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sonofthetonsured 04-04-2008 02:09 PM

cast-iron radiators won't shut off
hey everyone. i live in an apartment that was at one point the upstairs of a single family home. in each room there is an old cast iron radiator. the problem is a few of these i do not seem to be able to shut off at the valve. even if it's squeezed righty-tighty, they still get blazing hot..

this probably wouldn't be a problem if i had a thermostat to control them all, but when they renovated the place into two apartments, they didn't split up the heat into two separate systems; which means i'm essentially at the mercy of the little old lady downstairs who, as luck would have it, likes her place a balmy 85 degrees. :furious:

could this possibly be a matter of the radiators not having been bled in a long time? (they haven't) or maybe i just need new valves?

thanks in advance,


skymaster 04-04-2008 02:52 PM

You may need need vents. Oh each radiator is a vent valve which regulates how fast or slow a radiator allows steam to flow thru therefore hot hot and how quickly this happens. Be gentle but they will unscrew, replace them with adjustable vents, "close" em down to allow only the minimum steam/heat and see how that works for you.

sonofthetonsured 04-04-2008 04:08 PM

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could you be a little more specific? are you saying that i should

~replace the valves with new ones?

or are you saying that i should

~replace the valves that are on there now with something different?

here is a picture of what i have..
isn't this an adjustable vent?

jogr 04-04-2008 04:15 PM

Wouldn't it be best to have the landlord fix this? Does your lease allow you to modify the heating system?

biggles 04-04-2008 05:19 PM

1take the handle off and with a adjustable work it closed up an down might seat then....or just put some bath towels over them one left to right and one front to back...or build radiator covers with adjustable slots to close if it is too hot.

sonofthetonsured 04-04-2008 06:07 PM

i'd rather fix it so that i can adjust the heat incrementally as opposed to throwing towels over it, and building/buying a cover is out of my labor-range/price-range. plus either of those things would be incredibly wasteful. could you be more specific, biggles? what do you mean by, "take the handle off and with a adjustable work it closed up an down might seat then" ?
as for my landlord, we've got it worked out where i'll fix things that need fixin' and he knocks it off my rent

skymaster 04-04-2008 08:20 PM

Sorry but disregard my first comment, you have a hot water system not steam. Since these are getting really hot bleeding should not be necessary.

helpless handyman 04-04-2008 09:35 PM

Hi, does this radiator have a vent on the right side of it? Should be on the side of the radiator. If it does, than you have steam heat. Try changing the vent to an adjustable one, otherwise you are going to have to change the valve that opens and shuts it. Can you post a picture of the entire radiator, this way I can lead you to the right direction.

sonofthetonsured 04-04-2008 10:11 PM

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yeah it's definitely hot water. i had to move one at one point, and there was a good amount of water to drain out of it. so it looks like i'm going to have to replace the valves. are any special tools required for that?
also, the towels are for the cat to lay on, not to contain the heat.:wink:

Marlin 04-05-2008 07:04 AM

What is being refered to as a vent is a bleeder valve. When you open then you should get a solid stream of water. If you get air let them run until you get a solid stream of water.
So long as the valve opens and closes manually (it is not supposed to do anything automatically) it is working fine. So long as the radiators are getting hot they probably don't even have to be bleed.
Onto the subject of automatic bleeders. These are not made to go on cast iron radiators (or in any living space where they will be exposed and are actually pretty fragile. Your cat could break the things if he/she wanted to. Should one of these break off you are going to have a gushing leak until you can access the boiler, shut off the water too it and drain down the boiler. You would also have to come out of the radiator with a short nipple, and an elbow to have them in the correct vertical position.
About the valves. It does sound like your valve is shot. These valves are only to turn the radiators on and off, they are not metering valve. Keeping it half way closed isn't going to do anything for you.
If you want to change your valve you need to first shut off the boilers. Then you need to drain them down, open all the bleeders on all the radiators in the house when you do this. Now with all the water out of the system break the union going into the radiator, un-thread the old valve, un-thread the union from the radiator, possibly change the pipes going to the radiator if the new valve isn't the exact same size as the old, then install your new valve and union.
Keep in mind those radiators are probably eighty years old and pipes seize up over time. It will take a couple 24" wrenches to take that apart. Their is also the chance of threads breaking off in the radiator or on one of the fittings. If that happens chances are you will need to call in a plumber and the project will get pricey. If something breaks off in a fitting you can keep going back until you reach a fitting that un threads and rebuild from there. Remember it is very important to hold back with another wrench or you will just end up breaking things.

My advice is to have your landlord take care of this since if you break something doing this you're liable.

sonofthetonsured 04-05-2008 08:47 AM

and i think that's exactly what i'll do. i should've realized that if my valve was shot, i'd have to shut it off at the boiler and drain the system (which is, again, out of my "labor-range").. now if only my landlord wasn't so reluctant to put money into the place.:thumbup:

thanks, marlin; and thanks to everyone else for taking the time to help me figure this out.

skymaster 04-05-2008 10:20 AM

Son!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You catnapped MY CAT!!!!!!!!!!!!! :laughing: :yes:

sonofthetonsured 04-05-2008 12:22 PM

i don't know... i think he might have catnapped himself :)

Allison1888 04-05-2008 09:58 PM

radiator problems
I sympathesize with your problem and agree with the other posts, but had to add my own "cat cents" -- the cat won't want you to fix the radiator -- it's heaven laying on one of those toasty things!

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