I've scraped away a small portion of the paint off the metal top over
my heater and see rusted metal. There's some kind of coating between
the metal and paint - is that spackle or plaster? To make everything
look new I think I have to gut everything, replaster and repaint. Is
I'm in a NYC prewar apartment with a recessed heater under the window.
Hard to see from here, but it is probably a zillion coats of different
colors of paint. I'd remove the parts you can, and send them out to be
stripped and sprayed with a heatproof paint. If there is a metal box mudded
into the wall that the cover clips or screws into, part of the mounting edge
may be behind plaster. If the buried parts of the metal have rust, it sounds
like you have a water leakage problem from radiator and/or window, or a lot
of condensation. If the plaster around the window is soggy, or has been,
there is no good repair short of removing all the damaged material and
building back out to finish surface. If you just patch and paint over it, it
will keep coming back. Gotta stop the leak.
You own this unit, or is it a rental? If a rental, this is the type of stuff
landlord is supposed to fix. Sounds a little ambitious for a DIY job,
especially if the actual radiator has to be pulled to get access to clean it
all out. If you own the unit, the super or management company will probably
have to get involved if there is a common boiler. They will also probably
have the name of the guy they usually use. And on a radiator that old,
expect that parts will need replacing, which can be much fun to track down.
May be less work/cost to rip it out, patch the hole in the wall, and put in
a modern radiator, assuming a compatible one exists.
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