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radiator leaks

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You guys have come thru for me so many times....
Ancient radiator. Leaking at bottom... put a pyrex pan underneath that needs dumping every few days.
Besides replacing radiator - what options could i consider?
THANKS

Comments

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Is your steam pressure too high?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,323
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    Can you tell if it's leaking between two sections? And, if so, how is the thing held together? Some radiators -- the ones with simple tension rods on the outside (usually two or four) -- are actually not that hard to repair. If that what it is, the nipple which joins the sections may be rusted out -- wouldn't be the first time. If that is what it is (and if you post a picture of the side and ends we can tell pretty fast) the drill is to disconnect it, undo the tension rods (which are usually painted on... and remarkably fragile, so take it easy) and then split the radiator at the offending joint. There are a number of ways to do that -- wooden wedges work, ball joint or power press splitters work, etc. -- but be very even top to bottom and side to side.

    Once you get it apart, take a look at the nipple. Someone a while back had a source for new nipples, which like an idiot I didn't write down, but you may find that only the bottom is rusted. If so, I've had good success with simply taking it out (it's a taper fit, but usually comes out) and rotating it 180, so the rusted out part is on top, and then putting it back in. There may still be a minor steam leak doing that, so to add the belt to the suspenders I put a good ring of red RTV outside the nipple area where it will be in contact with the sections when you pull them back together. Then carefully (again, be even) put the thing back together and pull it tight using a couple of pipe clamps. Do NOT try to pull it together with the tension rod -- they aren't made of that. Then put the tension rods back and retighten them, but if the threads are good only finger tight plus perhaps a quarter turn.

    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    JUGHNE said:

    Is your steam pressure too high?

    how would be able to tell?
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    Can you tell if it's leaking between two sections? And, if so, how is the thing held together? Some radiators -- the ones with simple tension rods on the outside (usually two or four) -- are actually not that hard to repair. If that what it is, the nipple which joins the sections may be rusted out -- wouldn't be the first time. If that is what it is (and if you post a picture of the side and ends we can tell pretty fast) the drill is to disconnect it, undo the tension rods (which are usually painted on... and remarkably fragile, so take it easy) and then split the radiator at the offending joint. There are a number of ways to do that -- wooden wedges work, ball joint or power press splitters work, etc. -- but be very even top to bottom and side to side.

    Once you get it apart, take a look at the nipple. Someone a while back had a source for new nipples, which like an idiot I didn't write down, but you may find that only the bottom is rusted. If so, I've had good success with simply taking it out (it's a taper fit, but usually comes out) and rotating it 180, so the rusted out part is on top, and then putting it back in. There may still be a minor steam leak doing that, so to add the belt to the suspenders I put a good ring of red RTV outside the nipple area where it will be in contact with the sections when you pull them back together. Then carefully (again, be even) put the thing back together and pull it tight using a couple of pipe clamps. Do NOT try to pull it together with the tension rod -- they aren't made of that. Then put the tension rods back and retighten them, but if the threads are good only finger tight plus perhaps a quarter turn.


  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    Mark929 said:

    Can you tell if it's leaking between two sections? And, if so, how is the thing held together? Some radiators -- the ones with simple tension rods on the outside (usually two or four) -- are actually not that hard to repair. If that what it is, the nipple which joins the sections may be rusted out -- wouldn't be the first time. If that is what it is (and if you post a picture of the side and ends we can tell pretty fast) the drill is to disconnect it, undo the tension rods (which are usually painted on... and remarkably fragile, so take it easy) and then split the radiator at the offending joint. There are a number of ways to do that -- wooden wedges work, ball joint or power press splitters work, etc. -- but be very even top to bottom and side to side.

    Once you get it apart, take a look at the nipple. Someone a while back had a source for new nipples, which like an idiot I didn't write down, but you may find that only the bottom is rusted. If so, I've had good success with simply taking it out (it's a taper fit, but usually comes out) and rotating it 180, so the rusted out part is on top, and then putting it back in. There may still be a minor steam leak doing that, so to add the belt to the suspenders I put a good ring of red RTV outside the nipple area where it will be in contact with the sections when you pull them back together. Then carefully (again, be even) put the thing back together and pull it tight using a couple of pipe clamps. Do NOT try to pull it together with the tension rod -- they aren't made of that. Then put the tension rods back and retighten them, but if the threads are good only finger tight plus perhaps a quarter turn.


    uncertain what type of radiator but picture is above.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,323
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    Can't see the ends. Are there tension rods outside?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
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    My opinion: start looking in Craigslist for a replacement
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • luketheplumber
    luketheplumber Member Posts: 149
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    I am not a pro, But what about JB weld?
    I have read a few posts on this site where people have repaired a leaky radiator successfully, But it depends on the leak. Is it rusted through, cracked or is it just a pin hole?
    I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,323
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    I have used JB Weld successfully a couple of times (and it's still holding, some years later!) but with this note: unless you can get the area which is to be patched very very clean, it doesn't work.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England