Scrapping Radiators

Radiator before demolition

If you have ever watched any of the home renovation projects on TV you see home owners taking a sledge hammer to the walls, cabinets, and other items to be removed as part of the renovation. For the most part I hesitate to use such methods as all it does is make a bigger mess than is needed. Most walls and cabinets can be taken out without the aid of such methods. And so as we began the process of removing the hot water radiators from the second floor I tried several methods of reducing the size of these monsters but in the end had to take the sledgehammer to them. The radiator you see above was one of two that set in the living room area of the back apartment. Although shorter than the rest of them, it was much deeper and wider and I would estimate that they weighed in at about 300 to 400 pounds. The blue water tank lying beside it was mounted on the bathroom wall and was the expansion tank for the boiler.

One side broken out

When I failed to find a quick and simple method to reduce these in size I developed a method of handling these brutes without hurting myself or anything else in the apartment. There was an old couch left behind by a past tenant so I used the cushions from the couch to tip the radiator over onto its side. Then using the sledgehammer I would start at one end and break each tube out until the entire side was broken open. Sometimes, like on these larger radiators, I had to break a double row of tubes out. It was suggested by others that these were bolted together and removing the bolts was all that was needed to break them into sections. But these radiators were not constructed in this manner. Each section was connected to the other with the use of a 2 threaded nipple inside the radiator.

Radiator broken into managable pieces

With one side broken out I used a crow bar to tip the thing back onto its feet, spin it around, and then drop it on the cushions so I could continue breaking out the sides. The final step was to break the top and bottom sections into small pieces that could be handled easily. The trouble with using a sledgehammer is that the brittle cast iron flies all over the place and made a big mess to clean up.

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