cleaning and descaling a radiator
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Thread: cleaning and descaling a radiator

  1. #1
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    Default cleaning and descaling a radiator

    Hope to pick some brains to get some ideas and vet a few of my own less conventional ideas.

    As part of the refurbishment & cleaning of the cooling system of my d special I would like to clean and descale the radiator.

    I understand that it would be a copper radiator with tin/lead/silver joints. If that is true can I flush just the radiator (removed from car) with:

    1. Hydrocarbon kerosene & warm water or pressure pack degreaser to loosen and dissolve oil - then flush with warm water
    2. Caustic solution soluable degreaser or caustic soda to remove oil then flush with water.
    3. Acetic solution vinegar or oxalic acid - then flush with water.

    Is their an easy way to seal the bottom outlet while the radiator is filled with solution for a few days i was thinking a condom would offer sealing & protection..

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    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    1000+ Posts robmac's Avatar
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    They only satisfactorily way to clean a brass and copper radiator is remove one tank.

    The radiator is soaked in a caustic bath and each tube individually "rodded". ie a purpose built brush/ rod pushed through each tube.

    Unless you can check each tube is flowing you cannot be sure the core is entirely clean. And often the blockages need to removed mechanically.

    Radiator repairers have adjustable rubber plugs to seal the spigots when cleaning and leak testing.

    A clean out by a radiator professional is money well spent and not too expensive and the hose spigots can be resoldered and the tanks panel beaten at the same time.
    Arekisir, COL and Wildebeest like this.

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    CLR is a start if you want to try this at home, professional is the best.
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    Hello, I love spending other people's money as I have spent all mine, why not get it re-cored?
    It will save all the messing about using up your supply of out of date condoms and you will know it is definitely clean. Another row of tubes can also be added at the same time.
    My neighbour tried to clean a radiator in-situ, running the car to circulate the coolant. First with caustic soda (did nothing) then after a flush with water used vinegar (ruined the radiator, started leaking like a sieve). It is currently being re-cored.

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    1000+ Posts Ken W's Avatar
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    I have had some luck removing scale from a BX overflow tank with Nulon Radiator Flush. I am about to try it on my CX cooling system which pretty occluded at the moment.

    Cheers, Ken

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    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    They only satisfactorily way to clean a brass and copper radiator is remove one tank.

    The radiator is soaked in a caustic bath and each tube individually "rodded". ie a purpose built brush/ rod pushed through each tube.

    Unless you can check each tube is flowing you cannot be sure the core is entirely clean. And often the blockages need to removed mechanically.

    Radiator repairers have adjustable rubber plugs to seal the spigots when cleaning and leak testing.

    A clean out by a radiator professional is money well spent and not too expensive and the hose spigots can be resoldered and the tanks panel beaten at the same time.
    Like Rob says the only proper way is to remove the tanks and rod out the tubes.

    I did my own on my R12, took quiet a few hours after work as my radiator was about 80% blocked. After the radiator was all put back together and in the car it worked fine with the thermo fan hardly being needed except for slow city traffic.

    All the other methods are just band aid approaches.

    You are probably better off to regularly change the cooling fluid and give the entire cooling system a flush out.
    Regards Col

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    As the other posters have said, best way is professional clean, my L15 radiator was done this way (it leaked) & never gave further trouble.
    I did however have some success years back with an MG radiator. Constant overheating was the problem. Tried rad flush as per instructions (ie on car) - did nothing. Removed rad, bunged top & btm outlet by cutting a circle from old inner tube & jubilee clipping to stubs. Tipped rad flush into header tank (don't remember which brand!), boiled biggest kettle I could find, into rad, cap on & I stood for a good 20mins rotating rad over & back whilst also varying its angle slightly to get the liquid to run through all the cores. After discarding back flushed with garden hose. Refitted to car & it never overheated again, no leaks either- but perhaps I was lucky?


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