Did you know that your old radiators are not as efficient as they once were? With a more modern electric heating system in place, old-fashioned radiators are out of date and can cause your system to work harder than necessary. If you are considering removing a radiator permanently from your home, it is vital to understand three things: why you want to remove the radiator; what needs to be done for this process; and how much it will cost. This article will help answer these questions so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not permanently removing a radiator is right for your home!

old radiator

Why Remove a Radiator Permanently?

There can be many reasons why you want to remove a radiator permanently such as installing an improved and more efficient system, changing a room layout, or saving money on your heating costs. Whatever the reason, before you embark on your mission, you will need to be sure that permanent removal of the radiator is what you want to do because if you change your mind, it could become rather costly.

Can You Permanently Remove a Radiator Yourself?

Permanently removing a radiator from your home is something that can be done by yourself although you will need to enlist the help of a registered plumber who will alter any pipework for the process to go smoothly. Changing or capping pipework work is a complex job for a professional and should not take too long if you have already done the prep work and removed the radiator beforehand.

Note: Although you can remove the actual radiator unit itself, remember that in some countries it is a legal requirement that any alterations to pipework are carried out by a certified professional.

Old Worn Out Radiator
Old Worn Out Radiator

Do You Drain the Whole System When Removing a Radiator Permanently?

It can take hours to drain a home’s entire heating system but luckily if you are only removing one or two radiators, there is no need to drain the whole system. Just bleed the radiator(s) that you plan on taking out and then go ahead. Although there is no need, draining the whole system is not necessarily a bad idea. It must be done every once in a while to clean out the system and keep it clear of sludge and other debris. Whilst removing your radiator, why not kill two birds with one stone?

Do You Need to Turn Off the Water When Removing a Radiator Permanently?

Radiators have valves that can be closed off from the central heating system meaning that you do not need to turn off the mains water to take out a single radiator. However, you will need to be careful as water damage can get pretty serious, especially with carpets and hardwood floors. If you are removing an old system and are worried about the condition of your radiator valves being up to the task, you can turn off the isolation valves to give you that extra peace of mind.

Note: If you decide to drain down the whole system, you will need to turn off the mains water supply to prevent getting awfully wet!

When is Best to Remove a Radiator Permanently?

The best time of year to remove a radiator is during the warmer months. The reasons for this are clear. You will want to remove a radiator whilst it is not in use, and this is likely to be during the late spring or summer. Unless you absolutely must, we do not recommend permanently removing a radiator in the winter as the temperatures in the UK are unpredictable at best and the weather can quickly turn from mild to freezing in the blink of an eye.

How to Permanently Remove a Radiator

Removing a radiator permanently is a relatively simple task but you will need to cap off, alter or remove any pipework that needs to come out too. Another good idea is to enlist some help from a friend or family member as another pair of hands will make the job of removing the radiator so much easier. Not only are radiators (particularly old ones) extremely heavy but they are also filled with water which will have to be carefully emptied – this is not an easy task on your own.

UK Building Regs for Work that Needs Reporting

What You Need

To do this job yourself, you will need a couple of simple tools. In all likelihood, you already have these tools at home so you should not have to go out and buy any.

  • Radiator Bleed Key
  • Lockshield Valve Key
  • Adjustable Spanner
  • Grips, Wrench or Second Adjustable Spanner
  • Towel, Rag or Sponge
  • Bucket, Large Bowl, or Tray
  • Screwdriver

Step 1 – Turn Your Heating Off

The first and most obvious step is to turn the heating off – this includes any timers that may be due to engage the system and turn it back on. This is purely a health and safety measure – the temperature of the water inside a central heating system could cause significant burns if the water comes into contact with your skin.

However, if you have followed our advice and you are removing the radiator in the warmer months, the system should already be off in which case you can move on to step 2.

Step 2 – Isolate the Radiator

The next step is to isolate the radiator you are permanently removing from the rest of the system. You are able to do this by closing the valves at each end of the unit in question. At one end you are likely to have the valve used to control the water flow or a TRV to control the temperature – you will want to turn this all the way off. At the other end of the radiator, there will be another valve – usually located under a plastic cap of some sort. This is called the lockshield valve, so take your lockshield valve key and continue to turn this valve clockwise until the valve is completely closed.

Your radiator is now isolated from the rest of the system.

Step 3 – Drain the Radiator

Next up, is the messy part so you will need your bucket, bowl, or tray at the ready so you can drain the water from inside the radiator.

  1. First, take your drip tray and place it under the end of the radiator you are going to drain first (we recommend the same end as the bleed valve).
  2. Then take your grips and get a good grip on the valve so that when you try and crack the union nut, the valve does not bend or break.
  3. Once you have a grip on the valve, undo the union nut that attaches the radiator to the pipework.
  4. With the union nut undone, the radiator should begin to drain freely although if you only have a small drip tray and are on your own, be prepared to do the union nut back up quickly whilst you empty it.
  5. If you have another pair of helping hands, it should not be a problem as they can switch out the tray and empty the filled one.
  6. Whilst the radiator is draining, it is a good idea to open the bleed valve with your bleed valve key. This may not only release a little water but will allow air into the radiator, helping it drain faster.

Step 4 – Loosen the Other End

Once you are happy that the radiator has drained all it can from the end you undid first. You can then move on to loosening the union nut at the other end. You will do this in the same way as the first by gripping the valve to hold it in place and undoing the nut with your spanner.

Remember that you are likely to get more water coming from that end so prepare your drip tray and towel etc.

Step 5 – Tilt the Radiator

With your drip tray in place under the second valve, it is a good idea to lift the other end of the radiator to help drain any remaining water. This is another reason that enlisting help is a good idea.

Draining an Old Radiator
Draining an Old Radiator

Step 6 – Remove the Radiator from the Wall

Once you are happy that you have drained all the water you can from the unit, it is time to completely undo the union nuts and remove the radiator from the wall. Radiators are usually held on by brackets that are located behind the rad and with help, you can just lift it straight off and outside ready for the scrap metal merchants.

Step 7 – Remove the Brackets

This is where the screwdriver comes in handy, I would expect that you will need a Philips but probably best to have a flathead with you just in case.

Remove the brackets from the wall and then it is time to call in a professional to deal with the remaining pipework.

Step 8 – Remove the Pipework

As we mentioned above, in some countries it is a legal requirement to have a trained professional come and cap, alter or remove pipework in your home so make sure you check the rules where you are. A trained plumber will be able to come and deal with your pipework ensuring that there are no ‘dead legs’ in the pipe system.


As you can see, removing a radiator permanently can be done yourself but it is a good idea to have another pair of hands. You could get a plumber to come and do the whole job but seeing how simple it can be can save you a few quid. You will however need a trained professional to help you with altering and ultimately removing any pipework, but this should be done in a couple of hours at most.

How to Drain a Radiator Infographic

Plumbing Wizard Tips

“Enlist help. Although this job can be done alone, it is far easier to do with someone lending a helping hand!”

“Removing a radiator is the ideal time to drain down the whole system and flush out any dirt and debris that may have built up!”

“It is best to do any work on your heating system during the warmer months of the year when you are less likely to need it!”

“Don’t just go with the first plumber you find when getting quotes for the pipe removal – try 2 or 3 and go with the one that is best!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Lockshield valve clockwise or anticlockwise?

To open lockshield valves you will need to turn them anticlockwise and to close them off completely, you will need to turn the valve clockwise.

Can I remove a radiator without draining the system?

The answer is yes. The whole system does not need to be drained to remove a radiator. Radiators can be individually isolated using the valves at either end. Draining the whole system does need to happen periodically for cleaning so removing a radiator may present the perfect opportunity.

Do you need to turn the water off to remove the radiator?

No, the mains water does not need to be turned off when you are removing a radiator. Radiators have valves that allow them to be isolated from the rest of the system.

Do I need a professional to remove a radiator?

Removing a radiator is not a task that requires deep plumbing and heating system knowledge, but, if you are not too confident, it is recommended to hire a professional to ensure that the job is done safely and correctly.

Can I remove a radiator myself?

If you have experience with plumbing and heating systems and the proper tools, you may be able to remove a radiator yourself. However, if you are unsure about any aspect of the process, it’s best to consult a professional.

What are the dangers of removing a radiator?

Removing a radiator can be dangerous if proper safety procedures are not followed. It’s important to turn off the heating system and drain the water before working on the radiator. Also, it’s important to ensure that the radiator and surrounding pipes are properly sealed after the radiator is removed to prevent leaks.

What should I do with the removed radiator?

Once the radiator is removed, it can be recycled or sold for scrap metal. However, it’s important to check with your local authorities for proper disposal guidelines.

Will removing a radiator affect my heating system’s performance?

Yes, removing a radiator can affect the overall performance of your heating system, as it can cause an imbalance in the system and can lead to cold spots in your home which will need to be addressed.

Can I remove a radiator and not replace it with another one?

Yes, you can remove a radiator without replacing it with another one. However, it’s important to ensure that the remaining radiators in the system are properly balanced and that the heating system is functioning correctly.

Will removing a radiator reduce my heating costs?

Removing a radiator can reduce your heating costs if the radiator is not being used or is causing an imbalance in the system. However, it’s important to ensure that the remaining radiators in the system are properly balanced to maintain the efficiency of the heating system.

Can I remove a radiator and add a new one in a different location?

Yes, you can remove a radiator and add a new one in a different location.

How long does it take to remove a radiator?

The time it takes to remove a radiator can vary depending on the size and location of the radiator, as well as the complexity of the surrounding pipes.

How do I choose the right plumber for removing or altering pipework?

When choosing a plumber for removing or altering pipework, ensure they are certified and experienced in the specific task. It’s also beneficial to read reviews, ask for recommendations, and get multiple quotes to find the best deal.

What are the signs that my radiator needs to be removed?

If your radiator is leaking, rusting, or not heating efficiently, it may need to be removed. Additionally, if you are renovating your home or updating your heating system, you may choose to remove old or inefficient radiators.

Can I repurpose my old radiator?

Yes, old radiators can be repurposed into furniture, decorative pieces, or garden features. However, ensure that they are safe to use and don’t contain any hazardous materials before repurposing.

Do I need to inform my insurance company if I remove a radiator?

It’s always a good idea to check with your home insurance provider when making significant changes to your property, including removing a radiator, to ensure you remain covered.

How do I know if my radiator is efficient?

An efficient radiator heats up quickly and distributes heat evenly throughout the room. If your radiator takes a long time to warm up, has cold spots, or doesn’t heat the room effectively, it may not be working efficiently.

What are the environmental implications of removing a radiator?

When removing a radiator, it’s crucial to dispose of it responsibly. Many radiators can be recycled, reducing the environmental impact. Additionally, replacing an old, inefficient radiator with a newer, more efficient model can reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Is it safe to remove a radiator while pregnant or around children?

If you’re pregnant or have children around, ensure the area is well-ventilated and take precautions to avoid lifting heavy objects. It might be best to enlist professional help or ensure another adult is present during the removal process.

Are there any alternatives to removing a radiator?

If you’re trying to improve heating efficiency, you might consider adding reflective panels behind radiators, bleeding the radiators, or adding thermostatic radiator valves instead of entirely removing them.

How often should I check my radiators for efficiency?

It’s a good idea to check your radiators at least once a year, preferably before the start of the heating season, to ensure they are working efficiently.

What if there’s a leak during the removal process?

If a leak occurs during the radiator removal process, it’s essential to address it immediately to prevent water damage. Shut off any water valves connected to the radiator and clean up the leaked water. If unsure about the next steps, it’s best to consult a professional.


Lee Pearce is not just a master plumber; he’s a veritable Plumbing Wizard. With over 30 years of experience in the trenches of pipes and drains, Lee has become the go-to sage for DIY plumbing, saving homeowners thousands in potential call-out charges. As the founder of Plumbing Wizard, he’s dedicated to demystifying the complexities of home plumbing, offering easy-to-follow advice that stands the test of time and pressure. His online blog is a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and tutorials that empower everyday individuals to take charge of their home’s plumbing health. Lee’s practical wisdom is not just about fixing leaks; it’s about imparting confidence and self-reliance. When he’s not writing or elbow-deep in a plumbing project, Lee is passionate about educating the next generation of DIYers, ensuring that practical skills are passed down and preserved.

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