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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on September 15, 2014

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Working Toe Kicks:

@ March 15, 2012 7:17 AM in Myson 7000 toekick heater

I have NEVER in my life, had a toe kick heater not work. Whatever is wrong, has nothing to do with how it is piped with the exception of the tee on the side. Those Taco "Scoop Tee's" can be problematic. B&G's have a groove in them. As long as the groove is facing the other tee, it is always piped properly. I have NEVER seen anyone install a throttling valve between the tees. It isn't needed. Pull the unit out and make sure that the hoses aren't kinked.
I have installed Mono-Flo's on the side and they worked fine. They may work better rising on a 45 degree angle or verticle. But if that was a B&G, and the groove was facing the other tee, it would be working. If the flow is going in the direction of the arrow, and it is on the supply, it will work better on the return side. But it still should work. I just find that the B&G's with a venturi orifice just works better.
But there is no reason that the heater isn't working properly. There is another problem.

$ Recovery:

@ March 15, 2012 7:05 AM in Kitchen Drain Waste Heat Recovery

Another classic example of stepping over a ten dollar ($10.00) bill to pick up a dime ($.10).
Except, in this case, there will be so much money spent for so little return on investment, it becomes a joke.
Only an architect could come up with something like this.

$ Recovery:

@ March 15, 2012 7:05 AM in Kitchen Drain Waste Heat Recovery

Another classic example of stepping over a ten dollar ($10.00) bill to pick up a dime ($.10).
Except, in this case, there will be so much money spent for so little return on investment, it becomes a joke.
Only an architect could come up with something like this.

$ Recovery:

@ March 15, 2012 7:05 AM in Kitchen Drain Waste Heat Recovery

Another classic example of stepping over a ten dollar ($10.00) bill to pick up a dime ($.10).
Except, in this case, there will be so much money spent for so little return on investment, it becomes a joke.
Only an architect could come up with something like this.

$ Recovery:

@ March 15, 2012 7:05 AM in Kitchen Drain Waste Heat Recovery

Another classic example of stepping over a ten dollar ($10.00) bill to pick up a dime ($.10).
Except, in this case, there will be so much money spent for so little return on investment, it becomes a joke.
Only an architect could come up with something like this.

Sealed Tight:

@ March 14, 2012 7:22 AM in Combustion air

What do you mean, you don;t need "make-up air"?
When people hyperventilate when they are excited, they get too much oxygen in their blood stream. So, you breathe out of a bag and suck in the CO2 from your breath.
I have tried for years to find a third world instrument that I could use to show a drop in pressure in a boiler room for lack of make-up air. I thought of an aircraft altimeter but those are usually ruined in plane crashes.
But maybe this will work. Take your digital combustion analyzer and with the door open and the burner settled down and reading a steady state, close the door. If after 15 minutes, the numbers don't change, you might have an argument with the AHJ's. But you won't win it. You need make-up air. Period. One to get the hot air out, and two, to get fresh cool air in.

Air Vents:

@ March 14, 2012 7:13 AM in RE: Taco Air Vent

I consider those air vents as an evil, as hateful as a product can be. I screw the caps down tight and leave them so they don't leak all over. And I've never had a system get air bound because of it. Only ones with the caps left loose and open.
You need to change the vents by "Catching it on the fly". By, putting a washing machine hose on the boiler drain, closing any vent on the system, and opening the drain on the boiler. When the system drops to zero, take new vent, which you have all ready with Teflon tape and paste already applied, and in one hand, unscrew the old vent. As it comes free, carefully insert the new one into the threads. As soon as you get it started a couple of turns, immediately close the drain valve on the boiler. Open the fill valve after you finish tightening the vent. If you do it quickly (and it doesn't need to be all that fast), you shouldn't need to purge the system.
If, when you are unscrewing the vent, water is squirting out of the threads, you haven't drained enough out. When the water stops squirting, Mother Nature is mad at you and trying to equalize the pressure inside the boiler/system by forcing her way into the system through the threads.  


@ March 14, 2012 6:58 AM in Myson 7000 toekick heater

You can't leave the valve in there permanently, pipe it right and it will work.

Toe Kick:

@ March 14, 2012 6:54 AM in Myson 7000 toekick heater

That should work.
I never install a tee in a mono-flo loop on its side. Only in an upward position. In spite of what the instructions may say, if I install a toe-kick on a series looped circuit, I always put the tee on the return.
Are you sure that you have the flow correct? That shouldn't make a difference except that with B&G monoflo fittings, you have the groove that makes it so you always know where to put it because the groove has to face the other tee, no matter whether it is on the supply or return. And a change in flow direction doesn't make a difference.
By going off on the flat, you may be forcing an air pocket into the coil and when you purge, it is only coming through the tee that is in the vertical.
Strange things can happen.
An acceptable solder job. Nice to see a lack of "grapes" on the fittings and pipes. A rag is a wonderful thing.
Hint. Buy a spray bottle like you would spray your plants with. Fill it with water and spray it on the wood before you solder. Especially the rotten spot on the floor where the pipes go through. Soak the heck out of it. While the fittings are heating up, the wood has to heat up and steam the water off. And if you have any "embers" glowing, you can spray them out. "Third World Fire Extinguisher". Of course, if you use a Bernzomatic blow torch, you really need it. You don't get that with a Presto-Lite or air-acetylene like you do with air-propane.


@ March 11, 2012 10:26 PM in Awareness: A little tidbit

You missed what I said, Which was that that was the first time I had ever been on the property. I was called by the Condo President to fix a leaking backflow. When I went inside the building that was left open for me, I smelled the gas odor. I wasn't called for a gas smell. The people in the building thought that it was "normal" but offensive.
I have no idea how long it leaked. There must have been another plumber there before me because he wouldn't fix the backflow, I did. The first property manager was involved in the Condo Conversion. The new one took over a year and a half ago. The new manager told me that he had smelled the odor since he took it over. So it was leaking for at least 1 1/2 years.


@ March 11, 2012 2:55 PM in Bad JuJu ?

I have never seen an aluminum annode rod. Every one I have ever seen was magnesium.


@ March 11, 2012 11:27 AM in Awareness: A little tidbit

Awareness is a good thing.
I can't make this stuff up. I have the photos to prove it.
I got a call on my machine when I got home from a person in CT asking me if I could help them out with a backflow problem. I called back and made arrangements to have a caretaker leave the door open. Owner had needed parts he said. Never been in the place. Building converted to Condos, 6 or 8. I walked into a hallway from outside and immediately smelled the odor of either a dead animal or mercaptan in LP gas. Dead animals have a sweeter smell. Walked down a ramp to the utility room. It was as bad in there too. There is a WA furnace in there and a whole tribe of gas meters to meter the LP use of the owners. All electric water heaters. I think CO so I go out to the truck and get my CO tester, Inside, no CO. I call a friend who works for one of the LP providers and borrow his sniffer. It went off lightly in the hall as soon as I walked in and in the utility room. The building was hard piped for gas except that all the riser/runs were in yellow CSST Trac-Pipe. Hundreds of feet of it. I was looking for a leaking connection. I didn't find any but on the back wall of the cellar that was a crawl space on the other side, were two gas meters. The readings were higher around the meters but nothing to pinpoint. I stuck the probe up to the ceiling and pushed it into the crawl space over the sill plate where the insulation was blocking the draft. The meter started to scream. I went outside and called the gas guy to come find and fix it. There was a light to the crawl space next to the 30" X 30" piece of painted plywood leading into the crawl space. I chose not to turn it on. The gas guy came to find the leak. He climbs into the crawl space with his sniffer. He sniffs around where the gas came through the wall. The instrument is on low and clicking rapidly. He moves around and says it's really strong on the other side of a steel beam. One of the runs of CSST was laying on the top of the old rusted steel beam. I told him that the leak was on top of the beam where the ground vibration had worn a hole in it.. Sure enough, there was a pinhole worn in the tube and you could see where the yellow plastic was worn through at the top of the volutes. Another person came and fixed the leak. I called the caretaker who was in Boston and told him. I told him that a source of ignition (the light) could have blown the back of the building off. He told me that since he took over management of the property over a year ago, he had always smelled that smell. The condo president came down once a month to check. They always smelled the smell.
I fixed the backflow and left.
The owner was grateful.  

SGO Servicing:

@ March 10, 2012 9:35 PM in convert W-M SGO to gas?

Following up on Steamheads comment,
How thorough has the servicing on that boiler been? How long does it take the service person to clean the boiler and service the burner? It's more than just taking the top off, removing the draft bonnet and soot sawing the kibbles and bits into the chamber. If the door gaskets haven't been replaced, then the front has never been opened. I've seen kibbles and bits almost up to the bottom of the burner on boilers that were cleaned yearly until I got there. And you need to replace the "rug" on the floor after the first good cleaning with a more robust one. Like  Lynn "Wet Blanket" cut to fit.
If it hasn't been serviced properly, you would be surprised how much better and cheaper they will run.
I've spent almost 4 hours cleaning and fixing up a really bad one. Thats replacing the rug, door and bonnet gaskets and setting them up with digital combustion analysis. The next year, it's easy. A lot less time.

Boiler Piping:

@ March 10, 2012 9:19 PM in Do I need a new furnace / boiler?

That's a nicely piped boiler. Whomever did that knew what they were doing. That 3/4" copper line that runs off a tee on the supply of the boiler into the system and into the return after the circulator is a recirculation line to help with internal circulation of the boiler. If there was a fitting in the back of the boiler it is better there but the thought was there. Good intentions. Some of those dry base boilers are tough to get good circulation. The installer must have known something. 

New Boiler:

@ March 10, 2012 9:08 PM in Do I need a new furnace / boiler?

Because my heritage can be traced to the Northern British Isles, I'd rum it until the pigs in the iron were squealing. It looks good in the photos. But no mixing hot water extender valve on the tankless.
In-directs are nice with the coil in the tank and all that new piping and wiring. My heritage comes into play for me because I use a 50 gallon electric hot water heater as an indirect and leave the coil in the boiler where it is always in contact with that nice hot water.  Put the new tank right next to the boiler and pipe the hot and cold water from the house through the water heater. Full pressure don't you know. Replace the bottom drain with a 3/4" long brass nipple and tee and add a bronze circulator like  Taco 006B or ST (Stainless Steel). Pipe that to the cold inlet on the tank-less and pipe the outlet to the cold water inlet on the top of the water heater. Put a check valve above the circulator if you like. Connect the power through the bottom thermostat on the water heater and set it for 125 degrees, Use a third world power cord (A cord whip) with the neutral connected to the white wire of the pump and the black/power as a switch leg through the thermostat. Fill with water. Drop the boiler temperature on the boiler to 160 or 170 degrees on the High Limit and lower the Low Limit or Operating to 140 and take a shower.
I have installed these as booster heaters for gas water heaters that weren't big enough to fill a whirlpool to high performance oil fired water heaters as storage tanks. Its not that I am cheap, but why would I abandon a perfectly good indirect coil to go put and buy a tank with a coil in it. When I already have a tank with a coil in it.
The concept is simple. Some may not understand it. But I installed one 15 or 20 years ago. The house was sold a few times. A plumber friend had to go there because the tank let go. He dragged along a new Indirect to replace it with. When he looked at the piping around the boiler, and realized that it was a 2+ day job to re-pipe the near boiler piping just to change the water heater, he asked me to show him how I did it. I explained it and drew him a sketch. He still didn't understand it. So, I showed him. He was blown away at the simplicity of it and how easy it worked. It will make hot water off an extension cord.
You will be convinced to put an indirect in.
OBTW, the electric hot water part is not connected electrically to any power source. It doesn't heat water with electricity.
And anyone with a problem with it, remember, when I built this house in 2000, the builder hired a good plumbing company to do the plumbing and heating. I told them what I wanted for a hot water storage tank. They bought a John Wood Dedicated Storage Tank. Not the electric that I wanted that cost less money. They piped it up as per the John Wood Instructions. I changed it to my way. It works better. It leaked last Spring and I replaced it with an A.O Smith electric "regular" height water heater. It is the same tank that John Woods sells as a storage tank for a lot more money. The only difference is that the elements are plugged with a 1" threaded plug and the A.O. Smith has elements. Which I don't use.

.395 volts: Just a tickle:

@ March 10, 2012 7:26 PM in Bad JuJu ?

You need to have your water professionally analyzed. One thing to check is the PH and Conductivity. PH below 7.0 is acidic. Certain dissolved solids will make the water more conductive to charged atoms having a party and your plumbing is their gift to each other.
You need a comprehensive water test. Not the short form and not the longest one. There should be a water testing lab near you. A good test used to be around $100.00 the last time I did one. Water treatment companies do testing but they may give results more geared toward selling water treatment equipment. Usually, your local health department sends samples to labs. I would ask them about it. Sometimes, they will send your sample along with theirs for a fee.

Bad Neutrals:

@ March 10, 2012 7:17 PM in Bad JuJu ?

I can't stress this enough. Ignore at the peril of your potential life.
If you see lights flickering in some places in your house and not in others, or you see some lights in a room becoming so bright that it hurts to look at them and others are so dim you can see the filaments, If you hear electric motors speeding up and slowing down, if you feel small "jolts" or "tingling" when touching faucets or other electrically connected objects, DO NOT FRIGG AROUND, EVER!!!!! Don't pick up the phone, don't operate light switches, don't do anything but LEAVE and go to a neighbors house to call the power company and tell than that you think that you have a problem with your neutral and tell them what you are experiencing. They will be there so fast, you will think that you have called the Fire Department. Faster than the gas company.
Imagine a generating facility. Imagine all those wires coming out of that plant. There are four of them. Three hot wires and one neutral. Imagine everything leaving the plant as little "V's". Imagine that every one of those little "V's" has to go back to the plant to make the circuit. If something happens to the path back, those "V's" must find a path back home. Should you get in the path, it could be a fateful experience.
Don't always expect to find an electrician to locate the problem. I have seen "shocking" experiences when people were using an outside shower and I could get 14 volts to ground. The power company's answer was to put rubber garden hoses on the handles. When the actual problem was an unbalanced load in their 3 phase primary circuit where the primaries were trying to balance themselves through the earth. Last Summer, I had a no hot water service call on an electric hot water heater. The power company had to put some device on the transformer to stop stray voltage from a primary in the ground from getting into the transformer and powering up the neutral.
Those situations described here with the corroded neutral bars are deadly.
And I won't even go to what happens to electronic controls with voltage in the neutrals.  

Combo. Pressure Reducing Valves-Pressure relief Valves:

@ March 10, 2012 6:08 PM in HELP! Old Boiler assist needed!

This is probably another one of my incorrect assumptions but,
Massachusetts was the leader in Temperature and Pressure Relief valve requirements because of exploding Brown Brothers Copper hot water storage tanks and "side arm" gas water heaters. Hence, gas controls and the relief valves. Hence, Watts Regulator Company. PRV/PRV's were conveniently installed so that they would drip into a sink if they leaked. The water heater may be 30' away, but by goodness, if they opened, they would leak into the sink. Of course, if the water in the tank was over 360 degrees ( the temperature that 50/50 solder melts), the tank would come apart and the now bomb would usually go through the roof, never to be seen again. Or, if the Pressure Relief opened, and caused the pressure to drop below the boiling point, the water immediately turned to steam. If you ever go into a building with a waater heater biyncing around the floor, DO NOT OPEN THE FAUCET. Shut off the energy source from somewhere else and LEAVE THE BUILDING!!  Cooler heads prevailed and we have Chapter 142 of the General Laws. Which in part state that the PRV/PRV MUST be located in the top third (1/3) of the tank, in the hottest water in the tank. Therefore, if the pressure (which is specified) exceeds the set point or the temperature exceeds 210 degrees, the valve will open and let HOT water out. This hot water is replaced by cold water. And here is the rub. Said cold water will flow into the overheated heater faster than the BTU input of the heater can recover the the hot water lost. It is the cold water that is the safety factor and has a BTU cooling factor.
Hence,I've not seen any Pressure Relief Valves mounted on the bottom of boilers. A water heater full of non-potable water. And it was my understanding that the function of the pressure reducing valve was to provide cold or cool water to the boiler to cool it down faster than the burner can heat it. If the relief valve leaks, it gets replaced by cooler water.
Then, we get to those combination units that are illegal in Massachusetts (or so I was told) because, if the relief valve is leaking, the cold water, while trying to get to the boiler, just leaks out the relief valve and never gets to the boiler. And they are very expensive because first, the Pressure reducing Valve is 1/2" and so is the Pressure Relief Valve. While a normal Watts 374A is 3/4".
Replace the whole mess and make it right.
Or so it seems to me.


@ March 8, 2012 7:53 AM in "Seeing" Inside an Over-pumped Radiator

Also, isn't one of the biggest problems with oil fired tank type water heaters a problem called "Stacking"?
I've solved that problem by putting return circulation into the bottom of a heater.

Hot Rads:

@ March 8, 2012 7:50 AM in "Seeing" Inside an Over-pumped Radiator

One of these days, you will have the opportunity to put that Taco 4-way valve in a system and see what I am saying.
What did they say in Plumbing class? Oh I remember, it takes a 7 12 degree rise in temperature to cause circulation.
The hotter the water, the greater chance for striation. It gets back to Mark Ethertons lazy former Brother In Law. I'll bet you a 30 pack (I don't drink) if you  dropped the system temperature to 130 degrees, when the system is cold, it would mix fine and the whole radiator would get warm/hot at once. Like what happened to me when I installed one in a converted/pumped gravity system and EVERY RADIATOR in the whole house got warm at the same time. No matter how far away from the boiler it was. I have been there on numerous times since, and I never see the system running at over 130 degrees. And that was on a day when it was 10 degrees out. It is usually running at 120 degrees.
If you could, go back there and turn the limit down to 130 and let it run. I'd be curious to see. You won't get condensation with the 4-way valve because you can set the system return to the boiler to either 120 degrees or 140 degrees with a DIP switch.
The valve ends up becoming the boiler and controls the system temperature. It doesn't give a dog dropping what the boiler temperature is, as long as the water coming from the boiler and back to the boiler is above the set point. It diverts it back into the system to stop condensation. When the boiler is over the set point (you could have it set for 170 degrees), the system will always be set for the ODR temperature. And the boiler on a call is at the set-point of the high limit.

Old Boiler Piping:

@ March 8, 2012 7:31 AM in Share a service call

That boiler worked when it was installed.
The tapping on the boiler at the top (the 1/2" one) is supplied by the manufacturer for the exclusive use off a compression tank like you have. As far as the circulator, almost ALL of those old boilers were piped with the circulators on the return because with the old inline 3 piece circulators on the supply, the hot water you see on a boiler with a tankless heater will cause boiling around the shaft seal and cause early failure of the seal and bearing assembly. I will bet you a 30 pack that that is not the original pump[. That some unknowing person replaced the first circulator with that high head circulator not ever knowing that what they were doing was wrong.
As far as the heating of the few apartments, the cause is the White Rogers 3 wire zone valves. Water has worked its way up through the shaft O-ring that the motor uses to drive the plug in the valve open and shut. There is a plate on the bottom of the valve that has a spinning disk with electrical connections. The 3 wire valves may close by themselves but the electrical contacts can become contaminated by the minerals in the boiled or evaporated water and cause a short, either keeping the valve open or making the TT terminal always "live" causing the boiler to run on High Limit. There is a "Warp Switch" that closes when power is supplied to it. When the power is removed, it opens, closing the valve and opening the TT terminals.
The relief valve is leaking because the pressure tank is water logged.
If you do what you are suggesting, you may have a poor outcome or at least not the one you expect.
My #1 rule of troubleshooting ANYTHING is, how long has it been there and it must have been working for (fill on how old the system is) years, so what is wrong with it?
The first thing is that improper circulator. Then, zone valves that are partially open.
As far as this old dog is concerned, this is another case where the PONC can be put where the sun isn't shining. It worked without this problem for years until someone replaced the circulator with the wrong one, the pressure tank is water logged, and the zone valves need to replaced. I used White Rogers 3 and 4 wire zone valves 40 years ago. They sucked then. My opinion hasn't changed much. I've used Taco 57* for years. I just switched to the ESP or whatever because of my fear of the O-ring leaking on the shafts. The weakest link.
That's my jaded opinion. Been there, done that.
OBTW, if you take a #60 Extrol tank (a #30 will work, a #60 works better) and connect it to the 1/2" tapping, eliminating the pressure tank, it will work fine. but if the hydro/air tank isn't leaking, it doesn't need to be replaced. Just drained. It may start leaking soon though. I have hung them about every place you can hang them and the systems worked fine. I could show pictures of some I have done but there would irrupt a fire storm of criticism. But they work just fine. The last one was on a W-McL CGM in a Multimillion $ house with a #30 on a cold start boiler with antifreeze. The relief valve was weeping because there wasn't enough room for expansion. I pulled a vacuum on the system, added some nipples, an ell and a Tee and a #60 Extrol. Now, a #30 and a #60. Never a drop of water again. I didn't re-invent the world, and I got paid right away. Problem solved. 
I once had a pressure tank start leaking and in an  emergency, I took a #60 tank and connected it with a washing machine hose to a drain in the system. Chicken Little DID NOT appear. I came back a few days later and permanently connected it.


@ March 5, 2012 9:04 PM in Is this vent pipe installed incorrectly and the source of my problems?

I'll be brief (hopefully).
Do the soffitt vents. Then, do a ridge vent. You take off the ridge cap and sawzall a slot so that there is an opening at the ridge Then install the screen cap and cover it with a shingle cap. If you do a ridge vent, you can't use those attic fan vents because they might short cycle, The ridge vents work really well.
By what the guy did and said, he's in the bush league. You should have seen Holmes on Homes last night. He did two shows on big mold fiasco's like yours.
I wouldn't be ripping off my roofs or re-siding. That's not your problem. Air movement is your solution.