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Ghosts closing radiator valves ;)

Has anyone experience radiator valves closing on their own? On several occasions, I have found the valves to be turned down to near close and I’m pretty sure my wife isn’t doing it.


  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,863
    Most radiator valves I've hit are so hard to turn that they surely don't close on their own! So... ghosts. Definitely ghosts.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,610
    "pretty sure" :)
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,004
    How easily do these turn?
    Are they leaking at the packing nuts?
    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
  • tomsloancamptomsloancamp Member Posts: 45
    The posts aren’t loose but it seem to have happen on 2. I recently got a new boiler installed and the had hammering issues (which were resolved through skimming.) The gaskets under the nut are indeed worn so I am in the process of replacing them with graphite packing. They were fully closed so I wonder if the vibration from the hammering could have caused it (they were on the same riser.)
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,263
    It's obviously the result of the Coriolis force.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    tomsloancampEdTheHeaterMandelta T
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,318
    what kind of valves are they? Are they rising stem, does the handle move up and down as you close them? A picture would help a lot.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,422
    Have you asked your wife? Who else lives in the house?
  • Gary SmithGary Smith Member Posts: 323
    I find it very difficult to imagine that the valves are being closed by vibrations. Most radiator valves require more than several complete turns to close from full open. As I said, difficult to imagine them closing by themselves. It is possible I suppose the disks have worked loose by vibration and fallen into the close position, but then you wouldn't be able to open them with the hand wheel again either.
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 74
    Maybe with the packing being loose and the expansion and contraction of the heating and cooling cycles is slowly causing it to tighten down, with the help of gravity.
  • DZoroDZoro Member Posts: 1,035
    Ghosts, definitely.....
    But this maybe a use for duct tape. Put some tape on the valves so that they can't close on their own,,,, maybe…. ;)
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,318
    I'm thinking maybe striped threads where the valve could fall, depending on the type of valve.
  • I've seen that before in a home by a heavily trafficed road and across from a Railroad. One or two valves would gradually close. tightening up the packing will help provide some resistance to keep it from turning closed.
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  • tomsloancamptomsloancamp Member Posts: 45
    @mattmia2 here’s a pic of the valve ... I started repacking them and I haven’t seen an sign of ghost or gremlins. I did find some condensation leaking from the stem before repacking.
  • Intplm.Intplm. Member Posts: 1,158
    Yes. I have had this happen before.
    The family pet rubbing against the valve. And or.
    The packing nut is loose and the valve is not backseated all the way can also do this. (That's tightly turned all the way to the on position.)
    So check those things first before considering hiring an exorcist.😇
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,318
    edited November 2019
    Is the knob by any chance rubbing against the wall and turning as the pipes and radiator expand and contract?

    BTW it is a rising stem globe valve so it has relatively coarse threads that probably aren't stripped and dropping somehow.
  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 572
    If you look close at the picture, can you see the fingerprint left by the ghost?
  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 572
    Fred said:

    Have you asked your wife? Who else lives in the house?

    I don't think the wife will give up the answer to that question! Or is that two different unrelated questions?

  • dopey27177dopey27177 Member Posts: 299
    tighten up the packing nut. Put a baby monitor pointed at the offending radiators and see what happens.

  • Joe_DunhamJoe_Dunham Member Posts: 40
    I once had an issue where a manufacturer shipped a threaded insert in the fully open position. They kept coming in closed. I thought that the truck bouncing around was doing it. So I laid one on the counter and put a vibrator under the counter. Sure enough the threaded insert turned down, because its an inclined plane. If the valves really loosy goosy, the water hammer may be causing that. maybe tighten the packing nut
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