Home plumbing advice needed... refitting a radiator.

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markjay

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This is the background....:

For a number of years we had issues with rising damp in a few locations (it's a London basement flat), mainly around two radiators - we were advised that the warm water pipes draw-up the moisture into the wall.

One radiator was removed altogether and the wall was redecorated in the usual way, which was a quick fix that resolved the issue in that particular location (the radiator wasn't really needed there anyway).

For the other radiator, we brought-in a damp proofing specialist firm. They quoted for a repair, including the removal of electric and data sockets, and removal of the radiator from the wall. Their quote did not include redecorating, refitting of the electric sockets, or refitting of the radiator.

On the agreed date, their team attended site, and their electrician and plumber removed the sockets and radiator. The wall was then damp proofed.

They then further quoted for an electrician and a plumber to attend site and refit the sockets and radiator. They quoted a reasonable hourly rate (rather than a fixed price). The electrician came and sorted the sockets, and this is fine.

However, when the plumber came, it turned-out that the firm used external contractors for plumbing, and the contractor who came to fit the radiator wasn't the same chap who removed it.

The bottom line is that he said that the radiator cannot be refitted... apparently the issue is that when the wall was broken, it was possible to move the pipes slightly sideways and backwards to allow for the radiator to be removed, but now with the pipes firmly fixed in the newly-repaird wall, he was concerned that trying to bend them will result in either the pipes breaking, or the new wall breaking. He said that '20 years of experience' tell him that he shouldn't be attempting this.

He then submitted a report saying that the issue could be resolved by fitting a different joint on the pipe's end, but in order to do that, the heating systems will need to be drained (the bit that needs to be replaced also hosts the insulator valve). In short, he says that the current fitting at the end of the pipe isn't the correct one for the application (that radiator is 'relatively' new, but was fitted around 10 years ago).

But, because some if the radiators are quite old, and the bleed valves have been painted-over, he added that if the system can't be properly bled after refilling it, then those older radiator will need to be replaced too.

We suggested that perhaps a narrower and taller radiator will resolve the issue, and the plumber is happy to try and fit it for us if we can source one, but the risk then is that if he can't fit the radiator that we buy, we will now have two radiators that we can't reuse......

Any suggestions will be most welcome! Thank you in advance....
 
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PS: At a later stage I may also need consumer-rights advice... but at current I am trying to focus on the best technical solution for the plumbing issue - thanks.
 
Freeze kit will give time to put compression or push fits on with new valves an TRV on a dog leg to a rad, no need to drain system if frozen. Be quite lol
 
Assuming the pipes are horizontally coming out of the wall and they’ve been rendered in tight so no movement at all (not a good start 😑) 3 possible options are:

1) Smaller rad (won’t look great tbh and you’ll still need to drain system)

2) Try to gently chip away the sand & cement/tanking until there’s enough flex on the pipe. You can patch up afterwards and/or fit 2 chrome pipe collars.

3) Drain system and remove rad valves. Gently remove olives from pipe. Loosely fit valves to rad with new olives and nuts attached. Hang rad slipping pipe ends into valve. This will mean no sideways movement needed.

Hopefully the pipe centres are correct and both level. Depends how conscientious they were. 🥴
 
Freeze kit will give time to put compression or push fits on with new valves an TRV on a dog leg to a rad, no need to drain system if frozen. Be quite lol

I did ask, the plumber said that the pipe bit that protrudes from the wall is 'too short to freeze'.
 
Can you post a pic of the pipe ends ?
What is the distance the pipe needs to be moved to fit , because there are adjustable sliding tails that might work
 

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If you have the existing rad valves on the end of the pipes, you can buy radiator valve extensions like these Radiator Valve Extensions | Radiators | Screwfix.com and as you said fit a narrower rad.

This is what the plumber wrote:

'The pipework is designed for 3/4" union type radiator valves, which would allow the valves to be joined up to the radiator without the pipes going into the radiator tails.

The current set up, however, has 1/2" radiator valves that require protrusion into the radiators therefore the radiator needs to be hung and then the pipes brought to it. This is impossible due to the pipes coming out of the wall in a fixed location. The radiator can not be forced into position as it could damage the existing pipework.

The recommendation is to drain down the whole heating system, refit the radiator and install new pipe tails to the radiator, and replacing the radiator valves with new union type valves. Re-filling the heating system and testing.'
 
...2) Try to gently chip away the sand & cement/tanking until there’s enough flex on the pipe. You can patch up afterwards and/or fit 2 chrome pipe collars...

This was one of the suggestions that the plumber made. The damp proofing company however won't hear of it... and given that the immediate wall area around the pipe was one of the areas worst-affected by the rising damp, I am hesitant to do anything that might impact on the warranty for the repair.
 
If the bleed valves on the other rads are heavily painted over then paint stripper will sort that. Then use a brass rad key and gently work them free. Good idea to turn off the rand both sides, if you have TRVs then remove the head use the lock out cap that came with them. If you do not have the lock out cap then turn the TRV to min, this weather you should be fine. Once you know all the bleed valves work then you can have the system drained and sort your rad.

The bleed valves should be working in case you have other issues, you do not want to find out you cannot bleed them when some work is done and it then gets more complicated/expensive
 
You can get flexible pipes made for central heating (not the tap ones) these surely have to be a way out of the problem, although plumbers don't seem to like them, or don't know about them.
 
Well the post with the Screwfix page is showing a pair of rad sliding tails at £5.43 which will it looks do the job,you need to source a rad that will fit with room to spare to allow these extensions to work,I have used these a number of times over the years and they do work of course with some PTFE tap,the difficult bit is to hang the rad at the right height to line up the valves,but that can be worked out.
 
This is what the plumber wrote:

'The pipework is designed for 3/4" union type radiator valves, which would allow the valves to be joined up to the radiator without the pipes going into the radiator tails.

The current set up, however, has 1/2" radiator valves that require protrusion into the radiators therefore the radiator needs to be hung and then the pipes brought to it. This is impossible due to the pipes coming out of the wall in a fixed location. The radiator can not be forced into position as it could damage the existing pipework.

The recommendation is to drain down the whole heating system, refit the radiator and install new pipe tails to the radiator, and replacing the radiator valves with new union type valves. Re-filling the heating system and testing.'
They also sell "sliding radiator valves" Like this Tesla ½ A 3/4" to 15mm adaptor shouldn't be a problem.
 
Have you got a better photo, I can’t see what you’ve got there ?
 

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Picture 1 shows an open end and no water, where was it shut off from? Picture 2 shows a half inch lock shield valve obviously shut, and a stop end , this is the live side.
Where is the valve that shuts off pic 1? What is the distance between these two connections? Are they roughly seven or eight inches above the floor, another picture would perhaps put things in more perspective.
 
Not sure I understand the problem, there is a small 15mm pipe in wall.jpg that could be removed to give you more room to refit the the radiator, a new piece could be made up and a new solder elbow fitted and pushed on to the pipe coming from the wall. All fittings should really be soldered anyway.
New rad valves should also be fitted as they are cheap, thermostatic preferably.
I have never had a problem unscrewing bleed valves. painted or not as should never be tight.
Unless I am missing something
 

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