How Much Does Radiator Repair Cost?
Homeowners can silence noisy rattling or stop troublesome leaks by calling a plumber to fix their radiator. A home’s radiator repair cost runs between $100 and $550 or an average of $325.
- Typical Range: $100 to $550
- National Average: $325
Radiators have been a source of reliable heat in many homes since the 1800s. These durable units are primarily powered with hot water or steam, but electric models are also available. As with any piece of equipment with moving parts exposed to moisture, they require maintenance and repair after a few years of use. Radiators are known to last for several years, but they’re also prone to cracks, corrosion, leaks, and damaged valves. Homeowners can complete some routine maintenance by themselves without calling a pro, but for the most part, radiator repairs need to be handled by a professional who knows about the intricate workings of these machines.
Radiator repair costs aren’t terribly high; according to Angi and HomeAdvisor, homeowners can expect to pay between $100 and $550 or an average of $325. Simple fixes such as bleeding a radiator cost only around $100, but a complete pipe repair in a hard-to-reach area will hike up the cost. While there are a lot of environmental factors that go into radiator repair costs, such as the age of the home and radiator, heat source, and materials, the cost of labor makes up a fair portion of the final price. Electric radiators tend to be the cheapest to repair, while steam radiators tend to be a little more costly. This guide will cover everything homeowners need to know about home radiator repair costs.
Factors in Calculating Radiator Repair Cost
Depending on the system, repairing a radiator could be a simple or complex task. When a radiator requires repair, the problem could be the pipes, the valves, or the thermostat. Pipes are typically the most costly repair. The age of the system and house will also affect the total cost, since older radiators will likely have more worn-out parts that need replacing.
The type of materials the radiator is made of will also influence the price, as will the replacement parts. Labor makes up a large part of radiator repair cost, but having the repairs done by a professional is worth the investment. It’s also important for homeowners to keep in mind that radiator replacement costs are different from radiator repair costs. The following are the most common factors for the cost of radiator repairs.
Age of System and Home
Radiator systems are known to last for years, especially when well-maintained. However, as with most mechanical systems, there’s only so long that viable repair parts are manufactured and available. If a home’s system is especially old, it’s possible that a technician won’t be able to find the right parts to repair it.
Additionally, if the home is older and needs a few upgrades, the homeowner may decide to move forward with a complete replacement of the radiator system instead, though the cost to replace a radiator system will be higher than the cost to repair a single radiator.
Radiators are powered by electricity, hot water, or steam. Electric radiators tend to be easier to repair than steam radiators, which means radiator replacement costs and radiator repair costs will be lower for electric radiators.
On average, electric radiators cost $30 to $450 to repair. They don’t have valves and pipes—just wiring and thermostats that need attention. It typically costs $100 to $500 to repair leaks and valve problems in hot water radiators. Steam radiators cost $100 to $550 to repair since they have more pipes and valves, and the work is a little more dangerous if there’s a sudden burst of steam.
The most common materials used to make home radiators are stainless steel and cast iron, since they’re both highly durable metals that can withstand high temperatures. Vintage cast-iron radiators are robust and durable, which is why cast iron is still a popular material, though repair parts are hard to come by.
Cast-iron radiators cost $200 to $2,800 to repair. This type of radiator is good at retaining heat and keeping a room warm, but the most common repairs needed are for damaged valves, leaks, and a buildup of sludge at the bottom. Stainless steel radiator repairs cost from $150 to $550. The most common repair problems are leaky valves, high pressure (resulting in leaking or bursting pipes or valves), and system instability in terms of heating or overheating. These radiators have more delicate parts than cast-iron radiators, so they often cost more to repair or replace.
Most radiator problems stem from faulty valves, pipes, wiring, or thermostats. And while radiators are supposed to make little to no noise during operation, excessive banging and clanging are signs that the system needs attention. Other indications of a radiator that needs repairs include leaks, lack of heat or excess heat, broken handles or valves, uneven airflow, and clogged air vents. In most cases, the cost of radiator repairs is still cheaper than the cost of radiator replacement.
Some types of radiator repair are part of regular maintenance—for example, the radiator may need to be balanced occasionally if it is noisy or heating irregularly. On the other hand, if a radiator springs a leak or is clogged, the repairs will be much more extensive and costly. Depending on the issue, the cost for these repairs can range from $100 to $600.
Labor and Service Fee
Labor rates for repairing radiators vary by company and region, so homeowners will want to search for “radiator repair near me” to get the best estimate for their location. Some professional radiator companies charge $100 to $250 per hour for labor, while others charge a lower fee per hour after an initially higher service fee.
Some companies charge a flat fee based on the job to be done, whether it’s valve replacement or repairing a leak. Others will charge minimum service or callout fees of $75 to $100. If the homeowner needs same-day service, they’ll likely pay a premium surcharge of $100 to $200 to have someone come out immediately.
Additional Costs and Considerations
The type of repair or replacement, material, and heat source for the radiator aren’t the only factors that make up radiator repair cost; homeowners will also want to consider the inspection of the radiator, ongoing maintenance, and the cost of repair versus replacement. These last few factors will help to clear up how radiator repair costs are determined.
Repair vs. Replacement
On average, most homeowners spend less than $600 for radiator repairs, though the cost does depend on the complexity and number of repairs (for example, burst pipes will likely cost more). Eventually, the cost to repair a radiator will exceed the expense of a new radiator. At this point, homeowners will probably start wondering, “How much does a radiator cost?” New radiators cost an average of $1,000 to $3,500. Once the repair costs regularly exceed $1,000, it may be wiser for the homeowner to ask about a replacement radiator. If the system doesn’t seem as effective or efficient as it once did, then it may have reached the end of its lifespan. Old systems can last for a few decades, but they do need to be replaced when contractors can’t find parts anymore, when the radiator is not operating well, or when the repair expenses become exorbitant.
It’s also worthwhile for homeowners to consider the cost of removing an old radiator unit. Those old parts will need to be taken out and hauled away, which means the homeowner will pay for labor and disposal fees. On average, removal costs $75 to $150; these fees might be included in the total project estimate.
As can be expected, radiator repair costs are higher if parts need replacing. However, it’s still a good idea for homeowners to consult with a professional to determine when it’s time to consider replacing the entire unit. Again, these units can last for decades, but it’s worth keeping an eye on their overall lifespan.
If the radiator shows signs of inefficiency or other problems, the homeowner will want to have a plumber inspect the unit to identify exactly what’s not working properly. If the problem isn’t apparent, or there are several radiators in the house (or even multiple systems, for that matter), it will take some time to identify the culprit. Radiator inspections usually cost $100 to $200, but some companies charge an hourly rate to inspect a unit for any damage. During this service, they’ll check key valves, vents, and other problem areas, as well as inspect for rust, corrosion, or further damage.
Maintenance of mechanical units is important in helping them to work efficiently and last their entire expected lifespan, and most of them also come with warranties to help offset repair costs. Electric radiators require the least amount of maintenance, since they have fewer tricky parts prone to damage from water or steam. Still, they need occasional care to make sure the wiring is intact and that they are clean and working efficiently. These units typically last around 20 years.
Steam and hot water radiators need more regular care and cleaning. If the radiators are excessively noisy, they’ll probably need to be bled more frequently. This helps release trapped air, making them run more efficiently without cold spots. Maintenance will likely also include checking the boiler gauge to make sure it’s maintaining proper pressure.
Plumbers will also know if the unit needs a chemical inhibitor liquid added to the system to prevent chemical reactions and a buildup of rust and corrosion. Homeowners will want to run their radiators for at least 30 minutes every few weeks during the summer just to keep the parts working well. Boilers and radiators are mechanical systems that don’t do well when they sit idle for long periods, so it’s wise for homeowners to set themselves a reminder to run their radiator occasionally.
Types of Radiator Repairs
Radiators can break down due to a wide variety of issues from old age to faulty plumbing. After diagnosing the problem, radiator repair services may recommend one or more of the following solutions.
When a radiator is not heating or is making excessive noise, it may need to be bled. Bleeding a radiator involves letting out any excess air that has accumulated inside. This usually costs around $100 to $200, although some homeowners opt to do it themselves.
Radiators tend to require balancing as a part of regular maintenance. A radiator repair professional will adjust each radiator to ensure that they all heat equally throughout the home. Radiator balancing costs around $150 to $200.
Some radiators rely on water or steam for heating, and they can become rusty over time without regular maintenance. If rust is caught early it can be cleaned, but if it is allowed to develop for an extended period, the radiator may need to be replaced. The cost to repair a rusted radiator is between $125 and $275.
In some cases it is the home’s boiler, not the radiator itself, that is in need of repair. Boilers may become too pressurized, which can put stress on the radiator’s valves and pipes, leading them to crack. The cost to repair a boiler is between $150 and $400.
Steam and hot water units use air vents to release trapped air, which helps prevent excessive banging and cold air spots at the top of the radiator. If the vents need to be replaced, homeowners can expect to pay between $150 to $250.
Valve Repair or Replacement
Sometimes a valve repair is relatively simple, as the valve may simply need to be tightened or replaced. A plumber will also inspect to see if there is damage in or around the valve that will require additional repair. Radiator leak repair costs related to leaky valves will average from $125 to $250.
Valves are essential pieces of the radiator that must work properly to control the flow of steam and water. They leak when damaged, so it’s pretty obvious when there’s a problem if tightening the valve doesn’t solve the issue. A valve replacement costs $150 to $350.
Thermostat Repair or Replacement
If the radiator’s thermostat isn’t working correctly, homeowners will likely notice that the unit can’t seem to heat the room, or it keeps heating after the room is sufficiently warm. This often happens with stainless steel radiators. Plumbers can fix this issue with a thermostat replacement, although tightening the valves or ensuring the thermostat is properly placed can sometimes take care of the problem. Homeowners can expect to pay between $125 and $250 for radiator thermostat repairs.
Thermostats are usually built right into a valve, which actually makes them relatively easy to replace. These parts control the temperature and operation of the radiator, but they are also prone to wearing out or leaking. Replacing a thermostat usually costs $150 to $350.
Pipe Repair or Replacement
The best plumbing services can identify pipes as the culprit when the radiator doesn’t maintain the temperature or when steam or water is escaping from the pipes. Most pipe repairs can be done with an epoxy repair kit or fiberglass resin and tape, as long as the leak isn’t too large. Homeowners will pay an average of $150 to $300 for pipe repairs.
Pipes are the more expensive replacement to make, especially if they are difficult to access and a significant length of pipe needs to be replaced. Homeowners will need to have a plumber replace radiator pipes if they’ve become rusty or corroded or if they have large holes or cracks. Broken pipes often happen in the winter when temperatures are below freezing. It costs $175 to $600 on average to replace broken radiator pipes.
Radiant Heating Floor Repair
While not the same as a radiator, radiant floor heating is another alternative heating method that uses copper tubes or electrical wires installed underneath the flooring to heat a room. Radiant heating floors also need repair sometimes. The total repair cost will largely depend on where the damage is and whether there are parts that need to be replaced, especially if the copper tubing that carries the heat throughout the flooring is significantly damaged. Depending on the job’s complexity, radiant heating floor repair can cost $100 to $1,000.
Do I Need Radiator Repair?
Most radiator problems fall within the same categories: valves, vents, thermostats, wiring, leaks, and pipes. The repair or replacement of these parts depends on the severity of the problem, but a plumber can quickly identify the best solution. If a homeowner is noticing stranger sounds than usual coming from the radiator, rust, little or excessive heat, or pressure problems, they’ll want to have the radiator inspected and repaired. What follows are the most common radiator problems.
A radiator that bangs a lot is having trouble with proper flow. There could be limescale buildup or corrosion or a lot of trapped air. Bleeding the radiator is the most straightforward fix for this issue, as it’s usually caused by excess air. Radiators shouldn’t be perfectly level, so a plumber will ensure it’s tipped a little to release air naturally. Hiring a professional who knows how to repair a noisy radiator will cost between $100 and $200.
Lack of Heat
Sometimes a hot water radiator doesn’t heat up because there is too much trapped air; in this case, bleeding is a possible solution, or a valve could need replacing. In an electric radiator, the wiring could be faulty, which will require the help of an electrician. Depending on which of these repairs is needed, homeowners can expect to pay between $125 and $350.
Thermostats are supposed to help regulate the temperature, but sometimes they fail to do their job. A thermostat usually needs to be replaced, but sometimes it can be repaired for $150 to $350.
Radiators should resist rusting, but improperly maintained units with long-term leaks will begin to corrode and rust. Surface rust can be repaired and painted, but deeper rusted areas will need to be replaced. It costs $125 to $275 to have rust removed from a radiator.
Homeowners can opt to have their radiator painted, but it can be a complex task depending on the unit, and it’s advised to hire a professional who knows exactly how to paint a radiator. It costs $200 to $600 to have a radiator painted professionally.
Leaks can be easy to find and fix when they come from loose valves, but when they come from cracks in pipes, they can be difficult to identify and repair. Depending on the cause of the issue, radiator leak repair can cost $150 to $600.
Steam and hot water heaters can build up too much pressure in the boiler, which can cause burst pipes and leaky valves. Plumbers can identify the safest solution, whether it’s adjusting the boiler or bleeding the radiator. This can cost $150 to $400.
Rust and sludge can build up in a radiator, usually at the bottom. This causes the radiator to heat unevenly or not at all. The unit usually needs to be fully drained or totally replaced if there is simply too much corrosion or sludge. The typical cost to unclog a radiator is between $200 and $450.
Radiators can crack from accidents or impacts, and this usually leads to leaks. Some leaks can be sealed, but most need to be replaced for safety’s sake. Cracked radiator repair costs $175 to $400.
Radiator Repair: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Homeowners will want to take a proactive approach when it comes to radiator maintenance. The residents of the home are in the best position to notice when the radiator begins to make loud banging sounds or hissing sounds or begins to leak, since they live there and know which sounds are normal and which are unusual. It’s recommended that homeowners take the time to do a quick visual inspection of the radiator and boiler every once in a while to stay ahead of serious issues. Some homeowners might even know how to bleed a radiator and feel comfortable doing this when their radiator begins banging.
There are myriad how-to guides for radiator repair as well as radiator repair kits on the market. However, due to the delicate nature of radiator parts, it’s a good idea to hire a licensed plumber or electrician to repair a radiator if there are leaks, cracks, or heating or pressure problems. A trained professional will know what to look for both on the unit and on the pipes leading to the boiler. And since a boiler operates under pressure, plumbers are also trained to make sure it’s working optimally and without leaks to keep the home’s residents safe.
Plumbers have the expertise to know when a part needs repair or replacement, and they can guide homeowners in the process of choosing a new radiator system if their current one is wearing out. It’s also reassuring for homeowners to have a professional give a finicky unit a once-over to ensure it operates safely under pressure. A professional can also inspect old pipes for leaks before they potentially cause a major flood in the house that may or may not be covered by homeowners insurance. Radiator repairs are an essential part of home maintenance and safety.
How to Save Money on Radiator Repair Cost
When a radiator fails during the dead of winter, repairs are a necessary and unavoidable expense. However, there may be a few opportunities to save on the cost of radiator repair.
- Do your own maintenance. While major repairs like leaks are best left to professionals, many homeowners opt to do regular radiator maintenance such as balancing themselves. Sticking to a maintenance schedule will also extend the life of the radiator and keep other repairs at bay.
- Troubleshoot. Sometimes a radiator that is making excessive noise or not heating properly is an indication of a major problem. But often the solution is a buildup of pressure that can be relieved by bleeding, which involves a few simple steps. Research the issue and see if you can remedy it yourself before calling a repairman.
- Take advantage of a service contract. If you’d prefer to leave all radiator service to a professional, some radiator repair companies may offer a discount when you sign up for regular maintenance.
- Know when it’s time for a replacement. Radiators can last for many years when they are properly maintained. However, if a radiator is being repaired often, it may be more cost-effective to replace it.
Questions to Ask About Radiator Repair
When searching for a radiator repair service, it’s important for homeowners to be sure that the one they choose is a good fit. Homeowners can ask the following questions to get a sense of the company’s qualifications and what they can expect from them.
- Are you licensed and insured?
- How long have you been in business?
- How do you handle payment?
- Who will be my point of contact during the project?
- What is your expected timeline?
- Will you handle cleanup?
- Will this repair solve the problem permanently?
- Can you tell why the problem occurred? How can I prevent it from happening again?
- Can you tell me what an optimal setting would be for my thermostat?
- Do you anticipate any additional issues?
- What maintenance do you recommend? Is that a service that you provide?
- Will I need to replace my unit soon?
- Where can I leave a review?
There’s not a lot of complexity when it comes to radiator repair costs, but there are a few things for homeowners to understand if they have a radiator system in their home. Understanding how much a plumber costs and the kinds of fees they charge will help in the decision-making process. The following answers to some commonly asked questions will help homeowners make sure they are prepared with as much information as possible.
Q. Who should I call to fix my radiator?
Your best bet to repair a home radiator is to call a licensed plumber or HVAC technician. These are skilled laborers who are trained to understand the workings of a radiator system, identify potential problems, and order the correct parts for replacement. If you have an electric radiator, you might need to call an electrician to replace faulty wiring, as a plumber will usually not have the expertise or license to do so.
Q. Should I repair my radiator, or should I replace it?
There are several factors to consider regarding repairing or replacing your radiator. The first is the age of the system. Electric radiators last up to 20 years or so, but cast-iron radiators can last several decades if properly maintained. Old units that aren’t efficient, cost a lot to maintain, or have difficult-to-find replacement parts should probably be replaced. However, you can ask your plumber about radiator insulation. Reflector foil panels can be installed behind radiators against the walls to force heat into the house rather than outside when heating is inconsistent. This could be a simple solution, but it might not be enough if a radiator is simply wearing out.
Otherwise, you’ll also need to consider how much you’re spending on repairs each year. While there are unique circumstances like frozen, burst pipes that will cost more than normal repairs, in general repair costs should average only $600 or less. When it costs more than $1,000 for repairs, it’s time to consider replacement, since you can purchase a new unit for $1,000 to $3,500.
Q. Why is only one radiator in my house cold?
If only one radiator is not heating, the problem is likely a clog in the unit’s plumbing. It costs about $200 to have a professional flush out a radiator clog.
Q. How long do radiators in a house last?
Radiators can be expected to last about 15 to 20 years before being replaced. As with most home systems, regular maintenance will extend their lifetime significantly.
Q. Is a broken house radiator dangerous?
A broken radiator can be dangerous if it is leaking hot water or steam. To avoid burns, use caution when dealing with a leaky radiator.
Q. How do I fix a crack in my radiator?
Small cracks in cast-iron radiators may be able to be repaired with epoxy glue designed to be used on metal. For larger cracks or those in stainless steel radiators, homeowners are advised for safety reasons to contact a professional to repair the radiator.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, Fixr