Home>Discussions>PLUMBING>Steam Radiator Supply Pipe Leaking
23 posts / 0 new
Last post
erikhaan
Steam Radiator Supply Pipe Leaking

The picture below highlights the area of the supply pipe. The holes are relatively small but are spraying water onto our hardwood floor, causing a puddle every time. The holes are in the pipe, beneath the supply valve.

Is there a patch job I could try for this, or do I need a new pipe?

dj1
Re: Steam Radiator Supply Pipe Leaking

From the photo, it looks like an old nipple. I doubt you can fix it long term, just replace it.

erikhaan
Re: Steam Radiator Supply Pipe Leaking
dj1 wrote:

From the photo, it looks like an old nipple. I doubt you can fix it long term, just replace it.

What is a nipple on a steam radiator?

dj1
Re: Steam Radiator Supply Pipe Leaking

A plmbing nipple is a short piece of pipe with threads on both ends, used as a connector.

Tom
Re: Steam Radiator Supply Pipe Leaking

Loooking at the age of that nipple and pipe I doubt if you are going to remove that nipple easily. It will probably crush and depending on how for below the floor it extends it could become a nightmare of a replacement. You would also have to sawzall the pipe to remove the nipple, thread new pipe and install a union. You would also have to remove a good size piece of the floor. Since steam radiators are under very little pressure a temporary fix would be to drill and tap the holes and then screw the proper screw into it with some pipe dope or teflon tape. Temporary might last ten years. I have 110 radiators in my 100 year old apartment building and have worked on plenty of the over the years and it is never a pleasant experience

johnjh2o
Re: Steam Radiator Supply Pipe Leaking

Why would you need a union when one all ready exists on the valve. Stem fittings are cast iron, other then the valve on the radiator which is brass. If you have a problem removing a section of pipe the best way to do it is to crack the cast iron fitting with a few sharp blows from a hammer. Then remove and replace the nipple and fitting. Making the union on the valve the last connection. Do the job correctly don't just do a patch job on it.

John

Tom
Re: Steam Radiator Supply Pipe Leaking

The only way to remove this nipple is to sawzall it out below the floor, thereby removing part of the floor. The nipple will probably crush when trying to remove it and possibly break off inside the fitting and now you have to remove the threaded part that is broke off inside the fitting - another nightmare or replace the 90 etc. This could also happen below the floor where it probably 90s toward the wall. It is not likely that the average homeowner will be able to do all the proper plumbing and carpentry work correctly without the whole thing turning into a nightmare. The simplest solution is still to drill and tap and install a screw in the leaks.

johnjh2o
Re: Steam Radiator Supply Pipe Leaking
CaptTCB wrote:

I'm sorry but the nipple clearly goes into a 90. The only way to remove this nipple is to sawzall it out below the floor, thereby removing part of the floor. The nipple will probably crush when trying to remove it and possibly break off inside the fitting and now you have to remove the threaded part that is broke off inside the fitting - another nightmare. You will still need a union somewhere below the floor. I have been there and done that a lot with my radiators and yes most radiators have unions right at the radiator but I don't see one there.

I suggest you look again. If there was no union at the radiators how do you connect the pipe to the radiator? (hold the pipe and spin the radiator onto it) It's quite obvious you haven't done any steam work.

John

call_me_al
Re: Steam Radiator Supply Pipe Leaking

C'mon, John; to insinuate that CaptTCB hasn't done any steam work can only be taken as an insult; the Capt. has been contributing to these boards for many years & he is obviously knowledgeable, and YOU are knowledgeable as well; both of you have valid points.

I think the Capt. is aware that since steam heat uses cast iron & steel fittings, and the photo portrays an old system, it will be very unlikely that the rusted fittings will be ever be loosened.

Everyone's contribution is important here!

johnjh2o
Re: Steam Radiator Supply Pipe Leaking

He is saying he repairs leaks in stem piping with screws and teflon tape. From what he stated he is doing this in a apt. complex. Stem is very hot and a leaking stem line can cause serious burns. I don't think I would put myself in the position that a tenant or even worse the child of a tenant suffered from my incompetence. He is not qualified to work on stem systems. And what he is doing is very dangerous. Doing things like that is the reason why we have licensing for heating contractors.

John

dj1
Re: Steam Radiator Supply Pipe Leaking

Capt,

1. You are right assuming that the nipple will probably crush.
2. To suggest a repair like you suggested is not a good idea and can lead to a serious disaster.
3. I hope that your repairs in your apartments won't get you in a liability suit.

There is a union there so no new union is needed. What erikhaan needs is a qualified plumber who can also re-do the floor after he finishes.

Erikhaan,

Call at least 3 plumbers. This is not a very big job, but it has to be done correctly.

Pages

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.