How Much Does Home Radiator Replacement Cost?
Older homes are often heated with radiators, which can break down over time. The average radiator replacement cost falls within a typical range of $100 to $3,500, costing an average of $1,500.
- Typical Range: $100 to $3,500
- National Average: $1,500
Radiator heating offers a unique set of benefits to homeowners. With radiator heating, warmth fills a room without the assistance of blowing air. This can help a room feel warmer at a lower temperature. Radiator heating is also quiet and offers improved air quality, as it doesn’t circulate dust, dander, or other allergens like furnaces can.
But just like any other home appliance, radiator systems can begin to show signs of wear and tear. Eventually, a home’s radiator heating may need to be replaced. The price to replace radiator heating varies, though according to Angi and HomeAdvisor, homeowners can expect the final cost to fall within a typical range of $100 to $3,500. Factors like heat source, radiator size, labor, and customizations can all impact replacement cost.
This guide will help homeowners estimate radiator replacement cost and learn how to recognize signs of a worn-out heating system as well as offer tips on how to save money during a replacement.
Factors in Calculating Radiator Replacement Cost
There’s no one-size-fits-all cost when it comes to replacing a home’s radiator. Instead, several factors influence the final price, including radiator material, brand, and even the location of the unit inside a home. For homeowners up against a radiator replacement project, the following insights into different price-influencing factors can help with estimates and budget planning.
Not all radiators use the same heat source. In fact, there are three main types: hot water, steam, and electric. Different heat sources all perform a bit differently and have unique replacement cost ranges.
For example, hot water radiators offer long-lasting heat, improved air quality, and manageable replacement costs. A new hot water radiator can be as little as $100, though some units can cost up to $1,000.
Steam radiators offer a “fresher” heat than forced air systems, and they also disperse heat quite evenly. However, they’re expensive to replace, with a typical replacement cost range of $300 to $2,500.
Electric radiators offer 100 percent efficiency and accurate control of temperature, both of which can save homeowners money in energy costs after replacement. Electric radiator replacement cost ranges from $200 to $1,500.
Radiators come in a few different sizes. Plumbed radiators (radiators that are hooked up to an HVAC system) are measured in BTUs (British thermal units), while electric radiators are measured in watts. Generally speaking, the larger the radiator, the more it will cost to replace. The following costs are for materials only; labor to install the radiator will add to the total project cost.
- A small radiator with an output of 3,000 BTUs costs between $200 and $500.
- A medium-size radiator with an output of 7,000 BTUs costs between $500 and $700.
- A large radiator with a BTU output of 12,000 has a typical cost range of $600 to $1,200.
Electric radiator costs follow a similar pattern. The following are some examples of electric radiator costs, not including labor:
- Small 400-watt radiators cost between $100 and $500.
- Medium-size radiators with 700 watts of heating power cost between $500 and $900.
- Large 1,000-watt radiators cost between $900 and $1,500.
There are multiple types and styles of radiators. From their method of installation to their different sizes, finishes, and materials, there’s a seemingly endless list of radiator combinations, and with each combination comes a unique price range. The following are some examples of common radiator types (including both plumbed and electric units) and their prices:
- Baseboard-style radiators, which, as the name suggests, run along the baseboard, cost from $35 to $1,000, while single panels cost anywhere from $80 to $300.
- Flat panel radiators have a contemporary and minimalist design that’s meant to take up the least space possible. A flat panel radiator has a price range of $80 to $300.
- Freestanding radiators come in two styles: column and dual-panel. This is a common radiator style that costs between $200 and $1,200.
- A column radiator consists of several vertical tubes, or columns, that can be freestanding or wall-mounted. Heated towel radiators are typically found in bathrooms and are designed to warm towels or other items that homeowners hang on them. Column radiators and towel styles each cost between $200 and $1,200.
- A dual panel radiator has twice the number of tubes of a column radiator to allow them to produce more heat per inch. This type of radiator has a typical price range of $300 to $1,500.
Cast iron is a common material used for radiators and can be plumbed for steam or hot water. Cast-iron radiators hold heat better than steel and have a longer lifespan. A plumbed cast-iron radiator has a typical price range of $200 to $700. Cast iron can also be used in electric radiators; this style and material combination has a bit higher of a price range at $400 to $1,000.
Stainless steel is another popular material choice for radiators. It’s a more versatile option and offers more in style than cast iron. It’s also lighter, making installation easier, and available in a variety of colors to give homeowners more design choices. Plumbed stainless steel radiators cost between $200 and $1,000. Electric steel radiators cost just a bit more at $200 to $1,200.
There’s no shortage of reliable manufacturers when it comes to steam, hot water, and electric radiators. While some may specialize in one type, others offer a wide range of radiator types and models for consumers to choose from.
Just like any other appliance manufacturer, they also all offer different average price ranges for their units. Some brands may be labeled as high end due to their radiators’ higher prices compared to brands known for more budget-friendly options. The brand a homeowner chooses for their radiator replacement project has a direct effect on the total price.
An electric radiator from Amaze Heater costs between $150 and $400. Pensotti specializes in plumbed models and has a typical price range of $200 to $500; Buderus also offers plumbed radiators, within a price range of $200 to $600, while Ecostyle has a higher plumbed radiator price range of $300 to $1,000.
Both Hudson Reed and Runtal offer plumbed and electric radiators. Hudson Reed is the more affordable of the two, with plumbed radiators costing between $300 and $1,400 and electric ones costing between $500 and $1,000. Homeowners shopping from Runtal can expect to pay between $800 and $5,000 for a plumbed unit and $700 and $1,200 for an electric model.
While some radiators (such as baseboard style) must be horizontal, others can be configured to fit a room’s available space and style. A radiator’s cost is heavily dependent on its size, but its orientation is also a consideration for homeowners to keep in mind when pricing out a project.
For example, a horizontal plumbed unit costs between $100 and $1,000, while a vertical plumbed unit costs just a bit more with a range of $300 to $1,200.
The price difference between horizontal and vertical radiators is a bit more noticeable when it comes to electric units. A horizontal electric unit has a price range of $300 to $1,200, while a vertical unit can cost as much as $2,000.
For most HVAC specialists, radiator replacement labor cost is between $50 and $100 per hour. Changing out a radiator is a fairly quick process and shouldn’t take more than 2 or 3 hours, as long as there aren’t extensive repairs in the surrounding areas.
For example, replacing a radiator that leaked could also involve repairing flooring or drywall surrounding the unit before a new radiator is installed. This could also require the service of more than one contractor, depending on the range and extent of issues.
Labor costs can also depend on a contractor’s experience. The longer a professional has been in the field, the higher their labor costs tend to be. The difficulty of the job can also impact labor. If a job is fairly straightforward, labor costs are more likely to be lower than a job with additional steps.
A home heated by a radiator system will feature radiators throughout the house. While a specific type of room may not have a major influence on replacement costs, it can affect the size of a unit. For example, a bathroom is more likely to have a smaller radiator than a main living space.
Size is one of the largest factors in radiator replacement cost, which is why installation location is still an important consideration for homeowners estimating the cost of a radiator replacement project. For example, a bathroom radiator replacement has a price range of $400 to $1,100, while a hallway radiator replacement costs between $400 and $1,400.
A kitchen radiator replacement has a higher price range at $800 to $1,700. A bedroom can be a bit more expensive, with an average replacement cost of $800 to $1,900. A radiator in a basement is the most expensive to replace, costing an average of $1,200 to $2,000.
Old Unit Removal
When homeowners are replacing a radiator, the old unit must be removed. This can be quite straightforward in nature or require a few extra steps. This creates a wider price range than a homeowner might think.
The good news is that it’s common for the cost of radiator removal simply to be rolled into the overall quote for a replacement project, meaning it’s a cost a homeowner rarely has to consider. But for the homeowner who is paying only to have a unit removed, or for the curious homeowner who wants to know how each step in a replacement project is priced out, a removal cost between $75 and $400 should be expected.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Homeowners can sometimes come across additional costs and considerations that affect their final radiator replacement cost. While not all of the following situations fit into every scenario, they still provide useful insight into the radiator replacement process.
Repair vs. Replacement
There aren’t a lot of components inside a radiator. This leaves very little to maintain or adjust during a repair. And in most cases where a crack or leak has developed, repair isn’t really an option. So in most scenarios, when a radiator starts to show signs of deterioration, it’s time to replace it rather than consider a repair.
The good news is that radiators are designed to last for decades. And when issues do arise, they’re typically due to the boiler and not the radiator itself. Other possible repairs could involve a radiator’s hose, fan, cap, or valves. For homeowners who want to learn more about the cost of radiator repairs and replacement, the following examples can be helpful to keep in mind.
- The average radiator fan replacement cost falls within boiler repair, since that’s where it’s located. The cost to repair a boiler is between $150 and $400.
- The average radiator hose replacement cost (technically a pipe) is $175 to $600.
- The average radiator cap replacement or valve replacement cost is $150 to $350.
Sometimes the cost of a radiator repair will be the more affordable option, but with such examples like radiator hose replacement, replacing a component rather than merely repairing it can make more sense. Upgrading a radiator to a more efficient unit can actually save money in the long run, despite the higher upfront cost.
Both hot water and steam radiators use a boiler. With a steam radiator, a boiler provides steam that is distributed via pipes to the radiator. With a hot water radiator, a boiler provides hot water for baseboard radiators or even radiant floor systems. Electric radiators do not use boilers for heat.
Just like any other appliance, boilers can start to show signs of wear and tear over time or even stop working entirely. Once a boiler starts making strange gurgling, banging, or whistling noises; leaking; experiencing low pressure; or not responding to the thermostat, a replacement could be in the near future. On average, a new boiler costs between $4,000 and $10,000, including installation.
Older radiators typically have a cover, especially if they’re freestanding. Modern radiators are designed to complement a space, but older units may benefit from a cover to help them blend with a room’s style. There are several different styles and types of radiator covers, all designed to improve a room’s aesthetic.
As their name suggests, adjustable covers can be adjusted for size. They cost between $75 and $300 installed and can work with small and large radiators. An under-window cover also costs between $75 and $300, including installation.
Some covers offer storage, but at an additional cost, while others include a shelf on top, making a radiator seem like a piece of furniture that matches a room’s decor. Both types cost between $200 and $300. Finally, there are custom radiator covers that can be customized for a specific shape or size; these cost between $200 and $500, depending on materials, size, and style.
Central Heating Inhibitor Addition
Central heating inhibitor is a liquid designed to clear buildup and debris from inside a radiator pipe. It’s run through the boiler system and helps to prevent rust in old cast-iron radiators. Since rust leads to leaks (which then lead to replacement), this is an important maintenance step that is best not overlooked.
How much does radiator fluid replacement cost? Central heating inhibitor is sold by the bottle and costs between $40 and $100. Instructions are likely on the label, though a homeowner will also want to refer to their boiler’s manual if it’s available. If the boiler is under warranty, adding an unapproved substance or not following protocol can void coverage.
Replacing a radiator often requires installing a new thermostat. This can be especially true when the old unit is quite outdated or when homeowners are switching brands. Though it’s an additional expense, a new thermostat can offer better zoned temperature control and improved energy efficiency. If homeowners are replacing a radiator for style purposes, it can make sense to update the thermostat for aesthetics as well.
It’s also true that some thermostats are compatible with multiple models, so a replacement may not be necessary. If it’s time for a new thermostat, though, a homeowner can expect to pay between $140 and $350 for both parts and labor during a thermostat installation.
Some radiator installations take on a customized approach. Whether this refers to the design of the unit itself or simply a radiator cover, a homeowner has the opportunity to adjust and tweak a few steps of the process to get the look and functionality they want from a radiator.
Generally speaking, the more a radiator replacement project is customized, the more the final price tag will be. For example, a standard radiator cover can cost as little as $75, while a custom cover design can cost as much as $500. A homeowner may also consider painting a radiator or investing in decorative valves to turn the unit into a statement piece.
Customizations aren’t a required portion of the radiator replacement process, but when budget and time allow, a customized approach can create a radiator design that complements the home’s decor while keeping it warm.
Replacement Costs by Type of Radiator
There are a few different ways of distributing heat in a radiator system. Depending on how a radiator is powered, a replacement cost may fall into a price range unique to the radiator type. The following are three common radiator systems used to heat homes and the ways their unique qualities affect pricing.
Hot water radiators use hot water from a central boiler. Water continuously runs through them either through a loop in a one-pipe system or up and back down a two-pipe system. Hot water radiators can be freestanding or located in the baseboard. They require minimal maintenance and are generally less noisy than steam radiators, in addition to being more energy efficient. However, they don’t add humidity to the air, which can make it more difficult for a home to reach an ideal humidity level for health and comfort.
Hot water radiators are generally the most inexpensive type to replace. Homeowners can expect to pay between $100 and $1,000 for a new hot water radiator unit.
Electric radiators work just like central heating radiators, except they don’t utilize a network of plumbing to warm a home. Instead, they operate as stand-alone units and are filled with materials that heat up and transfer warmth to the surrounding area.
Electric radiators offer a variety of benefits. First, they offer 100-percent efficiency by converting every watt of electricity into usable heat. They also offer accurate temperature control and zoned heating. Installation is quick and easy, and maintenance is almost nonexistent. There are also zero carbon monoxide risks. Electric heaters are relatively affordable to replace, ranging from just $200 to $1,500 per unit.
Like hot water radiators, steam radiators also come in one- or two-pipe systems. Steam is created in a furnace and travels through the supply pipes and into the radiators. Steam radiators are available only in standing models and typically require more maintenance than other radiator types. They can also be noisy and less energy efficient than other types, though they do add humidity to a home’s air.
Steam radiators are more common in homes built before 1950. In fact, it’s rare for a new home to include a steam radiator system. However, when it comes to replacement, it’s typically easiest to replace an existing steam system with an upgraded model than change to a different type of radiator, which is why plenty of steam radiator systems are still in use today.
Steam radiators are the most expensive, costing as much as $2,500 per unit. However, savvy homeowners may be able to snag a model that meets their needs for as little as $300.
Do I Need Radiator Replacement?
Routine maintenance is the best way to extend the lifespan of a radiator. Even with proper care, however, a radiator can begin to show signs of wear and tear over time. Eventually, a malfunction can leave the unit inoperational. The following are some common signs that it’s time to schedule radiator repair.
Rust development is a nearly unavoidable chemical reaction for radiator owners. When a home’s heating system involves water and steel, rust development over time is a natural occurrence. Performing routine maintenance, like flushing or treating the system with a corrosion inhibitor, can certainly help prevent rust, but once it’s present, it can be difficult to remedy.
The main issue with rust is that when it develops, it’s only a matter of time before it begins to eat tiny holes in the radiator and cause leaks. If the rust is caught early, it’s possible to recondition a radiator, but if too much damage is done, a replacement is likely necessary.
In most types of radiators, water leaks are often caused by age, corrosion, or cracks. Ignoring a radiator leak is strongly discouraged, as it will only get worse with time, and this can happen very quickly. A leaking radiator can cause water damage to floors and even lead to mold growth on nearby walls.
The cause of the leak will determine whether the unit needs to be replaced. A radiator’s material can also help determine the diagnosis. A copper radiator will never rust, so a leak is most likely the result of a loose fitting that can be repaired or replaced. But a cast-iron radiator that is leaking is likely rusting internally, leading to holes in the radiator that cannot be repaired. In this scenario, a replacement is the only way to stop the leaks.
Frequent Repair Needs
Whenever an appliance in a home is undergoing frequent repairs, homeowners will want to consider a replacement. This is true for radiators as well. Once a unit starts making strange noises, taking longer than usual to warm up, or developing cold patches, a repair is likely necessary.
Repairing a radiator is a bit different from repairing most other appliances in a home. There are very few inner components that malfunction or wear out. Homeowners can learn how to bleed a radiator or adjust radiator valves to maintain their radiator unit on their own. Power flushing is another common radiator repair service that can help remove sludge and debris; this can potentially be a DIY project, but many homeowners may prefer to hire a professional to flush their radiator.
But as repairs and services become more frequent, it could be time to replace the unit entirely. If the radiator replacement cost is the concern, homeowners will want to consider how much repairs and services are adding up. In some cases, replacement can end up being the more cost-effective option.
Increased Heating Needs
Whether due to a renovation, addition, or poor design, some radiators just aren’t big enough to supply the heat a room or space needs. If this is the case, the only real option is to replace the current radiator with a larger model (though purchasing one of the best space heaters can be a temporary solution).
Since larger radiators feature a bigger heat-emitting surface area, they can deliver much more heat than smaller units. Homeowners considering an upgrade in size will benefit from keeping in mind that if a radiator is too big for a space, it will not only cut into a room’s living area but also emit too much heat.
Having a professional come out and evaluate a space can provide a homeowner with an accurate suggestion for a radiator size. A professional will consider square footage, the number of windows in the home, the purpose of the space, and the types of rooms or areas surrounding the space to determine the ideal radiator size.
Radiators have been used for decades to heat homes. Some models can look a bit outdated, especially with today’s decorating styles. So for many homeowners, replacing a radiator is more about style than functionality. For example, replacing radiators with baseboard heat is more about getting a certain look that freestanding radiators can’t provide.
Homeowners have more choices than ever when it comes to radiator styles. Some radiators are even designed to look more like wall art than a heating apparatus, with a flat-panel design that blends right into everyday decor.
When replacing a radiator for aesthetics, homeowners will want to consult with a professional first. While replacing with a like-for-like model can keep labor costs down, this is the perfect opportunity for an upgrade in size if possible. A professional can make sure that a radiator upgrade meets both the style and functional needs of a home while avoiding the high cost to replace radiator heat with forced air.
Radiator Replacement: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
If a homeowner knows how to replace a radiator, they may be capable of completing the project themselves. With a bit of plumbing experience, the right tools, and a bit of instruction, it’s certainly not impossible for someone to DIY a radiator replacement.
But that doesn’t make it the best decision. This is because radiator replacement isn’t a typical task for most homeowners, meaning they’re bringing minimal experience and knowledge to the table. This can set them up for mistakes or even injury.
While there are single-pipe hot water boiler systems that can be easily replaced with an identical unit, there are more complicated systems that require plumbing experience and, in some cases, carpentry knowledge as well. Valve adjustment, for example, is a combination of skill and science that takes time to learn. A professional is more likely to be able to adjust valves on a new radiator to provide just the right amount of heat.
DIY replacement can also be more difficult if a new radiator style is being installed. For example, switching from a cast-iron floor radiator to a modern wall unit can require additional plumbing and carpentry work.
There are also miscellaneous issues that can draw out a replacement timeline or push a project over budget with a DIY approach. Cast-iron radiators can be very heavy and can require a professional touch to remove them safely. Also, simple plumbing mistakes or carpentry mishaps can have expensive do-over pricing that can quickly raise DIY replacement costs.
Changing out a radiator can be done DIY-style with the correct tools and proper precautions. But because it’s not the most expensive home project, it’s often more beneficial to leave it to a pro, especially since a radiator is a crucial part of a home’s operational system. An experienced contractor can ensure a radiator is replaced quickly, safely, and cost-effectively.
How to Save Money on Radiator Replacement Cost
Radiator replacement cost can be hard to pinpoint. With so many variables to consider, there’s always the chance that a replacement project may go over budget. To improve the likelihood of an affordable radiator replacement cost, homeowners will want to keep the following money-saving tips in mind.
- Repair instead of replace. While this may not always be an option, choosing to repair a radiator over replacing it can save quite a bit of cash upfront. Repair should be considered only if the unit is young and not expected to require multiple additional or repeated repairs in the near future.
- Choose a like-for-like replacement. This means finding a radiator unit that’s the same size and type as the old unit. Finding an exact match avoids the need for lifting floor boards to access pipework or dealing with pipe dimension changes, all which come with additional labor and material costs.
- Keep up with routine maintenance. The best way to save money on a radiator replacement is to avoid it in the first place. With proper care, a radiator can last decades, so it’s wise to keep up with regular examinations for leaks or cracks in the pipes, annual bleeding of hot water heaters, and routine air vent cleaning.
- Get multiple replacement quotes. Hiring the first or cheapest radiator contractor can result in an inadequate replacement. Reach out to multiple contractors, and compare quotes based on experience and value rather than price alone.
- Spend more now to save more later. If a replacement is inevitable, it can be wise to consider an energy-efficient unit over a standard model. While it will cost more up front, an energy-efficient radiator can save on heating costs over the years and essentially pay for itself over time. Radiators are incredibly efficient heating systems as is, so take the time to crunch the numbers before assuming which model will save in the long run.
Questions to Ask About Radiator Replacement
Radiator replacement is a home project best left to a professional, but finding a contractor who fits the bill—especially when time is of the essence during a cold snap—can be an overwhelming process. Homeowners can use the following list of questions to help narrow down a list of potential candidates.
- Are you a licensed and insured contractor?
- How much experience do you have working on and replacing radiators?
- Are you familiar with working on historic homes?*
- Do I need to repair or replace my radiator?
- Is radiator heat the best option for my home?
- Do you provide free quotes, and if so, what’s included in the quoted price?
- Do you complete the work yourself, with a team, or through subcontractors?
- How is your crew trained?
- Do you have access to wholesale pricing for parts or new units?
- How long until the replacement can start?
- How long does it take to replace a radiator?
- Do you recommend repairing or replacing anything else, like the boiler?
- Do you anticipate any challenges or issues with this replacement that could extend the timeline or push the project over budget?
- What type of maintenance routine do you recommend to increase the lifespan of my new radiator?
- Do you offer any warranties or guarantees on the replacement unit or your work?
- What’s your typical payment schedule?
- How do I handle any potential issues after the replacement is complete?
* Many older homes feature radiator systems, which may require unique experience that not all contractors may have.
Replacing a radiator may not be the most exciting home improvement project, but for the functionality and safety of a home, it’s a necessity. The average radiator replacement cost has a wide range, falling somewhere between $150 and $2,800. For the homeowner nervous about what the final price tag may look like when replacing a radiator, the following FAQs may help.
Q. Should I repair my radiator, or should I replace it?
When homeowners are deciding whether to repair or replace a radiator, the main factors to consider are cost and age of the unit. If a repair cost is high for an older unit, replacing it may make more financial sense, but if a unit is fairly new, repairing it can be more affordable and possibly extend its lifespan.
Q. Are broken radiators dangerous?
Whenever a radiator is not functioning properly, homeowners and family members should steer clear until a professional can examine the unit. Because of the heated metal and hot steam, it doesn’t take much for an injury (and, in very rare cases, death) to take place.
Q. How long do radiators last?
Radiators have long lifespans. A traditional cast-iron hot water radiator can last for several decades. If properly maintained, this type of unit can even last for more than a century. Modern electric units tend to last for around 20 years. The best way to extend the lifespan of a radiator is to keep up on routine maintenance.
Q. How do I check if my radiator is working?
The most obvious sign that a radiator isn’t working is that a home remains cold despite the thermostat being turned up. If a homeowner notices that the radiator doesn’t seem to be performing properly, they can check the boiler to make sure it’s at the right setting. They can also check the heat pump or look for signs of air in the system. Seized valves and low water pressure are other issues to check for if a radiator isn’t working.
Q. When replacing a radiator, what else should be replaced?
In most cases, a new boiler will need to be installed when a homeowner is replacing a radiator system. This can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000, which includes labor. However, some boilers can be repaired instead of replaced. This has a cost range of $100 to $550.
Q. Can I replace my radiator myself?
Replacing a radiator is a job best left to the professionals. While radiators are incredibly safe overall, especially compared to other heating appliances, there is a lot that goes into understanding the operations of a radiator. To prevent injury or error, a homeowner should not replace their own radiator and should instead call a technician for assistance.
Sources: Angi (1 and 2), HomeAdvisor, Fixr, HomeGuide