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Okay to paint a radiator?

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TurboSlayer

Disabled
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Sep 2, 2021
Over the past week I've been working on getting my liquid cooled machine back to where it belongs. This is a 9900K CPU. Over the years, the dust has built up, the 360mm radiator has a few dings in it and doesn't look so hot. Since it's the first thing you see when you look inside (I always run with the side cover off) I want to see if I can restore it back to shiny new original condition. Even after cleaning with compressed air, it just lacks that shiny new look. Which leads me to the question, can I use spray paint, in a very light coat, to clean up the dings and mask some of the areas that don't look as sharp as they once did?

I am concerned that it may effect radiator heat dissipation properties and perhaps degrade cooling efficiency, so I wanted to check here first to see if that is something I can do without compromising performance. thank you guys. I just signed up here and I'm hoping to expand on this water cooling setup with another 280mm radiator at some point down the road. And also learn from the masters! As I am pretty new to water cooling in general.

EDIT: I would be painting the front face of the cooler itself, not the end caps, those are fine.
 

Robert17

Premium Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Welcome to OCF!

The fins of the radiator do the majority of the heat dissipation. The radiator frame does a modest amount of heat transfer as well but normally the frame is either painted or otherwise coated at the factory. Basically, yes, you can paint the frame lightly, being diligent in taping off/masking the fins and tubing connectors so that you don't inhibit the heat from leaving. Keep in mind that you will lose some heat dissipation from a double coat of paint if that is what is currently the finish of the frame. It should be a marginal, minimal loss, but still......
 

GotNoRice

Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2002
EDIT: I would be painting the front face of the cooler itself, not the end caps, those are fine.

Your edit makes it sound like you are planning to paint the fins, which as others have said, would not be a good idea.

For any other area, besides the fins, I have a hard time believing that the finish of the paint would be tarnished. This would not be like paint on a car which is diminished primarily by UV from the sun rather than simple exposure to the air over time. I would try washing with some diluted dish soap and a wet (not dripping) rag, and I bet you could get the original paint to be as shiny as the day it was new.

For any areas where there might be a ding, I'd recommend picking up a paint-pen. This is different than a marker; it's actual paint. You can cover the dings easily. If your radiator has become an eyesore, then just run 6 fans in push-pull. You can't see the radiator when you have fans on both sides :p
 

knoober

Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2015
Quick add on question: plastidip? Is it more insulating or also negligible in thin coats?
 

maxfly

Member
Joined
May 7, 2005
Id stick with spray paint vs plastidip but its your rad afterall. I've rattle canned a couple of rads to match them up with builds i was doing. It took 2 or 3 coats and i didn't see a noticable change in temps. As has been mentioned, as long as you don't paint the fins you shouldn't hurt dissipation.
Post some pics when your done ;)
 

wagex

Chapstick Eating Premium Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
I taped off my fins and pained the outside, then taped off the outside after it dried for a few days, and lightly dusted the fins with white to match, just not near as heavy.
 
OP
T

TurboSlayer

Disabled
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
ok cool, thanks for all the tips guys. Im glad you guys are here. I didn't want to start a new thread, so I will simply ask my next cooling question here as well. First off, an update on what's going on, I got the 360mm radiator painted and actually regret going with the gloss finish, (although it does look much better than it did before.) If I had to do it over again I would probably use something with a less shiny finish.

Over the last few days in working on the system I noticed the flow rate is substantially lower than it was a year ago. I suspect I have some things living /and/or obstructions in my loop because as of about 10 months ago I was forced to use straight water in the loop as distilled water was not available at the time. For example, when I first set it up, the flow rate was so strong from the pump (800L/H) it sounded like a mini waterfall (actually added an element of zen to the build lol) as it filled the reservoir. And while I don't have a flow meter, just based on small air bubbles and their movement through the line, I can see my flow rate is about half of what it used to be. The original RPM of the PUMP was about 3600rpm, now it only runs about 3400 maximum rpm. The pump does not make any bad noises and is not cavitating at all, its just very sluggish in actually moving liquid through the loop. No kinks in any of the lines, so I am assuming there may be some gunk in the copper water block and radiator and perhaps in some of the lines as well. I have two right 90* angles which isn't too bad, everything else is clear tubing with no other elbows.

My question is, can I drain the rad and the res (which in total represents about half of the coolant loop volume) and refill it with vinegar and run it through the system for a couple days to kill off any living organisms? I figured I would do it this way so I can free up all the gunk and get the loop spick and span for the upgrades arriving next week so I can start with the best possible performance here.

Speaking of new parts, I am going to get another 120mm radiator, because it's the only one that will fit with the space remaining in the case. Not sure how to post pics directly here so just click the links to see what I got...

1) BXQINLENX 18 Pipe Aluminum Heat Exchanger Radiator (tried to find something copper but this was the best all around deal) - Question, this rad has a very high fin count. How does fin count relate to cooling performance? I am assuming the more fins the more heat dissipation? But then I see some of the alphacool chunky radiators and they have very low fin count, why would they do this?
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61VSMdbpOmL._AC_SL1000_.jpg
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61Y6sVKFT2L._AC_SL1000_.jpg


2) Noctua NF-P12 120mm PWM pump cooling fan
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81ZUUX5VZsL._AC_SL1500_.jpg
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/91yQvP00qoL._AC_SL1500_.jpg

3) Wendry PC Water Flow Meter, G1/4 Thread Computer Water Cooling Flow Meter, 6 Impeller 3 Ways Flow Meter Indicator
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51F4uWgtnTL._AC_SL1001_.jpg
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61XnWrPFd2L._AC_SL1001_.jpg

4) EKWB EK-CryoFuel Concentrate PC Coolant, 100mL, Navy Blue
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51OUuoOzpFL._AC_SL1200_.jpg

5) 10 feet new clear tubing

6) all associated plugs and fittings needed to add the new 120mm radiator to my loop.

Im confident the vinegar will help, but should i also hit it with something else, like a couple drops of dish soap or will it just foam up really bad? Also, how long is it safe to leave the vinegar in? I plan on running it for two days at full throttle to flush the loop....

- - - Auto-Merged Double Post - - -

ok cool, thanks for all the tips guys. Im glad you guys are here. I didn't want to start a new thread, so I will simply ask my next cooling question here as well. First off, an update on what's going on, I got the 360mm radiator painted and actually regret going with the gloss finish, (although it does look much better than it did before.) If I had to do it over again I would probably use something with a less shiny finish.

Over the last few days in working on the system I noticed the flow rate is substantially lower than it was a year ago. I suspect I have some things living /and/or obstructions in my loop because as of about 10 months ago I was forced to use straight water in the loop as distilled water was not available at the time. For example, when I first set it up, the flow rate was so strong from the pump (800L/H) it sounded like a mini waterfall (actually added an element of zen to the build lol) as it filled the reservoir. And while I don't have a flow meter, just based on small air bubbles and their movement through the line, I can see my flow rate is about half of what it used to be. The original RPM of the PUMP was about 3600rpm, now it only runs about 3400 maximum rpm. The pump does not make any bad noises and is not cavitating at all, its just very sluggish in actually moving liquid through the loop. No kinks in any of the lines, so I am assuming there may be some gunk in the copper water block and radiator and perhaps in some of the lines as well. I have two right 90* angles which isn't too bad, everything else is clear tubing with no other elbows.

My question is, can I drain the rad and the res (which in total represents about half of the coolant loop volume) and refill it with vinegar and run it through the system for a couple days to kill off any living organisms? I figured I would do it this way so I can free up all the gunk and get the loop spick and span for the upgrades arriving next week so I can start with the best possible performance here.

Speaking of new parts, I am going to get another 120mm radiator, because it's the only one that will fit with the space remaining in the case. Not sure how to post pics directly here so just click the links to see what I got...

1) BXQINLENX 18 Pipe Aluminum Heat Exchanger Radiator (tried to find something copper but this was the best all around deal) - Question, this rad has a very high fin count. How does fin count relate to cooling performance? I am assuming the more fins the more heat dissipation? But then I see some of the alphacool chunky radiators and they have very low fin count, why would they do this?
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61VSMdbpOmL._AC_SL1000_.jpg
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61Y6sVKFT2L._AC_SL1000_.jpg


2) Noctua NF-P12 120mm PWM pump cooling fan
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81ZUUX5VZsL._AC_SL1500_.jpg
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/91yQvP00qoL._AC_SL1500_.jpg

3) Wendry PC Water Flow Meter, G1/4 Thread Computer Water Cooling Flow Meter, 6 Impeller 3 Ways Flow Meter Indicator
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51F4uWgtnTL._AC_SL1001_.jpg
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61XnWrPFd2L._AC_SL1001_.jpg

4) EKWB EK-CryoFuel Concentrate PC Coolant, 100mL, Navy Blue
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51OUuoOzpFL._AC_SL1200_.jpg

5) 10 feet new clear tubing

6) all associated plugs and fittings needed to add the new 120mm radiator to my loop.

Im confident the vinegar will help, but should i also hit it with something else, like a couple drops of dish soap or will it just foam up really bad? Also, how long is it safe to leave the vinegar in? I plan on running it for two days at full throttle to flush the loop....
 

Voodoo Rufus

Powder Junkie Moderator
Joined
Sep 20, 2001
I have questions:

What's your waterblock and pump? If you have a copper block like most are these days, you're not going to want to run that aluminum radiator. Yes, they are very affordable, but you're begging for trouble unless you want to run a high glycol content to prevent bi-metallic corrosion, which isn't pretty.

I wouldn't run vinegar in a loop for multiple days. You might strip plating off of any nickle plated parts if you have any. You can use CLR or some watercooling oriented cleaning fluid combo. For waterblocks you can keep it pretty simple if you disassemble them. I like isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush to clean them.
 

maxfly

Member
Joined
May 7, 2005
Absolutely agree with the aforementioned. Running aluminum and copper/brass rads in the same loop is going to jack up your blocks and rads unless you run some serious automotive type coolant. Also known as mixing metals. Ideally you want to stay with copper/brass/nickel/stainless to avoid corroding your blocks and ruining your rads.
If your looking for really solid, not gonna break the bank type rads check out byskis new rads. Just make sure you order them from aliexpress(i hate typing that) because their mark up at the US site is stupid expensive in comparison. They perform with the best of them.

https://www.techpowerup.com/review/bykski-30-mm-rc-series-radiator/

https://www.techpowerup.com/review/bykski-60-mm-rc-series-radiator/
 
OP
T

TurboSlayer

Disabled
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
I have questions:

What's your waterblock and pump? If you have a copper block like most are these days, you're not going to want to run that aluminum radiator. Yes, they are very affordable, but you're begging for trouble unless you want to run a high glycol content to prevent bi-metallic corrosion, which isn't pretty.

I wouldn't run vinegar in a loop for multiple days. You might strip plating off of any nickle plated parts if you have any. You can use CLR or some watercooling oriented cleaning fluid combo. For waterblocks you can keep it pretty simple if you disassemble them. I like isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush to clean them.

Opps... looks like I've fallen into my first pitfall with water cooling... lol

I have a heatkiller IV copper water block, so this oxidation problem could explain my immediate flow problem, because my 360mm radiator was actually harvested from a fractal design AIO Celsius s36, which means it's an aluminum radiator. Up until you just mentioned it, i had no idea you couldn't mix metals like that.

That being said, I just inspected the inline filter I installed (located before the copper water block) and it had quite a bit of gunk in it. I was sure this would solve the problem, but when I cleaned the filter and put it back in, the flow rate only improved marginally. And I'm assuming this filter will do nothing to prevent corrosion between the metals?

This means i have to take the entire loop apart and inspect the waterblock and pump for obstructions, because there are no kinks in the lines. Indicating possible corrosion build up as well.

After doing some research, Ive decided to keep the aluminum radiator i just ordered, attempt to save my heatkiller and take your suggestion of running an anti corrosion type of coolant because of the use of mixed metals.

Seems people have good success with this:
https://www.hyperlube.com/product/super-coolant/

OR

Do you guys know if there is any type of sacrificial anode built for this type of problem, but specifically designed for a custom loop?

The coolant I ordered is the EK CRYOFUEL, with built in corrosion inhibitors, but will that be enough to treat corrosion long term?

Characteristics:
- Low electrical conductivity
- Corrosion protection according to BS5117 (ASTM D1384) standards
- High quality concentrated pigments for intense, vivid and saturated colors
- Compatible with Acrylic, PETG, POM Acetal, rubber (NBR, EPDM, and Norprene) materials
- Eco-friendly (90% biodegradable in 10 days)
- RoHS compliant
- 2-year shelf time after bottling

I may also go the route of automotive antifreeze, as it will do a good job of preventing corrosion as well, like you mentioned.
 

Voodoo Rufus

Powder Junkie Moderator
Joined
Sep 20, 2001
Well, AIO's commonly mix copper baseplates with aluminum radiators, so by default their coolants will have corrosion inhibitors.

I'd do some homework on the coolants and their specs to see if you can mix metals or not. Would really stink to wreck a nice block like the HK 4.
 

maxfly

Member
Joined
May 7, 2005
Cryofuel isn't going to do you any good unfortunately. Its designed for use with copper nickel loops. Your going to need to use a mix of anti-freeze and distilled water. 10 to 15% af to distilled is what you want to run (same as aios run). Anything more and you can kill your pump.
 

Voodoo Rufus

Powder Junkie Moderator
Joined
Sep 20, 2001
No you won't.....I run 20-25% and it's fine. Pumps aren't even pulling their rated power.
 

Robert17

Premium Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
The discussion has digressed a bit. Galvanic corrosion isn't going to be a problem as dissimilar metals must be in contact for the effect to take place. The chart below is a brief doc for review. There are others available without having to search too much. The crud in the block can be removed easily with CLR or an acetic acid such as vinegar provided the block is copper or aluminum. Plated blocks usually aren't as prone to corrosion but the same cleaning process would work just as well.

Car radiators have been aluminum fin/copper plumbing for many years and the standard fluids available at auto parts stores are premixed for use and should be fine for any radiator whether they are large (tractor trailer) or small (PC style).

There is no way to stop 100% of all corrosion that can develop in a loop. Just monitor the fluid for gunk or, in the case of ethylene glycol (AF), color change from green to yellow. Drain, flush, refill. Same for all radiators.


Galvanic corrosion.pdf
 

maxfly

Member
Joined
May 7, 2005
Sigh
He bought an aluminum cored rad to pair with his copper/brass cored rad and copper block.

And no, you don't have to have dissimilar metals physically come in contact to create a reaction. No idea why you would say that. The metals are in contact via the fluid/water. Google is your friend. Mixing metals is not a new phenomenon. Its been around as long as wcing.

Car radiators have nothing to do with the subject at hand other than the core is brass and occasionally copper. The glycol based fluids used are what we are trying to explain how to use. The temp and viscosity differences are a huge factor between an automotive use case and pc. There's no comparison. They will work just fine in any rad, sure, they are water based. Go ahead and run some 50/50 pre mix through your loop and see how long your ddc or d5 lasts. They aren't made to run thick fluids. They are made to pump water.

And in closing you have shot yourself in the foot. No you cant eliminate corrosion completely but with the right fluid mix and maintenance. You can stop it from clogging up your rads and blocks. To the point that your copper will look flawless and your rads will flow strong. Which is and has been the point of the last 4 or 5 posts...

Back to the OPs issue. If you arent comfortable trying to measure out af to distilled, swiftech sells hyderx that can simplify things for you.

https://www.performance-pcs.com/swiftech-hydrx-coolant-hydrx.html
 

Robert17

Premium Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Maxfly, please take a moment to read the linked PDF and you’llobserve that it’s not just me “saying that”. A basic appreciation of chemistry should make obvious that varying valences in metals is what causes the ions to transfer across the bonds. I’m (nor is the article) not saying that metals have to touch to create a reaction. Galvanic corrosion is different than hydrate corrosion.What you may think is that the aluminum or copper is corroding into the water as the oxygen breaks bond with hydrogen and attaches to the metal, then transferring to another metal. That doesn’t happen. When copper corrodes it makes cuprous oxide, with aluminum makes aluminum oxide. The metals may shed these ‘corrosives’ or ‘oxides’ but they will remain as molecules and not bind (usually; there can be some intense situations that may cause this to occur but they will not occur in a common radiator). There are many other articles that you can peruse which will confirm the linked PDF as well as expand upon the whole subject. Two metals such as aluminum and steel or aluminum and copper can form a corrosive interface and weaken the join. Just know that I’ve been involved in this area of metals, coatings and corrosion for many years (just retired). Tooling as well. There are much more harsh natural environments that require extreme levels of strength and corrosion resistance such as the briny ocean and energy wells and a radiator is pretty simple in comparison.


My foot is shotless.
 

maxfly

Member
Joined
May 7, 2005
Don't have any interest in arguing about something that's been proven to be true for years Robert. You do you buddy.
 
OP
T

TurboSlayer

Disabled
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
So the new loop is up and running, now with the power of two freezemod PWM 800L/H pumps, yes I decided to add a second pump to the loop. The flow is so strong the line leading from the water block to pump is actually imploding due to vacuum pressure from the driving force of two pumps. This implosion scenario also lead be to believe there was an obstruction in the waterblock itself. Sure enough, all of the fins were covered with slime, just like the inline filter. Since the filter wasn't doing it's job, I removed that from the loop as well. I also eliminated one 90* fitting, so I am not just down to one 90* fitting in the entire loop. Cleaned up the water block and flow rate has been restored.

I know this is going to be controversial, but in theory, it should work and not damage the loop or rubber inside the loop, nor make the pumps work any harder (vs just using anti-freeze). I added about a teaspoon of WD40 to the main loop to work as a corrosion inhibitor and water wetter. Two birds with one stone is always a good thing :)

After clearing the obstruction from the water block, the implosion scenario was much improved, but I still used small zip ties every inch or so on that tube to bolster the lines and prevent kinks and/or implosion from ever happening again.
 
OP
T

TurboSlayer

Disabled
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Cryofuel isn't going to do you any good unfortunately. Its designed for use with copper nickel loops. Your going to need to use a mix of anti-freeze and distilled water. 10 to 15% af to distilled is what you want to run (same as aios run). Anything more and you can kill your pump.

Im just running water and a limited amount of EK Cryofuel for now. I have new coolant on the way. Is the water block the most restrictive part in the loop? FYI I have 3 pumps on this loop. Two freezmod 800L/H and one Barrow 450L/H positioned before the water block. That way, I am pushing and pulling (the other two pumps are directly AFTER the waterblock, so for a while I was pullilng only, and the restriction was so great that the vacuum pressure collapsed the tubing and cut off flow. I solved that problem by adding the Barrow pump right BEFORE the water block. So it's before and after now, push and pull. Also, zip ties work to mitigate kinks and tight turns that otherwise might compromise flow. Here is the system with new barrow pump installed. It's getting a bit crowded in here with four radiators! lol

-One 360mm rad
-one 240mm rad (passive)
-one 120mm rad
-one double thinkness 120mm x 80mm
-copper water block
-two reservoirs
-3 pumps

All in a case that was never intended for this kind of equipment. But Im having quite a bit of fun with it and thanks to you guys learning the ropes of what I can do and cant do to make this last....

IMG-20211017-230534604.jpg
IMG-20211120-171740611.jpg
IMG-20211120-171748374.jpg
IMG-20211120-171817996.jpg
IMG-20211120-171601692.jpg
IMG-20211120-171645445.jpg
IMG-20211120-171711729.jpg
IMG-20211120-163918966-1.jpg
IMG-20211120-163903282-1.jpg
IMG-20211120-171016206-1.jpg
IMG-20211120-163903282-1.jpg
IMG-20211120-163918966-1.jpg

EDIT: see the bottom 360mm radiator? That is the one I painted very lightly. probably do the same to my passive 240 to make them look more or less the same in terms of contrast.
 
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