How to Remove a Hot Water Baseboard Heater

A baseboard heater.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Advanced
  • 0-150
What You'll Need
Wood block or brick
Hex screwdriver or Phillips screwdriver
Pipe wrench
Plumbing solder kit
3/4-inch copper pipe and fittings

A hot water baseboard heater is an interesting concept, but unfortunately an inefficient and outdated manner of heating your home. If you are replacing it with electric heat you definitely want to remove your old radiators and heating coils. They take up lots of floor space and have an unpleasant appearance. Removing the radiators requires some skill at plumbing.

Identify whether the system operates on hot water or steam. Steam requires more competence at pipe fitting. Determine whether the radiator is piped in series with other areas. Drain the boiler system and cut out the return and supply pipes from the baseboard units. Plumb the supply pipes to the return pipes, cap the supply pipes, or scrap the entire system.

Step 1 - Inspect System and Determine Needs

Analyze your heating system and consider how many baseboard heaters you wish to remove. If you are converting the entire house it makes sense to tear out the existing hot water system. On the other hand, you might be adding an addition or converting a single room. Determine if your house’s heating and cooling system has separate zones. Trace the pipes from the radiators in question. In a monoflow system, each radiator is situated on a direct loop from the boiler. In a series system, multiple radiators are on a loop. Do not accidentally cut off the heat to rooms you aren’t renovating.

Step 2 - Lock Out System

Take safety measures when working with electricity and hot water. Shut down the boiler by turning it off at the thermostat and circuit breaker. Cut off the water supply and drain the boiler. Wait 24 hours for the entire system to cool. Locate where the pipes you are removing connect to the boiler. Cut them off at the source and allow the loops to drain out. Catching or cleaning the water at the site of the boiler will often be much easier than at the site of the radiator.

Step 3 - Cut Out Heaters

Open the baseboard heater cover by removing the screws. Lift the edges of the heater and prop them on a block. Cut through the supply pipe and then the return pipe with a hacksaw.

Step 4 - Reconnect Plumbing

If you are removing a single heater on its own loop, you can just cap off the supply pipe or connect it to the return pipe. Connecting the supply and return plumbing to the next room is more difficult where the heater was one of several on a loop. If you are converting to a forced-air system there is no need to take such care; just rip out all the pipework.

Step 5 - Recycle Components

Most of the boiler parts and copper plumbing is highly valuable at a scrap metal yard. Use this windfall to offset the installation cost of your new system.