Demolition in the south upstairs bedroom has hit a stumbling block. A big, 300-pound, cast-iron stumbling block. In order to pull out the baseboard, panelling, and old sheetrock to prepare for renovation, the radiator had to be moved.
Before this, the only maintenance I have done on the heating system was bleeding radiators, so this project was a great way for me to get better acquainted with my boiler and pipes.
The radiators are heavy enough on their own, so draining them before disconnecting the pipes helps with the weight– it’s a good way to avoid flooding the floors, too. I began the process of draining the system by opening the bleeder valves on the top floor radiators.
With the valves open to allow air into the system, I went to the cellar and located the boiler drain. It was all set to attach a garden hose, which I snaked out of the house through the tuckunder garage door. The handle on the drain valve was broken off, but moved easily with my small pipe wrench. I would like to find a way to replace this handle, but I suspect it could involve replacing the whole valve assembly, which I don’t want to mess with.
While the system was draining (it took quite a while) I went around to the other radiators throughout the house and opened their bleeder valves to help the process. After the water was drained down, I disconnected the radiator in the bedroom using my larger pipe wrench. I sprayed some WD-40 penetrating oil around the pipe joints but they were still a bit stiff.
The drain side of the radiator came off without a hitch, but I had a bit of trouble with the supply side. Soon after I got the union moving on the supply side, I realized that it was splitting radially. Once it started splitting, I knew the union would need to be replaced anyway, so I just kept cranking it open. Eventually I was able to break off the split portion of the union and the radiator threads appeared undamaged.
I wanted to replace the supply valve with a thermostatic valve anyway, so I’m not too upset about the broken supply valve union. I’ll just need to be more careful in the future so I don’t accidentally damage pipes I wanted to keep.
The last step in pulling the radiator was to actually move the brute. I used a scrap of 2X4 to lever the pipes away from the radiator just enough to wiggle the pipe joints apart. Then I strapped the radiator to a hand truck and carted it to another part of the room. Before I continue with the demolition, I’ll plug the supply and drain pipes with rags to keep them free of construction debris.
Now that my stumbling block is removed, I can finish up the demolition work. I am also researching the best way to strip the paint from the radiator because the plain white paint on it now is ugly and chipping. Given the number of stairs between the radiator and the street, I don’t think it is an option for me to try power-washing or sandblasting it myself.
I am leaning toward stripping the radiator in the room with a low-odor chemical. I had good luck with Peel Away 1 on the fireplace and I may start there. But as long as I have the boiler drained, I have thought about just paying to have all/most of the radiators sandblasted. If I pay someone to deal with the large main-floor radiators, maybe it won’t be a big deal to get the radiators from the top floor, too.