How to Fix Up Unsightly Radiators

Updated February 21, 2017

Radiators provide heat inside your home by using a water-based system. Your furnace heats the water, then a pump sends the hot water through metal pipes and to the radiator, where the water circulates before ultimately returning to the furnace. Over the course of time and through regular use, your radiators can become an eyesore. When rust develops, and the paint chips, bubbles or flakes off, you may want to restore the radiators yourself.

Turn off the main power to the furnace. Gravity will draw the water back to the boiler, making draining pipes unnecessary.

Disconnect the radiator from the line by loosening the union joints with a pipe wrench. Depending on the age of the radiator and its last removal, apply torch heat to loosen any stuck union joints. If you are using a heat torch, place fireproof blankets on the surrounding floor and walls to prevent accidental fires.

Lift and remove the radiator with the help of an assistant. Bring the radiator outside or into a workshop.

Blast the radiator with walnut shells or another light abrasive material. Rent a sandblaster that has the capabilities of handling light abrasive materials. Do not use sand because it will eat its way through the metal and will permanently damage your radiator.

Wipe the radiator down with a damp rag to remove all dust and debris from blasting.

Apply oil-based primer with a paint brush. Allow the primer to dry completely, usually two to four hours.

Apply two coats of oil-based paint with a paint brush. Allow each coat to dry for two to four hours between applications.

Reinstall the radiator and restore power to the furnace and heating system.


Wear a protective face shield, gloves, long sleeves and long trousers when blasting.

Things You'll Need

  • Pipe wrench
  • Torch
  • Fireproof blankets
  • Blaster
  • Walnut shells or light abrasive
  • Damp rag
  • Oil-based primer
  • Paint brush
  • Oil-based paint
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About the Author

Sal Marco began writing professionally in 2009. He has written many online home improvement articles based on his more than 20 years of experience in the home improvement and building industries. He has worked as both part of a team and as a site supervisor. Marco has a Bachelor of Science in management science from Kean University.