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Frozen Radiator, Need Help
The caretaker for an older woman who went to a nursing home in the winter of 2013/14 maintained background heat in a house with a closed, gravity feed system. One cast iron radiator, which we assume had an air embolism, froze and ruptured (photo attached).The mean outside temperature during this two-week period remained at 24°F; the outside temperature never reached 32°F. When the background heat was able to thaw the frozen radiator, the house flooded, causing approximately $25,000 in damage. A professional engineer maintains that the vacant house was completely unheated that winter and that once the radiator cracked, the pressure reducer valve opened, forced-out the ice and then flooded the house. The insurance claim was denied on grounds that the homeowner had been negligent in failing to provide any heat in the house.
I would greatly appreciate comments from experts in hot water heating systems who have dealt with houses that froze-up and suffered from ruptured radiators. I would like comment from anyone who has ever heard of a completely unheated house, in which the rupture of one radiator somehow caused flood damage without the radiator thawing out and without the rupturing of multiple radiators in sub-freezing weather.
Photographs will be greatly appreciated. From my experience with investigating 12 houses with frozen radiators over the past 37 years, it is my impression that most frozen radiators will crack at the bottom of the radiator, or near the bottom.
I am a home inspector who has hands-on experience of installing only five residential boilers in my life, but I have also inspected approximately 8000 hydronic systems during my career. For more than 25 years I have had a friendship with a principal of All Steamed Up, a company in Baltimore Maryland that deals exclusively with hydronic systems. When I find myself a little uncertain at analyzing a problem with a hydraulic system, the guys at All Steamed Up are always an invaluable help.
Attached are photos of the cracked radiator and the radiator in the next room that was plumbed the same way but did not fail.