Security Seal Facebook Twitter GooglePlus Pinterest Newsletter Sign-up
The Wall
Jean-David Beyer

Jean-David Beyer

Joined on January 9, 2009

Last Post on August 18, 2014

Contact User

Recent Posts

1 2 3 4 5 ... 110 »

Does the unopened envelope in the middle picture...

@ August 18, 2014 12:53 AM in Say this the other day

contain the installation manual? The one the installer never read?

Also, around here they seriously want the backflow preventer vent to go right down near the floor, and no plastic tubing on the PRV.

W-M boilers

@ August 18, 2014 12:14 AM in gas condensing boiler recommendation

Here are links to two W-M boilers. The first one is like my Ultra 3 that I got in May 2009. It has a cast aluminum heat exchanger.
The second I have never seen, and is newer than mine. It has a stainless steel firetube heat exchanger.

You can find tabs on each of these pages to find out more about these boilers. One of these tabs on each page will enable you to download (.pdf) installation manuals.

If I were getting a new W-M boiler today, I would get the WM97 mainly because it has a 70,000 BTU/hour model and my house on really really cold days needs about 35,000. My Ultra 3 is their smallest: 80,000 BTU.

I have had only two problems with this boiler, and one was the fault of the installation contractor: he hooked up the PVC supply and exhaust pipes, painting the joints with the purple primer. But he forgot to put the cement on many of the joints. The inspector did not notice this. The second heating season, the boiler quit and gave bizarre messages on the display (they are normally in plain English). It turns out the condensate in the exhaust leaked out of the PVC pipe, and ran down into the top of the boiler so the electronics board was under water. It was easy to see that the board did not work because it was under water, but it took about a week to actually find the source of the water. By then, we had the W-M technical representitive out here too because we were stumped. We figured it out when he was here. After we dried out the board, it was working fine. But The W-M rep did not want us running with the board that had been soaked, so he gave me a free new one. Very thoughtful. I consider that good service.

The other problem was that one of the circulators got noisy. Taco gave me a free new one (though I had to pay my service contractor to put it in. The old circulator was working, but the noise promised a short life.

I do have it serviced annually, and I have a new contractor because of dissatisfaction with the installing contractor.

Pipe sizes for 20 KW generator.

@ August 14, 2014 8:39 PM in Gas drip leg/reservoir

My generator is 14 KW, but the installation manual also specifies the gas pipe line size for their 20 KW unit
They require 5 to 11 inch pressure at the generator, and its input pipe is 1/2 inch. These are all assuming natural gas.

Minimum pipe sizes:
25 to 50 feet: 1-inch.
100 to 200 feet: 1 1/4 inch.

Full load  281 cu-ft/hour
75% load 243 cu-ft/hr
50% load 161 du-ft/hr
25% load 127 cu-ft/hr

I assume these are minimum pipe sizes.

I think SWEI is correct, ...

@ August 14, 2014 8:10 AM in Gas drip leg/reservoir

... but I am not a professional. True, the pressure reduction from 2 psi to 10" is more than mine from 7" to whatever the carburettor regulator in my generator requires, but the issue is the same, you do not want to have the two regulators fighting one another setting up a resonance.

SWEI is suggesting an explicit "buffer tank" with the oversize section of pipe. And I may have the same thing with the 8 foot run in the underground part of my system.

Any reason a 4" x 24" nipple with some reducers on each end wouldn't work?

@ August 14, 2014 8:04 AM in Gas drip leg/reservoir

I suspect that when my contractor ran 1 1/4" pipe between the meter and the generator, when 3/4" was all that was required, that that may have taken the place of a reservoir.

1" between the gas company regulator and the underground part (about two feet),  1 1/4" for 8 feet or so of underground part, then 1/2" from where it came out of the ground to the generator (about 2 feet or a little less). And right inside the generator is their regulator. Then a regular reciprocating engine to spin the alternator. The controls vary the gas-air delivery to the generator to keep the right generator speed independent of the electrical load.

sufficient piping between the regulator and the genset gas valve for buffering

@ August 13, 2014 10:27 PM in Gas drip leg/reservoir

I have a 14Kw Kohler generator (natural gas fueled) outside my house, and it is a little different from yours. And I am not a professional, so I will not give any advice here.

There is a 50 psi line down my street that comes through a 1 inch plastic pipe to my house, where a regulator takes it down to about 7 inches water gauge pressure, and it goes through the meter.

On the way out of the meter, it comes to a T and a 1 inch black pipe goes into my house I guess 20 feet or so to my heating boiler.

Out the other leg of the T the installer ran a 1 1/4 pipe about 2 feet to some 1 1/4 inch plastic slightly flexible gas pipe in the ground and where it came up it stepped down to about 1/2 inch as it entered the generator set. There are shutoff valves and stuff there too. Inside the generator there is a small regulator that goes to the gas valve and carburettor. It is only a foot or so from the regulator in the generator to the carburettor.

The total distance from the gas company regulator to the meter to the generator is probably only 8 to 10 feet. The installation manual says that distance can run 3/4 inch pipe, but the contractor says it works better with the larger pipe, and most of the plumbing cost was labor, not the pipe itself.

Could it be that 8 to 10 feet is enough, or could it be that runnning 1 1/4 inch pipe instead of 3/4 is reservoir enough?

I had a heart attack a few years ago...

@ August 12, 2014 2:49 PM in Heart attack

I was lucky. I get a nuclear stress test every few years, and came out just fine each time. Ultrasounds of the carotid arteries too.

But one Sunday I was going to a play at the local theater at 3PM, but at 2PM I did not feel right. Sort of like gas, but a little too high for that. Then my arms started to ache a little. So I went to the ER instead of the theater and described my symptoms. They immediately admitted me without all the usual waiting, did an EKG and X-ray (they always do a chest x-ray when going into a hospital, blood tests, and rushed me to the cardiac catheterization lab to examine my heart from the inside. Put a stent into one of coronary arteries that was 90% or 95% blocked. I am supposedly as good as new. They said if I had gone to the play first, I would not be typing this today.

My dad did not do as well. One day he had a nuclear stress test and passed just fine. A couple of days later he told my mother he was dying, which he then did. Better than dragging it out, I guess.

You never really know when your number is up. It is best to prepare as well as you can, especially if you have dependents.

Those aren't the switches I was talking about.

@ May 30, 2014 12:21 PM in LP or Oil

OK: that was not clear. But how do I get around my local code that requires the generators to be outside and at least 5 feet from a combustable wall? Even if I built an open-sided "house" around it, it would not protect it from dew. And the box mine is in protects it from heavy rain.

I think most, if not all, the controls in my unit are solid state. There is a normal electromechanical circuit breaker in there in case the unit feels overloaded. Neither my generator (Kohler) or my neighbor's (Generac) are designed to run in enclosed space: air inlet and exhaust outlet go through the louvered ends of the units.

This is a problem, I suppose, if the snow covers the intake and exhaust. Each time it snowed this winter, I had to shovel the snow away and get the finer stuff with a broom. I did not think to have my contractor put it on the top of an 8-foot platform. I doubt I could have gotten a permit for such a thing anyway.

Power vs speed.

@ May 30, 2014 12:13 PM in LP or Oil

"That's because if a 3600 RPM motor is delivering 12HP. it is doing so at
3600 RPM. Technically, it will only be delivering 6 HP at 1800 RPM and
is down rated accordingly.  For a 1800 RPM to be able to deliver 12 HP,
at 1800 RPM. the motor has to be twice as big."

That depends. Power is the product of speed (rpm) and torque. So if a motor is delivering 12 hp at 3600 rpm, and you diddle the carburettor so it runs at only 1800 rpm, the result is that both the speed (and probably the torque) would be reduced. But if you designed a motor to run at 1800 rpm, and double the torque of the other motor, the power would be the same. Whether the second motor was twice as big as the other would depend on other factors (diameter of pistons, length of stroke, number of cylinders, etc.).

Look for a water-cooled 1800 RPM engine if you want quiet.

@ May 29, 2014 10:15 PM in LP or Oil

When I was looking for a backup generator, the only water cooled ones cost about twice as much as the Generac and Kohler units. Kohler units were a little more than the Generacs. I could not afford to go with the water cooled units. Also, I assume they would need anti-freeze in them, and I did not want to deal with that. I do  not remember what speed that ran at, but Kohler and Generac run at 3600 rpm. They would need to wind the generator differently to get 60 cycle power from an 1800 rpm motor. It is not rocket science, but I think such a generator would cost more.

outside units like Genrac only lasted about 5 years

@ May 29, 2014 9:55 PM in LP or Oil

"Where I worked, outside units like Genrac only lasted about 5 years
until the cabinets rotted out and the connections and relay switches
failed. Try to install it in a protected inside location."

It would be difficult to locate my backup generator in a protected inside location because the local fire code requires them to be outside, and at least 5 feet from a wall, unless the fire department considers the wall to be fireproof..

On the other hand, my generator is a Kohler that comes with firm but slightly soft plastic cabinet that should not rot out. The relays are all inside my garage right next to the (formerly) main power panel. There are now 4 metal electrical cabinets. There is one connected to the electric meter from the power company. Inside is a 200 amp main circuit breaker. Next comes the box with the transfer switch and some other little control stuff. Power cones from the box from the meter and also from the generator, and there is a serious DPDT power relay that chooses between the two, and some controls.

From there the power goes to the old main power panel. There is yet another box controlled by the transfer switch box. This is because according to the code, the generator is not big enough to run everything if all the electric loads are on at once, demanding full power. So this last box has a big relay in it that cuts off my electric dryer and my electric stove if the house is running on the generator. There is a circuit breaker in the main power panel that allows me to turn off that relay box and restore power to the two disconnected loads. So I could run one or the other of these if I remember to have the other one off. And if I run the electric stove, I better not to run the self cleaning option on the oven. I propose to not use the oven at all at such times, but I might do a stir-fry or something on the stove top, provided the dryer is off. All this stuff is inside the garage and protected from the weather.

My generator has a carburettor heater on it good down to 0F. There is an optional 12 volt battery heater, but they advise it only for places that go below 0F outside. Here the design temperature is 14F, so I did not get that option.

You can run generators on LP if you down rate them

@ May 20, 2014 5:54 PM in LP or Oil

According to the manual that came with my natural gas fired backup generator, it will put out 12 KVA on natural gas and 14 KVA on LPG. So you can actually up rate the unit a little.

Around here, my next door neighbor has one brand and I have the other popular brand. The units are about the same size, and his is a little noisier than mine. The person across the street had a large portable gasoline generator that was so loud it was difficult to sleep when it was running. I do not know how loud  a large, permanently installed gasoline generator would be.

The MFGas was made by a process of burning Naptha or Hexane, I don't remember which.

@ May 12, 2014 3:05 PM in Galvanized pipng for gas

I suppose it could be done that way. But when I lived in Buffalo, N.Y., from 1942 onward, the gas supplied as manufactured gas was made in the steel mill coking ovens. They need the coke that they made by heating coal in an oxygen deprived furnace. The coke was the desired product, but they got coal tar used in the chemical industry (now mostly replaced by petroleum derivitives) and carbon monoxide, methane, etc. Instead of burning off the gasses, they purified them slightly, pressurized them and distributed it throughout the city. After World War II, natural gas became more plentiful and the steel manufacturing business started its decline in the Buffalo area, and later the whole country. So less manufactured gas was available, and more natural gas was plentiful. In fact, about the same time, coal declined greatly as a fuel for residential heating, replaced mainly by natural gas. By 1950 or so, the city refused to pick up the ashes anymore, so people had no choice but to convert to natural gas. I suppose heating oil was an option, but I cannot remember anyone in the city using it. Perhaps in the suburbs.

Why the large disparity in recommended BTUs?

@ May 9, 2014 1:26 PM in BTU's Needed?

Because at most one of those contractors did a heat loss calculation?

Squirrel pie being my favorite.

@ April 13, 2014 10:24 PM in But he's SO cute

Just avoid eating anything contaminated by their brains. It may be caught from them.

trust the homeowner is smart enough to turn a valve

@ April 7, 2014 7:54 AM in Install electric tank

I know a married couple who do not even know how to operate an old round Honeywell thermostat. A simple on-off switch would work as well. They think the higher they set it, the faster it will heat their house, and the lower they set it, the faster it will cool down. They do not have a modulating boiler, and they do not have a proportional thermostat. Same for their air conditioners. I tried to get them to just leave it alone, but they think it saves energy to have the heat completely off during the day when they are at work, and on in the evening, and off at night. Well, if it gets really cold during the day, and their pipes freeze up (not likely, but not impossible here in New Jersey), fixing that will probably cost more than 12 hours a day saved on heating oil. For them, I would take the handles off the valves. But they would lose them, and that would annoy anyone who needed to operate them.

I have no idea what happens when they inherit my house with a mod-con with outdoor reset. The reset curve is set so tight that I maintain 69F. But when I turned up the thermostat up to 70F, it never made it because the reset did not deliver hot enough water to deliver it. They will probably replace the boiler because it is too small. Actually, it is about twice the size needed, but was the smallest one available at the time. (May 2009) I have a fancy programmable thermostat with 28 different temperature settings possible. I bought that when I thought it would save energy. But most of the house is radiant slab at grade, and unless I want to change the temperature for a week or more, I just leave it alone at constant temperature. I could put in a simple thermostat there but why bother?

puts water back in the air so it's not dry.

@ April 2, 2014 5:48 PM in Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

"For allergy reason this is the best system out there it puts water back in the air so it's not dry."

I used to work in an extremely large building that was heated internally by two duct systems coming in, and a plenum for the return air. One duct had cold air (about 45F, IIRC) and the other had hot air (perhaps 90F), and each room had a pneumatic thermostat that operated a mixing box in the room. All around the outside of the building were the only windows (a "glass box" building) that had steam baseboard heating elements.

To humidify the space in winter, they used steam from the main boilers. When the humidity was too low, they just shot steam from the boilers into some mixing boxes in the hot air line to raise the humidity. Nothing else would serve the moisture demand.

I cannot imagine the steam that leaks from the vent valve on a steam radiator could do enough humidity recovery in any realistic situation. My grandparents had steam heat (converted to oil a little after WW-II), and every radiator had a water pot at one end and a thin chamber with a wick in it that ran between the elements of the radiators. My grandmother had to refill them every day. Their system must not have been knuckleheaded as  was silent except for a little hiss as the boiler started up. I remember when a brand new GE steam boiler was installed one summer to replace the old boiler.Theirs was one of these: I do not know which one, but it was a large three story house that had three fireplaces that were not much used.

The dishwasher requires hot water settings of at least 130 degrees for the detergent to work properly.

@ April 2, 2014 11:57 AM in Hot Water Tanks and Sizes

I wondered about this, so I looked at the installation manual of my dishwasher. It did not really matter since the water piping is buried in my concrete slab along with the radiant heating tubing, and there is no separate water pipe for the dishwasher, so I could not supply water over 120F anyway. The water leaves my indirect at about 125F and the most I can get from the nearest tap is 120F. The dishwasher is some distance farther away, so it gets a little less.

My dishwasher's owner's manual says:
"Inlet Water Temperature: 120ᵒF (40ᵒC)"

The installation manual says:
"1. This dishwasher may be connected to either hot or cold water. If the water can not be maintained below 149ᵒF (65ᵒC), the dishwasher must be connected to cold water."

Since it can run on cold water, I infer it has an electric heater in it. It must be on a dedicated circuit with a 15Amp circuit breaker. Well, the rest of it does not need 15 amp, so that must be for its internal water heater. Mine is hooked up to the hot water to minimize electrical cost.

As a homeowner...

@ March 26, 2014 12:05 PM in Billing format

I would like to see an itemized bill in fair detail. Not down to the last inch of teflon tape and a bunch of nipples. I do not realistically expect a contractor to present me with what I want, and I would not even presume to ask for such a thing, considering the competitive pressures contractors are exposed to.

But if the list included:

Cost of major items; e.g., anything over 5% or 10% of the total job cost. It could be the contractor's cost, or the retail price of the stuff. Because some customers will look these things up on the Internet anyway and will object to being charged more for the items than the Internet price, ignoring that the contractor gets stuck with a lot of the warranty expense, and may also keep a lot of it in stock. When my PRV quits on new year's eve, I do not want to wait a few days to get a replacement on the Internet...

Labor. I bet some customers would be astounded at what that actually costs, because they cannot imagine paying for time between shop and the home, etc. Or the time to rush off to a distributor for an unexpectedly needed part not carried on the truck (electronic control board, for example).

Overhead including trucks, test equipment, special tools...
Office Expense
Warranty contingencies
Continuing Education of owner and employees.

Perhaps a few of these could be combined, or subdivided.

Because I do want to see enough profit in there. If the contractor does not make enough profit, he may hang it up and not be there when I need him later. And I will need him later.

  1. So for me, profit is not a dirty word, but a sign of a well-run business. Remember, the owner could have invested that money on the stock market instead, and raked in the money without actually working. Since the owner generally has to do some of the work, he deserves a salary for the work and the profit at least as much as he would have made investing it in something other than the contracting business.

So lets say you have Mr skilled labor tear it out.

@ March 23, 2014 6:23 PM in are asbestos risks overblown?

I read about a case where Mr. skilled labor worked with asbestos at his job.
He went home and Mrs. skilled labor washed his clothes and she got Mesothelioma.


@ March 18, 2014 2:28 PM in ? for Tim .Condensate in gas line/or sabotage

In my neighborhood, they replaced the 60 year old iron (or steel) piping that had a nominal 15 PSI pressure (actually closer to 8 PSI if I remember correctly) that looked about 3" to 4" diameter with plastic piping at least an inch bigger in diameter and had 50 PSI in it. On my short street (a dead end one short block long) they had already removed the iron pipe and replaced it with about 2 1/2-inch plastic pipe, and to my house was 1-inch plastic just up to where the pipe came out of the ground, where it was steel. That went into a pressure regulator and into the meter. After the meter it is 1-inch black pipe, 1-inch CSST (damn) and then back to black pipe down to the boiler.

Many many people on my street are running gas boilers now.

They did the changeover both because the demand went way up since just after WW-II, but also because they were spending a fortune digging up the streets every few weeks to fix leaks. I think that it was probably cheaper to replace all that old pipe than to come out all the time to fix leaks.

CH4 + O2 --> CO2 + H2O

@ March 15, 2014 12:55 PM in Propane and condensate

CH4 + 2O2 --> CO2 + 2H2O
1 2 3 4 5 ... 110 »