Common questions about old radiators

An old, rusty, cast iron radiator

If you're considering upgrading your heating system then obviously a large part of the process concerns old radiators.

There are several common questions that people have when considering what to do with their old radiators and we try answer the four most frequent ones below.

1. Do my old radiators need replacing?

Here at Trade Radiators, we tend to believe that if your radiators are over 15 years old then then you would probably benefit from replacing them.

Radiator technology has come a long way over the last decade or so and are now more efficient than ever before. So, upgrading your radiators could see an improvement to the time your home gets up to a comfortable temperature and a reduction in your heating bills.

However, if you think there's still life left in your old radiator then feel if it is getting hot at the top but remaining cold at the bottom. If the radiator seems to be functioning correctly, then there's no reason to replace it.

If it does seem to be cooler at the bottom then it could be restored back to life by having a powerflush to clean it out. Contact a professional tradesperson for more information on getting this done.

2. Are old radiators inefficient?

If they are over 15 years old then yes, they may well be.

Over time, the water in your central heating system can react with the metal inside your radiators, causing internal corrosion. Small rusty fragments of metal can break off and rest at the bottom of radiators forming a brown sludge.

A radiator that is hot at the top but cold at the bottom is a typical symptom of radiator sludge. As the sludge is taking the place of hot water, your boiler has to work harder to ensure your room is heated to a comfortable temperature. Not only can this lead to more expensive heating bills, it can potentially lead to a shortening of the life of the boiler and its components.

A power flush of your radiators can sometimes rectify this problem, but if the inside of your radiator is very badly corroded, it's usually a good decision to replace it with a new one.

3. What can I do with an old radiator?

In general, the best thing to do with old radiators that no longer serve a purpose is to take them to your local recycling centre. They will be able to deal with them in an environmentally friendly way and you'll have peace of mind that you've disposed of them in the right manner.

You could also call a local scrap merchants to see of they would be interested in taking your old radiators. Aluminium, steel, iron or copper may possibly have a small value, so it's worth contacting them to find out.

Old-style cast iron are currently quite fashionable, especially when refurbished, so you could list yours on eBay to see if it generates any interest. Building reclaim merchants may also be interested in certain cast iron radiators.

4. Can I paint an old radiator?

Yes, it's certainly possible to paint an old radiator.

The easiest and most common radiators to paint are old, white, convector radiators. Convector radiators are durable and long-lasting so giving them a brand new coat of white paint (or the any colour you want) could give them a new lease of life.

If choosing to paint your old radiator, make sure it is cold, use a heat resistant paint and take your time. Allow to dry and have a look again in a well lit room and decide if it needs a second coat.

Old cast iron radiators have also become popular to customise in recent times, particularly with antique colours or spray paints.

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