Upgrading an existing heating system & told you should not reuse your original cast iron radiators? Installing a new heating system and unsure about choosing the best radiators? Wondering how you go about refurbishing old radiators the right way?

Plumbers & heating engineers vary in their enthusiasm & experience of vintage cast iron radiators.

Most readily agree that cast iron is an excellent material for radiators. Some share our admiration for vintage radiators & have them in their own houses. However some may advise using aluminium, pressed steel or reproduction cast iron radiators.


Reclaimed cast iron radiator

Well, we have these concerns…

Objections regarding old radiators can include:

“They will be all silted up inside” (after 80 or more years in a system for sure) = Flushing them out is difficult & dirty

“The fittings are the wrong size & in all the wrong places” = Removing old fittings and replumbing new ones is a lot of extra work. You need heat, tools & to buy new fittings. It is easier to have something new to connect straight into a 15mm bottom feed.

“They will leak” or “The bleed valves are not working” = Pressure testing is a hassle & we don’t want to carry out any repairs or fix/replace bleed valves

“Have you lifted one? They are really, really, heavy!” = Please don’t make us move them about or carry them in our vans!

“They need sand blasting & refinishing” = We really don’t want to get involved with sandblasting & refinishing.

“They won’t be the right sizes for your rooms” = we don’t have their outputs on a datasheet

“We really don’t want to work on them” = Like we said – they are HEAVY & dirty & old!

“They will be expensive to refurbish” = They are time consuming.

“Here we have these nice new ones available, ready to go” = LOOK!!! How shiny, clean & lightweight they are!

Reclaimed cast iron radiator

It’s fair enough…

All the issues above are legitimate! Plumbers & heating engineers want to do the best job at getting your house warm at a competitive price. Their time & expertise is precious. Refurbishing radiators is a specialist labour intensive job.

Reclaimed cast iron radiator

But what if you don’t want to give up on the rads & know how lovely they can be?

With the right attitude, skills, tools & experience you can keep the radiators!

You will need:

  • The right wheels & techniques to move them
  • The outputs and to figure out appropriate sizes – resize/replace if required
  • Remove the old fittings
  • Flush them out so they are nice & clean inside
  • Replumb appropriate new fittings of the right size & in the right places
  • Then pressure test
  • Fix or replace any broken bleed valves
  • Shot blast carefully
  • Prime straight away to prevent flash rusting
  • Pressure test again
  • Repair any problems e.g. pinholes revealed by blasting
  • Paint spray with new finish

Then they will be ready to plumb straight in, just like the new shiny ones 😊

Reconditioned cast iron radiators in platinum painted finish

Can I renovate radiators myself?

It is possible to DIY restore radiators. If you are practical and/or determined, you can undertake many of the processes yourself so long as you have the tools & the time.

Flushing out, changing fittings & pressure testing is the important stuff. It means a system will work efficiently and not leak.

There are also DIY options to take care of the cosmetic details – for example hand prepping & painting instead of sand blasting. We do strongly advise you avoid powder coating old radiators – we will explain more on why in another post.

If you or your plumbers don’t want to tackle it, or just want some advice, we are here. We have over the years developed a thorough, consistent, efficient process & met most challenges!

Contact us if you would like to learn more.