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Radiator Leveling Question

CKNJ Member Posts: 57
I know that proper installation of a steam radiator requires a slight pitch back to the supply on a one pipe system. My question is about side to side leveling on a radiator (38"H, 12 sections, 3 column) that weighs about 500 lbs. sitting parallel to the wall. Picture attached from when I installed it since you guys love photos (LOL) and the paper towel under the supply was to check for leaks. The floor closest to the wall is higher than where the outer legs sit since the house has settled. The difference is about 3 quarters ($0.25) where the outer legs of the radiator sit. I am thinking i should shim up those outer legs to make the radiator level mainly because the lower (settled) area of the floor will bear most of the weight of the radiator and collect condensate on that side, getting worse as time goes on.

Am I overthinking this? Leave it alone or level it with 3 quarters? If I do level it with quarters would it be a good idea to glue them together?


  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,788
    I have used just about everything you can think of to level or shim radiators . The reason why I have used pocket change is because it was "in my pocket". Always at the ready.

    Some have also used the new composite material type of shim. It is a bit larger than coins and is easier to put under the legs of a heavy rad.

    You are not over thinking. Glueing the coins is a good idea.
    In your case, I would use some washers in the same manor. Get some that are a little bigger than a quarter. You will discover that they are much easier to slip under the radiator legs and do just as good of , if not a better job then the coins.

    after leveling, add some some extra washers to the end that needs to be pitched higher to allow for the condensate to drain.
  • CKNJ
    CKNJ Member Posts: 57
    Thanks for the input. I opted to make shims from wood shaped to the bottom of the feet. I stained the edge the same color as the floor. All level now.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,788
    Good that you made it look good.

    Be sure to add shims to the opposite side of the valve to allow for condensation to drain from the radiator.
  • Harry_6
    Harry_6 Member Posts: 141
    I personally think that sloping with shims is overrated. If the manufacturer had wanted a radiator to slope, they'd have cast the legs on one end slightly longer(!). Don't get me wrong - radiators have to be level without question. And old house settlement can introduce some unsightly and mechanically bad tilts along either axis. But don't put too much stock in those old house improvement hobbyists (and I'm looking at you, "This Old House"), who tell you that all radiators have to slope toward the valve (talking one-pipe, of course). A radiator has to be either level OR sloping somewhat toward the valve. A little slope in the right direction doesn't hurt, but if the radiator is level there shouldn't be any drainage problem regardless. Radiators were never shimmed when installed, because if installed level there is no drainage problem. This assumes that the inlet isn't some goofy piping, like bushing the 2" inlet down to a 1" pipe, or whatever. It looks to me like your radiator will function perfectly as long as it is brought up to level side-to-side and front-to-back. If it makes you feel better, give it a little slope. but if it's level there should be no hammer or other issues.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,435
    I have two radiators that are sloped backwards. By a lot.

    They don't complain so I don't complain.

    A 20 section one has the vent end probably a good inch lower than the supply side.
    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
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,887
    I'm with @ChrisJ on this. In fact, I find it very difficult to envision a scenario where the slope of a radiator might, somehow, be enough to cause a water hammer in the radiator -- one pipe or two pipe. Purely on theoretical grounds: as soon as the steam gets into the radiator, the velocity drops to almost zero.

    On the other hand, I can think of lots of ways that water hammer can occur in the feed line -- anywhere that water can pool in the feed and then get pushed along is going to give trouble.

    I can also see that a radiator which is sloped too much towards the inlet on one pipe could gurgle under certain conditions, but that's kind of far fetched...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • CKNJ
    CKNJ Member Posts: 57
    Just as a follow up, I only leveled side to side. When I put a level on top, the edge of the bubble just hits the line indicating a slight slope so that is good enough for me.