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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on August 30, 2014

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Air Valves:

@ February 17, 2012 4:25 PM in How do I remove an air valve that doesn't have enough clearance?

Be careful "hacking" anything off.
The barrel part above the cast part will unscrew. Use two pairs of pliers to get the upper barrel part off. Have a new vent available.
There is no way the valve was installed together. It was taken apart when it was installed. Someone here may help you with a valve and where to get one. But the upper part is screwed into the lower part with a scratch thread and will come apart. You might even be able to fix it. Though I'd replace it.

Leaking Bushings:

@ February 17, 2012 4:18 PM in Leaking Bushings - Hot Water Boilers

Among the commercial thread sealing products you used, did you use Teflon Tape and Rectorseal #5 or Rectorseal #100 with Virgin Teflon?
I have never found a leak that couldn't be stopped with Teflon Tape and I've been using it since the 1960's. Multiple layers of tape from the bottom to the middle of the threads, covered with paste, and paste the threads inside, crank down.
I find that things that were overtightened and I mean WAY over tightened, may leak. The only thing that stopped it for me was tape and paste. With Tape and paste, I never over tighten things and they never leak.
You know it was over tightened when there is no tape on it and it takes two 18" pipe wrench's to remove a 1/2" nipple.

Hot Rads:

@ February 17, 2012 7:32 AM in "Seeing" Inside an Over-pumped Radiator

Steamhead, everything you say is absolutely true. Absolutely no questions.
However, if you would install a Taco "I" series 4-way valve in that system. you would find that one could own the pie and enjoy eating it too.
I have found that if you let a gravity system "run" after pumping it. the radiators have no idea WTF is going on. But, with the "I" series 4-way valve, the boiler pump keeps the boiler above 140 degrees (if that is where you set the DIP switches, and the "new" system pump circulates the water that is needed. I ran one on ODR and with ODR, I went there last week when the outside temperature was 16 degrees. The system water was 120 degrees and the thermostat was set at 63 degrees. The whole house was comfortable in spite of the fact that most of the second floor radiators are disconnected. Before the 4-way, the front hall (over the boiler) would be 75 degrees when the thermostat was set at 60 and the rest of the house was either hot off cold. The boiler barely runs, drawing off the 170 degree water in the boiler. I've never cleaned this boiler. The guy who services it never cleans out the chamber. I have heard that he feels that the crud in the bottom doesn't natter. That it makes it more efficient because it reflects heat back into the flame.
This system is LARGE. Big stand-up radiators with 4" screw pipe supply and return. All radiators are fed with 1 1/2" pipe. A lot of water. When started cold, within 1/2 hour, the entire system is the same temperature and the circulators are running merrily away. The valve is operating.
Try one. You will not believe how well it works. If I could ever figure out how to post pictures from my camera here, I would post them. All I had to do was connect the system supply and return so it was a boiler loop and install two PROPERLY spaced tees to connect the boiler side to the valve, and connect a new circulator to the system side, and wire them together. No major re-pipe job.
Not all oil companies clean like that. There are plenty of service persons that do the same thing. I see it all the time.

Noisy Pump:

@ February 17, 2012 7:13 AM in VFD

It sounds like an over sized pump, sized to work at the top of the curve but run at the bottom of the curve. I found that that "noise" that you hear when you slow the pump down is a sign of cavitation. In my opinion (worthless) a very bad thing. Cavitation will do very bad things in the system. What is the head pressure that the pump is delivering?
With submersible well pumps, it is often misunderstood that if you have a well that will only yield 8 GPM, you need a 8 GPM pump. If the water in the well is only 20' to water, and the bottom of the screen is 50', you have 30' of water to use. The pump only has to deliver enough pressure to push the water to the top of the well plus however much pressure you need for the usage, say 60#. So, the smallest pump you usually use is a 12 GPM, 1/2 Hp pump, that may only be 6 stages (6 impellors. The pump may only be rated to deliver enough pressure to "push" the water to a 200' head. However, if it is 200' to water, you need a pump that will "push" the water up 200' plus enough for the pressure. So, you need more impellors or "stages to do this. So, the more stages the pump has, the higher the pressure it is able to develop. It will deliver this pressure regardless of where it is located. If you throttle it down, it still tries to deliver the same pressure. Same as the smaller pump. So, putting a seemingly smaller rated GPM pump on a system, can deliver more pressure than the pump that is rated to deliver more water. It is the "head" that counts.
Well pumps. heating circulator pumps and water pumps work on the same physical principles. The pump has no idea what it is expected to do when running.
In my opinion, you are seeing a prime example of what I call "over-pumping" in a heating system. If the heating loop was highly restricted and the circuit setter said 9 GPM with no back pressure on the loop, the pump would still be cavitating. If the loop was able to handle 20 GPM. it probably wouldn't be making noise. But when you throttle it down to 9 GPM, the pump is trying to overcome the resistance of the loop. If it was a multi-speed pump set on low speed, it probably wouldn't be making noises.
Some don't really understand the concept of pump head and pressure head. It's the pumps ability to "push" water up an open pipe that runs vertically, 500' in the air. The "head" is how high the liquid is up the open pipe. If the water was captive, and you opened it into the 500' open pipe, it would still reach the same level.
Remember what we plumbers are taught. 1# PSIG will support a column of water 2.31' high. 1' of water in a pipe will exert .434# pressure at the base of a stack 100. high. Therefore, if you close the top of the pipe and pump the water to 10# PSIG, and you release the pressure, the water will be 4.34' up the pipe. It will also be up the pipe the same distance with the 10# of pressure. The air is compressed. You can't compress water.
If you open up and let that sucker run, and the noise goes away, you need a smaller pump. The head pressure and GPM's of the pump is too high.
Subject to change by anyone that can convince me that my theory is wrong.


@ February 16, 2012 7:33 PM in 1" main pipe but use 3/4" taco circulator

A 007 circulator is the same whether it has 3/4" flanges, bushed down to 1/2" pipe to 1 1/2" flanges. It's the same circulator.
Most installer will use flanges that are the same size as the pipe being connected to. Perhaps the installer didn't have a set of 3/4" flanges and no set of 1" flanges and it was cheaper for him to buy two, 1"x3/4" Reducing Couplings and a few nipples.


@ February 16, 2012 1:06 PM in Failed Furnace installer blames propane supply

Firesafe is the guy with the problems with the gas conversion. I'm just one who suggested that it wasn't converted properly.
You know me, I'm more of a Soot Sucking guy. Gas is just becoming a bigger part of what I have to do.

Sunrads and Varivents:

@ February 15, 2012 11:37 PM in Just when you think that you have seen it all

Silly boy, don't you know that those tapped holes with the flush plugs are there for a reason" Different vent positions> Like the one at the top?
If you don't know the correct place for the vent, put one in each hole. Never mind that it wasn't easy even when they were new, to get the plugs out. But, you should have seen the method in the madness. One more vent in each Sunrad. Until the last one had a vent in each hole. The Sunrads still didn't work properly so a decision couldn't be made by the installer over which was the best hole, so leave the sleeping dog on the floor.
I consider the act of figuring out what the installer was trying to do and understanding why, a very important tool of troubleshooting.
Because, :They're Smart. And We're not.


@ February 15, 2012 11:05 PM in Guys I need your help!!!

And that makes me an a$$hat for knowing that and saaying something about it.
If I did that and condemed the boiler, my greatest phobic fear is that someone like me might come along and tell you that I was wrong and the boiler was just dirty. I guess I'd rather be known as an a$$hat than a crook.

Gas Supply:

@ February 15, 2012 10:25 PM in Underszed gas supply

5/8" OD soft copper may be on the line but 1/2" screw pipe is higher and better.
A HTP Munchkin 80M (80,000 BTU) has a 1/2" inlet but HTP REQUIRES a 3/4"as line, full size from the source to the boiler for proper operation. Does the installation manual say that 1/2" ID/ 5/8" OD copper tube is OK for feeding this appliance? Regardless what the installer says that it is OK. The manufacturers instructions always take precedence. 

Low Pressures:

@ February 15, 2012 10:16 PM in Failed Furnace installer blames propane supply

I guess that's why you need the low pressure gas safety switch on LP and not Nat Gas?
In that case, the safety should have never beed disabled or removed.
Thanks Nat.

JO Boat Moorings:

@ February 15, 2012 10:02 PM in Guys I need your help!!!

You need a new service company or you'll be switching to LP.
That is the worst looking dirty boiler I have seen in a long time. In a lot of places, when someone sees a boiler that looks like that, they condemn it and tell a customer it needs to be replaced..
It's probably a "Cold Start". JO boilers $*&^ as Cold Starts. They manufacturer copious amounts of Kibbles and Bits. The harried and uninformed soot sucker does a cursory brush and buff and pronounces it all done. It's got a  draft inducer on it? That makes smoke pipe removal a major PITA. So, take it out, draft inducer and all (with wiring) take the top cover off and the bonnet/flue collector off and brush the thing down. Not an easy task. It all falls into the chamber. That means you need to take the burner out and suck through the hole or remove the front. Not an easy task. You only have an hour to do this. Skip it. All done.
But WAIT!!! See that piece of sheet metal above the burner that's part of the jacket? Take that off and BEHOLD!!!! There's a clean out plate where there are HORIZONTAL PASSAGES!!!! AND, you can run a brush and a huge helping of kibbles and bits will fall into the chamber (with all the rest of the K&B's). Then, you have done a big part of overcoming the severe case of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder) that the boiler is suffering from. Most of the condemned JO/JOT boilers I have seen have never had that plate removed.

You may have enough draft in the breaching to suck the feathers off a crow bar, but you have positive pressure in the chamber!!!! OIL BURNER 101. High draft in the breech, positive pressure in the chamber EQUALS a dirty, plugged boiler. That boiler is designed and dually rated to high fire at 100.000 BTU's. And it is down fired and won't run? Get real!!!!.
And I've never seen an oil boiler that was naturally drafted  or had a PV'er, that didn't have a draft control. With PV'ers like a Tjernlund SS-1, where I work with very high winds, I some times need to use two RC's because one won't pass enough air and will suck the flame away from the end cone and the eye will see it and trip it out.
Any soot sucker worth his face mask filter should recognize that that black burn pattern is a sign of a dirty oil boiler that is plugged up. If not, they need to go back to cleaning gas boilers.
What a sad mess.
After another look at the photo, it must be a warm start because it has a tankless. Connect a storage tank to the tankless and you willnever run out of hot water and you can run the system a lot cooler. Use an electric hot water heater (50's are my personal favorite) with a circulator.
Change that wool sock filter to a MAN's filter, a Spin On filter.

COPD in oil lines:

@ February 15, 2012 4:32 PM in Clogged oil lines

I (horrors) always use my El Cheapo air compressor from an El Cheapo tool supply. IT will do 150# but I back off the regulator to 15# and have at it. I blow it either way. From the tank to the burner or the other way around. I blow it into my oil bucket. 15# (horrors) will never blow a line and if it blows, I will know it. I have had a CO2 blower outer but that thing will make some humongous pressure if the line is plugged.
My portable air compressor (the El Cheapo One) is the most important power tool in my truck. It weighs less than 50# and I have hoses and fittings to do anything.
Those CO2 "shots" are expensive.
Because I test everything I do, sometimes as I go along, the CO2 cartridges would never cut it for me.


@ February 15, 2012 6:50 AM in Test Holes

If you do oil or gas service, check with your insurance company. You might find that they have a MANDATE that you test and leave a copy of the test EVERY TIME YOU SERVICE A HEATING APPLIANCE. so you can prove that when you left, it was running properly. If not, you may be on your own.
Unfortunately, there are far too many service persons that don't need to combustion test. They know so much that they can tell, "just by looking at it". Tell that to an inspector after there is a problem. Or a Tort Lawyer representing the other side in a Tort action against you or someone else.
As for any homeowner that questions the use of a digital combustion analyzer, ask them to get a notarized note from THEIR (the homeowners) insurance company saying that YOU are not liable for any damages if there is a problem and no combustion testing is done. Bet you won't get the note. And don't take the word of a Salesperson sitting in an office somewhere. Get it on Insurance Company paper with their logo right on top for the world to see.
Not DA combustion testing is like using a wool sock for a condom.

Rusty Baseboards:

@ February 14, 2012 9:47 PM in Replacing baseboard radiator

If the rusty baseboard is next to the toilet, it is rusty because urine is getting on the covers.
I once found a sign over a toilet in a house that a woman had put up over the toilet. "If you sprinkle, when you tinkle, please be neat, and wipe the seat". That also applies to baseboard heaters next to heaters. I personally try to nver install a heater next to a baseboard heater because of this phenomem.
If you replace it with Runtal, you will have the same problem.
Slant Fin makes a baseboard especially made for bathrooms. It is painted differently and made of s different material. But last I asked, my wholesaler told me that ALL their baseboard is this formulation.
If the baseboard is Slant Fin, Yiu could do what I often do. It is possible to carefully replace the baseboard cabinet without removing the fin tube element.
Most of the Runtal I ever tried to replace Slant-Fin with, required a lot more length in heater than the slant fin used.

Taco Gaskets:

@ February 14, 2012 9:30 PM in taco bumblebee pump

I stopped using the Taco Circulators because my Wholesaler never had the black OEM gaskets when I needed them. Only the red rubber ones that are worthless. And they only stock gaskets for 1 1/2" flanges. There is a mental block with the proper gaskets. When we had this house built in 2000, the contractor had a reputable plumber do the plumbing and heating. They did a good job and I could not have done it while working my regular work. I used a Weil-McLain WTGO-3 boiler. The tank-less comes from Everhot and comes with a red rubber gasket. The blank plate comes with the square cut o-ring. They used both.The red rubber gasket is hard and split. I have been trying for over three years (off and on) to get a new square O-ring to repair the leak. They have been unable to get me a simple gasket that is the same freaking gasket as the ones between the sections.
The Wilo gasket is about 3/4" wide from the edge to the hole. There is no way that you can use any other gasket on it. Especially a red rubber one.

Timkin Rotary's

@ February 11, 2012 6:48 PM in old timken burners

Amazing things aren't they.


@ February 11, 2012 1:47 PM in Burnham ES2 vs. Burnham Series 2

There may be 28 flavors but they are all ice cream. If the child is allergic to berries or bananas, that will limit the choices. If the child doesn't like chocolate, less choices.
When you buy a vehicle, the salesperson should be able to help you with the difference in the cars you are interested in.
Its like Olympic scoring. You throw out the high, the low, and average the rest. Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot. I find that to force something on someone that they really don't want, will make an unhappy customer.

LP Conversions:

@ February 11, 2012 1:36 PM in Failed Furnace installer blames propane supply

Those are very complicated conversion instructions. I can see that if any step was skipped or anything done that didn't follow the instructions could lead to a real problem.
I don't see any short cuts to happiness there.
And it sounds like they had different sets of orifi for different ratings of the burner/appliance. That is no 10 minute conversion job. It sounds like the missing low gas pressure switch is there for LP and must be installed by the converter. Does this company do a lot of LP or is it mostly Nat. Gas?


@ February 11, 2012 10:27 AM in Beckett Burner the end of my rope!!!

Well, Earl,
This is an older thread but if there was a Garber type Spin On filter at the burner with a restriction gauge, you would know IMMEDIATELY that the line was restricted or the filter is bad. Which leads to nozzle strainer clogging and low pressure through the nozzle orifice.
That filter at the tank is like using a wool sock as a condom.


@ February 11, 2012 10:19 AM in Burnham ES2 vs. Burnham Series 2

Why are you dealing with a contractor that doesn't want to give you what you want?
You sound perfectly reasonable and I can see no reason for you to be forced into abandoning a decent chimney that meets code. When figuring the added cost of more efficient equipment, I always contend that you may not live long enough to pay back the additional cost of installation with operating savings.
I always give customers multiple choices, prices and the different values they offer. I let the customer decide. Price may be an issue that they don't want to talk about and become annoyed when someone "pushes" for something the installer personally likes but the customer doesn't want to pay for. I've had customers pick the lowest and the highest. Its their choice.
If someone calls me on the phone, they want to spend money. My job (in business) is to figure out what they want and how much they are willing to pay. Then, go from there.


@ February 11, 2012 10:08 AM in Failed Furnace installer blames propane supply

It has always been my understanding that the paper that comes with the conversion kit, is (in a way) a legao document and you are supposed to sign whatever information that is required. It is also to be left with the appliance. If someone took theparts and information, it could be construed as tampering with evidence. It doesn't much matter though, that company North of Boston, couldn't come up with the information or evidence that could have absolved them of responsibility in the accident so they are screwed.
Veissmann Vitodens 100's come through set up as Nat. Gas. You MUST convert them. You also MUST fill out an information form and FAX it to them at the earliest convenience so they can keep track of where and who the conversion took place at.
CYA my friend, CYA. I suggest that you write down everything you remember about what happened here. You are the good guy. Some at fault will try to make you the bad guy. You can not ever do enough to CYA. Ask ME and Tim McIlw.
JMO, who has seen a lot of this stuff happen by those who are always in a rush.
There's never enough time to do it right. But always time for someone else to do it over.

Bumblebee Pumps:

@ February 11, 2012 9:52 AM in taco bumblebee pump

They sound nice.
I won't use them until they change the flange gaskets to a wider one like a Wilo. I switched completely from Taco pumps because of this. I got tired of replacing leaking red rubber flange gaskets that don't belong on circulators with square cut O-rings.  My supply house doesn't stock the proper O-ring gaskets and they save the ones that guys leave behind when they are using red rubber ones and give them to me.
Go Figure,
Its a personal thing.