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The Wall


Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on April 23, 2014

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DHW Tanks:

@ May 22, 2011 8:02 AM in Water Heater Piping

All may not be so.
Electric water heaters with 4500 watt elements recover 18.* gallons per hour. Only one element runs at a time. 30, 40, and 50 gallon gas water heaters with 36.000 BTU burners recover 36+ gallons per hour. A 40 gallon electric water heater recovers 18 gallons per hour. Two 40 gallon electric water heaters piped in parallel will recover 36 gallons per hour because you have two elements running at the same time. The same as a 30 gallon gas water heater. The two 40 gallon electric will have twice the recovery as the 80 gallon electric. You can also futz with the bottom thermostat to make one heater do most of the work by setting one at 120 degrees and leaving the rest at 125 degrees or something like that. Short draws will make the lead water heater work first.
If you live in Massachusetts, that non-pressure balance shower valve is illegal and has been since the late 60's or early 70's. Just because you are a homeowner, doesn't allow you to do your own plumbing or get some friend who has done some plumbing once in his life to install illegal and unsafe shower valves without permits and inspections. They always use the excuse that it is their own house and they can do what they want. Not so. And installing a cheap, 8" center tub filler with shower diverter is only used by them and their family. Until they sell the house to you and you now are stuck with the problem. Their illegal actions are now your problem.
If the wall that has the tub/shower valve is tiled, Symmons makes a plate that covers the hole and you can replace it with a Symmons S96-2 shower valve. You will save money on hot water because the valve comes on in the cold position and it turns to hot. You add to the cold rather than temper the hot as you do with an illegal two handle valve. You can do it from the tile side. It isn't the easiest job but I have done a few. I'd rather do it from the back side. But the plate, though not all that attractive, covers the hole and does the job. Symmons is all brass with all brass parts and is made right here in the good old USA (not China) in Braintree, Massachusetts. Where they have been making them for almost as long as I have been alive. It is the same valve they came out with in the 60's and all parts are replaceable without removing the valve. Including seats, diverter and spindle assembly. Not so with ANY other single lever valve I have seen. Let alone get parts for.

Good Chances:

@ May 22, 2011 7:00 AM in What are my chances?

I'm impressed with that offset no-hub coupling. I want one if they are legal. I always hesitate doing something like that for fear that someone might take a picture of it and post it on The Wall" and the world can see and wonder. Who did that?
But to your question, if I was faced with that situation, I would be truly excited to have choices and that was one of them. I'd trot right out to my truck to get my trusty 4# hammer and give it a whack or two. On the one with the two ells, I'd probably go back to the valve figuring that it is a forged body and wouldn't crack so I'd crack the closest ell to the valve in case it is already cracked.
Of course, you could always cut the pipe out of the fitting. I use my Bosch saber/jig saw and Bosch makes these carbide tipped saw blades for cutting stainless steel. They are harder than the tar road and LAST. If that were a Tee and I had to get the pipe out, I'd do it that way.
Your options are open.

Heat Loss Calculation?

@ May 21, 2011 9:00 PM in Need advice for heating a room addition: options?

Has anyone done an accurate heat loss calculation on this room? A room around 16'X16' with three outside walls and a ceiling? How many BTU's?
The room I am sitting in is around that size and I have more radiation installed that 10,000 BTU's and I'm not in Minnesota.
Someone has something against Rannai's

I still think

@ May 21, 2011 8:40 PM in boiler pressure issues ?

it is the indirect. If you physically remove the the backflow and the pressure still goes up, it can't be anywhere else unless you have another indirect connection somewhere. You can't make water pressure out of thin air. If you are leaking water from the PReliefV, that water came from somewhere. I don't think it was tested correctly. In MY world, unless I personally test it, MY WAY. I don't consider it tested. If the fill valve/PRedV is turned off and it is making water, raising the system pressure and blowing the PReliefV, it's a cross connection. Contamination between two pressures. All the extrols and zone valves won't change it.

Rannai Too Big?

@ May 21, 2011 7:30 PM in Need advice for heating a room addition: options?

I've put in a few Rannai's. A couple in smaller spaces than yours. Like over a finished garage where the roof is part of the ceiling. The smallest Rannai was not over sized. They modulate.
They have thermostats. The worst thing that can happen is that they cycle off.
I have an electrician friend from Minnesota who has an expression. "They're smart, we're not". I guess I'm not smart enough to understand why the smallest Rannai is too big for this room when it is -24 degrees outside. But I'm teachable.

Crud in traps:

@ May 21, 2011 7:08 PM in guts of a marsh boiler return trap (with pics)

Is your house on a well?
If your house is on well water, and you are getting fines in the water and you aren't filtering it out, if you are adding water to the system, you could have what you seem to have. But if not, I can't imagine how that stuff got there.
I once saw a building drop 12" over time when they dug a cellar in clay and water. They put in 12" of crushed stone and poured the cellar floor on top of the gravel. Because of the water, they put sump pumps in the cellar to lower the ground water. The flowing water allowed the clay fines to be pumped out of the clay and into the storm drains. They had sump pits for the pumps. If you looked into the pits with a flashlight, you could see something simmering. Then, the 4" drains that carried the water away became totally blocked with a talc like silt. Like what your fittings look like.
Have you ever tried boiling off some water until it is gone to see what is left?
I/we need more info.

W-M Indirect

@ May 21, 2011 8:48 AM in boiler pressure issues ?

You are absolutely correct. I have a few houses I drain for the cold months that have them. Fortunately, these houses leave the heat on but I drain the water. I can leave the tanks as they are. If I had to drain them, to drain them, I must drain the outer tank first, then drain the inner tank. To return them to service, I must fill  the inside tank first and then the outside tank so the inner tank doesn't float. It's also why I have never installed one. Then, there's the special Massachusetts requirement for the second dip tube so you can drain it. Which not many seem to install. I found the dip tube in a closet once. A good place for it. The instructions are vague on this and besides, few like myself bother with reading those complicated instructions. They don't need to. They already know all the answers. Someday, before I die, I hope that I will know all the answers.
Did someone say that the indirect in question was a Weil-McLain? If they did, I missed it. 


@ May 21, 2011 7:17 AM in boiler pressure issues ?

If the boiler/low temperature is isolated from the domestic heating system, and you disconnect or turn off the fill to the heat system, there is no way on earth that the system can rise up to 30#. It just can't. If you have a high pressure source connected to the heat system (12#) and you have 60# on the other side, the indirect, it can't come from any other place. They didn't test the indirect properly.
"I" would valve off the domestic hot water coming out of the tank, disconnect the indirect coil from the heating system, and connect my air compressor to the (1) indirect piping from the boiler and pump 100# and wait for the bubbles. Doing this will need a pressure gauge on the indirect tank to look for the rise in pressure. Or (2), pressurize the indirect with 100# of air and watch the water come out of the tank.
If it is a SuperStor, it may be leaking through the flared fittings that send the indirect water into the coil. Either way, I think that the indirect is burnt toast. Everything else you have mentioned is just a distraction.

Welding, Brazing, Soldering

@ May 21, 2011 7:02 AM in Welding Cast Iron to Steel

I think that the welder is speaking of using high temperature brazing like brass rod that is melting at over 2000 degrees.
A lot of folks call "silver solder", by a discription when in fact, it is silver brazing with high temperatures. High enough so that you need oxygen with the acetylene. It differs from "silver soldering" with silver bearing solder that is lead free and you heat with a air/acetylene torch. Silver brazing can't be done with air/acetylene but can be done with oxy/acetylene.
I once had a blind cleanout plug on a grease trap in a pit that needed to come out. I made a tool to get it out. A 1 1/4" plug square head fit the blind plug. I took the 1 1/4" plug, scewed it into an 1 1/4" coupling and screwed it into a scrap threaded piece of 1 1/4" pipe. I brass brazed the whole works together, stuck it in the blind plug, and with a 2' pipe wrench, convinced the plug to come out. It did. The plug is cast iron BTW.
Like my home made nipple holders that I made so I can make nipples if I don't have the right size. And my die stock that can make crooked threads so I can get a pipe into true. Why would you make a crooked thread I am asked? Ever come out of the top of a boiler and it isn't trapped true and the riser pipe is not plumb? Crooked thread. Gets you back to plumb.

CI To Steel:

@ May 20, 2011 8:04 PM in Welding Cast Iron to Steel

Brazing with brass rod and the proper flux would be something I would try first. Welding CI is an art form.


@ May 18, 2011 11:36 PM in Buffer/inhibitor for Glycol

Plumbers' Supply Company in New Bedford/Fall River, MA has it in user quantities. I'm sure that they would UPS some to you. You need the stuff for aluminum block Weil-McLain boilers. They also have PH meters. At least they have them in the case for display or purchase in the store I purchase from.

W.C. to PSI

@ May 18, 2011 11:28 PM in W.C." to PSI conversions?

Sounds like some of the guys I've run into.
I would call the manufacturer of the equipment. Sounds kind of bogus to me.

Old Syetem Testing:

@ May 18, 2011 11:21 PM in Old System

I have plenty of time to test. I'm not going to connect anything until the fall. From the description of the ceiling stain and the location, I don't think the pipes were leaking. There are two old column radiators with their old packed valves. I ran gas leak detector on them and no bubbles. I expected them to leak slightly. Nada.
I'm just in the planning stage.
I got this customer because the sewer backed up under and outside the house. Two plumbers walked away and said they couldn't figure out what was wrong and find someone else. I'm "Someone Else". The town replaced the sewer in the street and didn't re-connect the house. I found the missed connection with a camera and found the town sewer map from 1903 showing the connection they missed.
There was a stain on the kitchen ceiling under the second floor toilet. Except the stain was under the bathtub. The leak was from an American Standard Aquarian single lever valve leaking out of the stem and down the inside of the wall. I'll replace that shortly. Then, there's the cracked 4" CI soil pipe in the wall in the kitchen. It goes on and on.

Old Systems:

@ May 18, 2011 11:02 PM in Old System

The house is complete. The "Gut Rehab" was done between 1900 and 1920. All walls are intact and the house is in excellent condition. Complete with knob and tube wiring. It has mostly old column radiators. Some modern slender tube radiators in one end of the house.
I don't want to turn this into a giant project. It won't happen if I do. The problem with these coal conversions is that there is so much water in the system, they radiate long after is shuts down. With reset, I can cool down the water temperature. The house isn't lived in during the winter. A family member in the past, had all the second floor radiators disconnected. I want to re-connect them. I can reconnect them in the cellar and make it a new zone. The whole first floor zone starts out 4". The new boiler connection is 1 1/4".
At this time, there is no insulation in the house. In the future, it will probably get blown in. Then, it is REALLY over radiated.
As far as the leaking loop, I'm always suspicious of story's that are passed on. The disconnect was years ago. There had been a stain in the ceiling in the front hall. 3' away from any piping or radiators. You only need to test gas piping to 5# for 10 minutes. I tested to 7.5# for two hours and it didn't drop at all. If it is still at 7.5# tomorrow AM, it isn't leaking. More likely, water got on the floor and came through the ceiling. So they disconnected the radiators. If there is a break under the floor, I will take up the floor and fix it. I can do that.
What I want to do is correct the heat system. I know what I want to do. I just need the equipment to do it. The radiator system is just a radiant panel type thing. I have a high mass system with a low mass (in comparison) boiler.

Old System

@ May 18, 2011 9:55 PM in Old System

I have a customer I took on last Spring (2010) with an old house that was gut rehabbed between 1910 1nd 1920. The house was built 1790 to 1810. A coal fired gravity system was installed with one zone and radiators on two floors. At some time, the coal was dropped and the boiler was converted to oil. Sometime in the early 2000's, there was a flood in the cellar and the boiler was replaced with a Peerless JOT. A Vaughan Top Performer is used as an indirect. The supply and return to the original boiler is 4" screw pipe. All the radiator connections are 1 1/2"  screw pipe. There's a lot of water in the system. All the radiators on the second floor have been disconnected in the cellar. One second floor circuit that had two radiators on it was supposed to be broken and leaking. I air tested it today and it doesn't leak.
What I would like to do is use a mixer controlled by outdoor reset to control the radiator water temperature and run the boiler above condensate. I just need the valve and controls. I plan on making the disconnected second floor, another zone.
Who makes such valve and what are thoughts?

Filling three tanks:

@ May 18, 2011 8:17 PM in Eliminating blow back when filling tanks

Perhaps this arrangement is why it is illegal to connect more than two 275 gallon oil tanks together. 660 gallons is the most you can store in two tanks and three 275 tanks hold 825 gallons of oil.
I don't see how the middle or end tank could ever fill properly. It would take a 1/2" feed on the bottom to be the equalizer pipe.
Just because three tanks are tied together, doesn't make it right and maybe that's why. It is too difficult to fill them all at once.

Circulating storage tanks:

@ May 16, 2011 8:35 AM in Finally Installed GE Hybrid Heat Pump Need Advice

There is an inherent problem with instantaneous gas DHW heaters. Short draws will not start them. Or, they start and stop all the time. The remedy is to install an 8 gallon electric hot water heater as a storage tank. You don't use the electric elements. The idea is to put in a circulator to pump the cold water out of the tank and through the tankless heater. The flow will trip the gas valve open when the circulator starts. When the storage tank is hot or satisfied, the pump stops and the gas valve closes. If you get short draws, the hot water in the tank takes care of the short or low demand. You are trying to do the same thing. Pipe the hot water to the fixtures from the hot on the tank. Come off the bottom of the tank with the circulator and pipe it to the cold inlet of the water heater or if an instantaneous heater, the cold inlet. The hot discharge from the heater goes into the cold of the storage tank. You use the bottom thermostat as a thermostatic switch to start and stop the circulator when hot water is called for.
With this piping arrangement, you can increase the control of hot water available and the amount of water stored. I have been using variations of this piping arrangement for more years than I care to remember. In my opinion, if you have solar hot water, I would use some variation of this piping arrangement and multiple tanks to store hot water and also control the temperature of DH Water.
You can spend a lot of money on complicated arrangements to make something work but I always go back to the fact that the ancestors of the Inca's in Peru, diverted a river to irrigate their crops from one side of a valley to another. They had no transit as we know it. But, they did. They took a large gourd, filled it with water, placed a floating object in the water with two equal sticks on it, and sighted across the valley to get a level line.
When I had my last house built, the builder tried to tell me that the foundation wasn't high enough when I told him it was too low. I told him the foundation was supposed to be 5' above the bench mark. That  it was 7' He told me it wasn't. I said it was. He wanted to know how I knew and where was my transit? I told him I stuck my 6' level in that pile of sand and used a story pole and I measured it. That if he left it like that, I would need a ramp to get in my garage. Get the surveyor. He told me that night that the surveyor said I was wrong and they had poured the footings.
I have a huge ramp to get into my garage. I had to have  rock walls so I could get out of the house and pay for a lot of dirt that they took away saying I didn't need it.
Keep it simple but don't be stupid.


@ May 15, 2011 12:18 PM in Finally Installed GE Hybrid Heat Pump Need Advice

That's what you get when you do it like I do. The thermostat controls the circulator.


@ May 15, 2011 12:14 PM in leaking steam radiator

My old High School Auto-Shop teacher used to say "You Can't Buy A Mechanic In A Can".
You can try automotive stop leak or preparations for hydronic systems. I've never seen them work. Replace what is leaking for a permanent fix if it isn't a packing nut or a threaded connection.

Acid neutralizers:

@ May 15, 2011 10:19 AM in solution for the chlorides leaching out of the venting systems

They sell an acid neutralizer that connects to the condensate drain as it comes out of the boiler. It neutralizes that acids, raises the PH, and you then drain it into the condensate pump. You can then pump it where you wish ( providing that codes allow it of course) but the waste water is neutralized.  Trust me, if you dump it into your garden, and you have acid loving plants, they will be happy. For all others, it is death. Unless you heavily spread lime to neutralize the PH or the contaminated soil. In fact, that isn't a bad idea. With that non-existent acid rain and the3 non existent global warming, the plants will love you for it.

Storage Tanks:

@ May 15, 2011 10:02 AM in Finally Installed GE Hybrid Heat Pump Need Advice

No, pipe it so that you can isolate the storage tank. And run the circulator by controlling the storage tank. That way, you can run the DHW tank at a higher temperature and the storage tank controlls the temperature to the fixtures. It takea a tribe of valves but it works well. Your way is too complicated. It is making my head hurt.

WH Piping:

@ May 15, 2011 9:16 AM in Finally Installed GE Hybrid Heat Pump Need Advice

That may work for you.
In my 40+ years, I have piped storage tanks about every way there is, One stands out head and shoulders above the rest.
You don't show the direction of flow to the tanks but the cold MUST go into the water heater first. Being the active heater, you defeat the TPR valve by not having the cold water going into the WH. It needs cold water to work if needed. I pipe the circulator pump piping to the cold water inlet of the water heater, so it goes down the dip tube. I also now install mixers on the hot outlet to conserve hot water in the tank. If you get very hot water in the heat tank, you can control the outlet by using a storage tank.