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

13

Comments

  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020
    > @Fred said:
    > 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.

    Im in a 6 floor building and on the 3rd floor and neighbors below and above me no issues. 40 apartments in this building. It all happened last winter when renovators took out radiator to bleach the mold on the wall painted the wall but back radiator all hell broke loose. Whole last winter heat went off smelled like bleach it got better in time but never past.

    This year they painted the radiator and it gave off a new strong odor like burned fireworks and then they gave me a new radiator which i have now and it gives off a gas like odor. Then they gave me an old radiator from a vacant unit it smelled like moldy old laundry then it was back to the new radiator and back to gas odor.

    They told me the new radiator they tested it out in another unit no odors and neither old radiator they gave me they said doesnt smell either.

    Just to note when radiator heats up i can only smell it coming off from the radiator itself not the walls floors and pipes underneath the floor they opened. The odor overwhelms the whole room and even outside a little bit. The stronger the heating the stronger the odor. Im sorry about all the complaints but I'm exhausted. My other 2 radiators in 1 in living room the other in the other bedroom and the bathroom pipe all fine.
  • Stop leak has a strong smell-has any been added to the system?
    —NBC
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    Nothing been added to the system that i know off or my other neighbors would complain
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    Had my contractor friend come by today he's really great but even if he's baffled with my issue and the only advice he offered me is to take the radiator out and when the heat comes on to turn the valve on a bit and see if it smells. He said and I know so too the odor comes directly from the radiator. But what is causing it is a mystery.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,303
    If you think it is coming from the system you could take a piece of tubing and put it over the vent and route it outside or something as a test although if it is coming from the system I would think you'd smell it elsewhere.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020
    Well the odor fills up my room and outside of it. I'm thinking getting a second job and move my family out its just so unbearable.
  • BillyO
    BillyO Member Posts: 274
    edited February 2020
    dead rodent under floor
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    > @BillyO said:
    > dead rodent under floor

    I'd find out by now since my floor is still open
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,403
    Can you have them remove the radiator and hook up a pipe with an air vent? Really not a big deal. See if smell continues. If smell continues them you know it's not the radiator. If smell continues, then try to put your nose near the air vent and see if smell is stronger there. If yes, then you know that there is something inside the pipe. If smell is not stronger near the air vent, then you know that there is something in the floor or wall, possibly touching outside of heating pipe. I have not been following this thread religiously, so some of these suggestions might be off base.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,200
    Has anybody put pipe plug in the air vent and seeing if the smell continues?
    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
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,086
    mattmia2 said:

    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.

    This is literally how steam radiators heat.
    Most of the time they only partially heat............

    Has anybody put pipe plug in the air vent and seeing if the smell continues?

    I think they have and it stops.

    But that gives another good idea.

    Pipe the vent outside temporarily and see if it smells.
    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
    Charlie from wmassmattmia2
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,200
    Does anybody know if the threads on a maid o mist air vent are 1/8 inch NPT
    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
  • dabrakeman
    dabrakeman Member Posts: 232
    @ Charlie: Here is a thread discussing the thread size. ">https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/145650/radiator-air-vent-thread-size#latest

    Is there some pitch on the radiator toward the feed valve and are you sure you are not turning the feed valve off while the radiator is still full of steam. Perhaps shutting the radiator off (due to various smells) when it is hot is trapping condensate in the radiator where if left long enough may start to fester a bit. If possible should leave the radiator on all the time and adjust the amount of heat with a variable vent.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,200
    @dabrakeman I'm referring to the outlet of the vent not the inlet to the vent. I'm aware that the angle vents are all 1/8 inch.
    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
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020

    Has anybody put pipe plug in the air vent and seeing if the smell continues?

    No but I put a rag on the air vent and it didnt help and the rag didn't seem to smell when i took it off. Maybe that is not enough but can't find anything either to replace the air vent and put something where the air don't come out. Unless you can tell me what I need I think you guys use a lot of slang here lol

    Can you have them remove the radiator and hook up a pipe with an air vent? Really not a big deal. See if smell continues. If smell continues them you know it's not the radiator. If smell continues, then try to put your nose near the air vent and see if smell is stronger there. If yes, then you know that there is something inside the pipe. If smell is not stronger near the air vent, then you know that there is something in the floor or wall, possibly touching outside of heating pipe. I have not been following this thread religiously, so some of these suggestions might be off base.

    I was thinking of something like that can you tell me exactly what I need been googling that can't come up with much. But we tried 3 different radiators already my original one, the new one then an old one that was 30 years old and back to new one. All smell but complete different odors from all of them.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,403
    Not something that you would do. Plumber should be able to do it. Idea is to isolate and eliminate things.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020
    Well i doubt they'll help me much anymore and their service happens only every 3-4 weeks. Might have to take matters into my own hands
  • Can you turn the radiator vent upside down, which will effectively prevent the radiator from heating, and releasing air?
    If there is no change in smell, I would suspect the dead rodent under the floor. (Thanks to https://forum.heatinghelp.com/profile/BillyO).—NBC
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,403
    Possible there is dead rodent touching steam pipe. Heat might affect smell. Even if smell stops when tad us turned off, there is still possibility of dead rodent.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,403
    I am assuming that hot rodents might smell worse then cooler rodents.
    SeanBeans
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020
    > @nicholas bonham-carter said:
    > Can you turn the radiator vent upside down, which will effectively prevent the radiator from heating, and releasing air?
    > If there is no change in smell, I would suspect the dead rodent under the floor. (Thanks to https://forum.heatinghelp.com/profile/BillyO).—NBC

    Did that all it does is prevent the radiator from heating might as well just turn the valve off.

    > @STEAM DOCTOR said:
    > Possible there is dead rodent touching steam pipe. Heat might affect smell. Even if smell stops when tad us turned off, there is still possibility of dead rodent.

    They opened the floor around the valve nothing smells there. I can see a bit of the pipe too. If something crawled into the pipe I'm sure it wouldve evaporated by now.

    > @Charlie from wmass said:
    > Has anybody put pipe plug in the air vent and seeing if the smell continues?

    What would that do exactly?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    This smell has been an issue for two and a half months now. If it were a dead rodent, it would be past the smelly stage by now. Three different radiators, three different smells, no problems in other rooms or in other apartments. makes me wonder.
    - what else in that room could be causing the smell?
    - are you opening and closing the supply valve on that radiator so as to prevent whatever it is from burning off the smell completely?
    - are you opening a window over or around that radiator and the smell is being drawn in from an outside source?
    - Is there a chimney or flue pipe that passes through that room that may be leaking fumes?
    Charlie from wmass
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020
    Actually like I said the odor issue started last winter when renovators took out the radiator to clean the mold behind on the wall w bleach then painted over the wall also wiped that old radiator with some bleach and put it back on and everything would smell intensely like bleach the whole winter but in time it did get better and thought it would pass but this fall heat back still bleach smell and then all that work began. I guess this is a mysterious issue that can't be fixed at this point.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,403
    Maybe some bleach got in the pipe when they removed the radiator.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020

    Maybe some bleach got in the pipe when they removed the radiator.

    yea but i'm pretty sure bleach dissipates quick can't last over a year and like i said each radiator produces a brand new odor. maybe it's time for me to look for a second job and get my family out got 2 kids and a disabled wife all pressure on me here. Or if they can't fix it I can just stop paying rent till they figure out something good thing I live in NYC, housing courts here on your side and gotta real estate lawyer friend. Maybe in the mean time with the money I'll save on rent I can install some alternative heating system if possible because those infrared electric heaters don't do much.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,362
    Hi, How about moving to a different apartment within the building? It seems the owner owes you a livable place and might rather just move you than have to deal with legal intervention.

    Yours, Larry
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70

    Hi, How about moving to a different apartment within the building? It seems the owner owes you a livable place and might rather just move you than have to deal with legal intervention.

    Yours, Larry

    I would love to do that for a peaceful solution but I sincerely doubt they would move me. These landlords are as cheap as they come. I had tons of mold in the past and instead of hiring a mold remediation company which is the law in nyc if you have more than 10 sq ft mold they hired renovators to bleach my walls and paint over. I did an air test later for mold and was clear but this just shows you how far they will go not to spend money.
    Not to mention I had minor repairs needed in the past I had to fight them for months to get them.

  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,715
    Have you tried just washing the damn radiator off with soap and water? Seems like a simple solution if bleach or something else on it is causing the odor.
    Grallertmattmia2
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,355
    > @Charlie from wmass said:
    > @dabrakeman I'm referring to the outlet of the vent not the inlet to the vent. I'm aware that the angle vents are all 1/8 inch.

    No. They seem to be a straight thread that is coarser than 1/8 npt
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    Charlie from wmass
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,303
    It is probably just an sae or uss thread.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    > @SuperTech said:
    > Have you tried just washing the damn radiator off with soap and water? Seems like a simple solution if bleach or something else on it is causing the odor.

    3 different radiators whats the point? By now highly doubt it's the radiator.
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 524
    I forget... Is there three different smells? or two? Each time something is done the smell changes? I know this must be hugely frustrating. I know it is for me and probably a bunch of folks here who are used to solving problems.
    If i recall there were what sounded like organic odors at one point and also chemical odors at a different point. I like the idea of venting the radiator out a window to eliminate that as a cause.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020
    Grallert said:

    I forget... Is there three different smells? or two? Each time something is done the smell changes? I know this must be hugely frustrating. I know it is for me and probably a bunch of folks here who are used to solving problems.
    If i recall there were what sounded like organic odors at one point and also chemical odors at a different point. I like the idea of venting the radiator out a window to eliminate that as a cause.

    Yes exactly each time a different odor. My original radiator smelled like bleach got better in time but never went away then it was spray painted with that gray coating it a brand new odor like burned fireworks and was quite intense.

    Then new radiator was given that smells like gas. Got better too but never went away. In between the new was taken out and replaced with an old from a vacant unit that one smelled like must old damp clothes then back to new radiator and back to gas smell.

    Something tells me it's not a radiator issue. My contractor friend told me to take out the radiator then when heat goes on to open the valve just a little and take a whiff to see if it's the pipes but since all my neighbors have no issue it's very bizarre. But I don't wanna take it out because I don't have that big wrench and don't want to mess things out. Gotta ask my friend if he can do it for me.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,303
    I wonder if the pipe is heating something in the wall below that you can't see. It is only going to get hot if the radiator is attached and letting the steam vent out. you could open the valve just long enough for the pipe to get hot up to the valve to test this. Once the pipe heats to the valve(which is now closed) it will be filled with steam which will condense and allow more steam in to the pipe up to the valve and heat the pipe up to the valve until that heating cycle ends.

    Could also try taking the valve off the radiator for a cycle and see what happens if the radiator heats up all the way(does it get really 212 degree boiling water hot all across and from top to bottom? I think I remember somewhere in this thread seeing a vent mounted at the top of the radiator. When the vent is at the top instead of around half way down it never completely fills with steam and heats completely). The smell could be persistent because the radiator only heats part way with the combination of cycle lengths and vent rates so the rest of the radiator only gets warmed which brings out more smell but never gets hot enough to really cook it away. This also would explain why the smell never goes away with any of the radiators.

    My new boiler smelled like hot plastic from the foam insulation in it for weeks and it just never went away until I increased the supply temp to 180 degrees, it was running at about 140. At the higher temp the smell went away in a cycle or 2.

    Could also take it outside and get someone with a good heated, truck mounted pressure washer to clean it with enough pressure that it strips it down to the cast iron then either get it powder coated or talk to someone like Sherwin Williams about low odor and low voc paints that are suitable for priming and finishing cast iron and can take the heat of a radiator.

    I think the management has made a good effort to resolve the problem, they just haven't got the right people to do it, had they started with the right people to begin with they could have resolved it by now for less than it has cost them up to this point.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020
    wall and floor was opened didn't help. and if 3 different radiator cause issues i seriously doubt at this point it's the radiator. but yea i agree the people handling this issue are incompetent no doubt especially my super each time he came by my apartment says he smells nothing and looks at me sarcastically. but then again this is a real bizarre issue.

    my issue isn't enough heat but i get adequate heat the radiator gets fully hot. so i doubt i gotta relocate the air vent.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,303
    edited February 2020
    I missed the part with the wall opened up. Not much left but the radiator and the riser to it in the apartment below.

    Or whatever that furniture is up against it.

    My thought with it not heating fully is not that the heat is inadequate but that the parts that aren't getting full of steam are only getting heated by conduction from the parts that are full of steam so those parts are only warm enough to gently warm and release the odor, not hot enough to fully cook it off quickly.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020
    mattmia2 said:

    I missed the part with the wall opened up. Not much left but the radiator and the riser to it in the apartment below.

    Or whatever that furniture is up against it.

    My thought with it not heating fully is not that the heat is inadequate but that the parts that aren't getting full of steam are only getting heated by conduction from the parts that are full of steam so those parts are only warm enough to gently warm and release the odor, not hot enough to fully cook it off quickly.

    No furniture around it and no neighbors have problems that I know off. The stuff you mentioned sounds a bit too technical for me and I'm a bit confused sorry.

    But for the air vent part that where you say it's too high up maybe for this radiator but for the other 2 radiators it was more on the lower side and had issues as well.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    edited February 2020
    When the plumber put that new valve and spud in, what pipe dope did they use?
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,715
    edited February 2020
    > @radiostar said:
    > my issue isn't enough heat but i get adequate heat the radiator gets fully hot. so i doubt i gotta relocate the air vent.

    I believe it was suggested that the vent on the radiator should be temporarily piped to the outside just to see if this changes anything. This would eliminate anything from inside of the boiler, piping and radiator coming out of the vent during normal operation being the source of the odor.

    This really doesn't seem too difficult. Try either venting the radiator outside to see if it's an internal problem. If it isn't internal then it's external. External problems are easily resolved by simple cleaning or stripping and repainting the radiator with appropriate low VOC paint.
    I would try these things before applying for a second job or making plans to move.
  • BillyO
    BillyO Member Posts: 274
    call the exterminator already!!!!
    SuperTech