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

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Comments

  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    > @Fred said:
    > When the plumber put that new valve and spud in, what pipe dope did they use?

    No clue.

    > @SuperTech said:
    > > @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.
    >
    >

    Vent piping outside? I'm really not following.

    > @BillyO said:
    > call the exterminator already!!!!

    Torching the place be a better idea
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    > @SuperTech said:
    > > @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.
    >
    How i do that?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,303
    get a couple feet of about 1" or 1.5" vinyl tubing from the harware store and slip it over the vent covering the actual hole the air vents out of, seal it up with foil or duct tape, and shove it out the window
    SuperTech
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020
    > @Fred said:
    > When the plumber put that new valve and spud in, what pipe dope did they use?

    > @mattmia2 said:
    > get a couple feet of about 1" or 1.5" vinyl tubing from the harware store and slip it over the vent covering the actual hole the air vents out of, seal it up with foil or duct tape, and shove it out the window

    opening the window helps get the odor out in the first place then room gets cold so it's a catch 22. so testing it that way isn't much in my favor. i put a rag on the vent and it didn't smell.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    But I suppose I can give it a shot. If there won't be any smell does it mean it's the pipes?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,303
    It would mean its something probably in the pipe or the water
    You could open the window just enough to stick the tube out and stick a rag or towel or something in the opening
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 524
    radiostar said:

    > @Fred said:

    > When the plumber put that new valve and spud in, what pipe dope did they use?



    > @mattmia2 said:

    > get a couple feet of about 1" or 1.5" vinyl tubing from the harware store and slip it over the vent covering the actual hole the air vents out of, seal it up with foil or duct tape, and shove it out the window



    opening the window helps get the odor out in the first place then room gets cold so it's a catch 22. so testing it that way isn't much in my favor. i put a rag on the vent and it didn't smell.

    How about this? Get a big plastic bag, about twice the size of the radiator and seal the opening around the vent with a zip tie and tape. This would allow the rad to vent all of its air along with the air in the riser but preventing that air from getting into the living space.
    I believe the smell is predominately the outer coating of the radiator/s off gassing. The musty smell is coming from the vented air but easily masked by the chem smell of the recoated radiator.
    SuperTechmattmia2
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,355
    It's without a doubt the radiators combined with a very sensitive nose. Every time the radiator was changed, the smell changed. Case closed (for me at least). Pick the radiator that smelled the least, have them power wash it inside and out, and don't let them paint it.

    > 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.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    Grallert
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020
    Well guys i found out one of my neighbors has the same issue with 2 of their radiators as a matter of fact and since 2003 they complaijed back in the day and nobody cared. i guess it's that garbage boiler we have that also causes flunctuations of spurts of boiling hot water in the shower and faucets on and off.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,303
    edited February 2020
    I can almost guarantee it isn't the boiler's fault(the spurts of hot water, not the smell).

    As for the smell, try the bag thing. In theory the bag should fill with the air that is in the radiator then the radiator should suck it back in when it cools. Almost like a closed system.

    Maybe try a sturdy bag like a mylar balloon or something if the initial test with like a hefty bag is a success.

    Also kind of means maybe some flushing of the boiler and the returns might get rid of the smell.

    What if we did this with all the radiators, then we'd have a closed system. I think i might have just invented the vapor system.
    Grallert
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,227
    Your steam boiler may heat your faucet water but not directly.
    The temp issue is another problem with the mixing valve for the domestic hot water (faucets).

    IIWM, as a landlord, before moving several CI rads I would have removed the air vent. Install a small valve in it's place and vent the air outside thru a 1/4" copper tube. Even drill thru the window frame for the tube.

    Then you want heat, you open the valve to vent the air outside rather than inside the apartment. This would isolate the problem to either the internals of the piping or the heat effecting the wall, floor etc.

    If the nasties are truly inside the boiler steam/water then none of that vapor/fume would get into your area.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    I randomly asked some neighbors i seen today nobody has my issue except one apartment across the hall on my floor maybe i can up at a note if anybody got weird odors from their radiators to call me lol
  • dabrakeman
    dabrakeman Member Posts: 232
    Originally you had no smell problem in this apartment from the radiator. Probably a radiator that was there for a long time. Your problems have purely corresponded to either an exterior cleaning, exterior painting of the existing radiator or the installation of a new radiator or installation of a new old radiator. My experience is that any radiator whether new, painted, cleaned or just utilized for the first time of the season will smell. Whether it is bleach, (we often clean our radiators between seasons) or paint or even the dust that built up on it during the offseason it will initially stink and it will keep stinking until the radiator sees multiple cycles of 100% steam fill. If it is not heating 100% you might think the smell has gone away or gotten better but if a colder day and longer cycle comes along and fills a little more of the radiator the smell will come back. Your current radiator concerns me because it is a hot water compatible radiator (continuous path across the top rather than sections only connected at the bottom) and when combined with the vent being mislocated at the top I think the tendency is that the last sections toward the vent end of the radiator particularly toward the bottom of the sections would not readily fill with steam unless maybe the boiler was running a real long cycle in extreme cold.

    Bottom line the radiator needs to get fully 100% hot a few times to eliminate these exterior (and likely interior as well) smells. Since your original radiator at one time did not smell until it was bleach washed I would actually go back to that radiator and just make sure it really gets hot multiple times. Where was the vent on that radiator? Could ask your super for a really fast flowing vent to help ensure your radiator gets lots of steam (you may need to open a window a bit to regulate your room temperature in the process).
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    The first radiator is long gone and the vent was more on the bottom and it got fully hot many many times last winter and even this winter yes the odor did decrease a good deal over time but never went away. It all happened when the radiator was taken out to clean the mold on my plaster wall behind with bleach then it was painted over. The radiator really wasn't cleaned per se more like the guy just wiped the back of the radiator with the cloth that still had some bleach on it. Then all drama began when the radiator was hooked back up. The first odor I ever got was a strong bleachy smell that got better in time but never left. Followed by different radiators with different odors.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    edited February 2020
    You never did answer the question I asked about the brand/type of pipe dope/compound they used when they re-installed the various radiators and replaced the supply valve and spud. Some of those compounds are not rated for steam temps.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    Fred said:

    You never did answer the question I asked about the brand/type of pipe dope/compound they used when they re-installed the various radiators and replaced the supply valve and spud. Some of those compounds are not rated for steam temps.

    no clue. can't find brand names anywhere.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    edited February 2020
    today had city inspection over to help me and asked managment if they can have me and my family move into a new unit they will have to ask landlords guess it's my only hope now. after all landlords own 4000 units I be damned if they deny us. gotta take this all the way now and city inspector said i'm safe to stop paying rent till they help me he said my room smells awful and laughed when i told him management and super says they can't smell anything.
    BillyOSuperTech
  • That’s beneficial to have the Inspector able to smell it as well.—NBC
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    yea at this point i'm pretty certain nothing can be fixed so i hope we get that new apartment but moving will be a chore.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    > @mattmia2 said:
    > get a couple feet of about 1" or 1.5" vinyl tubing from the harware store and slip it over the vent covering the actual hole the air vents out of, seal it up with foil or duct tape, and shove it out the window

    Did that today and no smell. Guess it's boiler. After all some of the neighbors like me get hot spurts of hot water in the shower and faucets and as for radiator odors neighbors across my floor got same issue and other neighbors told me they smell something when the heat comes on then passes but it really never passes your nose just gets used to it it's mild and my other radiators do the same. But this year it's getting worse.
    HomerJSmithmattmia2
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    @radiostar , that suggests the Landlord or his maintenance crew have put some chemical in the boiler, as we suggested many, many posts ago. He probably put something in the boiler, like a stopleak and has chosen not to be forthcoming about the situation. Otherwise he would have just drained the boiler and refilled it with fresh water.
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,414
    edited March 2020
    I'm not going to read all these posts.

    Spray the radiator with Febreze and finish with a water bath. Repeat as necessary. If it is internal, I don't know.
  • Leonard
    Leonard Member Posts: 903
    edited March 2020
    I remember in grade school seeing classroom steam vents piped to outside, with metal pipe. Keep it angled down so will drain and not freeze. I would not have pipe stick too far out into cold air. Seems plastic is better than metal as far as freezing

    --------------------------------
    I'm a mechanical engineer, not a heating guy.

    Pump on my house FHW furnace died on cold winter night, I installed a spare I had. Had to make a gasket from paperboard of Bass Ale 12 pack. Used PERMATEX-2 as gasket sealent to waterproof "gasket". It's a sealent for car engines ( same ~ 180 deg and <15 psi type water system) , worked just as great as it does on cars.

    No leaks even years later. But months later I had air noise and bleed air out of baseboards...... it STUNK. Seems ~180 deg water REALLY made permatex outgas intensely. At room temp permatex-2 doesn't stink.

    Problem went away alot in a year or 2 when I drained boiler water to replace leaking rusty pressure relief valve, then refilled.
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    > @Fred said:
    > @radiostar , that suggests the Landlord or his maintenance crew have put some chemical in the boiler, as we suggested many, many posts ago. He probably put something in the boiler, like a stopleak and has chosen not to be forthcoming about the situation. Otherwise he would have just drained the boiler and refilled it with fresh water.

    Thing is so far only one neighbor has severe issues like me the rest i talked too said just mild odors that dissipate like my other radiators but again it don't really dissipate i guess your nose just gets used to it. It's quite mild but if it's severe forget it. So bottom line you could be right that some chemical is in there but then all neighbors would have severe odors I believe its a faulty boiler after all it's the boiler is over 20 years.
    SuperTech
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    As for the boiler i forgot to mention super claims it cleans itself once a week so the water gets refreshed don't know if it's true and the boiler is digitally remotely controlled.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    radiostar said:

    As for the boiler i forgot to mention super claims it cleans itself once a week so the water gets refreshed don't know if it's true and the boiler is digitally remotely controlled.

    It cleans itself? We all want a boiler like that!. Ask him to send you a "digital" picture of the boiler and its self-cleaning controls. We'd love to see it.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 4,303
    Maybe one of the apartments that is on the same riser as that radiator stinks, maybe the apartment is empty so no one notices. Maybe it isn't the water but the air that it is sucking in from other apartments that or other areas of the building when it cools that stink and the steam pushing it out in to your apartment when the boiler heats.

    I would look especially at the main vent at the top of the riser wherever it is, maybe it is in an unused part of the building where the mold from the roof leak never got cleaned up, but there could be vents on that section in the basement that are mostly specific to that room or rooms above and below it as well.
  • Leonard
    Leonard Member Posts: 903
    edited March 2020
    If other tenants can't smell it maybe they smoke...... I hear that makes your sense of smell crummy, so can't smell things as well.
    mattmia2
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    > @Fred said:
    > (Quote)
    > It cleans itself? We all want a boiler like that!. Ask him to send you a "digital" picture of the boiler and its self-cleaning controls. We'd love to see it.

    Yea lol
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 524
    This is an interesting idea
    mattmia2 said:

    Maybe one of the apartments that is on the same riser as that radiator stinks, maybe the apartment is empty so no one notices. Maybe it isn't the water but the air that it is sucking in from other apartments that or other areas of the building when it cools that stink and the steam pushing it out in to your apartment when the boiler heats.

    I would look especially at the main vent at the top of the riser wherever it is, maybe it is in an unused part of the building where the mold from the roof leak never got cleaned up, but there could be vents on that section in the basement that are mostly specific to that room or rooms above and below it as well.

  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    Now besides me there is 3 more apts in my building that i know so far that has smelly radiators and heating pipes. All complaining and management tells each and everyone of us that we are the only ones complaining. It sickens me that how many days i had to take off work to have all these useless repairs on my radiator.
  • BillyO
    BillyO Member Posts: 274
    How about opening up window and heaving radiator out
    SuperTechGrallert
  • radiostar
    radiostar Member Posts: 70
    > @BillyO said:
    > How about opening up window and heaving radiator out

    Word
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 799
    As far as the odor is concerned it may possible that the odors you are getting is from the misplaced vent valve.

    Typically a vent valve on one pipe steam must be placed about 1/2 way down from the top of the of the radiator. This will insure that the radiator will heat the room properly.

    As for the odor emanating from the radiator it may be that the paint has not burned off the chemicals in the paint because the entire radiator did not reach its maximum temperature.

    Aside from that I have no other possible solution.

    Jake
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,403
    As far as the odor is concerned it may possible that the odors you are getting is from the misplaced vent valve. Typically a vent valve on one pipe steam must be placed about 1/2 way down from the top of the of the radiator. This will insure that the radiator will heat the room properly. As for the odor emanating from the radiator it may be that the paint has not burned off the chemicals in the paint because the entire radiator did not reach its maximum temperature. Aside from that I have no other possible solution. Jake
    Don't see how vent location will contribute to oder. Will affect operation. 
    ChrisJ
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,533
    Has stop leak been added to the boiler?
    very smelly stuff.—NBC