Replacing a Radiator Air Vent

Category: Do it Yourself

I didn't want our bathroom floor to be under water anymore. So I have to take action.

I could try boiling the old radiator air vent in water and vinegar to see if I could scare out any debris that is preventing it from venting properly. But I have to turn the furnace off in order to fix this thing and it is COLD OUTSIDE. So, I'm just going to replace it. It's probably been decades since it has been replaced anyway.

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First, I removed the old air vent. This is pretty straightforward. I waited for the device to cool down and then grasped it firmly with one hand and just twisted it off. Don't be afraid. If the furnace is shut off and the radiator has cooled, nothing will come shooting out at you.

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See? Nothing is flying out at me or spraying all over the room.

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Now, for the new radiator air vent.

Luckily, I have three or four new radiator air valves on hand that I picked up at Clark and Devon Hardware (great old timey hardware store in Chicago). You know, for emergencies, and because I am a big geek. I rummaged around in the basement and dug one up.

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I also grabbed some Pipe Thread Seal Tape (also known as Teflon tape or Plumbers Tape) from the workbench. Seriously cool stuff. If you ever want to make a seal more airtight or watertight? This tape acts like putty and gets into tiny spaces where two components link together. Have you ever screwed two garden hoses together and they leak water at the place where they are linked together? Using this kind of tape would stop that. Here's how:

Wrap some of the tape around the part of the radiator air valve that screws into the radiator.

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Screw the air valve into the radiator.

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Once it is screwed into place (make sure it is vertical!), then pull on the extra tape sharply to tear it off.

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Voila!

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A beautiful sight and also beautifully QUIET. It will keep the spurting water at bay until I've figured out if I have to fix anything else to keep this problem under control.

I use Dole Valves for my radiators, which have been made here in Chicago since the early 1900's. The old valve was a Dole and the new valve is a Dole. And if you're wondering what a family business in radiator valves could get you in the 1920's, you need look no further than the Cheney Mansion in Oak Park which Andrew Dole purchased in 1922.

If watching a video is more to your liking, vigilant reader Rebecca submitted this video from This Old House in a previous comment. Enjoy!


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Comments

I have stopped whimpering long enough to thank you for these last two posts.

Apparently I have to replace five of our air vents in addition to the three valves that may or may not last until spring.

So yeah. "Thanks" for the info.

We don't have radiators, but this is a great post for people who do. :)

Thanks for the mention in the post! I feel so famous! (grin)

This is great, but my old Dole vent snapped off while attempting to remove it and the new one can't be scrwed in. Any ideas?

Hello!
Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
PS: Sorry for my bad english, I'v just started to learn this language ;)
See you!
Your, Raiul Baztepo

Good information and good instructional pictures. Now and then you need to bleed the radiator, especially if it doesn't get warm at the top and if that doesn't work seek professional help.

Thank you so much for all the info and all the pictures. This was so helpful to me and improved my heating output from the radiators so so much. I really appreciate all your time to post this.

I really like the colors here on your blog. did you design this yourself or did you outsource it to a professional?

Nice!! Great Ifo. Great People. Great Blog. Thank you for all the great sharing that is being done here.

 

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