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The Wall


Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on July 23, 2014

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Location, Location, Location:

@ July 23, 2014 11:01 AM in What's your favorite jacketed electric water for use as a storage tank?

Don't install the tank in a location (like behind a boiler) where it becomes a PITA to remove the tank.

Diagonal Measurements.

@ July 23, 2014 10:58 AM in Just wondering about oil tanks

You always have to take the diagonal measurement into consideration.

Found in a bucket:

@ July 23, 2014 10:52 AM in this tool, why didn't I

There isn't a one in that photo that would have made it into my bucket. Mine is an extension of a 50' quality rubber air hose or a direct connect to the compressor. A 6' or a 9' washing machine hose connects to most anything I ran into. If longer, the 50' hose.
Ever been by yourself looking for a water leak and have to use a Schrader valve to add the air while looking for the air hiss?
You'd be loving my type. I had a shelf full of similar ones in the picture. They had their "seldom used" moments.
Ever dragged a handy pump into a cellar to pump out a boiler or water heater? Once you blow the water out with air through a hose on the low point, you will NEVER cart a electric water pump into a cellar again in your life. Unless you are a sucker for punishment. Why I might even (sometimes) leave the air compressor plugged in on the first floor and throw the hoses (air and water) hoses down the stairs so I didn't have to cart the compressor down the stairs. Especially in those cribs with no electrical outlets in the cellar. Or they had a receptacle on the side of the boiler that had the power killed when you turned off the boiler.
Sparky, Why would you?

Mass Save Oiled-Up:

@ July 23, 2014 8:55 AM in warm air 86% and ECM

You might be looking long and hard.
Mass/Save is really a consortium between the Gas Utility's and the Commonwealth to help drive out oil as a home heating fuel. They have driven out most of the small oil distributors so they don't have the clout of the Wall Street Crime Syndicate.
If you are in the sticks with no Nat Gas available, go LPG. You get the rebates.

Tools to have:

@ July 23, 2014 8:47 AM in this tool, why didn't I

If you want a really cool tool, and don't have one of these, you will wonder how you went to so long without one.
When you run across a severely eroded piece of copper tubing that sand cloth can't get down to the pits, the female side of this will shine it to like new condition. A lot of supply houses carry them. More useful that the store bought test rig.

third world (cheap) universal test rig:

@ July 23, 2014 8:37 AM in this tool, why didn't I

I can't show you the ones I used for many years, and I made many a variation on the theme.
A few 1/2" X 2"+ nipples, a I/2" BL Coupling, 1/2" X 1/4" BM Coupling, 1/2" X 14" BM tee, a 1/2" Boiler drain, and the proper air fitting that matches the air hose that connects to your portable air compressor. A 6' washing machine hose and whatever gauge you need (0-5# for gas, 0-100 for anything else). A 1/2" IPS ball valve gas cock finishes it up.  Fits in a 5 gallon bucket like it grew there, and there isn't anything that you can't test of connect to blow out. If you can't figure out a way to connect to anything in the way you want, you're not really trying.
I had to buy one of those things because I forgot to bring one down. I bought one of those things displayed. I still had to adapt it for ease. I could have built one from scratch with nipples and fittings. In Florida, they don't carry Black malleable fittings and Nipples. If they don't carry it at Lowes or Home Depot, you don't need it.


@ July 22, 2014 4:17 PM in What's your favorite jacketed electric water for use as a storage tank?

There are only a few water heater tank manufacturers. They are very competitively priced. I personally think that a 50 gallon tank is the best bang for the money spent.
If you are going to use it as a "side-arm" heater/storage tank, you do not need to remove any elements. However, if you insist, remove the bottom element and send the hot into there. There is no advantage to removing both elements. I've never removed ANY elements in years of using tanks.

80 Gallon Electric:

@ July 22, 2014 4:12 PM in Replacing electric water heater

First of all, your 80 gallon electric water heater is way too big. Thirty  year old 80 Gallon electric has little insulation.
On 1/1/15, new energy rules go into effect for electrics. If the tank is over 65 gallons, it has to meet higher energy standards. They put a heat pump on it.
As far as your adding all kinds of additional insulation to slow down stand by losses, water heaters made for the last 10 years have foamed in insulation.
There are far to many answers to your broad questions.
IMO, you could replace the 30 YO 80 gallon heater with a 50 gallon modern and heavily insulated tank, with a thermostatic mixer, you would notice an immediate savings.

A Bushel of BEE's.

@ July 22, 2014 1:38 PM in Electric Baseboard Vs Hydronic Electric Baseboards

My Yankee thrift figured out a long time ago that what you bought with your Bucks was BEE's, BTU's that is. By the Bushel. No mater what fuel you use, it is BEE's that do the heating or cooling. The only way you can figure out what it costs is to have a Constant. Like a bushel full of BTU's. How much does that Bushel of BEE's cost. It doesn't matter if you take an oak lob and burn it, or connect a piece of metal and connect it to two wires to make it hot, someone, somewhere, generated electricity to heat the metal rod. Whatever they used, whether it was coal, oil, gas or wood. There is a created amount of heat and it has a cost. To compare it, you have to put it into something to make it equal. In a Bushel basket.
As far as electricity, it doesn't matter if you heat a rod with fins on it or heat a rod, in an oil bath that convects heat and heats the air. They still use the same amount of heat energy.
If you pay $50.00 for a 4,000 watt convector heater or a 4,000 watt oil filled heater, it still uses 4,000 watts per hour and cost the same to run it. If the electricity comes from a coal fired plant, it's the cost of the coal delivered to the electricity generating plant, delivered to your house. Its still 4,000 watts. If you think it "feels better", its in your head.


@ July 22, 2014 12:14 PM in Height vs SubCooling vs Freon Charge

I should have known that someone here was a sub person. You guys are the smartest guys in the Navy. Especially the fully qualified sub guys.
Back many moons ago, I picked up a tidbit from The Wall where someone had done a radiant floor job in a new factory building for a wood working shop. People were getting shocks from the wire mesh and the HW conduit A few Sub Guys chimed in with the unbalanced 3 phase service being only a single phase temporary service and the other phases were trying to balance out. That on subs, everything is 3 phase and if you don't keep all the phases in balance, you can burn a hole through the boat. I used to re-tell that pearl of wisdom to the Power Company when I got complaints from customers getting shocked on their outside showers. And that a piece of rubber hose on the handles wasn't a suitable solution. They needed to balance their 3 phase loads. You never know who says what and who will remember something on The Wall.
Did you ever read "Blind Man's Bluff: about Subs in the cold war by Sherry Sontag & Christopher Drew? That's the book that let everyone know about that you could never tell your wife and family about. There's a story about the book. A retired Chief from subs read it and handed it to his wife to read. She read it. She looked at him with tears in her eyes and asked "Is this what you did"? He just looked at her and never said a word.
Where I lived and worked, there was one of those SOSUS stations. The part with the two 50 ton AC units and the fence with barbed wire always had a lot of submariners stationed there. It was considered "Shore Duty". People don't think The Bay of Pigs wasn't a big deal? Why did they have armed guards with rifles and dogs walking the perimeter? When the Thresher and the Scorpion went down, there was a lot of anguish. The Thresher went down offshore and they probably heard the whole thing. They might have heard the Scorpion but that is still denied.
If you like to read, check this one out. That boat was a swimming garbage truck. It had refrigeration leaks that were so bad, they had to carry extra Freon tanks just to keep up with it. There are other books out there that are all for the conspiracy buffs. IMO, they are BS. Once you read what a POS the boat was, you KNOW why it went down. This guy doesn't buy any of it and is a reporter who spent a lot of his life just researching it.

Low Flow-High Gain:

@ July 22, 2014 11:49 AM in Not Cool: Techman & Meplumber:

I understand about the time and the work. Some don't care what time you leave for work in the morning (as long as you don't wake them up) and insist that we be home by 6:00 PM for dinner (and don't be late) and don't work weekends. Where do the extra goodies come from?
As far as restricted/low flow ducting, I understand how restricted flow would show on gauges because its the same as having a too small radiator on your car and pulling a heavy load. A compressor and a car engine are just heat engines. The radiator is just the means of removing wanted or unwanted heat energy, heating or cooling. Like steam (AC is just a steam boiler in reverse), whatever the pressure is, determines the temperature of the water before it flashes into steam. (Square Root of the water pressure X 14 +198 equals the boiling point of water).
You take the high side pressure, and then you know what the temperature of the liquid turning to vapor like the steam. The return vapor is also under pressure but it is colder and under less pressure. The temperature pressure differential is the amount of heat energy used to remove/transfer heat energy from one side of the coil to the other (inside). I still think that my #1 issue is excessive heat gain through the ceilings. That I also gain humidity through the ceiling because of a lack of a vapor barrier in the vinyl ceiling paint. The structure always maintains 50% or less humidity, no matter how long or less it runs. Yesterday, I found that I have many places where people have gone where there is less than 2" of attic insulation and other places where it is bare.
This all started because my energy bills went UP after the install. I dealt with it until the unit stopped working. It has some kind of electronic expansion and evaporative control system. Something went wrong with that. All run by a FM Board. Its supposed to create magic tricks. To me, it looks like a potential PITA board. It has a gas temperature sensor (GT) which I guess is the liquid temperature and a Evaporative Temperature Sensor (ET) that appears to come out AFTER the distribution fitting. That control runs an electric motor that controls the rate of liquid flow. I don't think it ever worked properly from the beginning. Its a Normally Open motorized valve, and the FM board tells it how much to be open or closed. If either of the two sensors (GT & ET) migrate to do Magic Tricks, the pooch is screwed. One of those two sensors told the FM board to shut down the EEV stepper motor. Disconnected, the valve is open, and the vapor line is cold like it has never been before.
I think that the design of the high tech AH leaves something to be desired. Designed by the same people that designed the camel when they were trying to improve the horse. You can't push the same amount of air through a 16" x 16" opening that you can through a 16" X 20" opening without increasing the fan speed, And make it noisier.
Its like my wife says. "You can have anything you want. Just not everything you want". Same with knowledge. If its important, we'd know about it. Like a 3 ton AH with a 16"X16" outlet. Replacing a AH that has been replaced before, so you have a X2 hacked supply plenum that need to be replaced. You should be able to use the same size as the new AH. And if you called them with questions about problems, they are like little kids that ate the Blueberry Pie. "NOOOO, Not US mommy". With blueberry pie all over their faces.

The other thing my wife says: "When I need help, I call me".

Loopy rads:

@ July 22, 2014 9:43 AM in How to loop 2 cast iron rads

If you "Series Loop" two radiators together, the first radiator has to fill with hot water before the second radiator fills. Experience shows that the second radiator never works properly.

Here's one for you:

@ July 21, 2014 4:29 PM in Height vs SubCooling vs Freon Charge

Here's one for you that occurred to me yesterday. Along similar lines.
It has to do with Submarines. Which are just great big floating air pumps with an engine to push it along. Submarines store thousands of cubic feet of highly compressed air. Under enough pressure to blow water under pressure out of the ballast tanks at the deepest depth they can go to. As they dive deeper, the water in the ballast tanks is compressed by the outside water, causing the ballast water to take up a smaller space. Loosing buoyancy.  So they need to move high pressure air to maintain trim and buoyancy. If they start to rise to the surface, the compressed air in the buoyancy tanks starts to expand and the buoyancy increases. So, what do they do? Quietly suck the compressed air out of the tanks and save the compressed air? Floating bubbles on the surface could be hazardous to the health of the boat and crew.

High Altitude Cooling:

@ July 21, 2014 4:12 PM in Height vs SubCooling vs Freon Charge

Because of the loss of the heat from compression?
As in, if I take my air tank and blow it up to 100# and let the tank cool to room temperature, and release the air and measure the temperature and measure the coldest temperature, then refill the tank to 50# and repeat the exercise, is the air colder leaving at 100# than it is at 50#? Yes. It is colder. More heat from compression at 100#. Like that?

Right ways:

@ July 21, 2014 9:31 AM in Do I need a chimney liner?

It might be that the "right way" is the only way, and under careful scrutiny, what is proposed, is the wrong way.
New York has a funky code system. Where I came from, Massachusetts has a "Uniform Code". The same State plumbing and gas code applies equally to every town and jurisdiction in the Commonwealth. We Plumbers and Gas Fitters are all required to take 6 hours per year of CEU classes approved by the State Board of Plumbers & Gas Fitters registration, Two years ago, (2012) this was covered about 3 sided and 4 sided exposed chimneys and that they can't be used unless lined BUT, they had to be properly sized for the applied load. Whomever modifies tha gas venting in Massachusetts needs a gas permit because they are modifying a gas appliance vent. I never saw any chimney only specialists in the class. Unless they have a gas license, they have no business modifying the gas vents. No matter how much they think they know. But, you're in New York. Not Massachusetts.
Then, there was mention of a fake gas fireplace. Does that have a flue? How many flues are in that chimney? What are the outside dimensions of that outside chimney? 16" X 20" or 15" X 24" 16" X 24" is two 8"x8" flue tiles. 16" X 20" is one 8"X12" tile.

In Massachusetts, if you modify the gas appliance/vent in any way, you are required to install CO detectors as part of the building and gas permit.

Electric Baseboards:

@ July 21, 2014 9:15 AM in Electric Baseboard Vs Hydronic Electric Baseboards

They may be 120 volts. But are they wired with #12 gauge wire? If so, and the neutrals aren't twined together, and you have "Home Runs" to the panel, and enough room in the panel, you can switch them to 220 volts. 120 volts on each leg. Most electric baseboard heaters are 240 volts and rated as such. 
I doubt that what ME is talking about comes in 120 volt. Though anything is possible,
What I was suggesting with replacing just the first floor electric baseboard with Forced Hot Water baseboard is something I did with electric heat conversions to keep the cost down. You need a boiler and you get your hot water off the boiler with an indirect or whatever. My point in the exercise is that replacing electric heat baseboards with forced hot water baseboards will give you a higher BTU output than the electric baseboard per foot. Especially if they are 120 volt single hot wire with a neutral.
Is this a really old house with an old service?

Under Pressure:

@ July 21, 2014 9:03 AM in Not Cool: Techman & Meplumber:

Understand that I am not the cooling pro. Someone else is. Those gauges. Who'd a thunk that you could tell the temperature with a set of Magic FM gauges? Pure Magic.
There are only two types of issues with troubleshooting.
#1 If it is new and it doesn't work, "Why doesn't it work. What do I need to do to make it work.
#2 It worked for 20 years. Now it seems to be working, but isn't. What changed?
What needs to be corrected to make it work.
Its all based around Mr. Watt and his steam engine. AC systems are just Steam Engines with a different medium, running in reverse. Both depend on Phase Changes. If you have a 100 year old steam system that worked well for 95 years, and it suddenly started to sound like the chain gang was in your house turning big ones into little ones, you can look around for all the bad steam traps and un-pitched radiators in the world. But if someone did an asbestos remediation 5 years ago and they didn't recover the steam pipes, you might be letting the chain gang loose inside those big old pipes. You want the phase change inside the pipes or inside the radiators? Insulate the pipes with lots of insulation and FM can occur. The insulation removal also cut down on the output of the system. "Heaters" usually understand all that. But "Coolers", due to the nature of life, don't always know or understand what they are dealing with.
Where I lived and worked in Massachusetts, environmental conditions are extreme. In the old IBR H-22 heat loss guide, there were two places that they considered to be and use 0 (Zero) degrees OAT, but Boston was higher (+05* and Pittsfield was -2*. Where I lived wasn't colder, but the wind blew all winter at well above the wind infiltration factor figured into the constant. It never went to "0*". Maybe 10+". I remember pulling my arm out of a broken meter pit and having ice form on my arm after I pulled it out. Blowing 40 MPH. So, we dealt with a 70 degree differential and always went with the size boiler over the design load. The new IBR/GAMA H-22 Heat Loss Guide no longer lists those same two places. Nor does ACCA or ASHRA. Someone though that high wind air infiltration was an insignificant issue. I assure you that it is NOT. But they're smart, and I'm not. They didn't ever ask me of MY opinion.
So, here I am in Florida. ACCA says that you or I should use 90 degrees OAT as the factor for my area with a moderate swing and size it so it will maintain 75 degrees inside. I've already had well over 10 days over 95 degrees in my area. Last Summer, I had at least 10 days at over 100. I've had 100+ degree days this year already. With "global warming", it's not going to get cooler. Los Angeles, CA and Wilmington, NC are on the same latitude. But Los Angeles has a lower high degree design factor than Wilmington. Growing up in LA, I remember lots of over 100 degree days in September. Does the factor need to be bumped up? What a political ship show that would be. I've never been to Wilmington NC. I thought Wilmington was in Delaware.
From personal experience, I know that who did my work was more than competent and knew his craft well. Its the craft of others that are weak. If something worked for 30 years and then it doesn't work well under extreme conditions, why? There are 240 units in this 30+ YO development. Less than half are the size of mine that is the larger size. They all have 3 ton units and I am an end unit with a greater loss. I'm closer to the design maximum than most of the other units. And maybe all the end units are the bigger ones. So the smaller ones are over sized compared to me. If I started to complain that the new system didn't work like the old one, why?
In the competitive world of today, a lot of potential customers only care about price. $50.00 will give the job to a hack. $1,000 will be sure to give it to the hack, even if the customer knows the hack is a hack and is known to do a bad job. When they replaced the compressor and replaced the pad, the Jamaican dug up the old line in the back and found a kink in the suction line. I didn't see any reason for him to have dug it up. But he did, and replaced the line and eliminated 3 couplings. Quality work. In February. If I knew nothing about heat loss/gain. I'd think they did a bad job because now it has issues. If it was just my wife, you wouldn't want to be dealing with her. In passing last night she commented that "WE" sure have learned a lot about AC haven't we? We sure have. Understanding what you are dealing with is key. Give people choices. If they might need a bigger system, but need additional insulation, tell them. Just don't have some estimator spend 5 minutes looking at a replacement. You might miss something.
In my experience and opinion.

Critter Entrance:

@ July 21, 2014 7:35 AM in Exhaust Ell turned wrong way:

You don't understand. That's the critter door. So the critters have entrance to the warm inside. Those critters have a right too. Haven't you ever experienced the excitement of pulling down a piece of insulation and mouse poo rains down into your hair and down the back of your neck?
If you haven't, you must not have pulled down any insulation in a cellar with critter entrances. Something to look forward to. .


@ July 21, 2014 7:23 AM in Exhaust Ell turned wrong way:

Any possibility that there is exhaust regurgitation back into the intake with that Concentric? At least they painted it to be color coded with the rest of the house.
I had a whole tribe of similar photos in the camera that someone needed more than I. One was of a exhaust vent that was installed legally, a barely legal distance from a LPG regulator, that landscapers raised the grade by putting PT 2"X12" timbers 6" from the foundation along the whole side making the exhaust vent and the regulator vent below grade in a confined space. It was like that when I got there. All signed, sealed and delivered by the AHJ's.
Where I used to work, they'd bust chops and deny a final inspection signoff if the shade of white paint was wrong. But something like that would be ignored by the ignorant.

Exhaust Ell turned wrong way:

@ July 20, 2014 7:23 PM in Exhaust Ell turned wrong way:

Check out this misaligned ell:
a metal grate goes over this. furnace kept going out. the grate was covered with leaves.

Air eliminator brands:

@ July 20, 2014 3:29 PM in Constantly purging air in hydronic system

I'm quite familiar of the brand you mention, made in Europe and now sold by an American company. Whenever I replaced one, I always unscrewed them (by hand) and put some silicone grease to the threads and O-Rings. So I could get them apart later to clean the seat. Experience has shown that the seats don't clean easily and just replacing them was cheaper in the long run. They are sold cheap anyway. I used to replace more than 12 but less than 60 (I think) in the course of a year when I found them leaking. When I started to crank down on the cap, it didn't change anything. It stopped the white stuff from forming, and the system still worked as usual. And customers weren't getting charged for lots of leaking vents. I used to pipe an air chamber above the PR valve to collect air bubbles out of the boiler. They leaked first and I didn't have all the 30# Pressure relief valve replacements.

High systems:

@ July 20, 2014 3:16 PM in Constantly purging air in hydronic system

That's true. In open tank gravity systems, the overflow tank in the attic to a place where the system level was below the entrance of a radiator was long and the water volume was high. In a closes HW BB system that is series looped, had very little extra water in it. As long as someone kept the boiler/system filled to the red mark on the altitude gauge, the system was always full. Who ever checks system pressures and adds water.
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