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Old 01-16-2013, 06:55 PM   #1
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leaking steam radiator valve


I removed a one-pipe steam radiator to re-do the walls in a bedroom. Turns out that even when the valve is closed, steam comes pouring out.

I'd like to repack the valve - but am having a really tough time unscrewing the valve stem; it's seized on pretty good. I've tried using the two pipe-wrench method, one on the floor around the joint with the riser pipe, and the other around the larger nut on the valve. Even tried using a cheater.

Should I just keep trying this method? I feel like if I try too hard I am going to crack or split something and have a bigger problem. Any other tricks that have worked in the past?

Side question 1 - what is the smaller nut at the top, just below the handle, for? Should that be socked down as far as it can go?

Side question 2 - When I do get to repacking, is packing rope sufficent? Or should I try to find another washer, which is what is in the other radiators in my home?

Attached is a photo of the valve. Thanks
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leaking steam radiator valve-img_8319.jpg  

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Old 01-16-2013, 08:10 PM   #2
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leaking steam radiator valve


The top nut is the packing nut, the lower bigger one is the valve body. A lot of people make the mistake of opening valves like this all the way, and the stem freezes to the valve body. Yours looks like that may be the case. Looks like an Iron body and a brass valve. Bad news. Purge the system and attack the threads from the inside with PB Blaster. That valve needs to be replaced.

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Last edited by jagans; 01-16-2013 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:26 PM   #3
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leaking steam radiator valve


I thought steam valves need to be either opened or closed all the way? When I look into the valve, I can it see it close all the way, but the packing material has disintegrated to the point where it is useless.

I think you may be right about it being a brass valve. It was easily marred by my pipe wrench, like it was a softer metal. Are all valves like this?

Why do you say it needs to be replaced? because the knob is broken off and the two different metals making up the valve ? It seems like it is structurally and functionally OK, aside from the packing material.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:40 AM   #4
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leaking steam radiator valve


You're right, one pipe should be full open or full closed. jagans right though, if the fact it doesn't seal properly matters to you, it needs to be replaced. If the valve isn't leaking from the stem while it operates, just cap it till the rad is reinstalled.
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:42 AM   #5
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leaking steam radiator valve


Is there a better way to cap it then stuffing a rag in it? I've tried searching for caps that you screw onto it, but haven't found anything. Maybe just an iron cap?

Last edited by debiasio; 01-17-2013 at 05:50 AM.
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:04 AM   #6
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leaking steam radiator valve


I would just use a short pipe nipple and a cap. I usually have those parts around. or something from here
http://www.mcmaster.com/#steel-pipe-...-plugs/=l2ozah
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:28 AM   #7
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leaking steam radiator valve


I Think he means a coupling and a plug, but I agree, as long as thats an NPT.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:57 PM   #8
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leaking steam radiator valve


Unfortunately you can't screw a cap onto the valve - it's not a pipe thread. You need to remove the valve completely and cap the pipe, or get a spud wrench and take the other part of the valve out of the old radiator, put that back on the valve, and then cap that. If you use some pb blaster and two big pipe wrenches you'll get the valve off.

Good luck!
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:51 PM   #9
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leaking steam radiator valve


Thanks Mazz. I was wondering if that was a NPT. Makes sense that it's not.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:48 PM   #10
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leaking steam radiator valve


I wouldn't try and repack that valve with the system pressurized if it's in that bad of shape.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:47 PM   #11
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leaking steam radiator valve


Quote:
Originally Posted by mazzonetv View Post
Unfortunately you can't screw a cap onto the valve - it's not a pipe thread. You need to remove the valve completely and cap the pipe, or get a spud wrench and take the other part of the valve out of the old radiator, put that back on the valve, and then cap that. If you use some pb blaster and two big pipe wrenches you'll get the valve off.

Good luck!
Good catch, I missed that. Need to get sleep before I post. haha. I'm gonna vote for a couple of large pipe wrenches. Hopefully you get to say a silent thank you to the former plumber that used a little anti seize.
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:25 PM   #12
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leaking steam radiator valve


From someone who has the same system, definitely better in the long run to replace the entire valve. Plumbing houses still have them.

I repacked a few of them but the nut can easily be overtightened. (which was why it needed to be repacked from the previous owner). And, I found it impossible to buy just the nut from anywhere.

2 big pipe wrenches and an even larger cheater bar will get it off. I setup one wrench against the baseboard (with a plywood chunk in between) that was connected to the pipe. The other on the valve body and a 4 foot old metal fence post on the end. Took everything I had but it eventually let go. Easy breezy after that. Taped and doped the threads prior to installing new valve.
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:51 PM   #13
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leaking steam radiator valve


an old time plumber gave me a tip years ago with regards to taking these off. He suggested not putting the pipe wrench on the "hex" part of the valve (all the way at the bottom). He suggested always putting the wrench higher up. Been doing it this way for a long time and found that they come off pretty easy that way. Don't get me wrong - I've still had to use a 2' section of pipe on a pipe wrench to get off some stubborn valves =)
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:20 PM   #14
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leaking steam radiator valve


Yeah, I figured that one out a long time ago. Putting the squeezing force that a pipe wrench produces can bend the connection egg shaped, then you are really screwed. Much better to put the force on the valve body.
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:31 PM   #15
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leaking steam radiator valve


If push comes to shove, you may want to drill a couple of holes like shown, and gun some PB Blaster into the threads with the straw. Try to gage the depth so you dont go through the pipe. If you do, shove a Q tip in there as a plug at the pipe and keep squirting it in about every hour or so Let it work overnight and try in the AM
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Steam Valve.pdf (99.5 KB, 35 views)

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