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

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 Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,555
    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
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 4,822
    "pretty sure" :)
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 14,959
    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
  • tomsloancamp
    tomsloancamp Member Posts: 88
    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_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,826
    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
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 8,437
    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.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,541
    Have you asked your wife? Who else lives in the house?
  • Gsmith
    Gsmith Member Posts: 426
    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.
  • tkos115
    tkos115 Member Posts: 87
    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.
  • DZoro
    DZoro Member Posts: 1,048
    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…. ;)
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 8,437
    I'm thinking maybe striped threads where the valve could fall, depending on the type of valve.
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,193
    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.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • tomsloancamp
    tomsloancamp Member Posts: 88
    @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: 1,478
    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.😇
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 8,437
    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.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 6,133
    If you look close at the picture, can you see the fingerprint left by the ghost?
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 6,133
    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?

    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
    tighten up the packing nut. Put a baby monitor pointed at the offending radiators and see what happens.

  • Joe_Dunham
    Joe_Dunham Member Posts: 52
    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