Is it possible to disable a radiator while still being able to utilize the central heating system?

Published by Ollie Lyon on Tuesday 1st March 2022, updated on Thursday 27th April 2023

If you have repairs or renovations to do in your home, you may be considering removing the radiators. However, what impact will this have on your heating system, and will you still be able to use your heating after removing a radiator?

We will address these questions and more below. Additionally, we have included a guide to help you remove radiators at the end of this article. Although an amateur DIYer can certainly complete the process, it is always advisable to consult a professional plumber if you have any doubts.

Is it Possible to Operate Central Heating with a Removed Radiator?

Are you wondering if you can turn on the heating after removing a radiator? The straightforward answer is yes, you can still use your central heating system even after removing a radiator. This is achievable because a radiator can be easily isolated from the overall heating system.

By closing the valve connected to a specific radiator, the water in the heating system will continue to flow past and move on to the next open valve. So, can you still use central heating with a removed radiator? In most cases, the answer is yes.

However, the situation can change if you are removing multiple central heating radiators from the system. With each radiator you remove, the number of places where water can flow within the heating system diminishes. Removing too many radiators can cause the pressure to become excessively high, which may result in damage to the system.

Usually, removing one or two radiators will not place significant stress on the system. However, if you need to remove several radiators in your home, it is advisable to seek assistance from a professional.

Man removing a radiator

Is it Possible to Permanently Remove a Radiator?

Once you have detached a radiator from the wall, you can choose to keep it off permanently if necessary. However, if you do not plan to replace the radiator, it is advisable to cap off the radiator valve to prevent any water leakage. You can find detailed instructions on how to do this in the step-by-step guide provided below.

Is it Necessary to Shut Off the Water to Remove a Radiator?

There is no need to shut off the water supply when removing a radiator as the water will automatically stop flowing to the radiator once the valves are closed. However, it is highly recommended to turn off the central heating system and allow the radiator to cool completely before beginning the removal process.

Can a Radiator be Removed Without Draining the System?

You may be wondering if it is possible to remove a radiator without draining the entire system. If you are only removing one or two radiators, it is generally unnecessary to drain the entire system. Although it won't cause any harm, it will only add additional work to the process. However, you will need to drain any excess water from the radiator before removing it.

What Tools Will I Need for Radiator Removal?

You will only require a few basic tools to remove a radiator. In fact, the essential equipment consists of an adjustable spanner, a radiator bleed key, and a bucket. If you intend to remove the wall brackets after taking out the radiator, you will also need a suitable screwdriver.

Radiator Removal Valve

We suggest wearing protective gloves to safeguard your hands against sharp edges on radiators and to provide some shield if any scalding water were to unexpectedly spout out.

A Comprehensive Guide to Removing a Radiator

Step 1: Turn off the heating and allow the radiator to cool down

Although it is possible to continue using the central heating system after removing a radiator, we strongly advise switching off the heating during the process. This precaution will minimize the risk of hot water splattering uncontrollably.

In addition, always ensure that the radiator has completely cooled before proceeding with any work. Even if the main part of the radiator doesn't feel excessively hot, you should avoid coming into contact with boiling internal components.

Step 2: Detach the radiator from the rest of the system

Next, separate the radiator from the system by closing the valves on both sides. Typically, one valve is a thermostatic valve, while the other is a standard nut. Isolating the radiator ensures that water flowing through the system bypasses it.

Step 3: Drain and vent the radiator

Position a bucket or bowl underneath the exit valve of the radiator. Gradually loosen the nut connecting the valve to the radiator, allowing water to drain out through the bleed valve and into the container.

Then, using a radiator bleed key, open the bleed valve to release any trapped air and water from inside the radiator. Remember, a radiator operates under pressure, so it's essential to release this pressure before removing it from the wall.

Subsequently, open the other water valve and allow any remaining water to drain into the bucket. The radiator is now drained, vented, and ready for removal.

Step 4: Loosen and detach the union nuts

Loosen the nuts on both sides until the valves can be completely disconnected from the radiator. Once disconnected, gently tilt the radiator to one side to ensure any lingering water drains out of the system.

Step 5: Extract the radiator

Remove the radiator cautiously from the wall brackets. If dealing with a large radiator, it is advisable to seek assistance from another person.

Step 6: Eliminate the wall brackets (if necessary)

After removing the radiator, you have the option to unscrew and remove the brackets from the wall. Only proceed with this step if you intend to permanently remove the radiator.

Step 7: Cap the radiator valve

At this stage, it is recommended to cap off the radiator valves to prevent any water flow. While a closed valve should prevent water from entering, older systems may be prone to leaks.

To cap a valve, screw the cap onto the valve and use a spanner to tighten it securely.

Step 8: Remove the pipework

Depending on your renovation plans, you may consider eliminating the pipe system protruding from the wall. However, this is a complex process, and we advise consulting a professional before attempting any pipe removal.

If you require further assistance, refer to our complete guide on how to remove a radiator or refer to our guide on how to fit and change a radiator.

Final Considerations

We trust that this article has addressed your concerns regarding the removal of radiators. Whether you are upgrading to a new radiator or permanently removing an old one, it is crucial to follow our guidance to ensure you aren't left in the cold.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I determine the type of heating system I have?

Radiator at window

Various common types of central heating systems include:

Traditional systems: Traditional systems function by utilizing a combination of pumps and gravity to distribute hot water throughout your abode. These systems necessitate the presence of two water tanks and a boiler to warm the water. One tank stores the hot water for the heating system, while the other tank holds water for taps and showers.

Enclosed systems: Enclosed systems utilize pressure rather than gravity and pumps to facilitate the movement of water throughout a structure. These systems are more compact compared to traditional systems and are typically more cost-effective to operate. They are called "enclosed systems" because they lack the presence of heat vents.

Combo systems: Combo boilers are the preferred choice for new heating systems. This is due to their use of pressurized water directly from the mains, eliminating the need for a separate water tank. They are also acknowledged as the most efficient heating system, particularly suitable for small to medium-sized residences.

All of these systems will continue to function even if a radiator is removed. For identification of your heating system type, the best course of action is to inspect the boiler. Refer to the make and model to determine whether it is a traditional or combo boiler.

To distinguish between a traditional and enclosed system, be on the lookout for vents on the side of your property. The presence of heating vents indicates a traditional system.

Are radiators considered a part of the central heating system?

Yes, radiators are typically directly connected to the central heating system. The heating system sends hot water to the radiators, which then circulates within the radiator system. The heat from the water is transferred to the radiator's metal and subsequently to the surrounding space through convection.

A radiator valve functions by regulating the flow of water within the radiator system. The more hot water allowed in, the hotter the radiator becomes. When the valve is closed, water is prevented from entering that particular radiator and is redirected to another radiator with an open valve.

What are the expenses involved in permanently removing a radiator?

Engaging the services of a plumber to remove a radiator can range from £80 to £150. If you opt to replace the radiator, additional expenses will be incurred. However, if you feel confident in your abilities, you can attempt to remove it yourself.

In the case of removing a single radiator, it is typically unnecessary to drain the entire system. However, you will need to close the valves at both ends of the radiator and drain any water present. For permanent removal, it is advisable to cap the pipes after extracting the radiator. While water should not pass through a closed valve, the cap serves as an extra safety measure.

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