Towel Radiator

A common job these days is changing an existing rad for a towel ladder and here are a few thoughts.

To accomplish the job you will need to adjust the plumbing since widths of normal rads where the valves enter from the sides are generally not suited to towel rads where the valves enter from the bottom.

Altering the plumbing means partially draining the system. I say partial because there in no need to completely empty the central heating of all water since the bathroom is most likely to be upstairs. So turn off all rads upstairs at both sides to keep the water retained inside. If it is not a combi boiler system go to the loft (or wherever located) to prevent the expansion tank from filling usually by holding the ball valve up or using an isolation valve if fitted and then bail this tank out into a bucket.

Now when you start to remove the old bathroom rad there should be very little water to catch. I use a large plastic tray and with basically just the connecting pipes between the upstairs rads to empty plus the bathroom rad itself this won’t be much water and it won’t take long.

Combi boiler systems will have less water to drain since there is no expansion tank but initially the water will be under more pressure so it may spurt as you release the radiator by loosening the valve connections.

Once the rad and pipes have stopped emptying, remove the rad and wall brackets to adjust the plumbing to suit the towel ladder.

Another consideration is that many towel ladders can be dual fuel so they can be made to accept an electrical heating element that will serve to heat-up just this rad during summer when the system is off but towels still need drying. Obviously this needs an available electrical supply which is almost never present within a bathroom. Regulations forbid anyone but a proper ‘sparky’ working within a bathroom so this fused spur, possibly also with a protective RCD, needs to be done by a qualified electrician.


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