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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on April 22, 2014

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@ October 30, 2011 7:39 AM in heat anticipator

The "Heat Anticipator" is a precision instrument, If you look under the cover, and turn the dial, you will see that a "pointer" is resting on a wire round plate. It is like the dimmer switch on a lighting circuit. There is a certain amount of current through the thermostat that goes back and runs the control that the thermostat operates. The "dimmer" or rheostat actually bleeds power and sends the set amount of power through a wound, bi-metallic spring that acts on room temperature and turns the circuit on of off. If the control being operated says .80 A, then it is .8 of an amp. If you set the lever to ,8A, then .8A goes through the "dimmer" and the heat bled off from the coil will be "caught" by the bi-metallic spring and turn on the thermostat before the room temperature falls too much. By setting it at 1.2 A, there is no heat anticipation. If you set it for say .04, the thermostat will cycle on from the heat from the anticipator, When the thermostat is satisfied FALSELY, it shuts off but the room is cold and it will start again. Not until the room drops in temperature will the thermostat stay on and run properly. With the high thermal lag, the thermostat will go nuts.
This setting is a common problem for Taco 57* zone valves. The old Honeywell T87 thermostats came set at .04A setting. The valves draw almost 1.0A (,9A) and would immediately burn out the rheostat. Then, they would cycle in a way where they came on for 15 seconds, then, ran for 45 seconds, and then would run. We always set them at 1.2A and never had another problem.
Hope this helps.


@ October 29, 2011 11:51 AM in bleeding radiators

You need to raise the pressure in your system to get the water up to the third floor.


@ October 28, 2011 4:20 PM in PLEASE HELP --- WAS THIS PIPING DONE CORRECT

Any reputable company that did an install like that may be on a downward spiral.
It's not that they didn't do a good job of threading pipe, it's where they put the pipe that is the problem. And the leaking union is unforgivable.
I'm resolving "issues" with a steam boiler that was installed "by others". The manufacturer of the boiler (according to the owner) won't even talk to them about the problems.
And this was planned by a Professional Engineer, stamped and signed. It has a page of "cookie cutter drawings" from some CAD program on how to pipe the system. There isn't ONE drawing that comes close to meeting the boiler manufacturers sketches and recommendations. It can happen to anyone.
In MY opinion, you waste energy by dealing with the installer, no matter what. If they did something like that, they obviously don't know what they are doing. And they would never want their name plastered or associated with that disaster.
It's not difficult to fix. Just fix it.
That's how I see it.
Or there's more to the story.


@ October 28, 2011 7:24 AM in PLEASE HELP --- WAS THIS PIPING DONE CORRECT

Like I have said, "It's amazing how much money you can save by doing it wrong the first time".  That said, those of us who know how to do it right and never get the jobs to do it right the first time (because we cost too much money), get to cast our jaundiced eyes on piping Picasso's like this one.
Those of us who give a rodents rosy red rectum would seldom, if ever, have a leak on out piping and if we did, would break down doors to get back to fix it before some other Professional might see it and spread the word about our  development of a serious case of hackitis. Which is bad for a reputation.
Save your money and emotional energy and forget about small claims court. Your time and money will be better spent by finding someone who knows steam and how to read the manufacturers explicit instructions on how to pipe steam boilers. It isn't rocket science. I piped up a few steam boilers years ago when I was an employee. I've been in business for over 35 years. I've never installed a replacement steam boiler in that time. I recently took on an account with two big steam boilers. All piped wrong. Though, they work "OK". But they have "Issues". The first thing I show the owners is the manufacturers recommended piping diagrams. If the term "In the ball park" applies to a Baseball Park, these boilers were installed and piped on a Football Field. But they work. Mostly.
I would suggest that if you find someone to "look" at your piping with the idea of them correcting the deficiencies, you have a copy of the original manufacturers install and piping manual laying around. If the prospective tradesman doesn't pick up that manual and show you the diagrams and how the new piping is wrong and how they will correct it, you go to the next one on the list. The only exception would be if they whipped out a paper and pencil and started to draw you an example of how it should have been and how they would fix it. They know what they are doing. That's who you need. Don't get cheap. We who know what we are doing, may not be cheap. But we are in the end when we don't need to do it over. Or another of my favorite sayings" "There's never enough time to do it right, but there's always time for someone else to do it over."  When they say, "Call Someone Else:, they mean, "Call Us."

UL 778

@ October 25, 2011 3:59 PM in UL 778

Not to sound stupid but what is UL 778?


@ October 20, 2011 7:15 AM in Oil fired heat appliance

Here's a suggestion, start saving your money to replace the Bock 32E water heater because in my experience, they won't last more than three years in that application. They are not heating boilers. They are water heaters. Water heaters aren't designed to be used as boilers.
If you don't believe me, call Bock and ask them if they approve of the application you are using their water heater for.
The biggest danger to you is that while the floor heat is off, bacteria will happily grow and thrive in the floor piping. For you to enjoy in your potable water whenever the floor heat is used.
There's never enough time to do it right but there's always time to do it over.
It's amazing how much money you can save by doing it wrong the first time.

Boiler Sizing:

@ October 17, 2011 10:50 AM in Hot water boiler sizing question.

I'm not saying that your boiler is too big or too small. Just that the potable water heating will always remain the same, year around, whenever you use it. The heating load goes from nothing to maximum and back to nothing with the seasons of the year. Strategies have been developed to covet this with larger storage tanks or hot water mixing valves. But a 45,000 BTU boiler, heating a cold house with a small indirect at design day, could lead to a cold shower.
There is a place I do work at. They had a huge Geo-Thermal system done with water wells. There is no back up heating or cooling. It has not worked on hot summer days or cold winter days. Someone, somewhere with a laptop, is trying to control the output by changing pump speeds. No amount of pump speed and futzing around is going to fix this problem. Someone made a mistake. Getting someone to admit it is another story.
I put a variable speed Wilo pump on my FHW system. I set the pressure too low, I could tell right away that I had it too slow. The house was slow to recover. I turned up the speed a notch. I could tell immediately it was better.
Systems are sensitive.

Hot Water:

@ October 16, 2011 9:39 PM in Hot water boiler sizing question.

Understand, you may or may not use more hot water than anyone else. But when you use it, you will be using it like any other.
If your house was designed to keep 70 degrees inside when it is zero outside, and the house looses 100,000 BTU's per hour when it is zero, it will only loose 50,000 BTU's when it is 35 degrees outside. If the heat emmiters are designed to use 180 degree water on the supply and 160 degrees on the return to the boiler, you are dealing with a 20 degree drop in tgemperature.
When it is domestic potable water, the incoming water to the tank will be 55 degrees and you may want to raise it to 135 degrees. That's an 80 degree rise in temperature. If you feel like doing the math, 1 BTU is the amount of heat energy required to raise one pound of water, one degree in an hour. A gallon of water weighs 8.33 pounds.  A shower head is supposed to be 2.25 GPM. That's 135 gallons in an hour. Do the math 
Your hair may be a smooth cut. Like mine. It doesn't take much to wash it. A washcloth will do. Not so with a wwife and teenagers. To run out of hot water with soap in the hair is considered a divorcable offense. Undersize your boiler and domestic hot water at your peril.

Heating Loads:

@ October 16, 2011 2:42 PM in Hot water boiler sizing question.

Always go for the heat loss load. Not the connected load. But, you can play around with the connected load in relation to the heat loss.
Just correct your room temperature range. If you are heating hot water with the boiler, in my opinion, don't size the boiler to the heating load. The domestic hot water load is far greater. A 45,000 BTU boiler is hard to come by and gives you not a lot of hot water. Equal to a 30 to 50 gallon gas water heater.  Not a lot.
Right or wrong, in these low load houses, I consider the domestic potable water heating load the primary load. The heating load is secondary.

Hydraulic Pressures:

@ October 15, 2011 7:57 PM in pressure flux in primary loop

I was told that you can compress a gas until it becomes a a liquid.
But you can't compress a liquid. That liquids expand when heated. And the difference between 10# of water, at 10# of pressure, can expand to 100# by forcing a drop of water into it. A fast pick-up boiler with not a lot of water will cause the pressure to rise rapidly. Like a heating system with a broken pressure tank.

Steam Boiler:

@ October 15, 2011 4:13 PM in Wet Steam Vs Dry Steam:

I didn't design or install this boiler. I only went to work on it because an electrician friend asked me to see if I could get it to run. It has been running for a few years. It had a burner problem. I was there for the burner problem. It needed a new 7800 Honeywell controller. I looked at the boiler and couldn't figure out if it was a hot water or steam boiler. I've piped a few steam boilers back when and I've worked on a few but I had never seen anything that looked like this. I once was sent to get a new steam boiler to work in a Post Office. I found a brand new Smith-Mills 2000 series 7 section boiler, installed as a forced hot water boiler (with no circulators) on a one pipe steam system. It didn't work. It had been installed by an AC contractor. I see it all.
But back to the subject at hand, For example, once the boiler started making steam, it was shutting off for no apparant reason to the ownerr, It always did. The boiler was filling to the M&M feeder and LWC. The Feeder was fed water by a hydronic Watts 9-11 PRV feeder. The 1156 was set for a pressure that was lower than the operating pressure of the boiler. When the water level dropped below the float, it couldn't fill because the boiler pressure was higher than the fill setting on the PRV. There was no feed by-pass on the M&M. You couldn't add water to the boiler until I raised the PRV pressure. The cold water feed from Potable water should have been installed by a licensed plumber. It was connected by someone without a pipefitters license (that didn't matter) and did not have a plumbing license, that does.
From what I have read here and elsewhere, the function of turning after leaving the boiler is to "wring" out the water from the steam. That everything in the piping is to try to dry out the steam to the greatest level. In no way does this remotely follow this rule. I wasn't asked to diagnose the piping. I was asked to make the burner run. The oil part wasn't running and now it is. The gas part doesn't run according to the owner. No wonder. It was built for Natural Gas, not LPG which it is fired with. It was never converted from Nat. Gas to Propane.
I'm going from memory. I didn't take pictures.  

Hot Boilers:

@ October 15, 2011 3:44 PM in Buderus keeps water hot, even with both zones OFF

On the off chance you do not have an indirect hot water heater, the boiler shouldn't run. The boiler should get cold. This is a good thing. When it starts, it will usually condense, making the foulest crap you have ever tried to clean. If a boiler is a "Warm Start", whatever is left behind by the combustion process is usually a fine brown ash that can be swept up with a radiator brush and vacuumed to look like new. "Cold Start" on the other hand has this hard, thick crud with "Kibbles And Bits" all around that need a wire brush and elbow grease to loosen up.
As one who cleans boilers as something to fill in what I do, I hate cleaning cold start boilers. In fact, I would hope that you would get someone else. If it is a warm start, I can make it like new.
But everyone says cold start is good. I've never seen any accurate figures of one over the other.

Dreying Out The Steam

@ October 15, 2011 11:12 AM in Wet Steam Vs Dry Steam:

I found answers to my questions, here:

It's not done to accepted steam piping practices.
Like most things hydronics, it will work. Like shopping at Sears. They offer, Good, Better and Best.
Good is acceptable for some, Best is the best and acceptable for some. I always try to go for the best, and hope for the best.

WH Storage:

@ October 15, 2011 11:03 AM in Indirect Storage for HW

If you are using a water heater for the storage tank, like an electric water heater, pipe the hot and cold to the water heater full sized like you were going to connect it as an electric water heater. That usually means 3/4" in and out. Between the cold water inlet valve and the cold water inlet to the tank, install a 1/2" connection. Remove the drain from the bottom of the tank and replace it with a 6" brass nipple, a 3/4" brass tee, a 3" brass nipple and ell and whatever brass nipples you want to use. Buy a Taco 006BT bronze threaded circulator. The extra nipple and ell is to offset the circulator away from the bottom cover and make it easier to access the wiring. They now offer a stainless steel one but be sure it is threaded. Install the circulator with the arrow pointing up. Pipe this to the "cold" side of the tankless. Pipe the "hot" side to the top of the water heater where you left the 1/2" connection. I install valves and unions and a 1/2" check valve above the circulator but it is an option for you but not for me..
There are many ways to do this. I'll give you the third world way. You can modify it with knowledge.
Remove the lower cover. Remove both wires from the lower thermostat. It is going to be a "switch". Use a "Cord Whip" or for a really third world connection, if you have a dead extension cord, and the male end is OK, cut it off. Connect the white wire to the appropriate neutral in the circulator, the black wire through the water heater thermostat and the other end back to the "hot" wires on the circulator. Make sure you connect the green ground wire to the provided green screw on the circulator. Set the thermostat on the water heater to whatever you want. 130 degrees seems nice.  Change the boiler controls. Set the "Low Limit/Circulator" to 140 degrees. Set the "High Limit to 160 or 170 degrees.
You are good to go.
If the water in the tank needs to be hotter, turn up the temp, on the tank. If the house doesn't heat up as fast or enough, turn up the high limit. That will only be a problem in the coldest months.
You will notice that the water will be hotter in the winter when the heat is cycling. In the summer it will be cooler because the boiler will be on the operating control and the boiler only will start when the water heater circulator calls.
You do not need any other controls to make this work. You can go nuts and try to re-design the world but this has worked for me and my customer for a lot of years.
As far as specific hot water storage tanks, when I built the house I live in now, I had to have it plumbed by others. Who did a fine job. I told them to use an electric hot water heater for a storage tank. They lost their mind. I shoe=wed up one day and found a "John Wood" hot water storage tank installed. Piped as per their instructions. Which I find, don't work as well as the way I have written. I changed it to the way I have described. I just replaced the tank after 10 years. I bought an AO Smith regular 50 gallon electric hot water storage tank. It is the same as the John Wood tank without the 1" plugs in the element holes. In 40 years of doing this, I have never had a leak through the elements.
Electric water heaters are the cheapest insulated water heater tank you can buy.
You can get all nuts and fancy and use the internal tank wiring but you must understand how the wiring and controls work. The easy way is the one I describe. The thermostat is a switch to control the circulator. The boiler control reacts to the drop in temperature. There is no physical, electrical connection between the two. It is already set up to do so.

Do The Math.

@ October 15, 2011 10:27 AM in sizing a boiler

Look at the rating plate on the boiler. See what the gross output, the net IBR output and see how many gallons per hour the boiler is rated for. Look for an old nozzle around the boiler and see what it is. Multiply that rating by 139,000 BTU's, subtract 75% or 80% from that and it gives you a third world estimate of the house or what is going into the boiler.
In my retarded opinion, you need to upgrade your insulation before you do anything as drastic as changing to gas. The gas provider (I assume nat.gas) should be giving you a big wet kiss of gratitude for switching to them because you will be spinning that coin meter on the side of your house. And I don't care how good a deal you are getting from them.
It's nice of them to include the indirect. I hope it is big enough to fill that 120 gallon tub you have. As a licensed Master Plumber, I see far too many undersized boilers and indirect water tanks for the real and actual load.
What you really needed for your hot water usage in the summer was a storage tank. It also works in the winter and saves lots of money.
I'll prove my point. If you have multiple zones (and they are wired correctly to kick the boiler to high limit), start the smallest heating zone. If there's an isolation valve on the zone, close it. Let the boiler run to "High Limit". Go fill the tub. You will fill it fine as you do in the winter. The boiler is operating in the summer on the operating control which is lower.
Do what you want. Enjoy your gas. It makes me ill to see intelligent people buy into what some unemployed person who takes a two day course given by the gas companies, walk into homes and condemn perfectly good equipment that needs some upgrades for cheap money. Totally disregarding heating professionals with years of experience.
If you think that the gas suppliers are giving you such a great deal, and it is going to be so cheap for you, why is it that no matter how wrong THEY are in a bill, they will spend any sum of money to deny you resolution in your favor?
The only thing you will be getting from the gas providers  is a new pair of jeans with a hole in the back. The Vaseline is extra and can only be purchased from them at an inflated price. The Wal-Mart brand isn't approved for that use.

Removing Push Nipples:

@ October 14, 2011 7:13 AM in How I removed a stubborn push nipple

That may work for you. I've never tried it.
I have always put a 2' wrench on the nipple and jumped up and down on the end of the wrench. It usually spins right out. On the occasions where it hasn't, I have carefully cut three grooves in the inside of the nipple, being extremely careful to not cut through the nipple, One cut at the top and two at the bottom, close together. A junk screwdriver knocks the piece of nipple out which relieves the compression of the nipple and it pulls right out. I'd work that all that banging and stress might stress crack that old brittle cast iron.
But that worked for you.


@ October 14, 2011 7:06 AM in Wet Steam Vs Dry Steam:

That is hard to do. And I'd prefer to not plaster photos all over the world for all to see. My goal if it is attainable is to quietly resolve regulatory issues. The system seems to be working OK for what it is being used for.
I did work like this back when I worked for my (late) old boss. Right or wrong. We always did it right, as we understood it. When I look at something like this, and although I haven't dealt with a personal install like this, I could have or would have. But I wasn't asked. I get asked to fix things. A much more interesting challenge.
When I see things on something that I KNOW are wrong and other things that I'm quite sure that are wrong, I start wondering what else is wrong. I remember reading that boilers over a certain size can't be vented with 24 gauge galvanized smoke pipe. That it is supposed to be thicker and welded. The gas for the pilot is piped upstream of the main shut off so if you shut off the gas supply, it is still live to the pilot. I'm quite sure that in MA, you can not use a compression fitting on a gas line, feeding the appliance, even if the manufacturer supplies it. It must be flare. The compression fitting was leaking gas.
There's no separate by-pass water feed. All make up water goes through the M-M LWC, with a 9-11 feeding the whole mess. It isn't a hot water boiler, it is a steam boiler. The cold water feed enters in this "equalizer" pipe that may or may not connect into the system side of the boiler. I'd have to look. As I think on the whole thing, I get more questions. I just want to quietly, if possible, resolve issues.
I'd compare the application to a ten wheel tractor that has the power to tow a triple rig trailer set up down the interstate. Only, it is towing my single axle, 1200# rated boat trailer, towing my iceboat that weighs 50#.
I'm just looking for answers.

Wet Steam Vs Dry Steam:

@ October 13, 2011 10:11 PM in Wet Steam Vs Dry Steam:

I'm not a Steamer and there isn't much steam where I work. I was asked to get a large combo oil and gas burner going that had stopped running. I got it running and when looking around, the boiler appears to have a lot of "issues". Like the water feeder/LWCO is fed with a 1/2" Watts 9-11 combo back-flow and boiler PRV. The boiler kept going off on low water because the steam pressure was higher than the setting on the 1156 PRV, The problems are too numerous to list here. I'm there because I have a MA pipe-fitters license and the boiler is over 400,000 BTU's.
From what I have learned here about the requirement to follow the manufacturers piping diagrams. At first glance, it isn't even close.  The piping off the top of the boiler rises straight up into a large header. No 90 degree offset. An equalizer pipe rises off the top of the header and drops down into a pipe that runs from the ends of the boiler and into a connection in the middle of the equalizer and boiler. The connection of the return I never really got into my memory. But rather than the steam going into the system in a vertical position, runs out of the end. So that this becomes an extension of the steam collector that runs into another room and the take off's to the equipment comes off the top. There is a return on the bottom of the large header that drains into a condensate pump/tank.

Does something like this make for wet steam or dry? Or am I looking at something that isn't there? This system was supposedly designed by a Professional Engineer/Steam Expert and installed by a steam expert.
The owners claim the system has never run better since I worked on it. I don't want to start problems for anyone. These guys have worked their butts off in this business. But someone has a mess on their hands.
I got the oil part running like a champ. The gas side has never run. I figured out that the burner was ordered wrong (not by the owner) and ordered and set up for natural gas. It is run on LP and there will NEVER be natural gas. The size of the output and the LP tank area make me believe that the liquid will never boil into gas in cold weather due to not enough surface area. I ordered the conversion kit, I will install it but I'm not going to fire it. Someone else can do that.


@ October 13, 2011 8:56 PM in oil heating dilema

Did you push the re-set button on the oil burner? Does the burner start?

Weil-McLain BIRG-5 Boiler:

@ October 13, 2011 8:48 PM in weil mcclain blrg5 boiler?

A review of what is available at the Weil-McLain website does not show any appliance by that designation. So, I must ask, where that boiler designation "BIRG-5" come from? Did you come up with it and where did you get it from? Did the contractor come up with that designation/model? It's my experience that a normal, residential Weil-Mclain boiler can be delivered on the day it is ordered.
It sounds like your contractor doesn't want to do the job for you. For some reason.
"If someone calls you on the phone, they want to spend money". If you called me on the phone, and we could come to favorable terms, I would start tomorrow or at least on Monday.
Is there more to this story that you haven't stated? 
I've been installing Weil-McLain boilers for over 40 years and I have never heard of a "BIRG-5" Boiler"

Heat Loss & Baseboard:

@ October 12, 2011 10:45 PM in New Boiler + Indirect Water Heater Question

I would find it highly unlikely that the amount of baseboard to the heat loss for the building would be correct. It is my experience, that most designers over radiate the heck out of a system. Most all systems are over radiated. Most designers round off up, not down. If the loss equals 7.5' of baseboard, you would install 8'. Etc.
You need to have a very accurate heat loss done on your building. By someone who does residential heat loss. Commercial heat loss is another animal. You will probably find that the radiation on your building is more than adequate for your usage. That a Mod-Con will work fine for you.

New Boiler:

@ October 12, 2011 4:06 PM in New Boiler + Indirect Water Heater Question

Weil-McLain makes better boilers than a CGA. If you are going to spend money in 2011, why would you pick a boiler with 1990's technology. I know that you didn't pick it (the boiler) but if you asked me, I would say your contractor is slightly behind the times or he is afraid to up-sell you for fear of loosing a sale and install.
I don't know you and perhaps you are a little squeaky, but don't get tight on something that will give you excellent service for years to come and will increase the value of your home.
If "I" were the one, I would try to sell you a Mod-Con boiler piped with a low loss header to run the 5 old zones, and run the indirect as a separate zone for the indirect. You have the makings of a nice system. Don't cut corners to cut corners.

Unless that is your goal in life.