How to Replace a Radiator With a Towel Rail

Written by nathan mcginty
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There's nothing better than stepping out of a relaxing bath and wrapping yourself in a warm towel. Heated towel rails use water from your home's heating system to maintain towels at a comfortable temperature. They also serve to warm the bathroom, just as a regular radiator, as well. This combination works well in bathrooms that are short on space. You can replace a radiator with a towel rail in your bathroom without too much effort.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Towel rail
  • Pliers
  • Wrench
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Bowl
  • Radiator key
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Power drill
  • Drill bit
  • Towel rail anchors
  • Towel rail screws
  • Teflon plumber's tape

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  1. 1

    Measure out the space where you will be replacing the radiator with a towel rail and purchase one that fits your bathroom style. For the easiest installation, pick a towel rail that is the same width as the radiator. This will make the plumbing connections easier.

  2. 2

    Close off the water-supply valve. This is the valve with the temperature indicator, called the wheel valve; turn it all the way to the right to turn off the water.

  3. 3

    Remove the plastic cap, if present, from the lock-shield valve at the other end of the radiator. These are generally held in place with screws. Remove the screw and pull of the cap. Turn the hexagonal valve clockwise until it stops.

  4. 4

    Locate the radiator drain valve. This is usually located on the wheel valve side of the radiator. The drain valve, if present, will be pointing downwards. Unscrew the cap on the drain valve with a pair of pliers. Loosen the radiator bleed screw, located at the top of the radiator, with the radiator bleed key to help the radiator drain faster. Close the drain valve, if needed, to empty out the bowl when it fills. If there is no drain valve, unscrew the radiator coupling from the wheel valve to loosen one side of the radiator and allow the water to drain into the bowl.

  5. 5

    Loosen the coupling on the lock-shield valve side of the radiator. Use one pair of pliers to hold the lock-shield valve steady while you unscrew the coupling with another pair of pliers or a wrench.

  6. 6

    Remove the radiator from the wall brackets. How exactly this is done depends on your set-up, but generally you will have to first lift the radiator up by a few inches before you can remove it from the bracket.

  7. 7

    Remove the wall bracket anchor screws with a screwdriver. Pull the anchors out of the holes with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Patch the wall holes, if needed, with the spackle.

  8. 8

    Measure and mount the towel rail. Use the drill to make anchor holes at the appropriate places in the wall. Insert the anchors. Test the fit by moving the towel rail in place. When satisfied, secure the towel rail to the wall with the screws.

  9. 9

    Connect the towel rail couplings to the wheel valve and lock-shield valves. Depending on the size of your towel rail, you may need to purchase additional connectors to extend the coupling's reach. Before screwing any couplings in place, wrap the threads on the pipe with Teflon plumber's tape. Tighten the couplings with an adjustable wrench.

  10. 10

    Open up the lock-shield valve by rotating the nut at the top counterclockwise with a wrench. Replace the cap and secure with the screw. Turn the wheel valve counterclockwise to allow the water to flow into the rail. Watch the couplings for leaks and tighten if necessary.

Tips and warnings

  • To prevent scalding, wait approximately half an hour for the water inside the radiator to cool off before removing it.

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