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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on August 29, 2014

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Copper radiant:

@ February 4, 2012 1:06 PM in Copper ceiling radiant

Where I work, there a number of homes that have the type of radiant that you are describing. It works very well. It is all 1/2" OD tube and stapled to 3/8" gypsum Rock Lath. It was plastered over with standard US Gypsum "Structo-Lite" plaster, two coats, scratched and finished with a white hard hydrated lime hard finish plaster. They have lasted well.
A house I take care of, has these ceilings. I took care of it way back, and was gone for 20 or so years. I'm back now. The previous "heater" replaced the HB Smith boiler with a W-McL WGO7 and eliminated the blending valve. All the ceilings were supposed to crack but they haven't.
It is a standard procedure for the plastering. The Structo-Lite is somewhat soft and maybe allowed for some movement. The biggest danger is carpenters with nail guns and handymen with chisels looking to cut holes in the plaster to find a leak from a bathroom above. 99.99999% of the time, it is leaking around the tub and not a water pipe leaking. But they are not deterred. They chisel away and finally cut a hole in a pipe. THAT is hard to fix.
If you want to become a hero, the connections are always in a closet/space on the floor above. If you carefully figure out what was done, you can install zone valves and get better control of the heat in the house. I used Honeywell "Red Hat" wireless thermostats and a Taco ZV controller. It was a brick 1800 Century mansion. You can have fun with the system if you try. And make some ca$h while at it.
Where are you located? If you are in Southern New England, many of the systems were designed by the same engineer who did the design and sold the systems. Whose name is on the mechanical drawing?

Carpet Munchies:

@ February 4, 2012 10:45 AM in Supply & Return Both Very Hot, Minimal Heat from Baseboard

Oh, glad that came up.
ME is absolutely correct about flow and other things.
About carpet. Look to see if the bottom of the Fin tube baseboard back cover is sitting on the wood sub floor and the carper is on top. Whenever I do baseboard, before carpet goes down, I lay a 2 1/2" strip of flooring,wood, 3/4" in thickness and install the baseboard on top of that. The carpet installers MUST use a tack strip in front of the board, and the baseboard has the proper, designed opening. It is really bad when they run the pad under the baseboard and the carpet on top of that.
I've raised up the whole baseboard to stop the problem. I still don't understand the bottom being cooler than the top though.

Delta "T" and the brain:

@ February 4, 2012 10:34 AM in Supply & Return Both Very Hot, Minimal Heat from Baseboard

Sometimes, some get Delta T on the brain.
If the supply to the baseboard is through the element and returns over the top (as it should), it is physically impossible for the top/return to be hotter than the bottom, the supply. Unless it is piped so that the supply is on the top.
How are you measuring this Delta T? If you can feel that one pipe is hot and the other is cooler, and the temperature measured someplace is very close ( as you say), you must be measuring it in the wrong place. You may have a piping problem where flow is going where it wasn't designed to go.
Delta T doesn't mean squat unless you know what the pressure change through the loop. Unless it has a dedicated circulator for the zone in question with gauges on either side, the flow is just an uneducated guess. If you pipe 50' of 3/4" fin tube baseboard and pipe too and from with 1/2" tube, you will get a much higher difference on temperature between the supply and return. Because you can only get so much water through a 1/2" pipe. Change it to 3/4" pipe and you will see the return temperature go up.
If the room gets warm, what is the problem? If the room doesn't get warn, then, why? Delta T is just an indication of a problem that may or may not need to be addressed.

Bubble Wrap: The Greatest.

@ February 3, 2012 12:28 PM in straighting out a system ,what to do?

I see that you just don't understand about Bubble Wrap. It is the greatest insulation on a roll ever devised for the Air Heads that have gotten into radiant. Years ago, I was told by one of them that 1/4" of bubble wrap was the equivalent to R-13 Fiberglass. Now, some air heads rip out insulated duct board duct and replace it with metal duct wrapped with bubble wrap. One was at the supply house trying to get a line on a new "double insulated" bubble wrap that you pull apart for the double insulation.
I gave up arguing because to do it properly, the cost goes through the roof. So, some "expert" comes along and puts a mess like this in. For some reason, I enjoy figuring out WHY the system doesn't work, and HOW to fix it. If it can be fixed.
The person asking the questions has done a very good job of diagnosing the problems. I would suggest to the customer to look into what I am saying to see if it is true.
I have a customer that has under-slab heating in his cellar. I turned it on and in two days, the water was barely coming back warm. It was flowing because the return was cold. I told him to turn it off and never to turn it back on unless he was willing to pay the cost of the LP fuel. He wasn't.
But the bubble wrap was the old stuff. Far better than 1" foam board that should have been used but wasn't. I guess.

Moving the Steam:

@ February 3, 2012 12:03 PM in thin tube radiator top heating?

I'm not in any way, an expert on Steam. If someone says that this won't work, they are right.
I've done this with hot water radiators more than once. But I put the pipe in the end with the valve and run it out to 3/4ths of the sections. 12 section radiator, stop in the eighth section.
It's a lot easier to get the valve/union apart, and flop the radiator on its side so you can get a radiator/spud wrench inside the radiator. You want to get the largest pipe inside the radiator. You are trying to get the air and steam to the farther end of the radiator. The water has to go down the same hole that the steam come in through.
I can see and understand where the problems lie, But nothing tried is nothing gained. Can the vent be moved to the other end of the radiator? Will the Steam Pros suggest drilling and tapping the other end of the radiator? That seems like it might be helpful.  

Legionnella in potable systems.

@ February 3, 2012 11:42 AM in Legionnaire's fopund at Luxor in Vegas

I've been following this for as long as anyone and am not going to profess an answer. But I too have an observation. I don't see any way to easily get rid of it by 100%. But, you can make it better.
I personally feel that pumping extra hot water or chlorine through the piping is slow and inefficient. But, if it is the slime that is hiding the bacteria that is worrying you, consider this.
I have been draining/winterizing houses for over 40 years. Pump out the water heater and open the low point drains. About 25 years ago, I started to see systems that the installers thought that a "low point" was a bad point in their life, that "pitch" was a musical term, or that a "drip" was a spurt under pressure.
Try draining a series looped baseboard system that is looped between the floors with a finished ceiling and no drains. Installed with the misguided belief that PEX won't split (except where the fittings meet the PEX.
I started blowing everything out with compressed air and it doesn't take a lot. I had houses that I drained with not a single problem in years. When I started draining with air, I was astounded at how much water was still in the system and not causing a freeze up split or push out. In the Spring, when I re-fill the systems, it is amazing to see the nasty greenish schmeg that comes out of the water pipes. 
So, IMO, if you want to do a better job of getting rid of the environment for bacteria, drain and blow out the system with air. Legionella is an anaerobic bacteria and can not live in air or oxygen, It is NOT an aerobic Bacteria. If you introduce air into the system, it will not survive. The swirling of the air and water through the pipes will clean the inside of the pipes. If you are into chlorination, blow it out first, introduce the chlorine with water and blow it all out. Sometimes the air/water vapor/mist that comes out of the system when being blown by air is really astringent and nasty.
I know that houses that get drained annually, will have less Legionella hiding in the pipes.
The bacteria that you get from shower heads are in the aerosol spray from the shower head and are inhaled into the lungs from the contaminated water droplets.

Sunny Thoughts:

@ February 3, 2012 10:46 AM in Indirect water heaters

How well does that work once the sun goes down and before it comes up?
Like designing heat loss in a room facing the south and allowing for Solas Gain, when it is coldest in the middle of the night and the moon is up. No wind and radiational cooling.
I'll need the scraper on the windows of the truck tomorrow.

Indirect Power:

@ February 3, 2012 10:39 AM in Indirect water heaters

AMEN !!!
Like bringing a pocket knife to a gun fight.


@ January 30, 2012 6:59 AM in burner size change can I

You can't fire an EZ-2 any lower than 1.50 GPH because the burner is designed to fire at over 1.50 GPH or higher. And it doesn't run as well as it could because it is at the bottom of its range. An EZ-1 fires up to 1.65 GPH and will run better at 1.50 GPH or lower.

If you want to convert it to an EZ-1, you need to call Carlin. Website and numbers are above. But you need professional help with this.
You can replace it with an EZ-1 burner but I have found that the 99 FRD is a nicer choice and is more adjustable in range. I just don't know what Carlin Teck Support has to say about it.
There are other things you can do first before getting radical with the burner. Set the high limit control to 170 degrees and see how it heats the house and how the domestic hot water is. Then try 160 degrees. If it gets really cold out, and the house doesn't maintain temperature, turn the high limit back up.

Pumping Away and Air:

@ January 29, 2012 9:55 PM in 2 radiators on hot H20 get cold a day or two after bleeding now; Help?

Cavitation from the impellor and cavitation around the impeller. And the water doesn't need to be all that hot. Plenty of friction from the spinning impeller going no where.
The same scenario as with ejector "Jet" water pumps. If the pressure drops, and the flow is restricted, friction causes cavitation/steaming and the longer it runs, the more air it makes that goes into the system.
I saw it again the other day. Someone wanted to know if an in-line 3 piece circulator would work better than the 007 he was going to have to replace for the third time. I looked it over and decided that the problem was that the system pressure wasn't high enough. I raised the pressure and it came without purging but a lot of air. The relief valve was dripping on the floor. He kept the fill valve off. And the Extrol tank was shot. All pumps depend on a flow of liquid to keep the pump cool.
Its kind of like your lazy brother in law and the tow boat. If the boat is heavy, and you have a high speed prop on it, when you try to jerk the BIL up on the skis and you wind up the motor too fast, the prop may cavitate and over rev the engine. Back off the throttle and let the prop get back its bite. You don't want to over rev the motor or you will blow it. Put on a "Barge Prop" and try to pull him up, and you may over stress the engine from the excessive load.
Put a stethoscope on the pump body of an over pumped zone. If you hear a "guush, guush" noise, it's cavitation.


@ January 29, 2012 6:07 PM in 2 radiators on hot H20 get cold a day or two after bleeding now; Help?

And under the right adverse conditions, here is a situation where the circulator on the supply, "pumping away" will cause air in the system that ends up in the upper floor radiators.
But no one will believe that.
The system pressure is wromg, the pressure gauge on the boiler must not read correctly, and the Extrol tank is broken. If it is a regular expansion type tank, it is waterlogged or way too small. And the supply temperature is too high.


@ January 29, 2012 5:47 PM in why the plumber connected the supply and return ends together

That 'il git 'er dun.

Utility Pumps:

@ January 29, 2012 5:43 PM in How to drain boiler without a floor drain

This pump will do you fine. Some of us have used these for years for doing about anything you can imagine.
I use one of these for pumping anti-freeze into systems and anywhere I need to "suck" something out. Otherwise, I use an air compressor. If it were a hot water boiler, I would drain it with my air compressor. You can't do it with a steam boiler unless you block all the air vents. And that isn't practical.

Floor Drains:

@ January 29, 2012 4:18 PM in How to drain boiler without a floor drain

If you have a drain in the floor that doesn't work, and you see the main drain/sewer leave the building in a horizontal plane, through the wall, it is a good possibility that the floor drain is there for looks. The floor drain may have been connected to a municipal sewer but if there is ever any flooding of the municipal sewer, water seeks its own level.  Some municipalities won't allow floor drains below grade in cellars unless they go into sumps with back flow devices.
Small utility pumps can be had for $100 or less. 

Slow Ramps:

@ January 29, 2012 3:56 PM in Any ideas - Buderus GB142 ramps up slowly

Skip one Latte at Starbucks and it will more than cover what you MIGHT spend on electricity on the slow speed ramp up for the next two or more years.

2" Mono-flo Mains:

@ January 29, 2012 11:13 AM in Ideas on indoor temp control opions

I know of a job, done for a very well known public figure, that was designed like this one. The 2" main was run at the first floor ceiling with zone valves to control the different room/floor zones. The first floor didn't work because Monoflows don't like to pump down. If a large percentage of the zone valves were closed, there wasn't enough flow pressure through the 2" mono-flo main when the loops were closed off. It was a bad design. An attempt to correct it was done some years ago by a HVAC person (True Airhead) and I don't know the results of the "Fix".
If "I" were to try to "fix" that system and yours, I would go with temperature/boiler control. If it isn't a condensing boiler, I would use a hydraulic separator or better, a 4 way mixer that is ODR controlled and make the system temperature be controlled by the ODR and 4-way. That's the only way you will keep enough zone valves open to keep the pressure up to make the Mono-Flo's work properly. Especially any that flow down. I'd let the boiler run in non condensing mode and controll the system,

Reverse return

@ January 29, 2012 7:43 AM in why the plumber connected the supply and return ends together

If there is a problem or a worry, I would disconnect the return at the last return tee before the boiler and cap the 1". Disconnect the by-pass connection and connect the return after the last/first loop and run the 1" back to the old return on the boiler.
That should make that lazy butt brother in law earn his keep.

Circulation pumps unused:

@ January 28, 2012 11:28 PM in Cirualation pump

It seems to me that the original installer was trying to get balanced and even flow through the two boilers. Its hard to see but it looks like the take-offs too and from the system is about exactly in the middle of the developed piping. I would think that they should be wired to run together so that they ran when any or all of the system circulators were to run.
Is there a control to stage the boilers? To make one or both run on demand?
It seems to me that the Mark Etherton rule could come to play. About his lazy brother in law going around in circles. It would be nice to research the reason for not connecting the boiler circulators or what happens if you connect them up.

Recurring Air Problem:

@ January 28, 2012 5:56 PM in Re-occurring air problem

First, check the PEX tubing to be SURE that it is Heat Pex (HePEX) and not Aqua PEX. There IS a difference.
Next time you go there, and the system hasn't been running, take note of the system pressure. You say that it is 18-20# PSI (when cold?). Turn all thermostats up high and make the system go as high as you can get it. Up to the high limit setting. Note how high the system pressure rises to.
The Extrol tank may be undersized and be under pressurized. This has been an ongoing problem. The removal of the float vents and replacing them with coil vents was an attempt to solve a problem that they didn't understand. They probably leave the fill valve off and when the system gets cold and contracts, air is being drawn in. If the PEX is Aqua PEX, all bets are off. You will never resolve the issue caused by others.  

Electronic Aquastat:

@ January 28, 2012 5:38 PM in L7224 ELECTRONIC AQUASTAT

That control will do many things that the controls it replaced could only do by themselves. There is a way to set it up to do what you want. If the instructions are there, you may be able to figure it out. But they are not easy to understand. I doubt you know enough to muddle through the process.
That said, in my personal opinion, it is a really good idea to set that oil boiler up as a cold start. It will condense like crazy and form a box or two of Kibbles and Bits inside the passageways. This debris must be cleaned out thoroughly every year and most cleaners only do a barely acceptable job. It can take me over two hours to clean a boiler like yours. My own personal oil boiler (W-M WTGO-3) is a warm start. I have the operating/low limit set at 140 degrees and the high limit at 170 degrees. Every year, I clean the sections/passageways with a fluffy radiator brush and the brown ash residue just falls into the chamber and gets burned off.
You are probably victim of the installer or someone previous to you who doesn't read well and didn't read the operating instructions for the control.
Unless you can figure out the sequencing of the buttons in the control, you may need professional help.
OBTW, dirty, plugged up boiler passageways do not promote fuel savings.

Missing proper control?

@ January 28, 2012 11:52 AM in taco question

I think you may have an improper or missing control in the loop.
Or you don't understand how it is supposed to work.
With a "triple acting control" with a Low Limit/Circulator control in the loop, the low limit is the operating control and maintains boiler temperature at all times at what ever you set the setting at. Say 150 degrees. The boiler will always maintain a temperature of somewhere around 150 degrees. When the thermostat calls, it over rides the operating control and flips the control up to the High Limit. Say, 180 degrees. The burner is now supposed to run until it explodes the boiler, the heat call ends, or the high limit is reached. And the circulator is also powered through the thermostat call. But, it is also wired through the low limit. If the boiler temperature drops below the set point (150 degrees), it stops the circulator. Until the boiler catches up with the temperature. Zone Control or Zone Relay ( I can never remember which) is broken when the circulator call to stop is supposed to stop the relay from allowing the circulators to run when the boiler is below the operating set point. The burner should NEVER stop. If the burner is stopping when you turn the operating control down, the wiring is incorrect.
I recently found a control with the yellow wire that normally feeds the one circulator being used to power a SR 503. It had issues. It worked to the satisfaction of the person who wired it when they left, but is wasn't correct.
The ZC/ZR connections are the most mis-understood  in heating control and wiring.


@ January 28, 2012 8:56 AM in Viessmann Coaxial Venting.

Install a sheep (metal or plywood) that extends to either side and in front of the vent with some air space  between the sheet and the roof overhang so that the condensate collects on the sheet and not the roof overhang.
The soffit vents should be blocked within the specified distance for the openings in the vent terminal instructions. I have always considered soffit vents in the same category as windows, doors and fresh air openings. The exhaust has no business in the attic. And yo have no business up there smelling it if you can.
I personally would consider it a faulty venting. Even if an AHJ approves it.
A sheet or plate will diffuse the exhaust out and away from the termination.