Background: Third floor radiators are cold. Pressure hovering around 11. Went to bleed everything and got stuck.

I have these old things on the first floor:

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I can't find a traditional valve, all I have are these:

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The top cap twists off, and water will pop out if you press down. Is that the valve? Or do I have to take off the front plate?

1 Answer 1


That is an automatic bleeder valve - they are subject to becoming less automatic to non-functional over time, and yours are well into the "heavily corroded old age" stage of their lives, or at least the one in the picture is.

If you don't get air when you actuate the valve, this location is bled.

When working properly, any air is collected in the chamber, and once enough air has collected a float drops and causes the air to be vented. The valve cap is normally left somewhat loose so that air can vent, until they start leaking and you have to disable the automatic part of their function by cranking the valve cap down until it seals (normally has a rubber seal inside the cap for that purpose.)

They still work as an air collection point that way, but you have to unscrew the cap and let the air out, then reseal it so they don't leak water at that point.

Here is a cutaway view (from caleffi.com, never heard of them, no affiliation) showing their version of the mechanism.

auto float valve from cafeffi.com

  • Thank you so much. Is there any way to know if they are non-functional? Dec 11, 2020 at 14:14
  • If you leave the valve cap loose and it does not leak water, but you don't get air when you press down on the valve stem, it's probably working, despite not looking great. If you get a lot of air before you get water pressing down on the valve, the automatic part may have failed, but it's still collecting air and can be used as a manual vent.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 11, 2020 at 14:23
  • You are so appreciated, thank you Dec 11, 2020 at 14:27

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