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Chlorine Smell Coming From Steam Radiator

EileenSEileenS Member Posts: 5
Hi All
I have been having an ongoing problem in my apartment. A terrible toxic "chlorine like" smell has been emitting from my radiator (only one). It started about 3 weeks ago and my landlord has sent out the gas and electric company twice, the fire dept, an electrician and a plumber. No one can figure out why this smell is happening.
Gas and Electric company specialist said that the boiler overheated and that is what must have been the problem, replaced a part and left - but the smell remains.
They said it is not a gas and fire dept said it is probably not toxic, however i have 2 cats that i love dearly and i am so worried it is harming them. They are so small.
Anyway - I started googling "Chlorine Smell - Steam Radiator" and it brought me here to a few threads from years back.
Apparently people have had this problem with Blue Monster tape getting stuck inside the pipes - the boiler overheats to over 400/500 degrees and burns the teflon tape creating a smell.
I think the original post where this problem was discovered is here https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/157986/asthma-attacks-from-new-steam-boiler-please-help/p4?

I have brought this discovery to my landlord and she has brought it up to specialists apparently, and they told her that was impossible. i dont know if this actually happened.. she could be totally blowing smoke up my butt. I know nothing about HVAC issues and she knows that. She has been playing stupid, like this is not an issue that can be taken care of and i just have to live with it. I'm telling you i cannot live like this anymore and im actually considering going to a hotel soon - so ANY info or help would be so appreciated. I am DESPERATE!

Comments

  • SeanBeansSeanBeans Member Posts: 434
    Where are you located?
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 7,964
    Has any recent work been done in the building at the time you first noticed the smell?—NBC
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,375
    SeanBeans said:

    Where are you located?

    This. We need to find you a good steam guy who can come out and look over your system.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • EileenSEileenS Member Posts: 5
    Hi all -
    I am located in New Jersey by NYC. West New York, NJ.
    I am not really familiar with any HVAC specialist in my area - so far I think my landlord has used her deadbeat maintenance people. They are really terrible.

    There was work done on the building about a year ago. They gutted the entire first floor. However I just started smelling this about 3 weeks ago. Nothing before this. Never had a problem with my heat ever
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,375
    Give @EzzyT or @Dave0176 a call. They're among the very best, and can figure this out.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • EileenSEileenS Member Posts: 5
    > @Jamie Hall said:
    > Give @EzzyT or @Dave0176 a call. They're among the very best, and can figure this out.

    Great thanks so much I will call them
  • Intplm.Intplm. Member Posts: 963

    Has any recent work been done in the building at the time you first noticed the smell?—NBC

    Hi @EileenS . Smelling what seems like a over chlorinated swimming pool, (toxic?) in your home is no fun. What @nicholas bonham-carter states above is what I feel is a strong clue as to what you are looking for.

    You mention in your original post that only one radiator has the chlorine smell. If that's the case than it is probably not the heating system. So maybe stop and think if some type of work has been done that has caused this chlorine smell that is coming from this "one" radiator? Or, from the area surrounding this one radiator.?

    Your neighbors may have done some major cleaning. Heating pipes come through shared floors and walls. The cleaning smell or chlorine bleach could be the culprit coming from a neighbors unit. This smell could be coming from there and not so much the heating system, or the one radiator mentioned. It could very well be a area that someone sprayed/saturated chlorine bleach on or near this area through a shared floor or wall.

    I don't know what type of building you are in but is the radiator on a outside wall that has been having the windows cleaned, (probably not due to the cold weather, but this could be a possibility) Or is it near a adjacent cleaning closet or laundry?

    Does it only smell when the heat comes on at that radiator?

    Smells are tough to find the cause of. Sometimes we can fixate on one thing while missing what in hindsight was the easiest of reasons.
    Try and look into the things I have mentioned here before making the call to the good contractors on this sight. Best of luck.
    Hope this helps.

    PS------- In regards to the Blue Monster thread tape. I have never had a off gas smell from this thread tape. It should not be a concern.


  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,141
    Any pets in the house?
  • EileenSEileenS Member Posts: 5
    @Intplm.
    My landlord was here today and I mentioned the questions you asked. No work was done on the windows by this radiator and no cleaning has been done on the pipes. The radiator is on an outside wall. This building is an old house with three units and there is no laundry.
    The heat has also not been on in a month since the weather got warmer here - we have not even turned the radiators on at all since the smell started happening. The smell also gets worse with no provocation.

    @JUGHNE yes we have two cats and I am concerned for them :(
  • Intplm.Intplm. Member Posts: 963
    @EileenS Do you have access to your neighbors? Can you get a look at what is nearby on the adjoining apartments?
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,375
    EileenS said:

    @Intplm.

    My landlord was here today and I mentioned the questions you asked. No work was done on the windows by this radiator and no cleaning has been done on the pipes. The radiator is on an outside wall. This building is an old house with three units and there is no laundry.

    The heat has also not been on in a month since the weather got warmer here - we have not even turned the radiators on at all since the smell started happening. The smell also gets worse with no provocation.



    @JUGHNE yes we have two cats and I am concerned for them :(

    Well... that would seem to let the heating system off the hook, wouldn't it?
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,141
    Could you be confusing chlorine with ammonia?
    Both are equally offensive, IMO.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,094
    Are either of the cats male? Have they been spayed? Are you sure one of them isn't spraying in the area of that radiator?
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,141
    Tom cats will mark their territory much like dogs do.
    Even if neutered, the instinct may kick in during mating season.
    IIRC, very strong smell from this spray. FWIW
  • EileenSEileenS Member Posts: 5
    No I have female cats. They are fixed. I am very familiar with that smell - this is not it.

    I am absolutely positive that it is coming from the radiator and no where else. Even tho the heat hasn’t been on. It’s mind boggling. I’ve had pseg and a plumber here today that agrees it is coming from the radiator.

    The smell is definitely like a chlorine or burning plastic smell. It’s not ammonia. We checked all other apartments in the building and there is no smell.
  • ScottSecorScottSecor Member Posts: 319
    I realize this may be obvious to some, but I'll add my two cents. The heating system is comprised of mostly cast iron, steel, a little brass and maybe some copper, as far as I know none of these ever smell like bleach, regardless of what you do to them. As you probably know the boiler in the basement is filled with water that may or may not contain small amounts of chemical (typically rust inhibitor). This treatment occasionally gives off an odor, this would cause every radiator in the house/building to give off a unpleasant scent. The smell would come from every vent (typically chrome, about the size of a golf ball) on every radiator. Since the smell is only coming from one radiator, it likely has nothing to do with the boiler water (that turns into steam when heated).

    I'm wondering if some of the work in the apartment below you may contain some material (batt insulation, foam pipe insulation, jacket on wires, some sort of plastic panel, etc.) that is giving off a scent when the steam pipe heats up that feeds this particular radiator. One way that might reduce or maybe even eliminate the offensive smell is to seal the area that surrounds the steam pipe that feeds the radiator where it comes up through the floor. Typically the steel steam pipe will have a diameter of 1.5 inches and the hole in the floor would be about 1.75 or 2 inches. Maybe start with a clean rag or a high temperature caulk that won'f give off an odor when heated to 215 degrees.

    I've noticed recently that fiberglass batt type insulation has a pungent odor (chemically treated I believe to prevent bugs) when the packaging is first opened. We often see foam pipe insulation that is designed for low temperature applications installed on hot piping, it tends to melt and get sticky and smell when new.

    Not real confident about this, just sharing ideas.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,094
    I'm wondering if there is a kitchen, a bathroom or a laundry in an apartment above or below the room with the chlorine smell and someone is using an excessive amount of bleach/cleaner in there regular cleaning.
  • Solid_Fuel_ManSolid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 1,743
    Is this one pipe steam with a little chrome vent 2/3 the way up the radiator? Or two pipe steam with two separate pipes on the radiator?

    Take a pic or several of the offending radiator. This could give a clue as to the odor cause.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC, and Controls
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