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  1. #1
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    Question Need advice for old radiator plumbing

    110-year old house, 13 solid water radiators with 1 1/2", 2" and probably 4" inch black pipe for parallel supply and return. I decided to tear out all the horizontal plumbing in the basement (leaving the vertical pipes in the walls), re-plumb with PEX and install a new high-efficiency boiler. I need a thread - male or female at the end of each pipe to attach the new PEX fitting. For the life of me, I can not budge the old fittings. I've tried heating them and using a big 'ol pipe wrench, no luck; I'm afraid if I put too much torque on those old pipes I'll damage something up in the walls. What do I do? I've already started cutting out the main pipes, but have made sure there is a fitting at the end of each supply and return. Help!!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Need advice for old radiator plumbing

    Just some thoughts:

    I assume the black pipe is from a FHW system, and not an old steam system---if it was steam, the joints are rusted together.

    Have you tried dousing Liquid Wrench, Mystery Oil, or something similar on the joints before trying to loosen them???---a length of pipe slipped over the end of the wrench will give you a lot more leverage to make them turn.

    It may even be possible to thread the PEX thru the larger black pipe up to the upper floors.

    It may be possible to cut the black pipe at the thread & install something like a Fernco fitting (that is able to take the heat from the FHW), or even a piece of automotive radiator hose (auto or truck) with a steel clamp, then come out the other end of the Fernco with a steel nipple, then a reducing nipple down to the size of the PEX.
    Last edited by NashuaTech; 03-02-2010 at 09:17 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Need advice for old radiator plumbing

    Not quite sure what you mean by FHW System (Forced Hot water?), but it is not steam. I have tried 'solvents' to help break the bond before trying to loosen them; No luck. I'm reluctant to put a pipe on the end of the pipe wrench as I don't want to put too much torque on the remaining pipes and cause a leak or break somewhere up in the walls. I had thought of some type of flexible union, similar to those used for vent and drainage systems to connect dissimilar pipes. This is my best 'hope' as some of the fittings are in particularly difficult places to reach. Love the auto radiator hose idea!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Need advice for old radiator plumbing

    Quote Originally Posted by Ziffy View Post
    Not quite sure what you mean by FHW System (Forced Hot water?), but it is not steam. I have tried 'solvents' to help break the bond before trying to loosen them; No luck. I'm reluctant to put a pipe on the end of the pipe wrench as I don't want to put too much torque on the remaining pipes and cause a leak or break somewhere up in the walls. I had thought of some type of flexible union, similar to those used for vent and drainage systems to connect dissimilar pipes. This is my best 'hope' as some of the fittings are in particularly difficult places to reach. Love the auto radiator hose idea!
    Radiator hose is for the auto industry it's not meant to be used for a heating system. (very bad idea) If it's an old system chances are the fittings are cast iron. If that is the case all it takes is a few sharp blows to the fitting with a hammer.
    This will crack the fitting and make it easy to remove, leaving you a male thread to attach the proper adaptor to. Not sure what size the risers are but from the age my guess is there 1-1/4". In my time in the plumbing & heating business there were very few times that I couldn't remove a fitting of that size. Try using two wrenches one to remove the fitting and the other to hold back.

    John
    Last edited by johnjh2o; 03-05-2010 at 10:13 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Need advice for old radiator plumbing

    This class of high heat/high pressure flexible industrial hose has a much wider application beyond just automotive uses, including heating systems where codes allow.

    Typical specs are 260F max temp and 150 psi pressure, which is well above residential heating applications.

    Lots of people though PEX was a bad idea too when it first came out.
    Last edited by NashuaTech; 03-04-2010 at 10:14 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Need advice for old radiator plumbing

    Quote Originally Posted by NashuaTech View Post
    This class of high heat/high pressure flexible industrial hose has a much wider application beyond just automotive uses, including heating systems where codes allow.

    Typical specs are 260F max temp and 150 psi pressure, which is well above residential heating applications.

    Lots of people though PEX was a bad idea too when it first came out.
    So as a professional your saying to use radiator hose on a heating systems? I don't think so. What do you think a building inspector would have to say about that? I'm sure when he did his report for a potential buyer he would not have any thing good to say about it.

    John
    Last edited by johnjh2o; 03-05-2010 at 10:15 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Need advice for old radiator plumbing

    The pips are not cast iron; I know this from cutting through and removing most of the larger pipes in the system. (Don't know if it makes a difference, but it was an upscale house in it's day.) Not sure about the auto radiator hose, it does seem odd, but I am checking out various hose manufacturers for high temp hose that i could use. I also contacted Fernco re: their flex fittings and they are only rated to about 140 degrees F. max

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Need advice for old radiator plumbing

    Quote Originally Posted by Ziffy View Post
    The pips are not cast iron; I know this from cutting through and removing most of the larger pipes in the system. (Don't know if it makes a difference, but it was an upscale house in it's day.) Not sure about the auto radiator hose, it does seem odd, but I am checking out various hose manufacturers for high temp hose that i could use. I also contacted Fernco re: their flex fittings and they are only rated to about 140 degrees F. max
    It's not the pipe that would be cast iron it's the fittings. If you could post a picture of one of the fittings I could tell from that.


    John

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Need advice for old radiator plumbing

    I'll try... have to get my kids to help LOL!!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Need advice for old radiator plumbing

    johnjh2o:

    Well John, congratulations!

    In less than a month on these boards you've established yourself as one of the hostile insulters that have plagued these boards for way too long.
    We've seen it all before.

    I know, you're the big expert who knows it all and can't stand the hundreds of other contributors on these boards who also have valid input.

    You've got a closed mind, pal!
    And an ignorant one at that!

    Do us all a favor and go haunt some other forum, along with your pal Leslie.

    Get lost, in other words.

    Some people shouldn't be allowed to use computers!
    Last edited by von_steuben; 03-05-2010 at 12:16 PM.

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