Common household remedies request
I'm getting tired of waiting for my furnace guy. Any of you with old houses and single pipe steam systems know if this is true?
A representative of the company told me that old-house owners have reported great success with his company's product, J-B Weld on old cast-iron radiators.
But to fix a leak, you first have to be able to get at it, right? So consider this. Before using J-B Weld, you have to drain the radiator and remove any paint, primer, or rust. Next, you have to thoroughly clean the surface with a non-petroleum-based cleaner such as acetone or lacquer thinner, removing all dirt, grease and oil. Then you have to rough up the surface with a file, mix the two elements of the product in 50/50 proportions, and apply it to a thickness of no less than 1/32-inch. Don't get any on your skin or in your eyes. Finally, you let it dry for at least 15 hours, and see what you've got.
Can you do that?
I asked if the product could take the temperature along with the expansion and contraction common in cast-iron radiators. They told me the product actually "softens" when heated and will move with the metal. It's not the sort of 'softening' you'll notice, though. You’d have to get the temperature up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, to see that (the product is good up to 600 degrees.) Typically, a radiator in a steam-heating system will get up to about 229 degrees tops. So if you can get at the leak, it sounds like this stuff will work.
The challenge, of course, is that an antique radiator can have more nooks and crannies than a Thomas' English muffin, and a good leak knows where to hide. But if you're in love with that old radiator, it's certainly worth a try.
The company sells only to wholesalers, and only in quantity, but you can buy J-B Weld for about five bucks at most automotive and hardware retail stores.