We have about 8 of these in the house. There were a few others disconnected that we later found cracked these were in the kitchen which froze at some point in the past.

Well, the plumber is in the house as we speak checking the other 8 and he is having a dickens of a time holding air pressure. Not giving up hope, but trying to be prepared for the worse.

Where do you get authentic replacements?

If we repalce with new anyone have a good place to start to look?




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If the system is hot water tell the plumber to quit gaming you and throw a couple quarts of boiler seal from Sid Harvey in the system.

It was steam, but we are now using hot water and instaling a new boiler. I am pretty sure he is not gaming us. He is noted as one of the best if not the best plumber in town. It is a small town. I did look that stuff up and will provide it to him...Thanks

Right now he is pressuizing it with air.

If the system is converting to hot water why is the valve still in place on the left side of the radiator?

Are there bypasses still in the system plumbing too?

That was a picture of the original installation before anything else was done.We have all new pex plumbing.

Unfortunately, I am not on site, but will have to talk to the plumber ASAP about this. Evidently, he was not able to get the three ground floor radiators to hold air pressure. Not sure until I talk to him this coming Monday, to find out where the things are leaking. I am having a problem thinking that all 8 radiators are bad. There must be another issue. But then again, if water was left in them, they could have frozen. But I would think a water test would show this.

All things are possible, but 8 leaking radiators on the 1st floor and 0 leaking radiators on the second floor has a slight aroma.

As my cat says, some thngs just can't be said in a Paw LickTickle Correct manner, so I'll just say either the best plumber in a small town screwed up piping the system, or he needs to make some truck payments and you look like a donor.  

The original system was steam, ergo very little water from condensate would have been in the radiators, and there was a whole lot of room for any such water to expand if it froze.

If the best plumber in town was worth diddle, he would have checked the individual radiators BEFORE reconnecting them for water tight integrity.  He would have marked any leaks found in that test and told you.  Instead you now have a completely tubed up system that doesn't hold air.  Smells like a tradesman screw up to me, and one he wants you to pay for.  He also figures since you know nothing he can run it.

Were I in your shoes he would be showing me the leaks with soap bubbles!

http://www.inspectapedia.com/heat/heating.htm  and http://www.inspectapedia.com/heat/Radiator_Valves.htm  will give you a lot of education in a short time.  I suggest you study up between now and the meeting with the best plumber in town.

Worst case is the best plumber in town managed to find leaks now he should have found long ago, there is an outfit in Montreal that reconditions these radiators and sells them. There are probably others as well.

This all sounds very sketchy, in terms of what your plumber is doing. Maybe I am just not understanding what is going on at your house. When we restored our hot water radiator system the very first thing the plumbers we worked with did was to do a pressure test on EACH and every radiator before they were installed. These were old, ornate radiators that ww obtained from Craigslist, all over our own town, and eBay etc. after all the pressure tests were conducted, we were shown that 1 out of about 3 radiators had leaks. Our house currently has 18 hot water radiators and not one leaks. Had the plumbers just put them in without pretesting we would have been in a very difficult situation. Cast iron radiators that leak are a losing battle and you should look for replacements whoever you can find them. Start on Craigslist and also online. I think you need more help that what you plumber is providing.

The basic problem is, I am out of town while a lot of our renovation work is done. The wife is there, but her expertise is not plumbing. I mentioned it to our contractor that the plumbing/radiators be pressure tested back in December, while it was too cold to do much of anything else. Long story short, he is now testing.

We replaced all the 1st floor plumbing since it was all accessible from the basement. Checking the 3 radiators that were in place and assumed working on the 1st floor, seem to be leaking. We had 2 other radiators in the kitchen that were already disconnected when we bought the house. These he had tested at the start and found them cracked and of course leaking.

The pipes froze a couple of years back (before we bought it) which required replacing plumbing in the bath above the the kitchen and in the basement below. So, maybe other radiators took a hit as well.

We will know more this Monday When they finish the second floor.

I did find one site: http://www.wardheating.com/pages/hydronics/cast-iron-radiators

Not sure of the cost for new. But we may be checking locally , as well, for replacements.

take a compressor and fill the radiators with air.  As stated above, like with a car tire, use soapy water to find the leak and fix with JB Weld.

I had a old truck and I used JB weld to fix holes in the exhaust system.  No problem it works


Randall Marder


An update:

Well, out of 8 radiators only one was working. We verified the plumber was testing correctly. He, in fact, said this was a first for him to see so many fail, but all the other homes he worked with had working systems. Our house has been vacant for many years and as I said there is evidence of freeze damage to the plumbing.

The good news is, my wife was having coffee with our local appliance/furniture store owner, and mentioned our dilemma. BTW, we are buying/bought all our appliances from him. He said that he had quite a few radiators no longer being used since he upgraded his store's heating system a couple of years ago, and we were welcome to them. They are about the same age and look, and were all working when last used.

So, we are back in the game.


I've been through this situation with two houses.

Both had gone back to the bank and were not winterized properly, which caused freeze damage to most of the radiators. In one house all of the second floor radiators were ok because it retained enough of the (rising) heat in the house to keep from freezing until the first floor units broke and allowed the system to drain, which saved the upstairs units.

I wanted to retain the cracked units, so I did a lot of research on repairing (even ordered a $30 book on hot water/steam heating systems) or if need be replacing them with vintage units. There are a lot of upcycle units available, but because of the variety of sizes, styles, weight to ship, and cost of verifying integrity, it is very difficult and, and costly if you succeed. I think that finding replacement locally would be your best bet, but it’s very hard to do. I did try to repair the bad ones as has been suggested with jb weld but after many hours trying I failed to even come close to a trustworthy repair. In several cases I could not even see, let alone get to the cracks on the interior of the units, let alone prep and repair them. And yes, these are made to come apart in sections, but unless you have something like a 1" impact wrench, you won't have much luck taking them apart.  In some cases I was able to get close to success after brushing, grinding, filling with jb weld, and then pressure checking the unit. But I found that they would blow out at very low pressures. I determined that replacement was my best option and I could not find like replacements, so went with baseboard hydronics for several rooms, and settled with a forced air furnace for the rest.


Hope that your experience turns out better than mine. Best of luck!

The more I think on this situation the more concerned I become.

Old radiators + new boiler + new PEX and the contractor didn't notice radiators were leaking until he tried pressure testing = something wrong with contractor.

Doing the job correctly should have involved flushing the radiators clean early on in the process with either oxalic or citric acid to remove the scale & rust along with magnetite that always accumulates in a system.  When a system has been mothballed (to be polite) the flushing is even more important, especially when installing a new boiler.


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