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Cast iron radiator leaks.

I took some of my junk radiators apart just to see if I could and there are paper gaskets between the sections. The rads are just like the Burnham classics and go together with the left/right pipe thread nipples (I call 'em turnbuckle nipples). If they were in there during powder coating the gaskets are gone now for sure. Getting them to seal without the gaskets will be a neat trick.



  • Dave StromanDave Stroman Posts: 761Member
    Base Hit or Boiler Solder

    I looked at a job today where the lady had 3 of her beautiful old radiators powder coated. They all leak now. My friend, Doc Ball, of the Denver area claims that the high heat from the powder coating (500 degrees) burns out the paper gaskets between the sections. Well, I've never seen paper gaskets in these things. The sections are put together with left/right nipples and it looks there are small gaps between the sections now.
    I picked up some stuff and my local supply today to try to plug up these leaks. Though I'd try that before I start replacing them. Hercules makes a pruduct called Base Hit. Thought I would drag the big beasts out on the porch and pump this stuff through them. I also picked up some Boiler Solder. This stuff requires hot water to work so I will try the Base Hit first.
    Any thoughts on this or am I wasting my time?
    Dave Stroman
  • Bill NTSGBill NTSG Posts: 321Member
    I doubt

    that there were paper gaskets. If you can "see" the hole, the products you mentioned probably won't work. The powder coat may have nothing to do it with. Sandblasting or hot tank dipping to clean them probably disturbed the rust that was sealing the sections.

    I never believed in quick fixes but my former boss amazed me with what he could do with J-B Weld and other epoxies. I would try that or you could poke lead or steel wool into the hole and then try your stop leak.

    I have replaced sections, replaced push nipples, brazed, and epoxied with good results, but I never had to deal with right/left nipple radiators. Good Luck
  • Bill NTSGBill NTSG Posts: 321Member

    Thanks Eric, I didn't know that.
  • Robert O'Connor_4Robert O'Connor_4 Posts: 88Member
    learn something new

    everyday . Thanks!
  • Mark Eatherton1Mark Eatherton1 Posts: 2,542Member
    There is hope....

    but it's not in a bottle. My experience with base hit and other sealants is that they tend to hang out where ever there is low velocity flow, and that may not necessairily be where YOU want it to be. It sets up like cement.

    Here's a thought. Pressurize the system with low pressure air (10 to 15 PSI) and soap the suspected areas to determine the EXACT leak locations. Once located, using a small shop vac, apply a vacuum to the radiators, and squirt the suspected leak areas with a quick shot of Ketone or equivilent solvent to cut the grease/oil from the affected area. CAUTION: Make darned sure you are outside in a well ventilated area. Ketone is a NASTY solvent.

    With the radiator still under negative pressure using JB Bond or equal epoxy type sealant, dab a small amount of this liquidus epoxy directly on the effected area, allowing it to be sucked into the offending orifice. Once all holes have been initially sealed, remove the vacuum and allow the epoxy to set up for required time per manufacturer. After initial set up, dab a small amount of the same liquidis epoxy onto the suspect area and allow to set for 24 hours or so, and repeat the positive pressure test and retest using the soapy bubbles.

    I've used this method before with positive results. Time is the big test factor, but if the leak is not too drastic, this method seems to work well.

    Doc Ball was a father figure to my brother in law and his 4 other brothers. They were next door neighbors when my B.I.L. was a kid. I've talked to the man before and know him to be a legend here in the Denver area. I told him I want to do an interview with him in the near future for a future article I'll be doing on "The Legends of Hydronic Heating".

    See you at Wet Stock Dave!

  • D lux_2D lux_2 Posts: 230Member
    sucking ketone in a shop vac ?

    is this a good idea ? Ever see the sparks around the brushes in the motor ? I dont know if its true but I rember a story bout a guy sucking the gas out of his car with his shop vac it went bang .

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  • Dave StromanDave Stroman Posts: 761Member

    Thanks Mark. These radiator leaks are minor and she even used one of them last winter. She made a tin foil pan with some rags inside and made it through the season. The radiators are so nice looking that I will probably not use anything that I have to apply to the outside of them. I think I'll try the Base Hit. I will take the rads outside and pump the stuff through them with a sump sump. I hope that will create enough pressure the push the solution into the cracks.
    Dave Stroman
  • Eric Taylor_3Eric Taylor_3 Posts: 27Member
    The next trick

    Is to assemble one from a pile of sections and see if it will hold pressure. Someone I know wants to replace some of their plane jane rads with my nice ornate ones. I plan to make new gaskets and try it out.

    A fools errand for sure, but I tend to do things that people say can't be done.

  • Geno_15Geno_15 Posts: 158Member

    Necessity-is the mother of invention. There used to be this thing called 'ol yankee ingenuity too. Good luck. NAPA used to carry a roll of paper gasket, I'm not sure what it's temp range is. Coat it with high temp never seize for insurance.
  • Mort IsaacsonMort Isaacson Posts: 1Member
    Loss of two radiators in two years to cracks

    We have lost two steam radiators in the past two years to major cracks. We have a single pipe system and replaced the boiler five years ago. Since then the intensity of water hammer seems to have increased. Could there be a connection between water hammer and the cracking? Is there another cause for radiator cracking (at the top of one of the columns close to the inlet end) that could be effecting the entire system we can check for? It was suggested that corrosion could be made worse by the pH of the feedwater, which may have to be adjusted. Is this reasonable? Thanks.
  • Matt UndyMatt Undy Posts: 256Member

    You can surely order a whole host of thicknesses of paper gasket from mcmaster-carr and the heat from the powder coat just might have losened up the threaded nipples enough that there is some chance of removing them.

    Good luck

  • Matt UndyMatt Undy Posts: 256Member

    Yes. Fix the system so that it doesn't hammer.

This discussion has been closed.


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