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Horrible odors from steam radiator...am at wits end and the fumes making me sick!

Last winter I had my apartment renovated and there was mold behind on the wall behind the radiator. The renovators removed the radiator wiped the mold down with bleach painted the area and even wiped the back of my radiator with the same bleachy cloth and put it back. I had mold all over the walls which was wiped with bleach and painted over which shouldnt have been done in the first place but that's another story. I had the air tested for mold by a mold inspector and am fine thank god for that. Otherwise I'd force my landlord for a proper remediation.

After the radiator was put back in place strong bleachy smell would come out when the heat went on. I complained to the renovators they said it would pass. Well it never did. The smell lasted the whole winter although it did get better in time. This winter the smell was still there when the heat went on again not as bad as last year but still annoying. Had a new contractor send over and his people painted and used some sealant for the wall behind the radiator and polished my wooden floors beneath the radiator and painted my radiator with some thick shiny grey paint. The original plan was to cut the wall behind the radiator and the floor beneath it but that was scraped off. Well after that the bleachy smell was gone but new chemical fireworks mixed with burning paint smell took over and was 20x worse. After 4 days of that torture despite running the radiator to burn it and opening windows it's quite cold here in NYC now nothing changed. Eventually I was given a new radiator.

New radiator releases horrible gas like smell even now after 4 days. A bit better but not going away. I'm extremely frustrated and need heat in my room. These noxious fumes have been making me sick I'm about to give up. And those people my landlord hires are incompotent. What do you think could be going on? Any help greatly apprecitated.
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Comments

  • kcoppkcopp Posts: 3,392Member
    New radiators have oils in and on them from the casting process. Was it a brand new radiator or a reclaimed one? Are any other people having issues in the Building. May be that someone added a chemical cleaning compound to the system and that's the issue...
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 8,031Member
    edited December 2019
    My guess is also That some chemical was added to the boiler, and every time the boiler fires, and air is released from the radiator vent the fumes come with it.
    However In that case, then other residents would be smelling it, as well. Is that the case?—NBC
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    edited December 2019
    No clue about other neighbors and i told that to the contractor he hasn't heard any complaints. but like I said i never had issues before till those renovators took out my radiator to clean the mold behind it on the wall and put it back. After that nothing been the same. Doubt it was a coincidence.

    The radiator I got is brand new. And also to add this problem is only in 1 of my rooms. I have 2 more radiators and no issues. Doubt it's the boiler although the boiler is a piece of crap in my building with frequent repairs.
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    edited December 2019
    Just spoke to the contractor again he's clueless too he will send the plumber again if that shall help. On Monday they'll put a radiator from another vacant apartment into my room and see what happens.
  • rwhtgrwhtg Posts: 34Member

    My guess is also That some chemical was added to the boiler, and every time the boiler fires, and air is released from the radiator vent the fumes come with it.
    However In that case, then other residents would be smelling it, as well. Is that the case?—NBC

    I heard or read a story from Mr. Holohan I believe, about a janitor or building maintenance man that was saving his urine and putting into the boilers. The tenants were going crazy trying to figure out what the awful odor was... lol
    Skilled labor isn’t cheap, cheap labor isn’t skilled.
  • Long Beach EdLong Beach Ed Posts: 697Member
    edited December 2019
    Sounds like 100% normal odor of new paint on a radiator. The pigment carriers dry off and smell. Your former problem was the drying bleach and paint. Sounds like you are keeping your landlord busy. Do you like living there?

    Keep the window open all day when you go to work and after a few days the smell will be gone.
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    edited December 2019

    Sounds like 100% normal odor of new paint on a radiator. The pigment carriers dry off and smell. Your former problem was the drying bleach and paint. Sounds like you are keeping your landlord busy. Do you like living there?

    Keep the window open all day when you go to work and after a few days the smell will be gone.

    If i could move from here I'd do it in a heartbeat the last year I had so many repairs I lost count. No money to move out...rent is too pricey in nyc I still have the rent from 2006. The apt is literally valued at 1k more now.

    As for doing what you just said keeping windows open and go to work well I been doing that all day since got the new radiator and smell just slightly better after 5 days. Even the contractor says that is too long and I have friends that are contractors agree with it as well I'm frustrated as I can be.

    As for keeping the landlord busy well they are the cheapest of people in existence. I had bad mold throughout the apt they got renovators last year to clean it up with bleach and paint my walls over not even repairing the damaged drywalls from the leak from the roof they fixed. In nyc it's the law to get proper mold remediation over 10sq ft. If they did all of that I bet I wouldn't have issues with my radiator today.
  • Long Beach EdLong Beach Ed Posts: 697Member
    edited December 2019
    This guy hasn't raised your rent in 14 years, and you have bad things to say about him? I be sending him Christmas presents. Anyway, it sounds like with the paint, bleach and more paint only time will make the smell go away, unless of course it's all ripped out and replaced with new stuff, and even that gives off odors for awhile. It seems obvious that the landlord doesn't have the money to do that. So why not offer to pay for the work with all the rent money that he saved you over the past 14 years?

    If it's any consolation, the smell will eventually go away, unfortunately in NYC it's hard to get anyone to sympathize with your plight. It might help to run a fan with the window open when you're away to encourage air movement and evaporation. Big ones to dry carpet rent for $4/day.

    < Disclosure: We own and manage rental housing in NYC. Can you tell? Our radiators smell beautiful. >
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    edited December 2019
    Ok nyc we have rent control and the rent has increased since 2006 actually by $300. If i move out next person gets it for another 1k more. And the landlords own 30 buildings they aren't broke. And if the smell would eventually go away why have I been having issues since last December? And these are the second landlords when i moved in there were others. And each time i had issues i had to call 50x and wait sometimes 2 months to get stuff repaired. You are siding with real deadbeat landlords. Many people in my building complain about them. There were people with leaks for over a year and such. I'll be sure to send them Xmas cards to go you know where. I'm stuck here with my family because of money issues.
  • Long Beach EdLong Beach Ed Posts: 697Member
    edited December 2019
    Didn't mean to "side" with anyone. If the smell is coming from the components and not from the steam, your only remedy is to remove the radiator and Sheetrok or wait until all the offending vapors evaporate. You can mask them with other odors, but that's usually just worse. Newly painted radiators do stink, but I've never had the problem for more than a couple of months, and I lived with it as consequence of having freshly repainted radiators.

    You said tomorrow the landlord is again replacing the new radiator with another old one from another unit. That should solve the odor problem.

    Of course you can bring this all to the NYC Dept of Buildings, but there is no standard for offensive odors, and you may expect to get significantly less attention than the thousands of complainants with no heat at all. And you can bet that the $1000/month more the landlord will get if you leave is mighty inviting to him.
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    edited December 2019
    I know this is a dilemma. Yes the original plan was to scrape of the sheetrock and piece of the wooden floor beneath the radiator but I didn't want that and neither did landlords because I'm sure there is dead mold behind it and disturbing not a good idea. So all they did is paint and plaster the walls and repainted old radiator. New fumes way worse than first one for days on and end and same thing with new radiator. Now if old radiator fails as well this will be a shitstorm. Well I'll let you know tomorrow. And I know as far as complaints I won't get significant help but the noxious fumes the radiator produces makes me and family sick and I have 2 kids. So I only keep it on when nobody is home. My son woke up with nosebleeds the other day.

    If the smell would evaporate as it should have well it would have happened by now. I mean it started literally 1 year ago around this time lasted whole winter and spring. This fall when heat was back on it was back of course not as bad but definitely there.
    And this isn't a newly painted radiator that one was removed with a brand new one and same horrible odor problems. I mean you say yours lasted a few months that sounds a bit extreme.
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Posts: 573Member
    Are you sure the leak is ac actually fixed?
    Bleach decomposes to salt when it dries, it shouldn't smell for very long at all.
    Did the perhaps use exterior paint?
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    It's a 6 floor apt look was on roof I'm on 3rd floor. Yes roof was fixed my walls dried up years ago. I don't know what they used.
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Posts: 573Member
    edited December 2019
    i ask about exterior pain because exterior paint can't be used indoors because it can give off odors that would accumulate indoors.
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Posts: 3,648Member
    Did anyone take an air sample for analysis? How about trying an ion air purifier?
    steve
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Posts: 573Member
    incidentally, the chlorinated self extinguishing plastics that they use for electrical devices and electronics and wiring smell like bleach when they smolder.
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    Well they gave me an old radiator and no more smell. I knew that new radiator was defective. Even the plumber told me today smell from new radiator should have lasted a day or two. They want to paint my ancient radiator they gave me but I'm scared lol only thing sucks when radiator heats up my room or even my electrical heater i been using as a backup the room starts to smell some because that new radiator embedded its smell into my walls curtains and furniture!
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Posts: 573Member
    get some low voc water based paint for the radiator, it was probably the type of paint they painted both with, probably some sort of alkyd
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    yea because last year in the winter the renovators painted all 3 of my radiators and there was no smell at all when they heated except the one that was wiped with bleach. It's weird I guess if you wipe a radiator with bleach the smell never passes now we all know it's true.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 11,796Member
    Ah.... at this point I think I'd leave well enough alone, unless the new old radiator is a hideouts shade of pink or something. Then, if you must paint it use a good -- or top -- grade of interior alkyd, such as Benjamin Moor's Aura.
    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
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    edited December 2019
    Up to the contractors what they'll do lol but honestly I'd rather stare at that ugly old radiator then have me and family breathe any more fumes! Although the radiator was pulled from an apt that had horrendous mold so it smells slightly musty but that'll pass I'm sure heat kills mold spores and the new radiator they took out from me left a sweet chemical smell embedded into my window still area but I believe that'll pass too hopefully. And yea my curtains stink too they'll need a wash too.
  • SeanBeansSeanBeans Posts: 471Member
    Don’t let them paint the thing! They painted a few before and you were stuck breathing in horrible smelling fumes? Why even chance it again? I would firmly say no on the paint, the radiator is beautiful the way it is , pink or not
  • FredFred Posts: 8,188Member
    Are you sure the replacement radiator didn't have a nest of mice in it?
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    SeanBeans said:

    Don’t let them paint the thing! They painted a few before and you were stuck breathing in horrible smelling fumes? Why even chance it again? I would firmly say no on the paint, the radiator is beautiful the way it is , pink or not

    yea that's what i think. i talked to the contractor today and he said he would only use white paint. I had previous renovators paint my other 2 radiators last year with some white paint and no smell. well if they mess up they best give me another radiator then.
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Posts: 573Member
    could always send it out to have it blasted then send it to an automotive radiator shop and have them boil it out in their tank, that would remove anything from it
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    edited December 2019
    just got home and heat is firing up that radiator is constantly releasing steam from the vent and smells like old musky damp clothes from a dog lol. man i'm about to give up.
  • neilcneilc Posts: 751Member
    sounds like you need a new vent,
    what pressure is the boiler running at ?
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    edited December 2019
    Yea they took my new valve with the new radiator that's for sure. As for boiler pressure no clue i live in a 40 apts 6 floor building. But yea this old radiator smells like rotten damp clothes maybe there's an underlying issue.
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    Yea it's official there is another odor...some xmas eve...at least this odor is bearable but still stinky. and not to mention gotta deal with a broken valve that's steaming nonstop.
  • STEAM DOCTORSTEAM DOCTOR Posts: 970Member
    Maybe the damp smell is coming from the steam. Steam is damp when it condenses
  • Maybe the smell is coming from under the floor, as in dead critter?--NBC
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    edited December 2019
    > @nicholas bonham-carter said:
    > Maybe the smell is coming from under the floor, as in dead critter?--NBC

    Plumber said if i get smell again it might be the floor be because around the valve where i turn and shut off the radiator floor looks kinda damaged. Dunno about dead critters this is a 6 floor apt building. And it's weird each time a different radiator a different smell.
  • neilcneilc Posts: 751Member
    the damp smell is all that moisture dumping into the apartment,
    get the super to change the vent so it shuts,
    and ask him if he(them ?) knows the boiler pressure.
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    Well i changed the vent myself had a spare still smelly
  • FredFred Posts: 8,188Member
    Changing the vent won't take away the smell but, if it closes when steam hits it, it is doing its job and will keep your apartment from being very humid.
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    > @Fred said:
    > Changing the vent won't take away the smell but, if it closes when steam hits it, it is doing its job and will keep your apartment from being very humid.

    My apt don't get humid from the smell it's just the smell mimics like a bunch of wet moldy humid clothes.

    What's funny that each time a new radiator is brought on there is different odors and different levels of odors. I'm really starting to think it's the pipes unfortunately my contractor is so incompetent and his plumber doesn't seem very competent either.
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Posts: 573Member
    Could be the stuff you plastered up inside the wall instead of ripping out and replacing getting cooked by the radiator.
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    edited December 2019
    Wall was just painted last year and wiped with bleach and this year repainted again and any cracks and damages to the wall was repaired and i guess that's about it. This problem is as frustrating as it comes...
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    Contractor clueless don't blame him and management will come next week and will tell contractors to open the wall and floor and see what's going on.
  • radiostarradiostar Posts: 33Member
    So plumber and other workers were here again they gave me back the new radiator i got a little while back and had it run for days in an apt they working on and said no smell. So they all settled that maybe my pipes in the floor and wall are busted and Thursday they'll rip the wall and floor open. Hope for the best. It's just so strange that with different radiators come different smell i figured if it's some internal issue the smell stay the same.
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