How can I move / switch NYC apartment radiators?
December 26, 2012 4:13 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have experience with, or know how to, switch radiators between two different rooms in the same apartment (in NYC)?

I have what appear to be your basic NYC floor radiators in my apartment, but it seems they were originally placed incorrectly. The one in the small bedroom is huge, and the one in the large living room is tiny.

Just by looking at them, I can see that the coupling is the same. I was guessing that I could (1) turn them off via the knob, (2) wait, (3) use a monkey wrench to loosen them, and (4) switch them.

Is this insanity? Is this even a safe DIY project?

PS - These are the "one tube coming in, air vent on opposite side" radiators, not the "one tube from floor on one side, one tube on the other side". They look very much like this:
posted by NYC-BB to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Might be worth asking your landlord first--they may know why it was done that way in the first place.
posted by elizeh at 4:25 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Those radiators are very heavy. So even if you could do what you describe I would not attempt to do it on your own.
posted by dfriedman at 4:47 PM on December 26, 2012

Messing with the radiators is a good way to cause water hammer (and not necessarily in your apartment). Also, you don't want to do this while steam is flowing (duh) -- is the coupling attached to the floor pipe or to the radiator itself? In my experience the latter is more common.

Not the kind of thing I would do without talking to the landlord.
posted by zvs at 4:56 PM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yep, this is not as simple as it looks...
posted by HuronBob at 5:33 PM on December 26, 2012

What everyone else said re moving.

To deal with overheating in the bedroom, you can replace the radiator vent with a thermostatic vent, which will close when the room temp reaches the thermostat setting. (Note: the steam supply valve must either be fully open or completely closed, i.e., attempting to regulate the heat by throttling the valve isn't effective and is likely to cause water hammer.)

The folks at know all there is to know about steam heat.
posted by she's not there at 6:03 PM on December 26, 2012

You could void the warranty on your tenancy doing something like that. The radiator is heavy, and it might also be full of water. The rusted connections might already be on their last tightening. One of the cardinal rules of old houses is don't mess with pipes if you can avoid it.

If I were to hazard the DIY approach, which under my current lease I wouldn't but in the past I may have, I'd have a qualified radiator guy on call and make sure the plumbing stores are open when I'm doing it. I'd look around to find out about the master cut off valve. I'd have a wet dry vac and a plastic tarp on hand, and I would try to get a contractor to at least come give me an opinion, or maybe have a sandwich and beer on me and hang out while I give it a shot.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:30 PM on December 26, 2012

Those things weigh about 30-50 KG / section. I mean heavy. I have one a lot shorter (40 cm) that I shortened, which involved a big ass hammer, some levers, a lot of whacking, reassembly and moving. when it came time to hook it up, however, i used a professional. works just fine.

these things can be moved around. it's not trivial but it's not rocket surgery either. it's also not horribly expensive, so if you are planning to be there for years, it's an investment you can make to improve your living space. it won't change your world much, but if it's a nuisance you can fix with a checkbook, a few hundred bux may be a good expenditure. not DIY. one of these tipping over on you can kill you. no kidding. (to paint behind mine, i hired a firm to disconnect, move and reconnect. like piano moving, but way less stable.)
posted by FauxScot at 2:53 AM on December 27, 2012

Assuming that the heat is off, and you may not be able to control that, and aside from the logistics of moving heavy objects you will have no ill effects by switching these steam rads, except if the thermostat is too close to any of them and may react differently.
The heat needs to be off because these are steam rads and disconnecting a live steam pipe is not something you should do.
posted by Gungho at 5:49 AM on December 27, 2012

Thanks everyone. These answers have been *very* helpful.

Had no idea they weighed so much, and I think it would be best to seek a professional in this situation.
posted by NYC-BB at 7:34 PM on December 27, 2012

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