Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Homemade Radiator

fxrgrunt
fxrgrunt Member Posts: 157
I came across this pipe radiator somewhere on the forum and was curious if it is realistic to make a pipe radiator like this and if they actually work properly? It gave me an idea for my downstairs bathroom that has zero room due to the previous owners doing a remodel and removing the radiator. I know runthal makes the wall mount stainless ones but even the smallest of those is $600. 


Comments

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,058
    I have seen plenty of these on the wall here.
    I am always intrigued by how they are screwed together.
    There must be some left handed threads in there somewhere.
    Would be interesting to see a Utube on how they are assembled.
    fxrgrunt
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,510
    @JUGHNE
    If you look closely at the return bends 1 side has that little casting slash mark. I think those are the left hand threads. I have seen similar marks on left-right couplings

    They had real pipe fitters back in the day
    fxrgruntethicalpaulSTEVEusaPA
  • Dan_NJ
    Dan_NJ Member Posts: 247
    I like the easy access vent extension, my lower back would appreciate that for sure :)
    fxrgrunt
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,271
    Such a critter will work fine -- though I can see that assembling it might be a bit challenging without left hand threads!

    Further, figuring out the heat output wouldn't be hard. EDR, one needs to remember, is just the effective surface area -- and on that contraption one could come close enough by just taking the circumference of the pipe times the length. In square feet, of course.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    fxrgrunt
  • fxrgrunt
    fxrgrunt Member Posts: 157
    I thought it would be pretty cool. The bathroom is really small so probably could get away with something less than half the size. Just was curious I'd anyone here ever made a radiator before haha.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,271
    fxrgrunt said:

    I thought it would be pretty cool. The bathroom is really small so probably could get away with something less than half the size. Just was curious I'd anyone here ever made a radiator before haha.


    Actually, Cedric powers two -- among other things. One is original, but the other I made a few years back -- except I cheated. Twice. first, I used finned steel pipe instead of straight for the straight runs, and second I didn't use left hand threads -- I used a 90, close nipple, and another 90 to make the bends. Gave me enough room to swing the fittings. And a couple of handy unions...

    Works just fine.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    fxrgrunt
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,622
    You could probably make the returns with an ell and a street ell. Or sweat copper. Or just buy a panel radiator. There are numerous manufacturers that are more economical than Runtal. I'm assuming we're talking about hot water here. Btw, Runtal is just moderately heavy steel that is powder coated.
    fxrgrunt
  • fxrgrunt
    fxrgrunt Member Posts: 157
    I thought it would be pretty cool. The bathroom is really small so probably could get away with something less than half the size. Just was curious I'd anyone here ever made a radiator before haha.


    Actually, Cedric powers two -- among other things. One is original, but the other I made a few years back -- except I cheated. Twice. first, I used finned steel pipe instead of straight for the straight runs, and second I didn't use left hand threads -- I used a 90, close nipple, and another 90 to make the bends. Gave me enough room to swing the fittings. And a couple of handy unions... Works just fine.
    Any pictures of the one you made?
  • fxrgrunt
    fxrgrunt Member Posts: 157
    mattmia2 said:
    You could probably make the returns with an ell and a street ell. Or sweat copper. Or just buy a panel radiator. There are numerous manufacturers that are more economical than Runtal. I'm assuming we're talking about hot water here. Btw, Runtal is just moderately heavy steel that is powder coated.
    I meant one pipe steam. Runtal has their off brand steamradiators.com but the cheapest one is like 700 or so. What other ones you know of?
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,700
    ooohhhh,
    that might get ugly with 1 pipe steam,
    lots too many opertunities for condensate to collide with steam,
    or are you into kettle drums ?
    2 pipe maybe, not 1 pipe.
    known to beat dead horses
    ethicalpaulfxrgrunt
  • JimP
    JimP Member Posts: 87

    Here's an interesting "Bundle" radiator in Healy Hall at Georgetown University. There are many of these radiators in that building.
    fxrgruntErin Holohan HaskellSolid_Fuel_Manmattmia2
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,510
    If I recall correctly long pipe radiators were made by cutting "drip threads" which is a crooked thread which let the pipe come out of the fitting at a slight angle so it would allow for pitch.

    Probably don't need to do that with a short bathroom radiator
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Why not just look for one? There are places that sell radiators, maybe even find one here on "Buy, Sell or Barter"
  • Boon
    Boon Member Posts: 260
    @JUGHNE said "Would be interesting to see a Utube on how they are assem....". I see what you did there!

    My favorite space-constrained custom radiator was the steel column/post that Gerry Gil welded up for a powder room in a steam mini-tube system. I'd love to weld up something similar for my next install. The pipe/threaded/U-shaped rads are cool & all, but the welded one is sleek.
    Original post here
    Links to photos for convenience:
    Fabrication 1 of 2
    Fabrication 2 of 2
    Installed 1 of 2
    Installed 2 of 2
    DIY'er ... ripped out a perfectly good forced-air furnace and replaced it with hot water & radiators.
    fxrgruntCeacel
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,103
    Here is a way to build a U tube, with off the shelf parts.
    1-1/4 -3" Probably find brass tubing in CTS, also.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    fxrgrunt
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,622
    those multiple georgetown ones have to leave me asking why. They look like they might be caulked with lead rather than threaded.

    If you want to make it for steam I would suggest you make a horizontal or vertical header and connect the tubes in parallel rather than make a serpentine.
    fxrgruntHap_Hazzard
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,510
    And DWV fittings are already pitched fso it will drain
    fxrgrunt
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
    I've never seen one of these, but I have a feeling the heat retention might be a little disappointing. Schedule 80 pipe might improve it.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    I modeled up an idea for one a couple years ago. The thought behind this is making it similar to the original cast iron steam only radiators. It was more a thought exercise than anything.



    Another idea was to make a steam punk type shelving unit with supports made entirely of piping, the piping is the radiator. No temperature sensitive items could be stored on the shelves, which could be a problem. Doubt I ever build either, but I enjoy the thought experiments.


    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Hey @KC_Jones Wouldn't you need a vent at the top of each of those stand pipes?
  • Lard
    Lard Member Posts: 115
    edited November 2020
    Fred said:
    Hey @KC_Jones Wouldn't you need a vent at the top of each of those stand pipes?

    I think the idea is to mimic these:


    There is no steam connection across the top of the sections (what you see is only a mechanical joint) yet no individual vents are used.
    Hot steam rises into the sections and where there is steam, the air must go elsewhere— so it is pushed down and out of the sections one at a time as they fill with steam.

    My only concern with the pipe concept is that there is no “loop” to promote this gas exchange.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Lard said:


    Fred said:

    Hey @KC_Jones Wouldn't you need a vent at the top of each of those stand pipes?


    I think the idea is to mimic these:


    There is no steam connection across the top of the sections (what you see is only a mechanical joint) yet no individual vents are used.
    Hot steam rises into the sections and where there is steam, the air must go elsewhere— so it is pushed down and out of the sections one at a time as they fill with steam.

    My only concern with the pipe concept is that there is no “loop” to promote this gas exchange.


    Unlike the radiator in your picture, steam can flow up one tube/column and push air out the other side and across the bottom to the vent. With the single stand pipe, air is trapped at the top of each pipe
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    Fred said:
    Hey @KC_Jones Wouldn't you need a vent at the top of each of those stand pipes?
    It’s really not that different from my radiators, no top connection and only a vent at about the middle of the last section.  Steam hits the pipe, rises, displacing air down and towards the end.  For the homemade version it would depend on the pipe size as to how well it would work.

    I didn’t show the vent in my model.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    KC_Jones said:


    Fred said:

    Hey @KC_Jones Wouldn't you need a vent at the top of each of those stand pipes?

    It’s really not that different from my radiators, no top connection and only a vent at about the middle of the last section.  Steam hits the pipe, rises, displacing air down and towards the end.  For the homemade version it would depend on the pipe size as to how well it would work.

    I didn’t show the vent in my model.

    Won't work, except for the stand pipe that has the vent on it. Steam will flow to the vent and close it and the air will be compressed and trapped in the top half of the other stand pipes. Think about an abandoned radiator run out that has been capped. Steam may flow into it for maybe a foot and the rest of the pipe remains cold because the air is trapped. It is not displaced and pushed back into the main.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    Fred said:
    Fred said:
    Hey @KC_Jones Wouldn't you need a vent at the top of each of those stand pipes?
    It’s really not that different from my radiators, no top connection and only a vent at about the middle of the last section.  Steam hits the pipe, rises, displacing air down and towards the end.  For the homemade version it would depend on the pipe size as to how well it would work.

    I didn’t show the vent in my model.
    Won't work, except for the stand pipe that has the vent on it. Steam will flow to the vent and close it and the air will be compressed and trapped in the top half of the other stand pipes. Think about an abandoned radiator run out that has been capped. Steam may flow into it for maybe a foot and the rest of the pipe remains cold because the air is trapped. It is not displaced and pushed back into the main.
    It will work, your assessment of how the rest of the radiators in my house work is incorrect.  I felt them many times.  Steam goes up all 3 columns simultaneously.  It displaces the air down as the steam goes up.  The pipe rad I laid out will work, I just might have to play with pipe sizes.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    fxrgrunt
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,622
    It probably wouldn't work if it were 10' tall
  • fxrgrunt
    fxrgrunt Member Posts: 157
    KC_Jones said:
    Fred said:
    Fred said:
    Hey @KC_Jones Wouldn't you need a vent at the top of each of those stand pipes?
    It’s really not that different from my radiators, no top connection and only a vent at about the middle of the last section.  Steam hits the pipe, rises, displacing air down and towards the end.  For the homemade version it would depend on the pipe size as to how well it would work.

    I didn’t show the vent in my model.
    Won't work, except for the stand pipe that has the vent on it. Steam will flow to the vent and close it and the air will be compressed and trapped in the top half of the other stand pipes. Think about an abandoned radiator run out that has been capped. Steam may flow into it for maybe a foot and the rest of the pipe remains cold because the air is trapped. It is not displaced and pushed back into the main.
    It will work, your assessment of how the rest of the radiators in my house work is incorrect.  I felt them many times.  Steam goes up all 3 columns simultaneously.  It displaces the air down as the steam goes up.  The pipe rad I laid out will work, I just might have to play with pipe sizes.
    Only one way to settle this. You gotta make it now!
  • Lard
    Lard Member Posts: 115
    Fred said:
    Fred said:
    Hey @KC_Jones Wouldn't you need a vent at the top of each of those stand pipes?

    I think the idea is to mimic these:


    There is no steam connection across the top of the sections (what you see is only a mechanical joint) yet no individual vents are used.
    Hot steam rises into the sections and where there is steam, the air must go elsewhere— so it is pushed down and out of the sections one at a time as they fill with steam.

    My only concern with the pipe concept is that there is no “loop” to promote this gas exchange.
    Unlike the radiator in your picture, steam can flow up one tube/column and push air out the other side and across the bottom to the vent. With the single stand pipe, air is trapped at the top of each pipe
    This is exactly my point about the “loop” promote gas exchange.  Even the “single column” steam-only Peerless radiators of the same style as the three-column in my picture have two tubes. You can see the divider in the casting. It likely promotes the downward flow of air by the steam favoring one side more (but not 100% where one tube stays stone cold while one heats up)


    This is just me “thinking like the steam”....
    With the right pipe diameter and not being 10’ tall, I still believe simple displacement will work.  Steam is lighter than air until temperatures way higher than in steam heating systems assuming the air is the same temperature-  it is NOT in a radiator: it is cold, so it is even more dense. That said, it can just waft it’s happy self in there like helium and push the air down. Not overdoing the venting which can short-circuit this process is well-known.  The traffic flow must be light enough to allow a two-way street. Steam up, air down—just like the battle of steam vs. condensate in a one-pipe radiator riser except gas vs. gas.






  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Somebody needs to build one.
    ethicalpaulKC_Jonesfxrgrunt
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,658
    Fred said:
    Somebody needs to build one.
    May I be the first to say thank you so much for offering to invest your time and money to build one and prove your point.

    Your efforts will be greatly appreciated! 
    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
    ethicalpaulfxrgrunt
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    ChrisJ said:


    Fred said:

    Somebody needs to build one.

    May I be the first to say thank you so much for offering to invest your time and money to build one and prove your point.

    Your efforts will be greatly appreciated! 

    You may be the first but, since I don't believe it will work, I won't be the one to invest any time or money on it. This seems to be more up your alley than mine.
    fxrgrunt
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,658
    Fred said:
    Fred said:
    Somebody needs to build one.
    May I be the first to say thank you so much for offering to invest your time and money to build one and prove your point.

    Your efforts will be greatly appreciated! 
    You may be the first but, since I don't believe it will work, I won't be the one to invest any time or money on it. This seems to be more up your alley than mine.


    I'm not saying, I'm just saying.....    :D

    "In most cases, the plaintiff (the party bringing the claim) has the burden of proof."
    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
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    ChrisJ said:


    Fred said:


    Fred said:

    Somebody needs to build one.

    May I be the first to say thank you so much for offering to invest your time and money to build one and prove your point.

    Your efforts will be greatly appreciated! 
    You may be the first but, since I don't believe it will work, I won't be the one to invest any time or money on it. This seems to be more up your alley than mine.



    I'm not saying, I'm just saying.....    :D

    "In most cases, the plaintiff (the party bringing the claim) has the burden of proof."


    I guess you have to ask, who has the burden of proof, the one who says it will work, without any examples of where it has worked, or the party who says "I don't think it will work, show me otherwise". There is over a hundred years of Steam experience available and no one has a single pipe radiator configured that way. I'm sure it has been tried and the end result, as far as I know, is the serpentine pipe configuration or a single vertical pipe with a vent on it. I have a couple Steam only column radiators in my house but they all have two or three tubes per section which allows air to be pushed out ahead of the steam, section by section, and back down to the bottom where it can move to the vent. All columns, in a section do get warm/hot at what feels simultaneously but I can't say that "to the touch" is an accurate assessment. I'm just sayin.
  • JimP
    JimP Member Posts: 87
    Here's a couple images of a homemade radiator that I made. It incorporates a cast iron wall radiator. The brackets and 1-1/4" pipe are all welded.



    Fredfxrgruntethicalpaul
  • fxrgrunt
    fxrgrunt Member Posts: 157
    JimP said:
    Here's a couple images of a homemade radiator that I made. It incorporates a cast iron wall radiator. The brackets and 1-1/4" pipe are all welded.
    Awesome