How to Remove a Steam Radiator

What You'll Need
Pipe wrench

When you need to remove a steam radiator, you should keep in mind that they offer the best value in uniform heat, surpassing "modern" systems. Sometimes, however, you will need to remove a steam radiator when your home needs to be painted or retiled. Removing a steam radiator is not difficult, as long as you remember to release the pressure first.

A steam radiator was the heating system of choice prior to the 1950s. The advantage of steam is that it flows through the pipes under its own pressure. It does not require any pumping action. They work by using the heat from steam to heat the home. These radiators came in a one-pipe and a two-pipe model.

With the one-pipe model, a single pipe ran from the furnace to the radiator. The steam, driven by pressure, goes up from the furnace and through the radiator where it is cooled and it turns back into water, which then goes back through the pipe to the furnace to be reheated. 

In the two-pipe model, one pipe will carry the steam, while the other pipe would return the water to the furnace for heating. This is a very efficient method of heating your home. The only problem is if the pressure is not regulated correctly, the steam can build up too much pressure and explode. It can also attain very high temperatures. If you are using this method for heating purposes, make sure you regulate the pressure valve to the correct setting when you reinstall your steam radiator.

Step 1: Close the Supply of Steam

Close the valve that lies between the radiator and the furnace. Tighten it until it cannot be turned anymore. Make sure that the valve is not leaking. If it is leaking, let the system depressurize, remove the radiator and change the valve.

Step 2: Disconnect

After the steam supply has been turned off, place a small bucket or bowl beneath the valve. This will help to gather any water that may spill on the floor. Then, find the bolts that lie between the shut-off valve and the radiator housing. Use a pipe wrench to open the bolts. The nuts and bolts will still be attached to the pipe although in a loose manner. When this is done, water is likely to flow from the radiator. When the bucket fills up, tighten the nut, empty the bucket and put it back again and release the nuts until the water does not flow from the radiator.

Once all the fittings have been removed or disconnected, raise the radiator to one side and move it away from its position. The radiator is quite heavy, ensure that you have somebody to help you when the steam radiator is placed on the dolly. You can use a wheeled dolly to move it around easily and complete repairs.