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Hole in Radiator

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Hello I just purchased a home in Fair Lawn a few months ago.  When we tested the heat they all spit out a bit but they said the problem was bad vent valves and they would replace them.  I agreed and a few months later when it's time for the heat to kick in the boiler wouldn't start up to make a story short the pilot had to be adjusted and the thermostats was shot once I finally got it on I walk by my living room and I hear that sppp noise.  It's a in wall radiator so I move the couch notice the entire pack of the couch is misty, I remove the cover take a look at the valve and notice its very loose.  I go and grab some Teflon tape and a small wrench and as I'm removing it by hand the entire valve pops out and a chunk of the radiator as well!!  it seems as if over the years the piece directly around the valve threading rotted and theres a oval piece about the width of a dime and about an inch long directly above but including the valve hole is missing.  Sometime they seem to have shoved the valve in there and filled in the hole with a jb weld like clay because thats what popped out it looks like a chunk of play dough.  From the research that I've done the in wall units were a oddball size so they are hard to find.  I've also seen that people used to fix them taking them apart and swapping out the one end cap fin but that's probably impossible to find nowadays.  A coworker tells me I should buy a quality valve and just jbweld the hell of it until it locks in.  I need some advice thanks guys, also it's a one pipe steam system probably from the 40-50's it was originally a oil system that was converted to natural gas 5 years ago.  System is in need of tweaking most of the valves steam a bit I definitely have allot of pinging in my pipes and one of the radiator upstairs is leaking steam from the shut off valve but unfortunately the pipe coming out of the floor that it's attached to looks like if it's in really bad shape so it might need replacing but unfortunately it's in the wall all the way up.

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  • almonte
    almonte Member Posts: 8
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    re

    Also forgot to mention water is very dirty doesnt matter how many times I empty the boiler down stairs the water is still black.
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,448
    edited January 2012
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    i suppose the...

    quick fix is the JB weld.  Maybe even add some around the old piece and re tap it in. or better yet plug up the old hole w/ the JB weld and then a few inches away carefully drill and tap another vent hole....But looking at the long term replace the radiator. Is there another radiator in there to get you through the winter? Do you have pictures?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,657
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    Welcome to the wonderful world

    of neglected steam heat.  Also, welcome to the Wall.



    Fixing the problem with that vent may be very very difficult indeed.  As you note, getting new end units for that type of radiator isn't easy, if it can be done at all.  And welding cast iron is even worse.  The JB Weld idea may be the way to go -- but in the meantime, you need something -- almost anything -- over that hole; live steam escaping from your radiator is assuredly NOT something you want to have happen.



    It is very likely that the system pressure is too high; if you can, take a picture of the controls on the boiler and post it.  One of them is almost certainly a "pressuretrol" -- and may even say that on it somewhere.  If the pressure can be adjusted down, that will help with the vents in general, and it may help with the pinging in the pipes.



    The pinging in the pipes could be water hammer -- rather distinctive, and usually rather loud.  It could also be expansion.  Try to describe it a little better if you can.



    Don't keep emptying the boiler.  That's not going to help anything.  Do be sure that the low water cut off is blown down, though -- but that needs doing rarely. 
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • almonte
    almonte Member Posts: 8
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    jb weld

    There is no old piece what broke out was the old jb weld or whatever they used to patch it.  It's my living room and it's a small cape so the heat from the other rooms keeps it warm enough but given that the thermostat is in the living room i'm sure that I got the system running allot harder than it needs to be running.  I could snap a picture if you'd like but its not much too look at just a hole.
  • almonte
    almonte Member Posts: 8
    edited January 2012
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    draining radiator

    Ahhh Thank you sir  I thought it was a good thing to take out a few buckets of dirty water to let it suck in clean water.
  • almonte
    almonte Member Posts: 8
    edited January 2012
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    pictures

    This is the Radiator it's roughly 4'x2' tall (just an eyeball havent measured it yet)  It's very hard to get a picture of the hole since it's so close to the wall.  The fin is so thin that its actually curved where the hole is so a valve was probally stuck and someone got over agressive with it.



    This is the piece that that broke out it's brown so maybe it's just brown caulk?





    This is the boiler newer model and the only gauge I spotted was this the internal syphon?  I just cranked it on so I'll updatw with how much syphon it goes up too.



















    Also with the bang its a faint ----ping----------ping-------P I N G G G G G not necesarily in that order always but pretty close and not too constant.
  • almonte
    almonte Member Posts: 8
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    internal syphon

    Just checked it's at 11psi
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
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    11 PSI IS TOO MUCH

    You see that red electrical switch on the boiler.  Shut it off until we can get this figured out.
  • almonte
    almonte Member Posts: 8
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    bummer

    ahh  not good well quess I'll get somebody to come take a look at it.  What brand valves should I buy I want to purchase all new ones then have someone come and check her out.
  • almonte
    almonte Member Posts: 8
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    bummer

    ahh  not good well quess I'll get somebody to come take a look at it.  What brand valves should I buy I want to purchase all new ones then have someone come and check her out.
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
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    Gauge and Pressuretrol

    If the internal siphon gauge is working correctly, and the pressure really is 11 psi, 11 psi is only 4 psi away from blowing the safety valve, if it has one, and if it's working.  Forget about the radiator vents until you get the safety issue(s) on the boiler checked out first.  I noticed in the picture that the 0-30 pressure gauge is reading zero for the photo.  How long does it take for it to get to 11 ?



    Another thing you want to get checked out is the pressuretrol, its the small grey box just to the right and down of the red shutoff switch.  The pressuretrol should be set real low 0.5 psi.  What is the pressuretrol set to? 
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
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    Broken Vent Tapping

    Hi-

    Bad vent  hole- From the pictures it is very hard to see the condition of vent hole tapping. In the picture of the chip in your hand, it's hard to tell what is cast iron and what is old JB Weld.  Use a magnet on the chip and determine how much of it is cast iron. You maybe able to repair the hole using more JB Weld. The secret of getting a good bond with JB Weld is doing good prep work. You will need to clean the hole to bright cast iron before applying the JB Weld. I would also put a heavy coat of wax on the male thread of the vent so that you can remove the vent if necessary at a later time.

    Steam Pressure-  Residential steam systems run at a maximum of 2 PSI and most run at a pressure lower than that. With a steam system, lower pressure equals better operation and efficiency. The pressure settings are controlled by the Pressuretrol.



    You might want to look in the "Shop" section of this website as there are some very good books on steam heating available  there. I would recommend "We Got Steam Heat!" It's written for the homeowner new to steam heating and is easy reading and loaded with info and pictures. Here's a link to it:

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Steam-Heating-Books/25/61/We-Got-Steam-Heat-A-Homeowners-Guide-to-Peaceful-Coexistence



    Flushing your boiler is okay. (It should be done when the boiler is cold) It's just that the "new" fresh water you add to the boiler contains dissolved oxygen which can be very corrosive to a boiler. When you add "new" water it is important to heat the new boiler water  to the boiling point to drive off the dissolved oxygen.

    - Rod
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
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    Thin Tube Rad

    That look s to be a thin tube rad. They are still available new and used. Measure how tall it is, the number of sections and number of tubes in each section. Remove the old spud from the broken rad and install in the new one. That way you won't have to replace the hand valve. Get some plugs to close the tapping you don't use. This happened to me about 10 years ago. Easier to just replace he rad and move on.
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