Here's How to Fix a Radiator Leak at Home
Depending on your home's build, a radiator could be the essential system that heats the air and keeps your space comfortable. Radiators usually use a steam system that circulates the heat from water into warm air throughout a home. However, if the radiator itself starts leaking, the whole process could stop and cause damage to your home as a result. Here, a plumbing expert details why radiators can leak and how to stop them in their tracks.
Look for the cause of the leak.
The type of radiator you have will help you determine how the water leak started in the first place. "For the most part, radiators can either be made from cast iron or they can be made from copper, which is more common for hot water," says Doyle James, the president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a Neighborly company. "With both types of radiators, most water leaks tend to be caused by age, corrosion, or cracks." It's important to address the leak once you first see it since it (which often happens from the body of the radiator and pipes) could lead to water damage on hardwood floors, cause mold to develop on nearby walls, or discolor carpets if the water goes unnoticed for a long period of time, he adds.
Address the issue.
"Any issues related to water leaks can indicate a dangerous situation, since you are dealing with scalding water under pressure," says James. You essentially have two options to solve the issue based on the make of the radiator. When dealing with a cast iron radiator, James explains that you will simply have to replace it since it isn't related to how it fits in your home. Copper radiators, on the other hand, can be adjusted: "A water boiler is a sealed system, and special fittings are designed to let air out of the system to avoid 'air lock' and minimize corrosion that is accelerated by the presence of oxygen," he adds. "Those may sputter a bit as they are letting the air out, but if dripping, they should be replaced by a professional plumber."
Some radiators might need to be replaced altogether.
James explains that once most leaking radiators corrode from the inside of the unit and start leaking consistently, they will need to be replaced promptly. Plus, if you have a cast iron radiator, it will likely get brittle over time. So, if you ever start experiencing issues with this type of radiator, hiring a professional plumber will be the only way to diagnose it and get it working properly again.