How Much Does Radiator Repair Cost?
Silence noisy rattling or stop troublesome leaks by calling a plumber to fix your radiator. A home’s radiator repair cost ranges between $100 and $500 or an average of $350.
- Typical Range: $100 to $500
- National Average: $350
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. But 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. Still, for the most part, these repairs will need to be completed by a professional who knows about the intricate workings of these machines.
Radiator repair costs aren’t terribly high in the grand scheme of things, so expect to pay between $100 and $500 or an average of $350. Simple fixes such as bleeding a radiator only cost around $100, but a complete pipe repair in a hard-to-reach area could hike up the cost. While there are a lot of environmental factors that go into radiator repair costs (like the age of 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. Read on to find out all you need to know about home radiator repair costs.
Factors in Calculating Radiator Repair Cost
Depending on the system in your house, repairing a radiator could be a simple or complex task. When a radiator requires repair, the problem could be the pipes, valves, or the thermostat. Pipes are typically the most costly repair. The age of your system and house will also affect the total cost since older systems 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 it’s worth the investment. And, of course, radiator replacement costs are different from radiator repair costs. Here are the most common factors for the cost of radiator repairs.
Age of System and Age of 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 your system is older than most, it’s possible that a technician won’t be able to find the right parts to repair it.
Additionally, if you have an older home that needs a few upgrades, your radiator system might not be compatible. In these cases, a complete replacement of the radiator system is probably best, though the cost to replace a radiator is more than just radiator repair costs.
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 $100 to $400 to repair. They don’t have valves and pipes—just wiring and thermostats that need attention. Hot water radiators typically cost $150 to $500 to repair leaks and valve problems. Steam radiators cost $150 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 $150 to $500 to repair. They do an excellent job 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 $150 to $550. The most common repair problems are leaky valves, high pressure, 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.
Issue, Type of Repair, and Solution
Most radiator problems occur with faulty valves, pipes, wiring, or thermostats. And while radiators are supposed to make little to no noise during operation, excessive banging and clanging is a sign that it needs attention. Other indications of a radiator that needs repairs include leaking, not heating or overheating, broken handles or valves, uneven airflow, and clogged air vents. In most cases, repairing a radiator is still cheaper than the cost of radiator replacement.
Sometimes a valve repair is relatively simple, as a 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.
If the thermostat on your radiator isn’t working correctly, you’ll probably 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. Expect to pay between $125 and $250 for radiator thermostat repairs.
A plumber can identify pipes as the culprit when the radiator doesn’t maintain the temperature or when apparent 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. You’ll pay an average of $150 to $300 for pipe repairs.
Radiant heating floors also need repair sometimes. Depending on the job’s complexity, this can cost $100 to $1,000. It will largely depend on the location of the damage and whether there are parts that need replacing, especially if the copper tubing is significantly damaged.
In terms of the cost to replace radiators, this often refers to simply replacing parts on a radiator, not just replacing the entire unit or household system. As you can expect, radiator repair costs are higher if parts need replacing. However, you’ll still want to consult with a professional about 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.
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 they need to be replaced, you’ll pay between $150 to $250.
A valve replacement costs $150 to $350 to install. These 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.
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.
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. You’ll need to have a plumber replace your radiator pipes if they’ve become rusty, corroded, or 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.
Labor and Service Fee
Labor rates for repairing radiators vary by company and region, so be sure to search for “radiator repair near me” to get the best estimate for your location. Some professional radiator companies charge $100 to $250 per hour for labor, while others charge only a lower fee per hour after an initially higher service fee.
You’ll also find that some companies charge a flat fee based on the job to be done, whether it’s valve replacement or repairing a leak. Still others will charge minimum fees or call-out fees of $75 to $100. And if you need same-day service, you’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. Also consider the inspection of the radiator, ongoing maintenance, and the cost of repairing vs. replacing a radiator. These last few factors will help you understand a little more about how radiator repair costs are determined.
If your radiator shows signs of inefficiency or other problems, you’ll need a plumber to 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 for them 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 key to ensuring they 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 your radiators are excessively noisy, you’ll probably need to bleed your radiators more frequently. This helps release trapped air, making them run more efficiently without cold spots. Maintenance should also include checking the boiler gauge to make sure it’s maintaining proper pressure.
Plumbers will also know if your unit needs a chemical inhibitor liquid added to the system to prevent chemical reactions and a buildup of rust and corrosion. Homeowners should also 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 set yourself a reminder to run your radiator occasionally.
Repairing vs. Replacing
With the information we’ve already discussed, you’re now aware of the type of repairs you can expect with a radiator and their associated costs. On average, you’ll spend less than $600 for radiator repairs, though it 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 outweigh the benefit of a new radiator. At this point, you’re probably wondering, “How much does a radiator cost?” New radiators cost an average of $1,000 to $3,500. Once your repair costs regularly exceed $1,000, it’s time to ask about a replacement radiator. If you’re also noticing that your system just 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 you can’t find parts anymore or when they’re just not operating well.
You’ll also need to consider the cost of removing an old radiator unit. Those old parts will need to be removed and hauled away, which means you’ll pay for labor and disposal fees. On average, it costs $75 to $150 for removal.
Common Radiator Problems That Require 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 you’re noticing stranger sounds than usual coming from the radiator, rust, little or excessive heat, or pressure problems, you need to have your radiator inspected and repaired. Here are the most common radiator problems:
- Banging: $100 to $200. 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 excess air. Radiators shouldn’t be perfectly level, so a plumber will ensure it’s tipped a little to release air naturally.
- Not heating up: $125 to $350. Sometimes a radiator doesn’t heat up because there is too much trapped air, so bleeding the radiator is a possible solution. Otherwise, a valve could need replacing, or some wiring could be faulty in an electric radiator, which will require the help of an electrician.
- Overheating: $125 to $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.
- Rusting: $125 to $275. 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. You can opt to have your radiator painted, but it can be a complex task depending on the unit. Painting a radiator costs $200 to $600 to have it done professionally.
- Leaks: $150 to $600. Leaks can be easy to find and fix (tighten or replace valves) or difficult to identify and repair (cracks in pipes and radiator).
- High pressure: $150 to $400. 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 the filling loop or bleeding the radiator.
- Clogged radiator: $200 to $450. Rust and sludge can build up in a radiator, usually at the bottom. It 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.
- Cracked radiator: $175 to $400. 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.
Radiator Repair: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Homeowners should take a proactive approach when it comes to radiator maintenance. Since you live in the home, you’re in the best position to notice when the radiator begins to make loud banging sounds or hissing sounds or begins to leak. You must take time to do a quick visual inspection of your radiator and boiler every once in a while to stay ahead of serious issues. You might even feel comfortable bleeding your own radiator when it begins banging.
However, due to the delicate nature of radiator parts, you must hire the assistance of a licensed plumber or electrician to repair your radiator if there are leaks, cracks, heating, or pressure problems. Their trained eyes 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 you and your family safe.
Plumbers have the expertise to know when a part needs repair or replacement, and they can guide you in the process of choosing a new radiator system if yours is wearing out. It’s also reassuring to have a professional give a finicky unit a once-over to ensure it operates safely under pressure. They’re also helpful for inspecting old pipes for leaks before they potentially cause a major flood in your house that may or may not be covered by your homeowners insurance. Radiator repair are an essential part of home maintenance and safety.
There’s not a lot of complexity when it comes to radiator repair costs, but there are a few things you should understand as the owner of a radiator system in your house. Understanding the kinds of fees that plumbers charge will help in your decision-making process. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions to make sure you 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 not have the expertise or license to do so.
Q. Should I repair my radiator, or should I replace it?
You’ll need to consider several factors 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 are difficult to find replacement parts for 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. 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, your average 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 between $1,000 and $3,500.