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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:44 am 
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Greetings Everyone,

I have been having a terrible time with my heating system here in my house. I am from America, and lived most of my life in Texas and so Radiators are something that I know next to nothing about. In fact, I know nothing about heating systems in general. This is the first time I have lived on my own and had to deal with anything like this.

The problem is that I have an Asthma-like breathing problem and certain chemicals and smells can leave me struggling to breathe. I have lived in my new place for about 6 months now and there have been smells that I believe are coming from the radiators.

The first thing that I noticed in regards to this is that the radiator in the hallways and in the bedroom seemed to be putting out a chemical-like odor. I ended up just turning them down to zero and not even using those two for warmth. Another problem was that when I would turn the heat up in the morning, both the living room and hallway radiators would make a clanking noise. This was before I ended up turning off the hallway radiator. Then one morning there was a bunch of brown gunk on the floor at the end part where the thing is that you bleed the radiator at, under the living room radiator. I cleaned it up but there are still stains on the pipe at the bottom which lead me to believe it was all wet. I also noticed there was lots of brown dust in the back of it, where the long things are. I cleaned that all out recently with a lint brush.

In the bedroom, if I go take a nap sometimes, I smell this bitter-like smell. I discovered the other day when cleaning out my bedroom closet that the Radiator pipes going through the bottom of the closet, they go along the side then sort of 'dip' down to along the back wall. There is a big dent in the pipes there. To me it looks as if they purposely did that, because the pipes along the back are lower and so they had to do it to get it to go along lower there along the baseboards. The Landlord however, says its not that but that someone else caused it, a tenant. I know I have not caused it. I wonder to myself if that is what's causing the smells when I am laying down horizontally on my bed, placing me nearer to where the pipes are in the closet. I ended up moving my bed to the other side of the room.

When I first moved in, I noticed the pressure gage was way low, between the red and barely even onto the green part. At the time, I hadn't a clue what that thing even was but then I started looking up stuff on the Internet and discovered it is a pressure gage. (I am not sure if that is the correct term for it).

Also, the living room Radiator, which has no knob to turn it up or down, it smells sometimes, especially during the night and early morning when I wake up, kind of like a dirty rabbit pen, is the only way I can describe it. And the hallway Radiator in the closet smells often like chemicals, the same smell that is in the hallway and bedroom radiator when they are turned on.

Finally I got the Landlord to send someone out and he just acted like I was dreaming all of this up or something, and he put the pressure way higher to a little above 1.5, between the 1 and the 2 but a little higher. Suddenly after that, all of the smells in the house seemed to get worse, and the smell in the living room began causing me breathing difficulties.

I should mention that when I first moved into the house, I could smell what to me seemed like a gassy kind of 'garlicky' smell in the kitchen where the boiler is. But once I started to use it to heat the house, the smell seemed to go away. However, when this Repair Man put the pressure way up from what it formerly had been set at, I got up one morning and the living room smelled awful, like a stronger version of the rabbit pen-like smell and I opened my side window and I could smell this skunk-like smell. I had noticed recently that a couple of times when I went downstairs and outside (I live in an upstairs Flat), that this same skunk-like smell was right when I would go out my front door, but then it would just go away. Then I realised the other day that the shed is there with the gas meter in it. I guess that is what you call it.

I know that is was a way long explanation, and I apologise for that. And I am sorry that I don't know the technical terms for anything. But anyway so I got the Landlord and the Inspector to come to the house and I was trying to explain everything to them but they just tried to make out that there is nothing wrong and that everything is up to speed. I was pleading with them to get the Repair Man to put the pressure down to where it was before so that I wouldn’t be struggling with my breathing but the Landlord just said they have to have proof of these smells before they put out any money to fix anything. The problem with that is that these smells come and go and lots of it is really early in the morning or overnight and I doubt I could get them to come out during those times, or even get there on time.

I have to say that now I wonder why it is that the pressure was so low when I moved in. I wonder if they purposely did this so that it wouldn't be so strong a smell in the house, because they knew if it were turned up to normal, what would happen? But maybe I am just paranoid, like they are trying to make me out to be? I think about this psychological problem some people have called Narcissistic Personality Disorder and a technique they use called 'Gaslighting' (LOL!), where the person will try to make the victim seem like they are imagining things.

Finally, I managed to get the Inspector Guy to actually pull out his Radiator key and show me how to drain the Radiators, even though the Landlord denied even giving me a key. He said that isn't for the Tenants to do. But he wouldn't get the Repairman out to lower the pressure for me to back where it was before and these smells were killing me, causing me to struggle to breathe.

And so the Inspector bled the hallway, the bedroom, and the kitchen radiators just a little bit to show me how to do it. For the last couple of days, after buying a Radiator key online for myself, I tried it out to see what would happen and if it would give me some relief of some sort.

Before I go any further, I need to tell you that I asked the Landlord or Housing Officer if they ever do any actual maintenance on the Radiators. He said they were self-contained or something like that. And he said they need no maintenance. I have a difficult time believing this because how can they go without ever being cleaned out in any way? I read all over the place Online that Radiators need to be flushed and bled. I noticed the bathroom Radiator, when I bled it with the Radiator key had virtually no smell at all, but that the bedroom Radiator had a really bitter smell and the living room one was the worst. It put off a really pungent smell and after I bled it the first time, a little later on I had the most awful time trying to breathe. So I did it again the next day and it got better.

The last 24 hours, finally I have been able to leave the Heating System on with no problems, except the living room smelling during the night and i the morning when I first woke up, but I noticed the smell has seemed to diminish somewhat. The breathing troubles seem not to be there at least for now (knock on wood). The pressure gage is at around a little under the 1.5 mark. I also noticed that the chemical smell coming from the hall closet radiator which also had no heat adjustment knob has diminished somewhat. I always have to keep a towel across the bottom so I don't have to smell it, and when the Repair Man had turned the pressure way up I noticed I could smell it when I would walk by the closet and walked into the bathroom. Now that has gotten back to 'normal', as in not so bad as it was after bleeding the radiators, although that radiator in particular seems to have no way to bled it.

Okay now, I know this has almost turned into a Novel in length but is there any advice you could give me on this? I really don't want to be having to smell all of this, and although it seems that bleeding the Radiators had somewhat diminished the smells, is there anything further you would suggest for me to do?

I just thought of something else, one of the neighbors here, I was asking them (this is like in a community of houses setting here) if they knew how to bled the Radiators the other day and they told me I never should mess with that and to let the professionals handle it; however, breathing is important to me so.... and this neighbor lady told me she has really bad breathing problems and that anything above or below 1.5 on the pressure will make it difficult to breathe, if you've got that kind of a problem. I thought that was interesting. She told me to call the Housing Association and the Landlord would sort it all out. Well, he hasn't and so I am left to try to do something on my own, within reason of course. I think it is silly they wouldn't even give me a Radiator key; they gave the person I was staying with a key at the other Housing Association place they were renting from. I mean, I realise I may be a little ignorant about this but I am not a two-year old. I am using a ficticious name here, they are making me feel like a criminal just for trying to bleed some radiators so that I can breathe again. Not to mention they are making me feel like they think I am a liar. But I think they know better.

I would appreciate any help that you could give me, I really would. And I apologise for my obvious ignorance on this subject. And I swear to you that all of these smells are really occurring and that I am not making any of this up. I am not trying to get my Landlord into trouble of any kind; I just want to make it tolerable for me to live here. I have a one year lease.

I just also want to add this note: I wrote to the Worcester Boiler place Online, trying to explain some of this (this was before I bled the Radiators) and they emailed me back saying:

First Email:
"It is difficult for us to say what you may be witnessing, but it does sound that possibly the water in the system itself is causing any smells, and the two radiators where it was most noticeable may have a small leak on or between them.

If you believe the issue is anything to do with the pressure being the level it is, you can bleed a radiator of water until this pressure drops, but we would not advise this as the boiler would not run correctly or efficiently."

Second Email:
"You can bleed a radiator to take water out of the system, which would lower the pressure, although as mentioned before this could have adverse effects on the efficiency of your heating system.

I would advise you speak to your house association as this does sound to be an issue with the system water itself, not the boiler."

I sent the Housing Officer these emails but it didn't seem to faze him a bit. He just ignored it. The thing is though, that the Housing Association didn't seem to care about the Boiler running efficiently since when I got here, the pressure was turned way down low to begin with. And they obviously have no intention of helping me with this.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:57 pm 
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I have lived with radiators in my houses for the past 45 years and despite having a sensitive nose, the only times I smell anything related, is if there is a leak and then the inhibitor chemical has a slight smell, otherwise, if the radiators are painted and the water temperature setting means the radiators are getting very hot ie almost cannot touch, then the paint might give off an odour. Condensing boilers have sometimes an eggy smell in their exhaust when they are putting out condensation but this should not get into the house and the annual inspection / pre rent should pick that up; likewise if the condensation drain is not clear it might cause a wiff !

For this message the author aeromech3 has received gratitude : Laura Lee
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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2018 11:27 am 
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aeromech3 wrote:
I have lived with radiators in my houses for the past 45 years and despite having a sensitive nose, the only times I smell anything related, is if there is a leak and then the inhibitor chemical has a slight smell, otherwise, if the radiators are painted and the water temperature setting means the radiators are getting very hot ie almost cannot touch, then the paint might give off an odour. Condensing boilers have sometimes an eggy smell in their exhaust when they are putting out condensation but this should not get into the house and the annual inspection / pre rent should pick that up; likewise if the condensation drain is not clear it might cause a wiff !

Thank you for your reply. That doesn't sound though like it would be the cause of all these different problems that I am having. Maybe some of them though? The weird thing about it is that after the repair man had put the pressure up to over 1.5 and I bled some of the radiators and so did the Inspector, I began to notice that the smell coming in the living room is now about half as strong as it was previously when I get up in the morning. I don't have a clue why though. That's the radiator that had clunked every time I started up the heat in the morning and then ended up dropping a bunk of brown gunk onto the floor. It looked like a bunch of dust from the back that had been there when I moved in, but damp. That seems to be the worst one.

I will ask them about checking the condensation drain though. I haven't a clue where that's located.

And I also noticed that since bleeding the radiators, that I can smell that same exact smell in the hallway as I walk into the living room right after bleeding the radiator and I even smelled it faintly in the kitchen too the other day right by the boiler.

It does give me some kind of hope though that since bleeding the radiator the smell has gone down some and also my breathing problems are almost totally gone now. I just wish that I could learn how to top up the pressure myself so that I could then be able to bleed the radiators one more time and hopefully thethe smell would go away entirely.

The only thing that I know so far about topping up the pressure is that I've got 2 black knobs on my boiler with the loop thing attached to both of them, and that I am supposed to turn both knobs on, anticlockwise slowly. Then I am supposed to watch the pressure gage and close off the knobs or valves when it reaches the point that I want it to reach. Mine doesn't seem to have a 'key' for this, it supposedly was installed about 2 years ago so I am guessing it is one of the newer models? I just want to make sure that I know what I am doing before I attempt to do this. I am not sure whether you are supposed to have the boiler on or off though when doing it.

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