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Discuss Radiator emitting strong odor when heat goes up in the Central Heating Forum area at

  1. Gasmk1

    Gasmk1 GSR

    i pointed out to you that if it was rodents then the smell would diminish over a short period, poste dsomething to this effect.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  2. John93

    John93 Member

    Gasmk1 I recall your post and that you mentioned it is not cost effective. I agree with that.

    Either way, this is not a dead rodent smell. The smell would be consistent with something that died and is being burned or heated.

    This smell is more like a fume as I have said numerous times. It is very likely that the people who were there prior to me. Painted the rad and never turned it on. As that is how I got it. In a off state.

    It's been off for over 10 years. JTS did correctly observe that there are multiple layers of paint. That is what I smell. A paint fume. Something off gassing. Not rodents or dead flesh.

    The important or key point is that it has been decreasing since I used the compressed air and blew out everything including the silver foil and black water barrier. Although I can't say for sure why those materials would produce any smell at all. The observable sequence is that the concentration of that smell dropped from 70-80%, down to like 20-30%. And has dropped more and more.

    To my understanding. However slowly. The smell is staring to get weaker and weaker. Given that, I would not want to do what JTS keeps telling me to do regarding the panel. I would only do that work if the smell was not decreasing. Where that would be the only option at that point. But so far, thank God, the smell is getting less. Hopefully with some patience and luck it will disappear for good. If not by the end of this season due to insufficient heat. Then next winter when the -30 degrees celcius will come back and the rad can burn through whatever remains.

    Again my sincere thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write and give advice. I made this decision based on observable facts. If it were otherwise, I would act on the advice given here. So it is much appreciated gentlemen. All the best.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. jtsplumbing

    jtsplumbing Plumber GSR

    Hi John sorry I couldn't diagnose the smell that your getting but that is quite difficult from 3000 miles away,
    It just beggars belief that this heater has not worked for 10 years and nothing was done about it sooner,
    By your description you are living in a small 1 bed apartment , and I am assuming that other similar apartment's are next to you ?
    Do you have your own heating system or is it a communal one ?
    Do you pay a maintenance charge ?
    Who is responsible for the up-keep of the building ?
    Do you own or rent this apartment ?
    Has any repairs ever been done to your heating system ?
    Where is your Boiler located ?
    • Useful Useful x 1
  4. Gasmk1

    Gasmk1 GSR

    my post re possibly not dead rodent
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. jtsplumbing

    jtsplumbing Plumber GSR

    Just cant understand why its took 10 years to sort out the heater ! and the guy sleeps in the lounge, small apartment with communal heating system maybe , if so someone must be libel for maintaining the system
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. John93

    John93 Member

    Gasmk1, I recall this post. I wrote that I remember you sharing this.
  7. John93

    John93 Member

    JTS I understand not being able to diagnose the smell from that kind of distance. That makes sense.

    The heater was not sorted for a very long and complicated set of reasons.

    The boiler is in the basement. I do not have my own heating, but rather the heating system distributed through the entire building via the water rads. I am not aware of any repairs done to the bedroom rad. The living room rad has worked fine since I got this unit.

    I just got off the phone with the fire department. They called me back, and told me that they do not have equipment to detect fumes emitted by paints. Their equipment is more geared towards hazardous materials. CO and even anthrax, etc. When I asked him who to contact regarding this, he was not sure.

    He also mentioned that it could be a pinhole leak. But even to this I told him, if it was pinhole and heat was off, there would be a smell. No heat, no smell. So it cannot be a leak. He agreed.

    So this brings me back to the 2 options we have been discussing. Either I get the building involved and if they do not want to do anything more with that rad. Then it will mean small claims court, etc. Win or lose it will cost money and time and a lot of effort. Or I just let it burn off, as it is slowly going away.

    Letting it burn off seems like the cheapest and easiest route.
  8. jtsplumbing

    jtsplumbing Plumber GSR

    So do you own the apartment or rent & who is responsible for maintaining the heating system ? Do you pay a maintenance fee ? some one must be responsible for the system ! if you pay towards the up-keep its down to them to sort out the problem why do you need to pay ?? something not quite right ! Have you made inquires about who maintains the apartments ??
  9. John93

    John93 Member

    JTS as I wrote in my last response. It's a complicated scenario. The short answer is that the building is now responsible.

    With the smell dissipating, it may not be worth the hassle to get that thing ripped out. It's not just an expense for the building. It's also a lot of time and effort spent on my part to co-ordinate.

    At the rate its going the easiest way to go is to just let it burn it off. Simple. No cost. No headaches or potentially new problems created by tinkering with 70 year old pipes and components. Even if the building is responsible. Does not mean it will be an easy fix. Or an easy time for me. Quite the opposite. Even if they pick up the bill, it will mean a lot of work doing things that could create even bigger and newer problems.

    The option that benefits both myself and this building is to let the rad burn off what is left of the smell. At this rate it should not take much longer.
  10. jtsplumbing

    jtsplumbing Plumber GSR

    So all these questions was a total waste of time because you don't intend doing anything ! just happy to sit back and hope the problem go's away, and carry on paying rent and do nothing, maybe in another 10 years you may have built up courage to complain that's if the building is still standing, Or of course your the owner/landlord who is to tight to spend out on repairs and just looking for a cheep fix
    • Dislike Dislike x 1
  11. John93

    John93 Member

    JTS tell me the part about the rodents again. Where you made a blind assertion and then ignored my asking you several times what such a smell would smell like.

    Your advice to rip out the panel when the smell is waning is not what I would call particularly apt.

    Asserting something like rodents. And then ignoring and avoiding a question regarding what rodents would smell like is evasive.

    As I said over and over. The smell improved drastically in the last 2-3 weeks. When I initially made the post the smell was stronger. Since then it has thankfully dropped.

    If it did not, I would then have no choice but to open up the panel.

    The situation here is complicated. And in no way is any of your business. All I was looking for was feedback on how to tackle this sort of fume or smell. Not a cross examination of my living conditions, what kind of fees I pay, etc. That is personal information and well outside the domain of relevance pertaining to you or my radiator. Insinuating that I lack courage or any other personality traits when you do not understand the dynamics here is not only inaccurate. But flat out blind assertion. Which takes me back to your rodent idea and subsequent dodge.

    So please. Stick with things that are within the realm of your understanding and do not attempt to label or judge me or my situation. You have no foresight or authority to do so.

    Incidentally it is because of plumbers like you that I am reluctant. I don't want to speak for all plumbers as that would be wrong. But a great number of them are crooks and prey on people's lack of knowledge and inexperience.

    So you'll forgive me if I don't dive head first and follow the most costly and consequence laden advice from someone who can't even back up his assertions with evidence. Choosing instead to sidestep that question over and over. Never once answering it.

    I think instead I will once again thank everyone for their help. Including you JTS. And just allow the heat to burn through what is left. All the best.
  12. jtsplumbing

    jtsplumbing Plumber GSR

    John I cant understand why then your asking these questions on a UK Plumbers forum, being as you live in Canada, Its not as though someone can just call round and take a look to give you the answers that you seek, From your description the whole system needs a complete overall , if that's the case and you along with other occupants of the building are paying a maintenance charge then you should be perusing them to get the problems rectified ! Do you have a similar forum in Canada where you can put your questions ? It would seem that we maintain our heating systems to a higher standard than they do in your location.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. John93

    John93 Member

    JTS I was looking for a forum that has active participants. This one and another site looked active. I did not find similar sites in Canada.

    I hear what you are saying. Some differences would exist. But all in all plumbing and heating should also be somewhat similar.

    At the moment this is the only rad that was not working until the plumber opened up the valve. Now it is working fine, but slowly burning off whatever is off gassing. The smell has dropped significantly but is still faint and present. In the area of 3-5% concentration. This is much less than 50-70% concentration that was there before I used the compressor. It was very strong at that point and holding. Now it has dropped off by a very significant amount. This tells me that it is waning.

    You said I am doing nothing. Avoiding thousands of dollars in repair. Labor. Time effort. Not exposing this old system to even more problems that can spring open. While patiently waiting for the smell to disappear. This is very far from doing nothing.

    Also, I used compressed air and blew out everything out of that rad. That too was not nothing. I didn't exactly have those tools lying around.

    I have done the most that I am physically capable of doing. Which includes research. Weeks of that. Communicating with people. These are all proactive steps towards a resolution.

    Unfortunately. No one seems to know what it is. This includes the plumber that opened the valve. Spoke to the fire department yesterday. They cannot help to diagnose the smell. Everyone seems at a loss. It's something related to the paint. As it smells like a fume. The smell is a good indicator or clue in terms of what it can be. A leak would not stop smelling if the heat was off. Would also produce some noticeable stain at some point regardless of how small it was. But here again when the heat is off, the smell is gone. A leak would not stop smelling. Neither would mold. This is why I suspect the multiple layers of paint. Given the type of smell.

    I agree that this whole system needs to be replaced. Hopefully I will have left this place before they do that.

    That was one thing you noted which was spot on regarding multiple layers of paint. Short of removing the panel, sand blasting it, then repainting and remounting it. Is there any way to speed up whatever it is off gassing?

    That is the million dollar question right now. How do I speed this up without tearing this thing open.

    If you have experience with that or can relay anything along those lines, this would be very helpful. As that is where this situation has shifted to. It is in the final stages of disappearing. But it is slow. With the external temperatures fluctuating and increasing this month. I am not sure that the lowered heat intensity will get rid of the smell completely this season. Which means spilling over into next winter. And some more sofa time.

    Either way JTS. I did mean what I said. I do thank you for your time and for trying to help. Sorry for not being able to clarify further with regards to the building. It's complicated. If I involve them it would mean taking this to small claims court. That is as much as I can say. I would take this course only as a last resort. Hence my focus on trying to get this rad to off gas on its own and without too much external tampering.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  14. jtsplumbing

    jtsplumbing Plumber GSR

    I know you don't want the expense of removing everything but I would have thought that just removing the metal cover could be something you may be able to do yourself or with some help from a friend, they are usely designed to be removed either they just clip on or just a couple of screws, is it possible that you could ask the plumber that first got the heater working how they are fixed ? its also possible that the paint used could be toxic, some paints are not suitable for use by heat
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Zippymark

    Zippymark GSR

    I haven't read all of this, but i painted a radiator in my house once with proper radiator paint and it gave of a slight smell when it was really hot for AGES, as in maybe 3-4 years.
    • Agree Agree x 1
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