions.

Closing off the water

Firstly turn off the heating and allow it to cool so that the water in the radiator is not too hot. Switch off the valves at both ends of the radiator. One will be a control valve which should be screwed down clockwise. The other will be a lockshield valve with a cover. Remove the plastic cover and use pipe grips or adjustable spanner to close it clockwise. This valve is used to balance the amount of water flowing to this radiator. Make a note of the number of turns required to close it so that it may be opened by the correct amount when refitting the radiator.

Thermostatic valves

If one of the valves is a thermostatic type, be sure to check that it has an off position.

NOTE: It is no good relying on the ‘frost stat’ position, since the room may become cold enough while the radiator is off for this to kick in and allow water to flow.

If your thermostatic valve does not have an off position, it will be necessary to fit what is known as a dust cover. These are plastic caps which fit onto the top of valve in place of the thermostatic device and are used to protect it during installation and redecorating work. Chances are though, that unless you have been diligent enough to store the cap away safely, you will not have one. Pick one up of the appropriate size from your local merchant. There are ways of improvising but they are not wholly reliable and therefore are not recommended. Undo the thermostatic top by unscrewing its retaining collar which holds it to the valve assembly. This should only be hand tight and easy to undo. Use of a wrench may dislodge the valve assembly from the pipework. Now that both valves are closed, make sure no water is flowing through it. The simplest way to check this is to use the radiator key to open the bleed valve (armed with a rag to catch the drips). A little water will be discharged and then the flow will stop. The bleed valve is a small key operated air release mechanism mounted at the top and to one end of the radiator. If the water continues to flow, the valves have not been fully closed. Double check, but do not force them. If it is not possible to close them properly, the system will need to be drained down before proceeding. Arm yourself with two pipe wrenches, a dustpan, a bucket and some rags. Protect the floor around the valves with the rags.

Empying the radiator

Hold the valve assembly itself with one pipe wrench so that it cannot be pulled loose from the pipe feeding it. With the dustpan underneath the joint, use the other wrench to slacken the nut which holds the radiator to the valve. As you do so, water will begin to dribble out of the radiator into the dustpan. As this becomes full, close the nut again so that the dustpan can be emptied into a bucket. Reposition it and slacken the nut again. If you open the bleed valve at the top of the radiator, air will enter and allow the water to flow more quickly. Repeat this procedure until all the water has been drained, before undoing the nut completely.

Removing the radiator

Now, carefully undo the nut holding the radiator to the valve at the other end in the same way. Close the bleed valve. Remember, there will be a residue of water and sludge in the bottom of the radiator, so ensure there is adequate protection, particularly with carpets. Ease the radiator off the valves at both ends. This will require a gentle pushing of the valve to one side to release the pipe. Once both ends are clear, lift the radiator up from its brackets and hold it at an angle over the bucket to finish draining. Radiators can be fairly heavy, so get an assistant to help.

NOTE: Before moving the radiator to store it out of the way while you work, turn it over so that any sludge in it cannot drip and stain the floor.

As a precautionary measure, you should use end caps, available from your merchant, to guard against leakage from the valve until you are ready to re-fit the radiator. These can be fitted to the open end of the valves. Wrap a length of PTFE tape clockwise around the valve thread before tightening the cover with a wrench. Remember to hold the valve steady with a second wrench.


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