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

24

Comments

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,288
    Maybe different shape radiators are heating different portions of the wall.

    Perhaps something is growing in the water that stays in the radiator while they are not being used.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    mattmia2 said:

    Maybe different shape radiators are heating different portions of the wall.

    Perhaps something is growing in the water that stays in the radiator while they are not being used.

    yea i was thinking the same thing....all 3 radiators we tried so far my old one, another old one, and the new one, all shapes different and colors and brands probably too. I guess you are right that even though the issue maybe internal somewhere each radiator will give off their own odor from the damage that is going on. My neighbors seem to have no issues I guess it's the pipes running directly to my radiator under the floor and behind the wall.
  • dennis53
    dennis53 Member Posts: 53
    If they are switching radiators without changing valves or spuds, there could be a steam leak at the union nut due to different mating surfaces. Perhaps check for steam leaks at that point with a mirror or tissue paper?
    Dennis
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    No leaks and plumber would check each time for leaks
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    Management lady came and brought in only the new super who said to let the radiator run 24/7. We will suffocate if we do. Looks like this winter one bedroom in my apt will be a freezer.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    radiostar said:

    Management lady came and brought in only the new super who said to let the radiator run 24/7. We will suffocate if we do. Looks like this winter one bedroom in my apt will be a freezer.

    How do you let a radiator run 24/7? It will only run when the boiler in the basement is making steam which I assume isn't 24/7.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited January 2020
    Fred said:

    radiostar said:

    Management lady came and brought in only the new super who said to let the radiator run 24/7. We will suffocate if we do. Looks like this winter one bedroom in my apt will be a freezer.

    How do you let a radiator run 24/7? It will only run when the boiler in the basement is making steam which I assume isn't 24/7.
    They meant never to turn off the valve. Well I don't mind keeping it on which I do anyway except when I sleep at night if there was no smell. Well I called them again yelled them next week they will probably rip the floors up. I really hope I can get to the bottom of this.

    Also funny the super says he smells nothing yea right lol then he says it smells like heat yet I made him walk into other bedroom or pass by living room I showed him the contrast that there is no smell at all besides the heat is on. He was silent. Management lady smelled it I guess but was silent too probably as to being baffled what's going on.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    What's even more funny they yelling at me not to turn of the valve of the radiator i can damage the whole buildings heating system lol
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited January 2020
    super and contractor came in today and manually turned up the heat this morning from basement and no smell from radiator but when they left and a few hours later heat came back on again smell returned...is this some sick joke? haha
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,597
    If this is a radiator under a window, check the caulking on the outside of the window.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    Not much to see or do here
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    A little to do. That vent is in the wrong place. It should be about half way up the side of the radiator. Is the smell gone?
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited January 2020
    Smell still here each time the radiator goes off....i'm at war with managment lol...they are lazy as **** to help and have such incompetent people it doesn't help on top. But then again it is quite a baffling situation here. Contractor really wants to open the floors and see what could be going on. Super wants to get blueprints of the piping system in my building. I been inside the apartments beneath and above me and no odors there so it's me only.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,352
    I bought one of those and the paint/primer from the factory definitely smelled like fumes when it got hot for a couple weeks, but it faded over time and didn’t seem nearly as severe as what you’re describing
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited January 2020
    As i mentioned before so far 3 radiators were tried my old one the new one then another old one from a vacant unit and now back to the new one all produced odors except different kinds. This issue started last winter as a matter of fact when a renovator removed my radiator to clean mold on the wall behind it and since then been having these bizarre odor issues.

    Yes of course paint coats and new radiators do smell at first but pass within days to a few weeks tops.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    > @Fred said:
    > A little to do. That vent is in the wrong place. It should be about half way up the side of the radiator. Is the smell gone?

    I don't understand...i checked the air vent it is tightly screwed in.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,352
    radiostar said:

    > @Fred said:

    > A little to do. That vent is in the wrong place. It should be about half way up the side of the radiator. Is the smell gone?



    I don't understand...i checked the air vent it is tightly screwed in.

    It's too high. It should be 1/3 to 1/2 way up from the floor, not at the very top. If you look, you'll see a port where it goes below where it now is.

    But this isn't affecting your smell issue.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    Canuckermattmia2wz25
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    I'm wondering if the renovator soaked the area with a moldicide that is leaching through the wall when it is heated? Also, if he paint the wall did he add a moldicide to the paint?
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    > @ethicalpaul said:
    > (Quote)
    > It's too high. It should be 1/3 to 1/2 way up from the floor, not at the very top. If you look, you'll see a port where it goes below where it now is.
    >
    > But this isn't affecting your smell issue.

    I see what you saying but it's how the radiator is designed.

    > @Fred said:
    > I'm wondering if the renovator soaked the area with a moldicide that is leaching through the wall when it is heated? Also, if he paint the wall did he add a moldicide to the paint?

    Pretty sure no it was just bleach then he painted over i was there.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,352
    > @radiostar said:
    > > @ethicalpaul said:
    > > (Quote)
    > > It's too high. It should be 1/3 to 1/2 way up from the floor, not at the very top. If you look, you'll see a port where it goes below where it now is.
    > >
    > > But this isn't affecting your smell issue.
    >
    > I see what you saying but it's how the radiator is designed.

    Respectfully, I’ll bet you it isn’t. Look for a plug on the side below the vent.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    mattmia2
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    Looked everywhere no other holes to plug it in.
  • wz25
    wz25 Member Posts: 22
    edited January 2020
    That looks like a modern Governale rad. They definitely have a port mid-way up the side for a steam air vent. It is possible they connected it backwards and said port is on (what is currently) the valve side.

    Edit: you may not see an open port--in fact, you should not, else steam would be coming out of it. But you should see a small, plugged port, where upon removing said plug, a standard 1/8" steam vent could be installed.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,083
    edited January 2020
    The OP is complaining about smell and not once did they complain about insufficient heat output. There is no reason to bring up where the vent is installed, the vent size or the color of their shower curtain or the framing of the building.


    I could understand if they had said the room is always chilly etc....
    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
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,288
    Only heating a portion of the radiator could be a factor in either it collecting and growing stuff in the warm, moist but not hot parts of the interior of the radiator or slowly heating the mold sealed up inside the wall.
    Alan Welch
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,200
    @mattmia2 if a steam radiator is heating at all nothing is growing in it.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    ChrisJ said:

    The OP is complaining about smell and not once did they complain about insufficient heat output. There is no reason to bring up where the vent is installed, the vent size or the color of their shower curtain or the framing of the building.


    I could understand if they had said the room is always chilly etc....

    Chris, The OP has said all along that they have kept the radiator valve closed off because of the smell. I doubt they have had a chance to determine if this radiator produces enough heat.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited January 2020
    I often turn it on it especially when nobody is in the room it just gets too cold and electrical heaters don't cut it. I get adequate heat in fact I'd take less heat any day over that suffocating smell. But unfortunately when the smell gets too bad gotta open windows and ventilate and that defeats the purpose of a radiator lol
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    landlords approved that they will rip open the floors and see what's going on. at first they wanted to cut the wall behind the radiator i doubt that causes issues but i guess that's next if the floor thing fails.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,288
    Good luck. the wall typically is a lot more absorbent than the floor. Wood doesn't soak up a whole lot until it has been wet enough to start rotting. Plaster and drywall are very porous, not to mention insulation if there is any.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    You think it could be the wall too?
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited January 2020
    All they did is open the floor and leave and told me to monitor the smell if the pipes smell too...they are absolutely clueless. The guy who ripped open my floor smelled when my radiator was heat up he asked me why would I even turn it on if it's so bad lol. And that's the same guy who told me my radiator didn't smell when it ran for a week in a vacant unit they were working on.

    And since the floor is open now my room smells like fresh chopped wood lol i think it dominated the previous odor.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,352
    I mean, is it just that "new radiator smell" from the factory paint? I think I mentioned already that my new radiator smelled also. I know different people have different sensitivity because my wife can tell immediately from two floors away if I spray a tiny bit of penetrant on a pipe joint.

    At least they cut the floor neatly!
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,288
    You might try to put a couple ells and a foot or so piece of pipe on the pipe out of the floor and move it away from the wall(put the radiator on some blocs if you need to to get the piping to pitch right) so it isn't cooking whatever is in the wall so much, that would give you an idea of where to look. Is it under a window? Those are notorious for leaking water in to the wall.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,603
    can you post the same picture, but with better lighting under the pipe in the floor,
    there looks to be plenty of staining showing (prior) leakage,
    and some of that framing looks, dark,
    if you put your nose at the hole do you smell the same badness ?
    also,
    when it's heating again, inspect closely that whole run of pipe looking for leakage, especially as the vent closes, and some pressure builds,
    anything wet ?
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited January 2020
    To answer ethicalpaul i been having odor problems since last year. To answer mattmia2 yes there is a window above radiator and no leakage anywhere including those pipes I think this answers neilc too. However those water stains you see yes in the past but long ago i had leaks from the valve that was fixed heck i even got a new one recently. Bottom line right now 0 leaks and no odors from the pipes either. Just the room reeks when radiator heats up. I'm honestly about to give up 😔
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,288
    Windows usually don't leak where you can see them, it usually leaks at the sides or especially top where it meets the side cladding of the building and runs around the frame inside the wall into the wall underneath the sill. that wavy, lumpy plaster is a sign of leaking at some point. it could be just from the roof that was fixed or there could still be some leaks elsewhere, or the stuff that got wet could still be filled with fungus and stink when the radiator heats it up(which is why i suggested temporarily moving the radiator out from the wall to see if heating it less made a difference)
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited January 2020
    Well yea my walls if you mean that look lumpy there was a leak at one point from the roof making my walls wet but that was fixed 5 years ago. Yes I too was thinking to move radiator away from wall somehow with some extension pipe or something dunno gotta ask the contractor. It's just interesting ever since those renovators took out my radiator last year and put it back on all hell broke lose it is as if they put a demon in there or something lol
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    Today they cut open my walls and still have an odor when the heat comes on. I can only detect odor from radiator not from walls or pipes under the floor. 3 different radiators tried 3 different odors. I think time to give up
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,288
    or take it to a machine shop that can boil it out in a tank of lye
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    edited February 2020
    I now think you have exhausted (pun intended) all the possible sources in and around that radiator and I have to ask a couple more questions:
    - Is this radiator the first run-out off of a main (in the basement)?
    - Are they using any chemicals in the boiler water that may be off-gassing the smell and because that radiator is the first off of a main (if it is) you are now venting that odor from your radiator vent?
    - Did they change the use of chemicals or brands around the time you began smelling the odor?
    If you are the first or maybe the second run-out off of the Main, and they have added or changed a chemical in the boiler, it is possible the odor is concentrated enough that you get the major impact of that smell.