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Joined on January 2, 2008

Last Post on December 30, 2013

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Code vs MFR's instructions

@ December 30, 2013 4:17 PM in Combustion Air vs. Size of space

 Henry I'm assuming if you are not a Provincial Gas Inspector somewhere in Canada, you are obviously part of the industry somehow (mfr rep, instructor, etc.?) and well involved in the revised 2015 CSA Canadian Gas Code panel based on your response. Thank you for your input, I appreciate it.

I just got off the phone with the local Provincial Gas Inspector and he told me that technically the gas code supercedes all MFR's instructions as more often then not what happens is an appliance is brought into Canada that has less strict requirements so the code would bring those standards up effectivelly (I've become so used to just following the code and knowing it's more strict that sometimes we take for granted the fact that it works the other way).  So the more strict code Canadian requirements would take precedence. He said in my case because  we are experiencing related issues, and the MFR's instructions are more strict than the code we should follow their instructions, on top of double checking all the other things (draft, vent sizing, etc.). 

It's one thing to know the code, but it's another thing to understand the rationale for each code clause. Going further looking at the bigger picture, as a "First line responder" in the field, it is my responsibility to further and protect my career and the gas industry as a whole to ensure these appliances are running as safely as possible, without incident. If we start having CO poisoning injuries, or deathes, or explosions, the gaseous fuel burning industry will be viewed in a dangerous light. I take this responsibility very seriously.


@ December 22, 2013 5:44 PM in Recommendations for new flue gas analyzer- URGENT!

You will be hard pressed to find a better analyzer than anything by ECOM. Before my current company, I worked for a company that had ECOM J2KN's. These are heavy duty commercial/ industrial analyzers with a heavy duty sample cooler that can run for 8-10-12 hours a day while you are setting up large industrial burners. I remember we did one start up with mine on a Cleaver Brooks NatCom 47,500,000 BTUH Burner a couple years ago and I had that thing running for 8-10 hours a day for like 2 weeks straight. And then we did the same thing several months later. These things can take a licking and come back for more, and they are consistent, reliable, and while they do need to be sent in for calibration, I feel I can trust them, which is important.

ECOMM has a a few entry level analyzers more aimed at residential and light commercial called the CN, the CL, and the B which are cheaper priced more aimed at point and check types of set ups on your average residential appliance that might fit the bill. But like everything, you get what you pay for and they are not cheap, but they are worth every penny as far as I'm concerned for their quality and user friendly features.

The current place I work at we have one Bacharach that isn't bad, and a Kane May 9106. The Bacharach ins't bad - not exceptional, but not great, the Kane May is not bad when it works, but like every other person I talks to who uses a Kane May - when they work they're great, but you are at times on a first name basis with the local calibration/repair company with these things. I guess I was spoiled when I had the ECOM's and it's hard to find something else that compares.

Combustion Air vs. Size of space

@ December 20, 2013 4:47 PM in Combustion Air vs. Size of space

I work doing Gas Fitting & Heating maintenace on a number of buildings that have boilers of various vintages from the 40's to recent models. I've been in this position for over a year now. On a number of our buildings from the 70's and 80's we have Hydrotherm Modular Atomspheric Boilers. These Boilers are relatively simple to work on, and fairly reliable, but inefficient too (running about 75-78% combustion efficiency accross the board). Most of these boilers are continuous pilot, and some of the later models have electronic ignition.  Here is a link to the manual:

Anyways, according to the Gas Fitter who is senior to msyelf and who has been here a lot longer than I, we seem to have a recurring theme of certain buildings that contain these boilers sooting up regularly. By regularly I mean the heat exchangers need to be cleaned every 2-3 years. The common belief held by him and the person above him who retired (and they are both pretty good gas fitters) that I replaced is that the sooting up is a result of the DDC having the ability to turn the boilers off and on as well as the Aquastat (DDC Solid State Relay - SSR is in series with each boilers Aquastat). So as long as the Aquastat has closed contacts, the SSR from DDC can turn the boilers on and off as needed to achieve a certain setpoint in the common building heating loop. This leads to "extra" short cycling in some cases but I'm not sure if I entirely believe it's the entire issue. The reason I say this is because why aren't other boilers in other buildings sooting up eventually as well?  Some schools that have these boilers dont soot up or rarely soot up. So I did a little bit of digging.

First thing I checked was combustion air on one of the plants I am dealing with that is starting to soot up. According to the Canadian Natural Gas Code, for anything over 400,000 BTUH on atompsheric appliances that require dilution air, we size it so the combustion air opening is 7000 BTUH per square inch up to 1,000,000 BTUH, (143 sq in) plus 14,000 BTUH per square inch for everything over 1,000,000 BTUH. Relief/Ventilation air is to be 10 sq inches or 10% of combustion air surface area opening, whichever is greater.  So on the plant I am dealing with which has 4x 900,000 BTUH MR boilers plus 1x 250,000 BTUH hot water tank (3,850,000 BTUH) I sized the combustion air and I am within specs according to code, BUT, if you check the manual above which I did, they require either 4000, 2000, or 1000 BTUH per square inch of combustion air surface area, depending on how you bring the air into the mechanical room, AND the combustion air opening and the relief air opening must both be the same size meeting this formula for EACH opening. So in this case my combustion air in this one particular boiler room does not meet the specifications, not even close (less than 50% basically, or more). Note that in the instructions it says if your mechanical room is a confined space you must meet the above combustion air requirements (4000, 2000, 1000, per sq. in, etc.). I measured the Mechanical room that these boilers sit in and it is BY  A LONG SHOT definately considered confined space as per instructions even though it looks like your average sized boiler room.

But we have another building with roughly the same load as this, and it roughly has the the neccessary required combustion air, or at least more than enough, and it soots up about every 3-4 years. The thing about this Mechanical room is it is quite small - similar in size to the above boiler room so the boilers are in similar proximity to each other in how they are arranged, the pads they sit on, etc. to fit in this boiler room. And I visited it the other day for the first time just to check it out and something I noticed that I found interested was the boiler farthest from the combustion air was starting to soot up the most. I also noticed in the original room above that the boilers farthest from the (undersized) combustion air seemed to be the dirtiest. This may just be a concidence, or it may not.

I plugged my analyzer into one of the boilers closest to the combustion air, something not many guys do on an atomspheric, and I read the oxygen, CO levels, with the boiler room doors closed (doors to outside). I would then open the boiler room doors and the oxygen in the boiler would increase by about half a percent and the CO levels would go down.
I have briefly looked at draft - most of our buildings with these boilers are vented relatively similarly - there are slighty variations but they all seem to have the common theme (common vented in a similar orientation for the most part into a chimney) - this is where I will go next obviously as draft can have an effect on how the flame/burner performs and lifts, as well, etc.
But what I'm getting at is, it's one thing to have enough combustion air, but how critical in your mind is it to have combustion air in the right place? I look at these boiler rooms and the cubic footage of air that they contain as a "buffer." The boilers pull their combustion and dilution air from this space and the space in an effort to create equilibrium pulls air from the outside to balance pressure. But if there is less buffer/cubic footage then I'd imagine you'd have more of a direct pull from the boilers to directly from outside, which creates some sort of resistance potentially to them getting design combustion air. Can boilers closer to the combustion air opening, effectively "starve" other boilers farther away from the combustion air source of air if the boilers are in close proximity to each other? (and, if this is true, it would be compounded by having a lack of combustion air opening...). How critical is it to balance your combustion air, in smaller spaces, relative to your fuel burning appliancees in your opinion? How critical is size of room vs equipment? Or do you think short cycling, or draft may more or less be the culprit.

I have measured draft on other boilers of this vintage in ohter mechanical rooms with an analzyer on the boiler, and with turning other boilers common vented on and off and I've seen slight variations in draft and combustion analysis as other boilers turn on and off, obviously creating more draft that "pulls" a bit more on the boiler I was checking - in some cases on dirty burners creating a bit more CO, probably causing a bit more flame "lift off" ultimatley tickling the bottom of the heat exchanger, or something along those lines. Gas pressures are always within spec - it's one of the first things I usually check and adjust if needed.
The other issue I look at is these plants do see some flue gas condensation in the mornings as these buildings aren't 24/7. But since the plants are well oversized most of the year this usually isn't an issue as the plants come up to temperature very quickly (within half an hour or better most of the time). When I clean the stainless steel burners I usually seem some "crud" which I liken to perhaps tiny bits of heat exchanger metal sacrificing itself and/or burner impurities falling back on the burners ultimately causing the burner ports to get dirty which can cause issues with CO production certainly, but so can soot falling back on the burners fouling them as well.
Anyways - it's amazing how wonderfully simple these burners are to work on, but, they seem to have some complex issues at times.  Any of your thoughts are appreciated.

Honeywell T7400 thermostat

@ November 7, 2013 5:46 PM in Honeywell T7400 thermostat

I have a Honeywell T7400 Thermostat serving a portable class room. The thermostat controls a Temspec Unit Fan Ventilator with electric elements for heating - serves to ventilate (using some outside air/damper) as well as heat the space. There is an enthalpy controller with no real markings on it inside the unit venitilator with 4 contacts labelled 1, 2, 3,  & 4, which connect to terminals 1, 2, 3, & 4  (respectively) of the above mentioned thermostat. Before I go jumping things to see if the thermostat is the culprit to the problem that the heat doesn't seem to be controlled properly, I want to know if these are just 2 sets of dry contacts (how do they correspond to todays thermostat terminal letters)? I have contacted Tempsec who is looking for a manual for me on their ventilator/wiring which is designed with this thermostat as standard equipment.

Navien NR-240-A Combustion Analysis?

@ August 22, 2013 2:54 PM in Navien NR-240-A Combustion Analysis?

Hey guys - I've sent Navien an email about this but I want to see if anyone in here knows as well. I've read through the instruction manual included with the unit and other then recommended gas pressure range, I can not find any combustion (analysis) specifications. Anyone know?  (I'm a Class 'A' Gas Fitter in BC Canada commissioning some of these at work - I WILL be putting an analyzer on it).

Wow Paul

@ July 9, 2013 2:33 AM in combustion analyzer

Do I get a Thank you now that you are actually following my advice?

Just had this thought pop into my head today...

@ July 9, 2013 2:30 AM in Viessmann Vitodens 100 vs 200?

The Vitodens heat exchanger, has a stainless steel casing around the heat exchanger which seperates the wet flue gas/condensate, that has moved from the combustion zone through the heat exchanger passages, from the intake air in the boiler cabinet. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but IF the air temperature in the boiler cabinet is less than 130 F say, condensation should (if it did not occur on the heat exchanger for some reason i.e. higher water temps) occur on the walls of this casing (where it would run down to the condesate drain) and transfer the latent heat to the combustion air, correct? (effectively raising the combustion air temp a bit causing slightly increased efficiency in the combustion process). '

NOW, would there not be any room for Viessmann to put a second, plastic, casing around the stainless heat exchanger casing with a space between the plastic & stainless layers, and a large opening at the top, and have the combustion air pull it's air from this area? That way it's sucking the hottest air possible from the boiler cabinet, air that has had the latent heat from the flue gas transferred to it? Basically air comes from intake pipe into boiler cabinet, air from cabinet gets sucked into this area as a small pre-heat where the latent heat of combustion is transferred to it before getting sucked into the combustion fan intake/swirl chamber?

OK - perhaps this is not much in the grand scheme of things, BUT, if it increases combustion efficiency 0.005%, and you do that accross thousands of boilers, that's a lot of fuel saved.

IBC's VFC 15-150 boiler - Improvements & 10 year anniversary

@ July 9, 2013 2:17 AM in IBC's VFC 15-150 boiler - Improvements & 10 year anniversary

IBC's VFC 15-150 (10 to 1 turn down, modulates from 15,000 go 150,000 BTUH) has been out since 2003, with the same easy to use & set up digitial controller (with a few software revisions since). I have serviced a couple original 2003-2004 15-150's that were around 7 years old at the time and hadn't been touched and with the exception of requiring a little heat exchanger cleaning, they were running like tops and the heat exchangers were still a ways away from even being closed to plugging up (they have a patented downfiring water coil heat exchanger on the 15-150 and 45-225). IBC has been in the condensing boiler business since 1994 in North America, and they're still the only residential boiler manufacturer other than Viessmann, to use 316 Ti in some of their heat exchangers.

Anyways, IBC has made a few improvements to the 15-150 - they now have a removeable cover and removeable refractory section on the top of the heat exchanger to better access & clean the heat exchanger. Before you had to pull the burner out and try and work through the burner hole, which wasn't bad for most, but this improvement to date has definately made a big difference in the ability to clean & service the heat exchanger.

There are also some PP-R fittings available now that work with the downfiring termination of the flue that comes out of the bottom of the IBC heat exchanger. The heat exchanger in the IBC 15-150 is a 95 pounds alone, and you will be hard pressed to find a more efficient heat exchanger accross the breadth of the firing range as this large mass of all the coils just soaks up the heat.

Another thing worth noting is IBC is having a 10 year anniversary promotion if you buy one of their 15-150's, 45-225,'s, or SL80-399's. Note - the anniversary is not celebrating IBC being out 10 years, it's celebrating the fact the 15-150 has been out 10 years - IBC itself is due to celebrate it's 20th anniversary next year as a company that produces condensing boilers since 1994.

Also, I've been told by some in the know, that IBC has something, or some new product(s) on the horizon in the coming monthes. It's an exciting time if you're in the hydronic heating business. With this, and the new Vitodens boilers, theres some cool stuff out there for mod-con boiler junky's.

Extended modulation range

@ July 8, 2013 12:28 PM in New Vitodens 200 Specs Online now:

Did you guys notice the increased range of the Lambda Pro combustion numbers. They now have a lower and higher range with oxygen percentages (down to 3.8% from 4.4% and up to 7.3% from 6.9% oxygen) (and corresponding increased/decreased CO2), probably to accomodate the higher modulation ranges offered. Also, Viessmann has a 6.75 to 1 modulation range on the 19,000 to 125,000 BTUH. I guess manufacturers are pushing the limits now a days and the old days of 5 to 1 are gone perhaps? Are the certification agencies bending the rules or was the numbers changed?

Also, if possible

@ July 7, 2013 10:44 PM in Are heat exchangers a viable way to heat swimming pools?

If you COULD convert to a gas condensing boiler, spend a little more money and get as large of a heat exchanger as you can afford (within reason of course). The bigger the heat exchanger heat transfer surface area, the lower water temperatures you can run with a condensing boiler, and subsequently the more efficiently things run (as long as it doesn't end up meaning you have to use a larger pump of course due to potential increased head loss of a larger heat exchanger).

Heating a pool with a boiler seperated from the pool water with a heat exchanger is done more commonly than thought and is an excellent way to heat a pool.

A couple things - if you have a chlorine pool you'll want a stainless shell & tube heat exchanger. If you go salt water you'll want a Titanium heat exchanger, which is SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive than a stainless (you can also use Titanium with chlorine which will last longer). If you go ALL Titanium fully welded shell & tube, which is the best case, but most costly, it will be about 10 times or more the cost of a stainless, BUT, it'll give you less installation headaches (many titanium heat exchangers that are shell & tube have a composite portion with threads that can be a PITA to install as sometimes the composite splits on you if you're not careful). I've heard of some guys use plate & frame titanium heat exchangers to bring down costs as well as eliminate having to deal with the breakable composite threaded connections on some titanium heat exchangers. But plate and frames often have smaller passages which could potentially plug up earlier.

IF, you are heating a Hot tub with a heat exchanger, make DAMN sure you have a manual reset high limit on the HOT TUB WATER SIDE, set just slightly above (maybe 2 degrees max) the hottest water you would expect to soak in (it would be located on the return before the heat exchanger so it is sampling the actual temperature of the hot tub water). I heard a story that happened around 10 years ago in a high end home - the maid was told to go turn the hot tub temperature up - she went into the mechanical room and pressed the wrong buttons (or something along those lines). One of the kids came home from school, jumped in the hot tub, and just barely made it out, with serious burns to her body. It's not a bad idea to put a high limit on the pool side too although most boiler set ups often do not have the BTUH's to juice a pool high enough to cause burns as there is usually way more water in a pool to heat. Again though, not a bad idea either.

Make sure your disinfection medium (chlorine, saltwater, etc.) is downstream of your heat exchanger. This will ensure the heat exchanger does not get lambasted with chemicals which can shorten it's life span.

One thing worth noting

@ July 7, 2013 10:21 PM in Viessmann Vitodens 100 vs 200?

The Vitodens 100 does have the capability to do higher water temperatures. Not a big difference but worth noting. The Vitodens 100 can do up to 176 F for space heating vs 167 for the Vitodens 200, and the 100 can do 172 (fixed) for DHW production (I believe it does 176 for the combi plus DHW kit but 172 for an indirect if you close the DHW dry contact) vs 165 for the 200 for DHW (I know the 165 is adjustable if I recall from reading but how much can it adjust above 165 if possible?).

Check out the new BH2A specs of the Vitodens 200 online - they just put them on their website the other day:

I like the low end of the 3 smallest boilers - 12,000 to 67,000 input, 19,000 to 100,000 BTUH input, and 19,000 to 125,000 BTUH input. And the heat exchangers are all the same size so that to me says the 12,000 to 67,000 BTUH input should be a bit more efficient with a larger heat exchanger to soak up the heat.

New Vitodens 200 BH2A Specs Online now:

@ July 7, 2013 10:13 PM in New Vitodens 200 Specs Online now:

The new Vitodens 200 BH2A - Have a look:

"It depends"

@ July 2, 2013 1:24 PM in Viessmann Vitodens 100 vs 200?

By the time you outfit a Vitodens 100 with the accessories neccessary (KWE Pump module, Como OT controller) to control a few extra pumps (or with relays, etc.), and have some decent level of digital control, you are in the neighbourhood of the 200 price wise. The 200 is so much more intuitive and easier to control (aka stand on it's head) on top of the new 200 boilers that are coming out in a few monthes have an App that allows you to control them with your smart phone. I wouldn't worry THAT much about fluctuating gas quality however, at least in North America although Lambda Pro is nice to have (but it's no substitute for proper boiler/burner serviceman checking your burner out regularly). The Vitodens however is a nice simple, basic boiler with the same heat exchanger at the 200 just way less integrated control on board. For me the upsell to the 200 is easily worth the slight increase in cost if you're going apples to apples for a system that does more than just basic heat only.

I did answer your question

@ July 2, 2013 1:16 PM in combustion analyzer

You just didn't get the answer you wanted to hear since it requires further investment in proper training and/certification along with time & financial resources on your part to master.
We WERE all there at one point, and I'm telling you, you NEED someone to show you, and train you in person, on top of doing some serious background reading so you can understand the consequences of what everything means along with what improper adjustment can do if you don't know what the numbers and readings are from your analyzer. The questions you asked tell me you don't have a clue. What homeowner on this site would want (err Pay) you to use an analyzer on their appliance if you are asking those types of questions?

I hope I don't come accross as a jerk but I have to say this...

@ July 2, 2013 12:47 AM in combustion analyzer

Based on your questions you are NOT qualified to use this tool and if I were you I WOULD NOT even THINK of using it until you receive either a certification (Gas Fitting, Chimney sweep, what have you) OR, if you are certified, some gas appliance training (Timmie McElwain on this site provides gas appliance training if you wish to sign up) as well as perhaps some instruction on how to set up an appliance using an analyzer in person from someone that knows and is certified to do so, and perhaps some instruction from the analyzer manufacturer on how to use their tool on an appliance specifically. When you start getting into using an analyzer to set up an appliance if you do not have a clue what you are doing (and your thread leads me to believe this is the case - please do not take this the wrong way - I just want to make sure no one gets hurt) you CAN and PROBABLY WILL KILL SOMEONE.


@ June 25, 2013 1:15 PM in Strange residue in Giannoni heat exchanger

Interesting -a quick search does indicate some manufacturers are using 304L S/S Giannoni heat exchangers. I believe most in the USA that use the Giannoni are 316L though (correct me if I'm wrong). I know the 316L is supposed to be better than 304L in general but we still don't know where the accumulation is coming from.
I know on Vitodens heat exchanges, and IBC heat exchangers, they see the same or similar type of accumulation over time (although I've never see one that plugged or that bad as the one pictured). It would be interesting to have this debris compared to see what differences there are between boilers/types of heat exchangers as some use different variations or types of stainless (439, 316ti). If it is the same chemical make up then it points towards combustion or condensate related impurities or issues, perhaps Mercaptain, or sulfur, where some reaction is occuring that creates it. Or is it indeed a stainless steel phenomenon and not present in aluminum heat exchangers like on the Buderus?

Pvc or cpvc?

@ June 20, 2013 9:33 PM in Strange residue in Giannoni heat exchanger

Was that above boiler vented with PVC or cpvc? Do they have PVC or cpvc in the UK for venting?

Me too

@ June 20, 2013 10:50 AM in Strange residue in Giannoni heat exchanger

Has anyone sent these heat exchangers (when they fail) to a metallurgist for investigation? The Giannoni heat exchangers if I'm not mistaken have 0.7 mm thick tube walls so theres not much beef there to deal with any corrossion issues.
If I recall correctly from training a few years ago, IBC sent a 12 year old heat exchanger (downfiring water coil design made of 316ti Titanium stabilized stainless steel, Giannoni's use 316L stainles steel) to a metallurgist for analysis to assess how it was standing up and it only came back with only some micropitting which is basically the equivilent to virtually nothing.

Slo-mo post purge

@ June 20, 2013 10:45 AM in Strange residue in Giannoni heat exchanger

I know on IBC and Cleaver-Brooks Clearfires that after burner shut down and a regular post purge the fans go into super slo-mo post purge mode for around an hour to 90 minutes. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe this is to keep any humid/condensate laden air from going back into the fan, as well as to slowly drive this humid air out so conditions are more favourable for the next burner ignition. This is supposed to really help reduce fan failures over time apparently. Do any other manufacturers do this?

Fingerprints on Vitodens Cabinet

@ June 19, 2013 10:55 PM in Fingerprints on Vitodens Cabinet

So I'm installing a couple Vitodens WB2B-105's right now. There are some magical finger prints on one of the beautiful bright white enamelled Vitodens Boiler cabinets that don't just rub off. I'm wondering what the best way is? A method or chemical (or both) perhaps?

Like Any Certification or Ticket

@ June 16, 2013 1:32 PM in How the Europeans do it?

It's just another ticket to learn. How much you learn or if you even want to continue learning and better yourself as a tradesman and person is really up to you. My problem is I saw and installed my first wall mount boiler, conveniently forgot any real interest in the plumbing side of things that I had (hot & cold water lines, drainage), got my hydronic systems design certification, and my industrial gas ticket, and I've been almost exclusively doing boiler/burner installations & service work ever since - from small wall mounts to a 47,000,000 BTUH Nebraska Steam Boiler with Natcom Burner, and everything in between.
I've invested some moolah in manuals, texts, books, etc (many from this site) to better myself along with training. I consider myself a true student but definately still have much learn but sometimes you forget how much you've learned as well. No matter what I won't attach my name to sh*t and if you create enough doubt in my mind....

Just want to make it clear

@ June 16, 2013 1:12 PM in How the Europeans do it?

I should have distinguished a bit better between the idea that in Germany they have people who can enter your house unannounced to check your heating equipment and the fact that they take clean air and safety seriously as far as checking whether your appliance is burning correctly. There are other ways to do it as far as not stepping on toes from a legal issue (i.e. privacy, amendment rights, etc.), but the fact their heating equipment must be checked 2 or more times per year by a certified individual to ensure it is burning correctly to me strongly reflects a commitment to safety and clean air. Who does it or how it is done if something like that were ever done in North America is another issue.
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