Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

Odd issue with Steamview (Runtal) radiators leaking at the welds.

JohnNYJohnNY Posts: 2,007Member
Hello all,
I've got a client in Brooklyn who's heating most of his home with Steamview radiators:
http://steamradiators.com/pdf/steamview-radiator.pdf
I've installed a few dozen of these radiators and about 200 of their other product, the Charleston Pro model, and I've never had an issue.
In this residence, he's had to replace 5 (or 6) radiators due to them springing leaks at the welds. The boiler is fine, there are no other leaks anywhere, and he's claiming to have had to replace air vents several at a time every season since he's bought these radiators to stop them from spitting steam. We're running about 18 ounces of pressure at the boiler and there's not much else to report except these radiators keep springing leaks. Runtal has replaced every radiator immediately but they're saying they can't send him any more radiators because there must be some field condition that is causing the leaks. I'm inclined to agree with them. I sent a water sample to a lab and they came up with slightly elevated levels of lead, iron, and manganese. Also the pH was kind of high at 8.85 but I've tested boiler water higher than that before.
I think the high levels of metals in the water could be attributed to the breakdown of the radiators but I'm not sure if that's actually the chicken or the egg.
Any thoughts about why this is happening... or similar experiences and your approach to resolution are appreciated.
Best,
JC
For private consulting services, find John "JohnNY" Cataneo here at :
"Heat Advisory, LLC"
Or email John at [email protected]
John is a professional Master Plumber by trade, licensed by The Department of Buildings of The City of New York, but travels regularly to out-of-state clients for consulting work.

Comments

  • Danny ScullyDanny Scully Posts: 983Member
    edited May 1
    Hmm, did you put the vaporstat on a rig to test it? Any chance it’s not actually running at 18 oz? Are they mounted in different variety’s, such as some horizontal some vertical? Are the fails on either horizontal or vertical? Are the mounted with the toggles? Any chance they’re moving a bit?
  • gerry gillgerry gill Posts: 2,863Member
    Were they all from the same lot?
    Were the leaks at the toe of the welds or in the weld themselves?
    Perhaps they had a bad run of welds with undercut at the toe of the weld on what is very thin metal to start with. Pure speculation
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com

    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,284Member
    Good observations here.
    Could there have been a freeze up prior to the present occupancy?
    That’s one thing about the old cast iron-no welds!
    John, your article in Erin’s recent newsletter was excellent, and so well written!—NBC
  • FredFred Posts: 6,583Member
    Are they mounted in a way that prevents free movement to expand/contract? What kind of vent is he using? Are they cheap HD ones? Sounds like two separate problems to me.
  • the_donutthe_donut Posts: 369Member
    It's hard to believe pressure could cause an issue. Even at 15 psi those welds should hold.
    Have you sampled the water from the inside of a failed radiator? Maybe the chemistry at the radiator is different than the return and/or boiler.
  • AMservicesAMservices Posts: 381Member
    This is a long shot, but other then the thing you've checked, it might be the cause of your rotting radiators.
    Is there a chance one of your wall anchors my have tagged a neutral wire?
    Straigh electrical current passing through on its way to ground might be the problem. Or some hack electrician used a steam pipe as a ground or neutral.
    Stranger things have happened, and what your saying, is strange
  • The Steam WhispererThe Steam Whisperer Posts: 239Member
    I have a bad one too. A weld at the bottom is leaking. Also one pipe steam. I don't remember how old it is, but I think the radiator is just a couple years out of warranty
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • JohnNYJohnNY Posts: 2,007Member

    Hmm, did you put the vaporstat on a rig to test it? Any chance it’s not actually running at 18 oz? Are they mounted in different variety’s, such as some horizontal some vertical? Are the fails on either horizontal or vertical? Are the mounted with the toggles? Any chance they’re moving a bit?

    My gauge barely moves so I'm going to trust my vaporstat for now. They're all mounted horizontally and the failures are in mixed locations. All rads are mounted with factory hardware and seem pretty secure.
    For private consulting services, find John "JohnNY" Cataneo here at :
    "Heat Advisory, LLC"
    Or email John at [email protected]
    John is a professional Master Plumber by trade, licensed by The Department of Buildings of The City of New York, but travels regularly to out-of-state clients for consulting work.
  • JohnNYJohnNY Posts: 2,007Member

    I have a bad one too. A weld at the bottom is leaking. Also one pipe steam. I don't remember how old it is, but I think the radiator is just a couple years out of warranty

    I think these are about 3-4 years old or so. They pre-date my involvement.
    For private consulting services, find John "JohnNY" Cataneo here at :
    "Heat Advisory, LLC"
    Or email John at [email protected]
    John is a professional Master Plumber by trade, licensed by The Department of Buildings of The City of New York, but travels regularly to out-of-state clients for consulting work.
  • JohnNYJohnNY Posts: 2,007Member

    This is a long shot, but other then the thing you've checked, it might be the cause of your rotting radiators.

    Is there a chance one of your wall anchors my have tagged a neutral wire?

    Straigh electrical current passing through on its way to ground might be the problem. Or some hack electrician used a steam pipe as a ground or neutral.

    Stranger things have happened, and what your saying, is strange

    Interesting. This is actually the kind of reply I was hoping for. It's not something normal. There's something weird going on.
    For private consulting services, find John "JohnNY" Cataneo here at :
    "Heat Advisory, LLC"
    Or email John at [email protected]
    John is a professional Master Plumber by trade, licensed by The Department of Buildings of The City of New York, but travels regularly to out-of-state clients for consulting work.
  • JohnNYJohnNY Posts: 2,007Member

    Good observations here.
    Could there have been a freeze up prior to the present occupancy?
    That’s one thing about the old cast iron-no welds!
    John, your article in Erin’s recent newsletter was excellent, and so well written!—NBC

    I don't think so. At least one of the new ones leaked too.

    And THANK YOU!
    For private consulting services, find John "JohnNY" Cataneo here at :
    "Heat Advisory, LLC"
    Or email John at [email protected]
    John is a professional Master Plumber by trade, licensed by The Department of Buildings of The City of New York, but travels regularly to out-of-state clients for consulting work.
  • JohnNYJohnNY Posts: 2,007Member

    Were they all from the same lot?
    Were the leaks at the toe of the welds or in the weld themselves?
    Perhaps they had a bad run of welds with undercut at the toe of the weld on what is very thin metal to start with. Pure speculation


    As much as I'm looking for a way-out-there answer from you guys, I'm thinking this is what's most likely the issue.
    For private consulting services, find John "JohnNY" Cataneo here at :
    "Heat Advisory, LLC"
    Or email John at [email protected]
    John is a professional Master Plumber by trade, licensed by The Department of Buildings of The City of New York, but travels regularly to out-of-state clients for consulting work.
  • ratioratio Posts: 1,563Member
    Have any of the replacement radiators been replaced?

    Maybe Runtal can be persuaded to send a factory guy to look at the install? I'd think they'd be interested in finding out the problem, even if it's just to add another exclusion to their warranty.

    Can you get one of the failed vents to do an autopsy on? Could you be experiencing occasional high-pressure events, like the vaporstat binds for a cycle?

  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,181Member
    @JohnNY ,

    I agree it is likely the welds.

    I have done a bit of welding although I am far from an expert.

    I watch "welding tips & tricks" on U tube. He welds stuff then cuts it apart to examine how the weld went. He calls it cut and etch. If you cut out a section with a leak and put "naval jelly" on it with a brush it will etch the metal so you can see fusion or lack there of, porosity, pin holes, slag inclusions etc. Jody Collier is welding tips and tricks he's an excellent welder and teacher was a nuclear plant pipe welder . You could look at a few of his cut and etch videos if interested
  • hot rodhot rod Posts: 8,592Member
    This lengthly article talks a lot about O2 content and how it contributes to metal failure. With that many failures from probably different batches is would seem odd to be a weld issue?

    https://www.suezwatertechnologies.com/handbook/boiler_water_systems/ch_11_preboiler.jsp
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,035Member
    edited May 2
    I obviously can't give any experience with the radiators but we all know how corrosive distilled water is.

    I could never believe excess pressure would cause it and water issues in theory should never get to a radiator.

    Steam condensate is full of air by nature and very corrosive.

    Seems like a manufacturing defect to me.

    That's my thoughts and that plus $3 will buy a gallon of gas.
    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
  • ShalomShalom Posts: 106Member
    Just a thought from a non-professional: Is there anything (furniture, etc.) that might be banging into them? Is anyone hanging stuff off them?

    Just sayin', because my mom was complaining about water hammer in one rad (coincidentally the only wall-hung one), and there was a sag in that pipe that you could see with the naked eye. Turns out that's the pipe they hang the laundry from...
  • Mad DogMad Dog Posts: 3,455Member
    I'm with the stray current and all.you would need is one touching any and it could become systemwide. There are thousands of homes in Western Nassau county with recurring pinhole leaks on domestic copper piping because of this. Worth a shot to get a real sharp
    Involved. Mad Dog
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,035Member
    edited May 3
    Can someone explain how stray current causes corrosion? Also, what is stray current?


    I've never heard of this and I'm curious.
    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
  • AMservicesAMservices Posts: 381Member
    Stray current corrosion or stray current electrolysis refers to corrosion resulting from stray current -current flowing through paths other than the intended circuit. ... The extent of damage or loss of metal is directly proportional to the magnitude of stray current passing through the system.
  • JohnNYJohnNY Posts: 2,007Member
    I'm going to look into this. I guess I'll take a MV reading of the radiators to ground?
    For private consulting services, find John "JohnNY" Cataneo here at :
    "Heat Advisory, LLC"
    Or email John at [email protected]
    John is a professional Master Plumber by trade, licensed by The Department of Buildings of The City of New York, but travels regularly to out-of-state clients for consulting work.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,035Member
    > @JohnNY said:
    > I'm going to look into this. I guess I'll take a MV reading of the radiators to ground?

    I'm still waiting to hear what actually causes it because I'm not understand why a small amount of current would cause piping to corrode.

    Can someone share an article?
    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
  • JohnNYJohnNY Posts: 2,007Member
    ChrisJ said:

    > @JohnNY said:

    > I'm going to look into this. I guess I'll take a MV reading of the radiators to ground?



    I'm still waiting to hear what actually causes it because I'm not understand why a small amount of current would cause piping to corrode.

    I think you've got to consider the principles involved in galvanic reaction or electrolysis (the dissimilar metals kind, not the hair removal kind).

    For private consulting services, find John "JohnNY" Cataneo here at :
    "Heat Advisory, LLC"
    Or email John at [email protected]
    John is a professional Master Plumber by trade, licensed by The Department of Buildings of The City of New York, but travels regularly to out-of-state clients for consulting work.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,035Member
    > @JohnNY said:
    > > @JohnNY said:
    >
    > > I'm going to look into this. I guess I'll take a MV reading of the radiators to ground?
    >
    >
    >
    > I'm still waiting to hear what actually causes it because I'm not understand why a small amount of current would cause piping to corrode.
    >
    >
    >
    > I think you've got to consider the principles involved in galvanic reaction or electrolysis (the dissimilar metals kind, not the hair removal kind).

    I understand how galvanic corrosion works.


    I don't understand what's being discussed here though.
    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
  • AMservicesAMservices Posts: 381Member
    @Johnny I would try turning as much on as possible when looking for your MV.

    Here's an article @ChrisJ
    http://www.corrosionclinic.com/types_of_corrosion/stray current corrosion.htm
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,181Member
    @ChrisJ

    Many building have metal water pipes. The earth with all the chemicals in it and the water table basically the earth is a battery.

    So the stray current does not have to actually come from the buildings electric service. It can come from the earth, or your neighbors power feed. Either way, there is a lot of stray current flowing around.

    Exactly why it causes corrosion I don't know
  • Mad DogMad Dog Posts: 3,455Member
    That's a great analogy Ed. Mad Dog
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,284Member
    edited May 11
    I am wondering how the layman with a multimeter can check for these stray currants, so as to know whether to call in an electrician.
    Is a measurement of the voltage potential between the plumbing and a ground rod, or what?—nbc
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,035Member
    edited May 11
    > @nicholas bonham-carter said:
    > I am wondering how the layman with a multimeter can check for these stray currants, so as to know whether to call in an electrician.
    > Is a measurement of the voltage potential between the plumbing and a ground rod, or what?—nbc


    I'm wondering how anyone can check for them, including the electrician.

    If you even take a measurement between two ground rods you're going to see a difference. Measure between a water pipe and a rod and there will always be a difference.

    This is why sub panels have their grounds bonded to neutral only at the main panel. Everything gets bonded at the same point.
    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
  • AMservicesAMservices Posts: 381Member
    Here's a what I found online on how to diagnose stray current corrosion in a radiator.
    It refers to diagnosing a car radiator, I'm sure it will work just as well on a cast iron radiator.
    Seems like @JohnNY will have to test with the positive lead in the radiators water and the negative lead to a solid ground.

    "To test for stray/electric current, use an analogue voltmeter with sensitivity of 0.03 volts or a stray current detector by first placing the positive lead directly into the coolant (through the filler neck on the radiator), or in the overflow bottle (for a closed system), making sure that the terminal is not in contact with any surrounding metal surface. Then attach the negative lead to the battery earth (negative terminal), and switch on all of the electrical systems, one at a time. First with the engine running and then repeating the process with the engine turned off. A reading of more than 0.03 volts or a positive (red light) indicates a damaging current is likely to be present in the cooling system.

    This procedure will enable you to establish by process of elimination the source of any current. It is imperative that the source of any current travelling through the coolant is located, repaired or replaced prior to installing a new radiator assembly."

    Hope that helps
    Here's the full link
    http://ishop.cooldrive.com.au/warranty/warranty_jayrad/jayrad_installation_procedure
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,181Member
    I have found stray current with an amp probe although it may not pick up small currents.

    I think it is doubtful that a heating system will be found with stray current, The boiler is usually fed by city water which is grounded if it is a metallic water service. The boiler should also be grounded by the circuit feeding the boiler.

    I suppose there are circumstances, plastic water pipe, a boiler with millivolt power or fed by a remote 24 volt transformer where it could happen
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,284Member
    edited May 12
    The automotive cooling system is different from domestic heating systems in that the stray current is DC, and any stray current will cause chemical changes in the liquid, (sludge), as opposed to the metal.
    Maybe this stray current problem is somehow to blame for the dismal track record of Burnham boilers.—NBC
Sign In or Register to comment.

Welcome

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!