When you think of the word ‘radiator’ (which, to be fair, you’re probably not asked to do very often!), the mental image you conjure up likely refers to chunky, white, cast-iron radiators sticking out from draughty cold walls, sporadically clunking as their pipes and tanks fill and heat up. You may even have memories of leaning on one at school in PE kit and managing to burn your thighs. These are the traditional convector radiators of old, and although they’ve long been re-designed to look a bit smarter and heat a bit more effectively, many of us in the UK still have this type of radiator throughout our homes.
When it comes to replacing your radiators and comparing old vs new radiators, there’s lots of things to take into consideration. Providing that your radiators still work well, have been cleaned and bled regularly (check our other articles on how to bleed old radiators as part of routine maintenance!), they may not need replacing for many years. However, if you’re replacing your boiler (from which your radiators are powered), now may be the time to replace the radiators too.
There’s lots of information online on how to replace an old radiator with a new one, but if you’re looking to replace a whole set, or need pipework changing, it may be easier and/or quicker to employ a heating engineer to carry out the job for you.
Are old radiators less efficient?
Over time, all appliances age and begin to work less efficiently, and this has a knock-on impact to energy efficiency and energy bills – so yes, old radiators are less efficient than new ones, particularly where newer models have been designed with energy efficiency in mind.
If a new boiler has been installed, the increased energy efficiency will be limited by the performance of old radiators. Whilst there may be some improvement in both efficiency levels and bill cost savings, these won’t be fulfilled to full potential unless more modern efficient radiators are installed. If you’re having a new combi boiler installed and ask your heating engineer “should I replace old radiators with new ones?”, the answer will almost always be a resounding “yes”.
Is it worth replacing old radiators with new ones?
The longevity of old radiators depends on the care and maintenance they’ve received since they were installed. Most heating engineers will now recommend radiator replacement for anything installed 15+ years ago, but if you’ve taken good care of your radiators, they may still be good to go.
Indeed in the last 15 years, the manufacture of radiators has changed and improved rapidly: with new models offering higher performance with less water, energy and size required. Designer radiators, in particular, are designed to last – any radiator you buy now is likely to last a lot longer than its predecessor.
Design faults and pain points found in old radiator models have been rectified as manufacture has improved over time. A good example is that of old cast iron radiators. These were prone to internal corrosion with age, where the water eventually caused disintegration of the metal within; causing what’s known as ‘radiator sludge’, residue of metal flakes and accumulated impurities in the water resting along the bottom of the tank. Such corrosion was the cause of cold patches in the radiators, lukewarm performance and increasing energy bills as the boiler had to work harder to heat the appliance to an adequate temperature.
Now, chemical inhibitors are used within heating systems to negate such deterioration and corrosion, and ‘power flushing’ can clean central heating systems of such unwanted residues. New radiators are treated to avoid corrosion and are made of much more durable materials.
When considering whether it is worth replacing old radiators with new ones, the choice is truly personal. Having a new boiler installed is no cheap job, and of course, each radiator comes with an additional spend. That said, with so many radiator options now available on the mainstream market, the opportunity to replace old radiators with new can be seen as a chance to get creative, rework some interior design and to invest in new tech for each room.
Long term, the investment will pay off in decreasing energy bills, and short term, the improvement in heat and aesthetic will be noticeable immediately.
If you need advice on replacing old radiators with newer models or how to do so, drop a line to the Great Rads team. Our expert team can advise and guide you through different radiator types, installs, colours, size options and accessories. We can’t come round and do it for all you, but we can lead you through the process and will be happy to help out!