A radiator is a wall mounted or floor supported heating unit that radiates heat into a room by running heated steam or water through its coils. These devices have been used for decades, and many older homes feature less efficient radiators. Installing new radiators to replace older models, or a new radiator in a room that has never had one, requires some special considerations.
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Verify the Radiator Works With Your Heating System
Newer radiators use either steam or hot water in the coils of the radiator, according to This Old House. If you plan to install new radiators in your home, you must choose models that fit the heating system you already have. Otherwise a new furnace and pipes must be installed. Some special types of wall mounted radiators, including European-style flat panel radiators, can only be found in one heating type. Trying to install a steam heated radiator on the fixtures for a hot water radiator will cause serious damage to the appliance, the pipes and the water heater or furnace.
Choose the Best Position
Installing a new radiator will drain some of the pressure from the heating pipes running into a room. If other radiators are installed in the same room or adjacent rooms, this may lower their efficiency says the Heating Contractor Register website. Radiators work better when placed in the coldest area of a room. Installing your new radiator on an exterior wall that contains windows will warm the room best. Also, the mounting brackets that hold the radiator to the wall require studs. Finding the right wall position for a new radiator depends on finding the balance between the available heating pipes, coldest location and strong wall supports.
Bleed the Radiator
If you are planning to replace an older radiator with a more efficient new model, you must properly bleed the appliance of any water or steam before doing so. The HelpWithDIY.com website says that the manual control valve controls the in flow of fresh steam or water, and is closed first by hand. After closing the lock shield valve found on the opposite side of the radiator, the bleed valve at the top of the unit can be opened. Any steam will escape and the radiator will de-pressure, so when the manual control valve is reopened the water will drain out. Place a few towels and a bucket or bowl beneath the manual control valve to catch the water, or you may damage the flooring below the radiator.
Drain the Central Heating System
Before installing a new radiator or removing an older model, homeowners must shut down and drain their central heating system, according to Heating Contractor Register. Opening pipes to connect the valves on a new radiator while they are full of hot water or steam will create a mess in the room, and the high heat will burn and injure the homeowner installing the radiator. Steam or water central heating systems can take a few hours to completely fill up and equalise again. Installing a new radiator in the warmer months of the year will prevent delays in heating, especially if something goes wrong and the heating system must stay drained for a day or longer.
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