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  1. #1

    House radiators busted....now what??

    I posted this in another forum, so if it looks familiar, that's why. I assume "residential" is the right location, if not feel free to move it.

    OK here's the deal. I have a water boiler system in one of our houses (rental). Anyhow during an unoccupied time, some of the radiators busted, presumably from freezing, but not sure.

    A few things have come up in the attempt to repair this:

    1) Where in the hellation do you find water radiators. Not the old cast iron type, these look more like car radiators, than home radiators. They have what looks like 3 tubes (copper??) running through a set of fins, manifolds on the ends (which is what busted, btw) This whole works sits inside of a metal box frame. Websites? Any ideas at all?

    2) We found some used, older style (the old cast iron) radiators.(picture below), I think they are sectional and can be broken down to shorter lengths...???. (speaking of that, how do they come apart? What's between them? O-rings, gaskets...what?) Anyhow, is there any harm in mixing the two styles together? I can't imagine why it would matter, but I'm not an HVAC expert.

    3) Someone told us to fill the system with antifreeze (I assume they meant 50/50 but I don't know) instead of straight water. Good idea? Bad idea? I can come up with the reasons TO do it myself, but is there any reason NOT to do it?

    TIA for any help. Any ideas, suggestions, thoughts at all are welcome. IN the mean time, I'll be searching past threads and topics for any ideas.
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    Last edited by jproffer; 04-23-2008 at 01:05 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Milwaukee Wisconsin
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    984
    I find mine in salvage yards. Delta T (temp. diff.) of glycol vs. water is much lower. May not work.

  3. #3
    Thanks HVAC Teacher...

    I'm not a pro by an stretch of the imagination, so are you saying it may be best to forget about the antifreeze mix??

    Any harm in mixing some of the heavy (pictured) style with some of the smaller style?

    Thanks again
    Jim

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    95
    You need to have a contractor who is familiar with hot water systems come out and look at the house. We have no idea what BTU load you have or what you need.

    A contractor came come out look at what you have use a load calculation software to properly size the rads and then install them for you. He can also size the rads to include the needed size for antifreeze mixture.

    Antifreeze should be avoided if at all possible. The stuff is expensive and needs replaced every couple years because it gets thicker and has less heat transfer.

  5. #5
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    Maple Grove, MN
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    It won't work well to mix cast iron radiators on the same zone as other types. This is due to the rate in which they heat up and cool down. Cast iron radiators heat up and cool down slowly, while fin-tube systems heat up and cool down quicker. There is no easy way to balance out the system to make the temperatures even in different areas. If it is just for a rental property that you don't care much about, it might be close enough, but there won't be any way of knowing unitl after the fact.

    If the busted parts of the "radiators" that you have now are copper, it may be possible to repair them by having someone braze up the cracks with an ozy/acetylene torch and some sil-phos alloy. This would probably be your best plan of action if it is possible.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Lancaster PA
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    What you have are convectors.
    Mix matching with cast iron rads doesn't work real well.
    Any compentant contractor can get them and install them for you. Adding anti freeze to the system will also reduce its heat ooutput.
    Convector output, and house load need to be checked first before adding any.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    Balt/Wash
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    214

    Unhappy other leaks

    Quote Originally Posted by jproffer View Post
    Thanks HVAC Teacher...

    I'm not a pro by an stretch of the imagination, so are you saying it may be best to forget about the antifreeze mix??

    Any harm in mixing some of the heavy (pictured) style with some of the smaller style?

    Thanks again
    Jim
    If the house froze hard enough to bust convectors you may have other leaks in the copper pipes. I just repiped a house that "had a leak" ..fixed the visable leak started to fill system and leaks everwhere..got the whole story..house froze . I replaced almost all the baseboard element. Something you should check.

  9. #9
    Thanks for all the responses.

    With the exception of the link provided by Noel Murdough...thank you BTW, and yes that's pretty much what we had before "the big bust". (At least I think it is. The covers look the same, I am only assuming that the radiators/convectors are the same too.) If I could find them, I have no problem putting them in...but don't know where to get 'em.

    The part that busted (the manifolds, is what I would call them) are cast iron I believe.

    OK, so we've established that mixing types of output isn't an ideal situation but how bad is it? Are we talking sweating in one room and icicles in the next? A few degrees? Just trying to make a decision based on facts rather than on what we HOPE is the case.

    And yes sir, we had other problems with the house plumbing, which are already fixed.

    Thanks again to everyone who has/will responded/respond.

  10. #10
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    Jan 2002
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    New Hampshire
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    They'll usually make up custom coils to fit existing cabinets, as well. There's several companies that still make replacement coils, in fact.

    On mixing iron and copper finned radiation; don't do it. It's expensive, and it's equally expensive to take it back out and put the right thing back in.

    It's one of the more common complaints I've handled in the years I've been a factory rep, and the only cure is to do it over. (I repped boilers, cast iron radiation, and finned tube baseboard for one manufacturer).

    Noel

  11. #11
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    I don't think I was ever in a house that had mixed cast iron, and copper baseboard/convection, that the people were happy with the heat.
    Its more then a couple degrees.
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