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Steam Radiator - Leaking Vent

I live in New York in an old building with steam radiators. My apartment is on the top floor (5th) and has one radiator (pretty small apartment).

As is typical in NYC, if I leave the radiator valve fully open, it becomes unbearably hot. Most people I know leave all their windows open in winter for this reason...

So, I opt to have my valve fully CLOSED. However, this generally cause water to leak out of the vent (on the opposite side). Here's what happens exactly:

1) My radiator is on a title toward the input valve.

2) My vent had recently been replaced with a new one

3) Generally on colder days, the water seems to leak more...i'm talking a couple large pots of water a DAY in those cases

4) Even when I close the valve all the way (or as much as I can), the valve-side of the radiator still gets warm ... not hot, but warm

5) When I close the valve as much as I can, it gets to a point where the handle / knob stops resisting and just turns...

Comments

  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,523
    The valve seat is probably missing or half gone and that's why the steam is able to keep getting into the radiator. When it condenses, you get the water. The colder it is outside, the longer the steam will be on, so the more water you'll get.

    Have you talked to your landlord or your super? They should fix or replace the valve.

    In the meantime, if you leave the valve open you can wrap the radiator in a quilt. That will cut way down on the amount of heat that comes off of it.

    Ah, NYC, where you pay a lot of rent to get aggravated.
    Retired and loving it.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited February 2015
    Turn the vent on that radiator upside down. It sounds like the valve leaks steam . By turning the vent upside down, it will prevent any steam from entering the radiator.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    You can't stop it with that valve and will actually can cause problems as you are experiencing. Generally if you want the rad not to heat the best bet is to turn the vent upside down which will stop the air from entering it and keep the steam out. How long have you had that valve closed? The heating problem the people in your building are experiencing is because someone isn't managing the system properly causing uneven heating. Post pics of the vent to verify it is the style which will turn off when turned upside down...I am pretty sure most of them can.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • dtirer
    dtirer Member Posts: 9
    Hi attached, are the photos. Please let me know if this is one I can turn upside downimageimage
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Yes, just turn it so the vent port is upside down.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    Looks like a Gorton you should be good to turn it around. Be gentle with it as it's only a little 1/8" thread there so don't force it use your hand not a wrench. I would start with turn it upside down and then open that valve back up. See how that works, give it a bit to see how it works over time. If you still have problems you may have to talk to the landlord, but if they aren't doing anything about it now I doubt they will. I never understand why building owners like throwing money away like that?!
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • dtirer
    dtirer Member Posts: 9
    OK, done. Photo attached. Also, just to clarify, the vent port is on the side of the shaft, so even though it's now upside down, the hole still points sideways (see photo)

    Lastly, should the valve be fully closed, or fully open? It seems if I open it, the radiator starts to heat up fully again..


    image
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    If the radiator still fills up with steam after that then one of 2 things the vent is bad or....the system pressure is too high and overwhelming that vent. If it's system pressure refer to my comment about the building owner throwing money away.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • dtirer
    dtirer Member Posts: 9
    edited February 2015
    Thanks for the info I'll try keeping it open for a few hours and we'll see what happens.

    Unfortunately a big problem in NYC. If you look out my window, you see people's windows wide open when it's 15 degrees outside.

    When i've had really bad water issues, I've been forced to open the valve all the way and let it heat up, so at least all the water evaportates. In those cases, it easily get's to 85 or 90 degrees in my apartment....so the heat sure is cranked in the building
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    No the vent port should point to the floor.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    The issue with closing the valve is what will happen is the steam can still get in some (those valves are old and really don't seal). So a little steam gets in condenses into water, but the valve is closed well enough that the water can't get back especially with steam still trying to get in. Eventually the radiator starts filling with water. That's why I asked how long you had it closed. Here is a little food for thought. Every open window is wasted heat that your landlord is paying for, but who is paying the landlord? Yep you are, so basically a portion of your rent goes to those fuel bills that are higher than they need to be. So every single person in the building is paying for your landlords or building owners bad decisions. I always think about this. How many of you are there and how many of them? ;) Read the story on this page. With some tuning and de knuckleheading 32% reduction in fuel use.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc-
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    Fred said:

    No the vent port should point to the floor.

    I think what they are saying is the actual hole in the vent is still pointing towards the radiator. It is facing down though.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • dtirer
    dtirer Member Posts: 9
    It's a good point about the renters and the landlord. Luckily, my rent is fairly affordable, but if i owned a place in tis building (which 85% of the people do) i'd be concerned about high maintenance costs
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    KC_Jones said:

    Fred said:

    No the vent port should point to the floor.

    I think what they are saying is the actual hole in the vent is still pointing towards the radiator. It is facing down though.
    OK, I understand.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    dtirer said:

    It's a good point about the renters and the landlord. Luckily, my rent is fairly affordable, but if i owned a place in tis building (which 85% of the people do) i'd be concerned about high maintenance costs

    I feel sorry for those 85% then.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • dtirer
    dtirer Member Posts: 9
    As far as how long i've had it closed, it's generally closed all winter. However, every week or so, there's a day where it's leaking incredible amounts of water, so I've opened the valve fully to let the radiator heat up and evaportate all the water .. and then it's 90 degrees in my apartment and it's miserable, so I quickly close the valve again once it seems to be ok.

    But I'll try keeping it wide open now and we'll see what happens. I don't mind a little heat, as long as there's no water :)
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    It sounds like it was filling up with water to the point the little bit of steam coming in was shoving it at the vent....or it just filled completely up. Hard to say?!
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    If that vent continues to let air out, buy a 1/8" brass plug at the hardware store and take the vent out and screw in the brass plug, just hand tight. That's a 50 cent fix, maybe a $1.00 in NY.
    KC_JonesFXProglJr
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,826
    What model Gorton vent is that?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • dtirer
    dtirer Member Posts: 9
    Ok, well i've left the valve open for several hours now, and the radiator is heating up as much as usual. And if I close the valve, then the water starts to leak again...

    Should I try the brass plug idea?
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
    Have you tried the quilt over the rad like Dan Holohan suggested? This will stop the convection.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    Steamhead said:

    What model Gorton vent is that?

    Steamhead, zooming in on the picture it looks like a "D" to me. ;)

    dtirer, you might want to switch that to a #4 vent
  • dtirer
    dtirer Member Posts: 9
    I haven't tried the quilt yet. I think I'm afraid of starting a fire :) Which unfortuanately, I've heared more then one story about in NYC. The radiator gets incredibly hot.

    I can try a #4 vent if you think it'll help.

    So does it sound like something needs to be replaced in the valve? I'll try to talk with my super, however, i always opt for 'things i can just do myself' as it's difficult to get things accomplished otherwise
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    I think those stories of a radiator catching things on fire are just that stories. Unless they had something soaked in gasoline or something those rads don't get even close to the point of being able to catch things on fire. Try the blanket and/or change to the #4 vent. I'm curious do or did you ever get steam out of that vent?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    edited February 2015
    Make sure it's natural fiber, wool preferably. It does get hot enough to slightly melt some synthetics. There's something called a cozy one can buy. Do a search on this site.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    IF You don't want that radiator to heat, put the brass plug in. That's a sure fix. Make sure the boiler isn't running when you take the vent out to put the plug in.
  • This is definitely a systemwide problem, which only the Super has the solution to. Talking to any of your neighbors (especially if they are owners), could enable pressure to be brought on the super to correct some of these problems.
    The cause is abnormally high pressure, caused by improper maintenance. This not only results in your lack of comfort, but also will use more fuel, and lead to an earlier replacement of the boiler. How many of the owners will enjoy that? What thoughts will they have of the Super who is responsible, as they write some big checks for the replacement?--NBC
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,661
    edited February 2015
    If you turned the vent upside down when steam was being produced the radiator will keep heating.

    You need to have it right side up until the radiator is cool and turn turn it upside down, this will allow air into the radiator and keep it in so the steam can't get in.

    Flipping it with steam in the radiator creates a vacuum that just keeps pulling more steam in. It may stop eventually, but it will take time.

    If you find this works, a Danfoss TRV could be an option for you if you need heat from time to time. They can be manual, or fully automatic depending on what you want.

    For manual only this plus a straight Gorton vent will work.
    http://www.supplyhouse.com/Danfoss-013G0140-Thermostatic-Rad-Valve-w-Vac-Breaker-1-Pipe-Steam-5551000-p

    For automatic, you need to buy this to go with it as well.
    http://www.supplyhouse.com/Danfoss-013G8250-Direct-Mount-Operator-5558000-p


    Sadly, this all relies on the system running at a somewhat reasonable pressure as well. If they are running it at 3-5 pounds it may be very difficult to stop that radiator from heating. It also relies on the boiler shutting down occasionally. If it runs all day long that radiator will heat the entire time once it starts.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • FXProglJr
    FXProglJr Member Posts: 83
    Here's my 2 cents worth.........mostly a rehash of earlier suggestions.......it seems that you have an old valve that doesn't really close completely so that steam can get in, but after it condenses, the water can not get out. Once the radiator fills with water and another heating cycle starts, the new steam pushes water out the vent. The only solution to that is to replace the valve (or seat and/or gasket) which is not something I'd suggest for a renter. So - leave the valve fully open.

    Turning the air vent upside down is a good idea (as long as you leave the valve fully open). And, if that doesn't work, replacing the air vent with a plug as suggested earlier is certainly an inexpensive way to keep steam out. But neither of these will keep your radiator completely cold (like turning off a properly functioning valve) since some steam under pressure will move into the radiator (see attached infra-red photo of a cast iron radiator with the vent hole plugged and 1-1/2 lbs of steam in the system - only the first 3 sections get warm/hot). This might be a good way to go since you probably want some heat in your apartment.

    If it's still too hot in your apartment, Dan's suggestion about a blanket will further reduce the amount of heat.

    After that (assuming the building management won't address the problem) you might try talking to your immediate neighbors to see if they have the same problem and letting them know what you've tried so they can try it also.
  • dtirer
    dtirer Member Posts: 9
    Hey everyone. So I'm still having trouble. I think initially, turning the vent upside down had worked, however, I had the super come up and fiddled with things (to no avail) and turned it back around. It's been particularly cold, so the the heat has been running pretty hard, and I haven't been able to find a break in the cycle to turn it back around.

    Can someone send me a link to these brass plugs you're talking about? Just so I know what to look for at the hardware store?
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,477
    When I was a kid we lived in the projects with district steam heat. Our apartment was the one with the sensor on the radiator that controlled the heat for the building. We had 12" diameter pipe in the cellar that came in one end wall of the foundation and went out the other end of the foundation. They removed the knob for the radiator and warned us not to try and shut that valve.

    The problem was that room was always too hot and we used to shut that valve all the time, the valve was only about 6 years old so it still worked. That was when i learned about the double sash method of heat control. We kept the end window in the living room open 3" all winter long.

    As a renter there was nothing else we could do.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    If the super has time to fiddle with the vent in your apartment, then he has time to fiddle with proper maintenance on the boiler.
    Tell him that the occupants are signing his paycheck, and that they will not be able to do that if excessively high heating costs have drained all their money!
    Have him come here, and we can advise him what to do.--NBC
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,661
    dtirer said:

    Hey everyone. So I'm still having trouble. I think initially, turning the vent upside down had worked, however, I had the super come up and fiddled with things (to no avail) and turned it back around. It's been particularly cold, so the the heat has been running pretty hard, and I haven't been able to find a break in the cycle to turn it back around.

    Can someone send me a link to these brass plugs you're talking about? Just so I know what to look for at the hardware store?

    Your local Homer may have these. Don't forget the white PTFE tape.
    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Watts-1-8-in-Lead-Free-Brass-Square-Head-Plug-LF-A710/202254904


    All you need is an 1/8" NPT brass plug. You may also need an allen wrech to go with it depending on the type you buy.

    For example,
    http://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-metal-npt-pipe-plugs/=w4aoj3

    You'll notice the high pressure version already comes with sealant on the threads. If you get them without sealant you'll want to get a roll of white PTFE tape which can be bought at any Lowes,Homer, ACE etc.


    Another example, this time with a square head
    http://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-metal-npt-pipe-plugs/=w4ap5w


    Personally I use the hex type because they don't stick out.





    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment