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Learning by Doing
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I am new to all this and have found explicit descriptions of other people's work helpful. If you want to know how I tuned up the radiators in my one-pipe steam system read on..

This was a five hour project. All told, I replaced vents on 5 radiators and repacked two valves. Costs: 50$/radiator + $5 of packing material. FYI: the thermostatic valves will NOT work in radiator enclosures, and I got a great deal on the valve bodies on ebay.

I waited for a warm-ish day that my heat wasn't running all day = the system was cool. And I turned the heat off.

1. I leveled two radiators 'leaning' away from the supply pipe. On one I used checkers; the other only needed a little lift, so I used felt furniture pads.

2. I removed the 40+ year-old steam vents - I twisted them off using a rag; one needed a pair of vice grips. They were very well sealed on with...wait for it...paint.

3. I re-tapped the openings with a tap from Big Box Home Store. They were very rusted.

4. I installed a Straight Mounted Varivalve from Heat-Timer into a Honeywell V100P radiator valve. I used two adjustable wrenches to tighten them securely. Accidentally ordered, Side Mounted ones (they have a little 'L' coupling on them), supply company happily swapped them for the Straight Mounted.

4. I installed a Honeywell V100P valve into the radiator making sure the vent was upright. I used a wrench to tighten the connection securely, making sure not to break it off.

5. On the Honeywell valve I installed a Honeywell T100A Thermostatic Control. This I hand tightened with the 'knurled ring'.

6. Repacked leaky valves.

"Just repack the valve" the guy at the plumbing supply place told me. Like I knew what that was. It had several steps of it's own:
a) I removed the nut holding the wooden knob on the top of the stem;
b) removed the wooden knob - one of them was water damaged enough to break when I took it off - grrr;
c) With my largest adjustable wrench I loosened the nut at the base of the valve stem - I did this very carefully, I've read too many horror stories of people breaking old valves open;
d) after I completely loosened the nut, it slid up the stem revealing the old packing material;
e) I removed old packing material by hand - it was essentially a deteriorating string wrapped repeatedly around the stem;
f) I wrapped new packing material around the stem - graphite impregnated string, it was easy to work with and I could tear it by hand, I bought it in small lengths at Big Box Home Store;
g) I re-tightened the nut making sure that the valve still turned freely. Some packing material oozed out the top of the nut when I did this (Like Play-Doh factory, very satisfying).

So far, so good. Water has stopped pouring out of the two valves that needed repacking. The former home owner must have let the one leak a LONG time, the water is rotting the hardwood.

Now, the thermostatic control shuts off the vent when it reaches the selected temperature. This works really well in my living room where I have two large radiators. When they both kicked on it got so hot in there you had to strip down! Now one shuts off when it gets to 61, the second at 64. It might take a little experimentation to dial it in.

Yeah Me! I hope this will hold me until the spring. My next project is insulating the supply pipes in the basement.
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