Edna's Antique Shop












Hot Water and Steam Radiators

    We stock steam and hot water radiators; and have both in plain styles and in decorative Victorian styles.  We presently have over 100 radiators in stock including several wall mount hot water units.  At the present time there is no file of our radiators by length, height, thickness, style, number of sections or number of ribs.  Generally if you contact us we can usually give you a good idea of whether we have something in stock that will fulfill your application. 

    We do not presently have the capability to pressure test radiators for leaks; our experience has been that very few of them are defective, and not testing them also permits us to keep our radiator prices lower.  Our policy is to replace a defective radiator with a good one if possible, or to refund the purchase price if we do not have another radiator in stock satisfactory for the application.  You may if you wish bring test equipment and pressure test radiators prior to purchasing them.


Converting between Steam and Hot Water 

    Although some radiators can be converted from steam to hot water or vice versa it is generally best to buy a radiator previously used on the type of system you have.  Generally hot water radiators permit flow between sections of the radiator at both the top and the bottom of the casting whereas steam radiators generally permit flow between the sections at the bottom of the casting only.  We have, however, frequently seen successful use of steam radiators on hot water systems and vice versa. 

    Hot water radiators always have two connections.  One connection is the hot water coming in and the other connection is the cooler  water leaving.  They also usually have a valve near the top of the radiator which can be manually opened to bleed air out of the radiator. 

    Steam radiators can have either one connection or two.  In a single pipe steam radiator, the steam comes up the pipe, and the condensed water runs back down the same pipe, whereas in a two pipe steam radiator the steam comes up one pipe and the other pipe is the water return.  The piping in a single pipe steam system must have a continuous slope so that the return water can run back down hill to the boiler without collecting in low spots as this would block the steam coming up the pipe.   Steam radiators have a valve which allows air to escape and which closes when steam reaches it.  This valve is located about half way up the radiator and on the opposite side of the radiator from the incoming steam connection. 

    Not all steam radiators can be converted to hot water usage as some of them do not have a plug which can be removed for a second connection.  Also, in converting from steam to hot water it is necessary to switch from a steam valve to an air bleed valve.  As these go in different places on the radiator, it may be that the hole necessary for the bleed valve does not exist in the right place.  This would necessitate drilling and tapping a hole for the bleed valve and then plugging the hole the steam valve was in. 

    If a hot water radiator is to be converted to steam use, it is possible to leave the air bleed valve alone and then drill and tap a hole in the proper place for the steam valve if a plug is not present which can be removed. 


Sizing of Radiators

    Radiators are sized for the room they are to be used in.  If a radiator is too large the room will be too warm compared to other rooms and if the radiator is too small the room will be too cool compared to other rooms.  There are formulas that take radiators and room size into account to determine the right radiator for a room, but probably the simplest rule of thumb is that if you double the weight of a radiator in a room you will get about twice as much heat in the room. 

     We do not advise buying a radiator and removing sections from it as we cannot replace such a radiator should a leak develop in removing sections.  Also, before taking a radiator apart, you should check that all necessary gaskets, parts and seals are available.  Not all parts for radiators are available, but a lot of them are from plumbing and heating supply businesses.  You may have to shop around a bit as not all of these businesses carry these parts.  To our knowledge there is only one company that makes the seals that go between the radiator sections. 


Repairing of Radiators

     Depending upon the nature of the leak, a leaking radiator can sometimes be repaired.  Steam radiators operate at generally lower pressures than hot water radiators and thus a repair would have to stand less pressure or force.  Leaks can occur between sections, from a cracked casting or from a pin hole in the casting.  Liquid Weld and other similar products have been known to successfully stop leaks, and epoxy materials have been successfully used to stop leaks.           

     In general there are two types of radiator construction.  The first type uses gaskets or seals and the radiator is bolted together by rods going through all of the sections.  The second type of construction is used only on steam radiators and the sections are screwed together using a fitting.  Parts can be obtained for the bolted together radiators, but they are apparently not available for steam radiators where the sections are screwed together.

     There are some companies that will take radiators apart, remove sections if necessary and generally refurbish and paint them.  Although this service can be very useful in some cases, it does add to the cost.  We have seen beautiful work done with decorative Victorian radiators. 


Painting Radiators

      Radiators can be either spray painted or painted with a brush. For removing old paint and rust they can be sandblasted before painting or conventional means of removing paint can be used such as paint remover, sanding or scraping.  It is easier to paint a radiator before it is installed although this is not always practical to do. Spray painting enables painting of parts that cannot be reached with a brush.  Spray painting can be done with the radiator installed if necessary if proper masking or shielding is done.  Painting with a brush can also be done with the radiator installed however some parts of it are likely to not be reachable.


Shipping of Radiators

     Inquiries we have made have indicated that radiators need to be crated or palletized in order to be shipped, if only for the convenience of the shipping company since they are tough enough to not really need the protection of being packed. .  Also, the larger ones will require either two men to load or unload them or a truck with a lift gate.  Since radiators are very heavy compared to most freight the basic shipping charges based on weight tend to be quite high.  Our bottom line observation has been that shipping charges are usually much greater than the cost of the radiator.  Consequently it is generally not practical for us to buy radiators from outside our area and have them shipped here.  Also, if you can find radiators in your own area it will be much more economical than shipping them.  Architectural salvage yards, some plumbers, and some suppliers of oil or gas keep supplies of radiators in stock.  If at all possible, it is best to come to the shop and pick out the radiators you need and then take them with you. 


Cast Iron Baseboard

     The cast iron baseboard in stock is various lengths consisting of one foot or two foot sections bolted together.  It is possible to add or delete sections from these pieces according to the length needed.  Left ends and right ends are different and both are needed for each baseboard; additional center pieces can be added or removed to get the desired length. We have baseboard available in 6 inch and 9 inch height. The sheet metal coverings for the ends appear to be a problem as they are not always saved with the baseboard and appear to no longer be available from the manufacturers.  These covers are not essential to using the baseboard as their purpose is to cover or conceal the piping to the baseboard.  If it is desired to not have the piping visible it is possible to improvise covers out of wood or sheet metal.  Some of our customers have planned to do this.


Radiator  Covers

     We deal in radiator covers also when we can find them.  We presently have several in stock.  They seem to be scarce as generally no effort is made to salvage them. It appears that they generally end up as scrap metal or in a dumpster with other construction debris.  


     Below we will be posting information about various types of radiators. The pictures below do not necessarily represent current inventory.




Decorative Victorian Radiators with Scroll Work

Both steam and hot water decorative Victorian Radiators are available. 






The thin radiator in front is a wall mount unit.



   This photograph shows the different rib configurations of radiators.  Note also that some of them have wide ribs

and some of them have narrow ribs.  The radiators in this photo have varying numbers of ribs from two to six.  The

square top radiators in this photograph are primarily of 1950's manufacture. 




Page revised 3-30-09

We are located in Buckingham, Pennsylvania which is 28 miles north of Philadelphia.  Directions to the shop and other information are located on our Home Page.  Click below to go to our Home Page.


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