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Replacing a radiator

Jane_D
Jane_D Member Posts: 14
Hi everyone,

I live in an old house with old radiators. The boiler is gas and the system seems to based on hot water running to and from the radiators. One of the radiators in my living room has a leak (I looked at where the leak is coming from and it is rusted). The radiator is about 40" wide and 4" deep. I know nothing about radiators. From looking on the internet I believe that this is a cast iron, convector radiator (it is recessed in the wall). I'm attaching a picture -- am I correct that it is called a convector radiator? I have been calling around salvage places and it seems that this type of radiator is relatively uncommon. Everyone seems to be into those traditional, pretty radiators so that is what the salvage shops seem to keep in stock. I am not wedded to buying the same in kind of radiator; I just want something that will fit in that space. I have about 44" wide, 19" high, 5.5" depth to work with. Do the traditional radiators even come in dimensions like that? I know that I can buy new cast iron radiators, but it seems that they are very expensive. Any suggestions will be deeply appreciated.

Thanks.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,607
    That is a convector -- you're right there. And they are a bit hard to come by.

    They put out quite a bit of heat, considering their size, when the cover is on the compartment they are in. That said, you can substitute almost any other radiator that fits.

    But before you do that... where is the leak coming from? It may be possible to repair the leak, depending on where it is.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 761
    @Jane_D : Your type of "finned cast iron convectors" are still made... more or less. That's the good news.

    They are made of a type of sintered cast iron called (tongue in cheek) "chineseium", but they are available new from stocking dealers here in the US. The cost is what it is, but be warned that the shipping costs are substantial.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • New England SteamWorks
    New England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,427
    Send a close up picture of the leak please.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 1,758
    I may be wrong , but it may not be the original ... Does the cast fit the full depth of the cabinet ? If so then it is ... Look like the second section , is leaking .... Another option is the Burnham SunRad .. you may find an size the can fit once the cabinet is removed ...
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • Jane_D
    Jane_D Member Posts: 14
    Thanks for all of the responses. I'm posting some pics of the leak, but you can't actually see the water dripping down -- it's too dark to see/photograph. You can see the rust and I just assume that the water is coming from there. There isn't a cabinet as such that one can remove -- the wall itself is recessed and there's a flat, metal cover that screws into the wall and blocking the view of the radiator. The radiator pretty much fits the depth of space -- there is maybe an extra inch and a half. On the other hand, the radiator is 40 inches wide, while the space is about 46 inches wide. What kind of radiator is a Burnham SunRad? Is that a specific brand and model?

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,686
    Can you see what pressure the system is at? Should be 12-15 PSI.
    Had a customer with severely high running pressure and after it was corrected his leaking radiator stopped dripping. FWIW
  • Jane_D
    Jane_D Member Posts: 14
    Where can I find the pressure of the system is? Is that on the boiler somewhere?
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,708
    The least expensive way out is to buy some hot water baseboard element and build your own radiator. Any plumber or pipefitter can do this. I like Spirotherm speed heat. It comes with brackets and if the width is good it will fit right in the enclosure. You could stack two of them if need be. http://www.spirotherm.com/sites/default/files/Speedheat-4A_0.pdf
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,708
    Yes @Jane_D there should be a pressure gage on the boiler. They are sometimes combined with a thermometer and called a triadicator. Normal pressure is 12-15 psi cold. When the water heats up you might see 20-25 psi. Over 25 could be an issue
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,470
    edited January 2018
    There are things that have to be considered, but if it were me, I'd look at something like the PSU 23. It would fit the space nicely. You would need electricity, and you wouldn't want to do it, if that convector is in series with others. You need a good heating contractor to check things out. It will put out a lot of heat. You might be able to run it off its own thermostat. http://www.h-mac.com/product-catalogs/smiths-environmental-products/Smiths-PSU-10-15-23-Submittal.pdf
  • Jane_D
    Jane_D Member Posts: 14
    edited January 2018
    Hi @JUGHNE, I took a picture of the pressure. Am I correct that it is reading about 25? Thanks for the suggestion, @Paul48, but this convector may be in a series with the others in the living room. I also really don't want go mess with electricity for my heating. @EBEBRATT-Ed, would hot water baseboard element heat the room as much as the cast iron element?

  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,470
    edited January 2018
    @Jane_D

    I may have misled you re: the electricity. A nearby outlet would suffice. It is just to run a small blower (fan). Anyway, it was just an option. :smile:
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 523
    @Jane_D Yes if that gauge is correct your boiler is operating at 25psi. That's too high in all likelihood. In most cases 12-15 adequate. Very often less than that. You lower that or have someone do it for you. You should also find out why the pressure is so high. That could solve your leak issue. Should be done regardless.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    It looks like the section that is leaking may be one of the center sections. If dialing down the pressure doesn't resolve the problem, and given this convector is in series with others in that room, I'm wondering what the possibility is to have someone remove the leaking section? It would shorten the convector and reduce output of that convector by maybe 25% but most systems are over radiated anyway and with the cover on, it would not be visually noticeable. Of course that assumes a replacement nipple is available. i think there are one or two sources for those nipples, once the size/style is determined.
  • Jane_D
    Jane_D Member Posts: 14
    @Grallert, thanks for the advice. I'm having someone lower the pressure for me tomorrow; it would be great if that resolves the problem. @Fred, you are correct that the only section that is leaking is one of the center sections (the left center). I'm attaching a picture of the top of that section of the radiator. I'm afraid I don't exactly know what nipples are. Are nipples those bolts in the picture holding the radiator together? If so, couldn't someone just re-use those after removing the section? @Paul48, thanks, I had previously found Governale's site and seen that convector. They were pretty mean to me over the phone, telling me that they only sell to plumbing supply houses and not willing to give me any idea of the price. The idea of buying a new convector from Governale also gave me some pause because some people here on the forum have said that the warranty is only for 1 year and that several people have experienced cracks, sometimes just after the warranty has expired . . .
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    @Jane_D The push nipples are in between each section. They are essentially what seals each section against the next so that the sections don't leak. They look like a large brass ring so that water/steam can move between sections. If you find someone to take the bad section out, they can then measure the diameter of that ring and we can probably tell you where to source them from.
  • Jane_D
    Jane_D Member Posts: 14
    @JUGHNE @EBEBRATT-Ed @Grallert (and everyone else):

    Thanks for all of your help. I have a maintenance contract with a heating company, but only for the boiler (the contract doesn’t cover radiators). On Friday, they sent someone over to check the pressure. He was here for a couple of hours. I am not sure what he was doing; it did involve draining some water (possibly from the expansion tank??). It was pretty clear that he didn’t really know what he was doing (he told me that he didn’t know how to lower the pressure and he had to keep calling someone for guidance). At any event, he said that I needed a new water pressure relief valve in order to decrease the pressure, and that he would install it this week. Hours after he left I noticed that the leak had slowed substantially, and then stopped altogether. I attributed this to the warm weather, and the boiler not running. However, by Monday it got a bit colder, but there was still no leak. I decided to turn the temperature way up so that the boiler would run continuously and not shut off. Still no leak.

    Today (Tuesday morning), the company sent a different guy. He said he has been doing this stuff for 35 years. He said that he had spoken to the guy who came out on Friday, couldn’t make head or tail of what the guy was talking about, so the company sent him to check things out for himself. He looked at the boiler and told me lots of stuff, 99% of which went over my head. The 1% that I got was that the pressure gauge was broken, but he had an instrument that could check the pressure (perhaps at the water reducing valve or backflow valve??). He didn't have the part to replace the broken gauge.

    He said what the guy did on Friday lowered the pressure way down almost to 0 (I think), but that today he set the pressure at 12. He let the boiler run for a while and said that the pressure was maintaining at the right level in the way that it should. Even though they don’t work on radiators, he looked at the radiator, saw the rust and where it was leaking before, but confirmed that it is no longer leaking. It has now been 3 hours since he left and there is still no leak.

    So, can it be that I’m out of the woods? That I don’t have to get a new radiator? And how can that be? If there is rust, and water leaked out, it would seem that there is a crack or a hole. How can decreasing the pressure make that crack or hole go away?

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    Enough pressure can make almost anything leak where it otherwise wouldn't. If it's not leaking now, I would suggest the pressure was the issue.
    Grallert
  • Jane_D
    Jane_D Member Posts: 14
    Thanks for the quick response, @Fred and for everyone's help and advice. I really am in the darkness here, and you have all helped me learn so much.