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How to buy correct radiator valve?

nmquirk Member Posts: 23
edited August 2017 in Strictly Steam
I'm looking to replace 2 radiator valves. I used a caliper to measure the in-feed pipe (coming up from the floor), the pipes were slightly different, one was 1 6/8 inch diameter, the other was 1 7/8 inch diameter. The difference could be in the pipes having been painted a couple times by the prior owners. I was hoping someone could provide a link to a valve that would fit these pipes. Also, given these are probably the original pipes, are there any potential issues that may come from me swapping out the old for the new?


  • Aclera
    Aclera Member Posts: 3
    edited August 2017
    Sounds like you have 1 1/4" and 1 1/2" pipes, so you would choose a radiator valve based on that size.. Here is a chart to show the relationship between nominal pipe size and actual pipe outer diameter: http://www.fordmeterbox.com/pricebook/pipeodchart.pdf

    Why do you want to replace the valves though? Are they leaking? Leaks can often be fixed without needing to replace the valve. I've never tried to replace one personally, but from what I've read on here, it seems like something to be avoided if at all possible.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,117
    And are these for steam or hot water? They're different. And are they directly attached to radiators? If they are, you should be aware that the radiator valve is matched to the spud in the radiator, and if you replace one you pretty well have to replace the other.

    As @Aclera mentioned, they are almost always repairable, and if they are, that is much the best way to go.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • nmquirk
    nmquirk Member Posts: 23
    Thank you for the feedback. To answer the question of why, it comes down to the condition of the valves. They aren't leaking, I've repacked all of the nuts with graphite packing. The radiator valve in the living no longer has the handle on it. I'd guess people moving furniture around hit it one too many times. If ever I need to close or turn the valve I need to use a wrench. So it looks bad, but functions fine. The one in the kitchen although it looks newer based on the design, just looks worse than some of the original ones in the bedrooms. In short, it's mostly for aesthetics but also maintenance.
  • Aclera
    Aclera Member Posts: 3
    For the valve with a missing handle, you should be able to find original-ish handles on eBay or generic replacement handles at a plumbing supply store, that should save you from a total valve replacement.

    Any chance you could post some pictures of the valves? The ones you like, and the ones you don't like? Someone who's seen more of these things should be able to steer you in the right direction with that.
  • nmquirk
    nmquirk Member Posts: 23
    @Aclera, sorry I didn't mean to disappear for a week. Lost track of things due to work. I've attach 2 pictures. One is the living room valve with the missing handle, the second is one of the bedrooms. All the bedroom have what I think are the original handles. I suspect the living room was the same. If so, I'm not surprised it came off. I like the look of them, but they also don't appear to be too sturdy.

  • Aclera
    Aclera Member Posts: 3
    I have some similar ones in my home, but not exactly the same. They are really old, possibly original. Mine had a few layers of paint like yours, I took some paint stripper to the handle and found a black rubbery coating underneath. Not sure what it is, but it looks better than the paint. The valve body can take a bit of polish as well.

    I think you'd have a very difficult time finding an original handle, but the generic replacement should work. The stem looks like it has an odd shape at the top though. Not sure if it broke off in a strange way, or if that's just some dirt at the top.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,573
    When you use pliers on the stem, it will chew up the end. A little work with a file should resquare the end enough to enable the replacement handle to fit;;;;;;however, the valve should not ever be closed except for temporary radiator maintenance, as a small amount of steam will still enter the radiator, and the condensate will be trapped.
    If you are trying to regulate the output, then turn the air vent upside down to prevent steam from entering. A correctly balanced system should not need on-off-on radiators.--NBC
  • nmquirk
    nmquirk Member Posts: 23
    @Aclera - I checked out the link, I'll probably get the generic replacement and try to fit it on. Honestly, I'd rather do that than try to fit a new valve on.

    @nicholas bonham-carter - So far, I've only had to turn it once, and that was because I re-packed the nut. The torque of tightening the nut (with new graphite packing) was turning the valve closed, so I had to re-open it. It's more of me being pro-active than anything else. The valve itself still works but I need a wrench in order to operate it and it looks bad. I've used the air vents to regular temperature.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    If you want nicer looking handles, I believe I read here that @gerry gill sells custom made wood handles. Check here: https://www.gwgillplumbingandheating.com/
  • Patf
    Patf Member Posts: 1
    I have a one pipe steam heat system in my house. I wanted to replace one of the radiators with one that I had removed when we eliminated another room, but it looks like i have 2 sizes of valves since the radiator I wanted to hook up has a diameter that is slightly larger than the valve, and, since the shut off valve in the location that I want to put the radiator is so old it is basically welded on, I have to find a radiator that fits this valve.
    To find the right radiator, I am not sure what I am measuring to be sure I get the right one.