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

  1. John93

    John93 Member

    Greetings everyone,

    I wanted to touch base and get some follow up advice on how to proceed. There have been some definite developments since I last wrote.

    Firstly, please allow me to again express my sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to write and give feedback. It was very helpful and in many ways sobering. As the situation will require the work that JTS and others were alluding to.

    To JTS. A massive thanks. I spoke to a couple of lawyers as the situation in my building is not pleasant. To make a long story short I have the legal ground to request the repair that JTS has been recommending all this time. I spoke with the plumber who opened the rad valve and got it working today. He confirmed that these older models do not have a cover which can be opened up. It is one solid piece. The newer panel will be the one JTS was referencing which can be opened and cleaned. As for sand blasting it may be more expensive. Also the plumber mentioned something about the grill on the inside being individuated units and sand blasting would not get everything off? Not sure on that one.

    Either way. What JTS has told me, is the line I am pursuing. I had to make contact with the lawyers to ensure I had the correct legal ground. And from there the next step is to deal with the building's management and transmit this info to them. They may or may not wish to take it to court. It would be to their detriment. But the people managing this property are not altogether rational. So will need to see how this plays out.

    I have some follow up questions.

    There was some mention about black bead. A couple of times in this thread people mentioned someone installed black bead. What does this term mean? Is black bead the black paper moisture barrier? Or is black bead some other part of the rad?

    I am concerned about the rad because I inadvertently blew out all the black paper which is moisture barrier as JTS pointed out. Along with the silver foil.

    Does a lack of a moisture barrier present any problems in terms of a smell? Meaning if I only replace the panel and not put in new foil and black paper, can this cause a smell? As I do believe it smells a bit damp. But I can be wrong.

    When they install the new panel, can they at that point install a new moisture barrier and then place that silver foil in front? Or are moisture barriers not used in the new cast iron base board rads?

    Did I damage the rad by removing the black paper moisture barrier/silver foil? Do they need to rip out the back part and reinstall the entire thing or just replace the panel? I am not sure what is producing that smell. Most likely it is the several layers of paint. But what if they sprayed something into the interior of the rad? Meaning that the panel will get replaced, but when heated the interior enclosure could produce a smell?

    Any ideas gentlemen?
  2. jtsplumbing

    jtsplumbing Plumber GSR

    Well John it seems things are progressing, and again we are only making assumptions as to what is happening, until that complete heater is removed you wont be able to tell the extent of any damage or rot that has taken place, just very small drip over a period of time can cause a great amount of damage and involve extensive repair work, sometimes requiring the replacement of complete sections of walls & flooring, in our job we come across things like this involving small leaks & drips that can require major repairs running into thousands and requiring Builders, Electrician's etc.. make sure that you keep lots of photos of what is happening .
    • Useful Useful x 1
  3. John93

    John93 Member

    Hi JTS. I agree I have taken some solid steps towards getting this resolved. I recall everything you advised and find that I am now more or less following this path. As the smell is not going away and you were right in that legally this is management's problem.

    JTS I am not clear about what black bead is. And what impact if any removing the water barrier may have?

    When you install new rads, do you typically install a new water barrier with it?

    The rot you are referring to. Can that be the wood interior and not the panel? My concern is that they will replace the panel and not the wood housing. And the smell may not be gone. Is this something you have come across?

    I'm not sure whether to inform the plumber that I blew out that water barrier black material or not?

    I asked the plumber if they replace the entire rad or just the panel. He said only the panel. But if the wood or interior is producing a smell how do we troubleshoot this? Meaning when or how would you know to gut the entire thing and put in a new wood backing interior housing for the panel?

    Again thank you for your help. I will definitely take photos of everything. That is solid advice. Very much appreciated.
  4. jtsplumbing

    jtsplumbing Plumber GSR

    Hi John I think the (Bead) that is being referred to is just the wooden beading that has been put around the outside edge of the metal panel,
    our systems are somewhat different than yours and the type of heat emitters that you have more often than not got used in commercial buildings we tend to use flat panel radiators in homes, I'm assuming the smell is of rotting wood ! so replacing the metal panel will make no difference.
    Once the cover of this heater has been removed then it will possible to see the extent of any damage that has been caused, This will result in the heater having to be removed so that the extent of any water damage can be assessed, Not knowing to what extent Plumbers get involved with other trades in Canada Your plumber may not have the knowledge or experience to assess what is going on, (if this was the UK then the heater would be left exposed until a professional Carpenter / Builder could examine the area,) as I pointed out B4 small drips / Leaks over a period of time can cause unbelievable extensive damage, Keep a good record of what is transpiring (Times of visits etc.) maybe have a witness present when things are being done, Photos/Videos are always useful evidence, even voice recordings if they are excepted in any legal proceedings that may take place.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. John93

    John93 Member

    I think I understand JTS. The smell when the heat is up really high is of a paint or noxious fume. But if you're saying it could be the wood that has rotted. This is certainly possible. Ok. Will take this in the sequence you've shared here. First get the panel off. Which includes the surrounding wood bead around the outside of the panel. And then let the plumber or perhaps also contact a carpenter/builder as you mentioned. To assess the damage accurately. I will proceed this way. Thank you JTS. Very kind of you and others here to help with this issue. I will keep photo records as advised.

    Do you guys in the UK apply that same black paper water barrier? With new rads? Or was that only used with the older ones?

    Can the radiator operate without this moisture barrier? I am wondering if having removed it by compressed air. That now this exposes the wood interior to more heat and can this cause that wood to smell when heated? The initial noxious smell was there before I blew out the foil and black moisture barrier. But having done that now, I wonder if just replacing the panel without putting new water barrier will be safe for the interior of that rad which is wood and some dry wall here and there.
  6. Gasmk1

    Gasmk1 GSR

    We don't fit that style of radiator ours tend to be large panel types or the upmarket designer rads even the school type (cast iron) our houses tend to be bricks and mortar so we don't have to fit anything behind them they are mounted on the wall
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  7. John93

    John93 Member

    Gasmk1 I have seen youtube vids of these kinds of radiators. They are really nice and sleek. Easily removed and cleaned. Hopefully the new radiator panel replacement will be easier to maintain and clean over the long run.

    My point of concern now is regarding the black water barrier which was blown out when I used compressed air. If this needs to be replaced or if it affects the rad or can cause a smell?

    The other issue is how to know if the wood behind the rad needs to be replaced? JTS mentioned wood rot. But if we open the panel and see the wood is fine. Replace the panel and then find out later the smell is still there due to something from the interior of the radiator, the inner portion which is mostly wood and dry wall, etc. What then? How do we determine when to gut the entire enclave, or whether it is panel only that is causing the smell? I would rather find out what the source of the smell is, before anything is replaced.
  8. John93

    John93 Member

    Can't seem to get a response about the moisture barrier/black paper backing and whether its removal harms the operation of the rad in any way?

    I blew out the radiator with compressed air. All the silver foil and black paper moisture barrier were forced out. Now it's just the rad panel and the interior which is wood and some gaps where drywall can be seen.

    How do I determine if only the panel needs to be replaced? Or whether the entire wood interior be gutted and redone? Who can make this determination or assessment?

    Thank you gentlemen. My apologies if the question seems mundane or obvious. My concern is the plumber may replace the panel and the smell doesn't go away. Either because the wood interior is causing the smell or if I caused a problem by removing the moisture barrier and silver foil.
  9. jtsplumbing

    jtsplumbing Plumber GSR

    The Black moisture barrier paper will not affect the operation of the heater, it is to stop any ingress of damp, and is advisable to have it replaced its is there for a reason and needs to be replaced! once panel is removed you need someone with the necessary equipment to test for damp/rot that may be a contractor , Carpenter, or even your local building control or your insurance company , don't let them just replace the panel all that is doing is covering up the problem it will need proper professional investigation , Damp/Rot doesn't go away it gets worse, its one of the problems with timber structures, and needs to be addressed ASAP.
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  10. John93

    John93 Member

    JTS I thank you kindly for all of your feedback and advice. Please know I keep track of everything and will follow those steps exactly. I don't think there is wood rot as that would have smelled in the years prior. But I do agree that this needs to be replaced and inspected first. So it does appear that I mucked this up and will require replacement of this moisture barrier. However,
    before I did anything whatsoever, with the moisture barrier in place and the silver foil as well. It was off gassing something very noxious, which had a paint or fume smell. That was there prior to any interaction on my part.

    JTS as this is something that I have to communicate to my building to co-ordinate the repair. And it may have to go to court. Do you recommend that I be open about the fact that I used compressed air and blew out the moisture barrier? Or is it best to not make any mention? I prefer to be honest but the people running this building are not exactly decent. They are the kind who would use anything against me to prevent incurring an expense. I have plans to leave this building due to the kind of people running and managing the property. Very underhanded and deceitful.

    I lack experience with these sort of matters. So anything you can provide would be of tremendous help.
  11. jtsplumbing

    jtsplumbing Plumber GSR

    Treat them in the same way as they treat you, no witness to using air line so deny all knowledge sounds like you have untrustworthy people running your building, maybe the sooner you leave the better.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  12. John93

    John93 Member

    JTS my thoughts exactly. After I get this radiator sorted. I think within the next year or so, I will relocate. As the people who run this place are crooked and corrupt. I know there are problems any place one goes. But here, the worst kinds of characters are making decisions. And a lot of my neighbors have similar views and in some cases worse.

    Thankfully no other major repairs other than the rad. Will do my best to get everything dealt with. So that at least the people who come in after me, will not have the headache of having to deal with this as I do now.

    JTS you're a good man. Really appreciate your help and that of everyone else who responded. It has helped me to navigate and kept me on the right track. You guys in the UK are a cut above the rest. That much is clear to me.
  13. Stigster

    Stigster Plumber

    On the subject of very minor leaks causing ridiculous amounts of damage (I have a friend who had £200,000 of damage cause by a long term slow leak last year, nothing to do with me fortunately!) I'd much rather have a pipe blow clean off and make an immediate mess that can be fixed and damage seen than a misting spray going under a floorboard for 6 months. In OP's case, as long as your health is not affected by damp problems, I would be at least happy that if a slow leak is the problem, it is the building owners problem to deal with and I hope you can move on. I can see this has been a stressful time for you so hope you get sorted one way or another.

    Good luck.
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  14. John93

    John93 Member

    Thank you Stigster. Trying to get this worked out now. The property management will replace the rad.

    I do have a new problem and wonder if anyone can offer a solution.

    Management sent out a plumber to shut off the rad valve in order to allow me to use the bedroom again. The plumber claims that it is in the closed position. But the rad is emitting a low amount of heat.

    I have an acquaintance who does plumbing and he came by to confirm whether this plumber did in fact shut it off completely. It was true the 1st plumber had closed all the way. 2nd plumber opened the valve then closed it back again. And now it is letting out more heat than when the 1st plumber tried to shut it off.

    It seems that the valve is starting to go. And may require replacement.

    Is there any way to shut this valve off for now? For example. Would turning it into the open position slowly. Letting it heat up for a couple of hours, then slowly turning it back into closed have any effect on that valve to shut it off? Or is it just very cut and dry meaning if the valve no longer shuts off completely it is a sign that it is damaged?

    I guess I am concerned that this rad valve used to close completely. Then went to slight heat emitted after 1st plumber closed it. And now it is emitting more heat since my friend who is a plumber did a slight turn to open the valve then shut it back off. This progression seems to indicate more and and more heat is being let off in the closed position.

    If I try anything can it possibly spring a leak? My friend said it is brass on brass. I don't know what may be shot in the valve. I wonder if there is any kind of work around so that I can at least shut the rad down until they replace it.

    Also a 2nd question. When plumbers replace rads, would a new rad necessitate a new rad valve as well? Do those get installed together, or would the new rad be fitted into the old valve? If so then perhaps a valve replacement would be a good idea.

    Thank you gentlemen, in advance.
  15. Gasmk1

    Gasmk1 GSR

    it has either pitted on the valve or some debris is stopping the valve shutting fully you can try turning it on and off but it may have failed. they will probbaly have to change the valve when they re-new the radiator.
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