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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on September 16, 2014

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Piped radiator::

@ March 1, 2012 9:19 AM in Waller House

I said "as described. The second description didn't change my interpretation. In fact, as described, confirms that it isn't piped properly.  It doesn't have any mono-flows. And we know that Mono-flows are like your former lazy brother in law. He always wanted to take the easy way around the lake.
An system with a B&G  Series 100 were installed in the day of Mono-flows. If per chance, it was a direct or reverse return, the tees are installed on the supply or return. If it was installed properly on a direct or reverse return, it would be working. Most Likely.
A very confusing issue here is that a "Mono-Flow" system is called a "One Pipe System" even though each radiator has two pipes. There is only one main pipe though. But a Two Pipe reverse or direct return had two pipes. Many of us didn't know that there was a difference until we learned that there was a difference.
Photos please. Of the boiler piping, the mains, photos of the connected radiators that work, and the new connections, down fed that don't work.  That way, we will all know.

Sheet Metal Permits:

@ March 1, 2012 9:05 AM in mass sheetmetal permit

I don't know what to officially tell you. There seems to be a tremendous amount of mis-information on this subject as to what is required and what isn't.
Someone where I work installed a new gas water heater. The building Inspector is demanding a Sheet Metal Permit for the B-vent connection. It was always my understanding that anything that had to do with the exhaust venting of an appliance was covered under the appropriate license. What happens when a MA Plumbing and  Gas Inspector approves  a n installation and a building inspector comes along and tells me that my venting is wrong and I have to get a permit and change it to something that is against the gas code and wrong. Does he super-cede the Gas Inspector who must do many hours of required Continuing Education on Gas and Plumbing codes or a building inspector who has no special training in gas venting?
This whole issue is a bone thrown to cities and towns in the Commonwealth to raise more cash for cash strapped municipalities.
Next will be pipefitters. You will need a pipefitters license to install heat systems. That is an area with no regulations and permitting. Anything goes. As some of us see. You think there is disagreement on how to do things now, wait until that barrel of male bovine excrement gets wheels and rolls.
Your issue is a joke. In Plumbing in MA, if you are a "maintenance person", employed to do maintenance, you are allowed to do things with no license or permits that I, as a Master Plumber, could loose my license for doing without taking out a permit because I am "Engaged in the business of Plumbing. But "minor repairs" are exempted. Or so we think.
What you describe should be considered a "minor repair". Whether is, is open to interpretation.

Reality of Life:

@ February 29, 2012 4:57 PM in Actual heat loss vs. calculated heat loss....

Back in my earlier life, I wondered and worried about this stuff. I lived and worked in a place that had extreme weather conditions. I decided to figure out how to calculate heat. So I could be more efficient. What I learned is that even though they may tell you that they have a "design day" in mind, there will come a time that that figure isn't low enough. One day, I remember such a day. It was 5 lebelow and blowing 35 and gusting to 70 degrees. That isn't in the tables. I remember trying to turn the water off in a house that the tenants tried to save on heat so they turned down the thermostat so the heat pipes in the wall froze and the water pipes above froze and broke. There was water in the meter pit and while I tried to shut the meter off, in a prone position in the ice and snow, ice made up on my arm and a cop stopped to see if I was a dead body. When you have those conditions, you really don't give a rodents red butt how long the burner is or was running. You wish like heck that some rocket scientist had not turned the thermostat down that night when the wind was gusting to 70, all night long.
That's usually the same person that will drag race you for position at the light and will burn more gasoline in that one short burst of speed to beat someone to the merge lane than they would ever use during peak demand.
If you want to be efficient, get ODR. If you want to waste money, futz around with the firing rate of youyr heating equipment. It won't be time and money well spent. I've tried about everything one can try. What little I saved wouldn't buy me breakfast.
And if the house is cold, the sound of my wife complaining about being cold and wanting to be in Florida will send me running to the thermostat to set it higher and asking, "Is this high enough?".
I found long ago with my old Bachrach Wet Kit, that there was a place of deminishing return when downsizing boilers. Sooner or later, it went the other way. And if it is 32 degrees and blowing rain and waiting to snow. I'm not obsessing about how long my burner runs. Its nowhere near design. As long as I'm warm, and my wife isn't complaining, life is good.
I once had a Ford Fiesta, 1980  model. It was a 4-banger that would go from zero to 60 in about 15 seconds. Maybe 30 seconds to 80 MPH. But it would never go faster than 80 MPH. And it got 44 MPG. My heating system is like that car. Real quick but only went as fast as I needed it to go.

Old Mass Oil Lines:

@ February 29, 2012 6:50 AM in mass. oil lines

If you carry liability insurance, you might want to check with your insurance carrier. If they tell you that you have no liability in a case like you describe, ask them to give it to you IN WRITING on the liability's carrier letter head. That way, if there is a misunderstanding between you and the carrier, you are protected. Because if, after you leave, there is a problem, YOU may own it.
One can bitch about the State all you want. It's the insurance carriers that call the shots.
A few oil companies are requiring a combustion test after every adjustment just so they can get a print-out showing that at the moment the technician left, it was running like that. If you don't, and the thing screws up, you have no way to prove in court that what you did, didn't cause the problem.
If you think you don't need a digital combustion analyzer, or that you can do it just as well or better "by eye" because you have so much experience doing it, you are just plain wrong. You may think that you are right, and you may be right. But if there is a problem, you will need to convince a group of people, assembled to determine guilt, and they want to blame SOMEONE. Don't let that SOMEONE be you.
Maybe the State doesn't specifically state that you must bring things up to compliance, but I promise you that your insurance company will supercede in every case.
Trust me.


@ February 29, 2012 12:43 AM in boiler sizing

Maybe I misunderstand what IBR and U of Illinois said about the boiler sizing's in their courses. You were supposed to calculate ALL the piping, fittings, and any place that caused heat loss in the system. As I remember, it is called "piping and Pich-up". Once you calculated this mind numbing figure, you subtracted it from the gross output of the boiler. That gave you the NET output. As I remember, IBR and Uof Illinois did these calculations and decided that you could use a rule of thumb of subtracting 15% from the Gross output as a rule of thumb unless you had "unusual situations" in which case, use a higher percentage and de-rate the boiler more.
So, according to IBR, if you do a heat loss calculation and do a pipping layout, if you use the IBR , normal allowances for piping and pick up are allowed. Gross boiler and DOE outlet is for just what the boiler, standing in a field, connected to nothing is that rating. The IBR rating is to a connected load.
Someone can tell me that my premise is wrong. I'm still sticking with using the IBR rating.

MA Oil Lines:

@ February 29, 2012 12:25 AM in mass. oil lines

Compliance does seem to be spotty, but I thought that part of the regulation was that oil companies are not supposed to deliver to a tank that doesn't have a copy of either form that says that it either was in compliance, no permit needed or it wasn't and now was, and it was permitted for the repair/upgrade.
An oil company I help out told me that their insurance company told them to not deliver oil to any account that wasn't in compliance. I see very few places without covered lines. I got a notice from the company I get oil from asking if they could come and inspect my lines for compliance or they wouldn't deliver. I sent them my signed copy with my license # stating it was in compliance. That was that. I guess that compliance is still spotty.

High return pressures:

@ February 28, 2012 10:01 PM in fuel pump pressure

I've seen it a lot. Usually, you will blow the pump seals. Or, the pump outlet pressure to the nozzle will go up. Blow both the supply and return with compressed air. 10# is fine. I set my air compressor regulator to zero and slowly increase the pressure.
If the return is restricted, it is probably full of sludge. In my opinion, it is not a good idea to switch lines for these reasons. And switching the plugged return for an open supply that is now the clogged supply, the higher vacuum will cause air that is dissolved in the fuel to come out of suspension and you will have a poor flame response. If the supply is good and the return is plugged, abandon the plugged return and install a Tigerloop.
I have a customer that had a 2000 gallon UST replaced. It had sludged up oil lines. I used to blow back the lines regularly. It ran 1" to 2" of vacuum suction pressure "lifting" product from the ground. Now, they have a 2000 gallon above ground storage tank that when filled, has at least a 6' head of pressure at the pumps. But the suction on the pumps is 14" and rising. The installers kinked a line underground. The high vacuum pressure sucks the air out of the fuel and turns the Garber filters into vacuum chambers. The installers refuse to come back and fix it. They say it is normal. I told the owner that they were full of it and don't call me at 2:00 AM when the system goes down because someone will be digging up the concrete where the new lines are to replace the lines and it won't be me.

Indirect Sizing:

@ February 28, 2012 9:28 PM in boiler sizing

I just realized that I didn't respond to this to you.
My choice for this installation would have been a 30, and hope to stretch it to a 40. The customer demanded the 60 gallon. I consider the 60 gallon to be over-sized. But the customer is correct. Explain that they don't need that one (did that) and if they insist, give them what they want and are willing to pay for. She got what she wanted.

Bearing failures:

@ February 28, 2012 4:31 PM in A question about Circulators on Packaged Boilers

I don't know what your Armstrong pump is but bearing and seal failures that continue are usually caused by the motor mpount/bearings being worn and causing ossculattions in the moter whigh the bearing doesn't like. If it is a larger commercial tyle, mounted on a skid, the motor and wet end are not aligned but that usually k\just lunches the coupler.  If the Armstrong circulator is an antique, and you are having problems with the bearings and seals, change the motor bearings or change the motor.
A problem seen on old 3 piece circulator but not often seen on wet rotar circulators.

Throttling (Wringing Ones Neck)

@ February 28, 2012 7:13 AM in Waller House

As you describe it, it is piped absolutely wrong and what you are asking will make the system not work properly if you do it.
The basement radiator needs to be on its own zone with its own circulator. If the installer tried to use Mono-flow tees, he probably only used one and you MUST use two. And even then, it won't work properly because I seriously doubt that anyone who installed this as you describe, gave one fleeting thought to "balance" of the system.
The reason it doesn't work now is because it is out of balance.
Post photos of this "thing".


@ February 27, 2012 9:00 PM in Is this vent pipe installed incorrectly and the source of my problems?

Either way, we have managed to turn the word "Expert" into a perjorativr term.

Return water temp.

@ February 27, 2012 8:49 PM in Gravity conversion to constant circulation w/ odr?

The "I" series has an on-board DIP switch that keeps the return water at 120 degrees for gas or 140 degrees for oil. The sensors come with the valve. If the water returning back to the boiler in the primary loop goes below 140 degrees, the valve closes the bypass and sends no system water back to the primary loop.

Infra-Red Thermometer Guns:

@ February 27, 2012 7:49 AM in Is this vent pipe installed incorrectly and the source of my problems?

You need to go out and buy an Infra-Red Thermometer Gun. They are cheap. Radio Shack has them. Shoot all around the attic. Especially along where the mildew is. You will be really surprised at the temperatures you will find. It will give you a picture of what is going on.
My wife had a knee replacement and it hasn't gone well. I bought her one so she could keep track of heat in her knee and leg. Once you have one, you will find ways to use it. I've used my work one that I have had for probably 10 years. I recently used it to locate radiant hot water heating pipes plastered in a ceiling. Use the thing on warm days and cold days. Keep a record of what you find. If you go on-line to and get the weather, put in your town or zip code and it will give you the dew point. That will give you an idea of when you can get condensation.
The more you know, the more you will be able to get someone to help you. Understanding your problem and how it is happening is the key to solving it. I know what I know about this because I have had to deal with it numerous times. I've seen mold "Experts" be completely wrong in what they decided.
Someone once gave me a definition of an "Expert".
"X" is an unknown quantity. "Spurt" is a drip under pressure.

Slant-Fin Heat Loss:

@ February 26, 2012 9:33 PM in boiler sizing

Understand, the heat loss for the structure has nothing to do with temperature of the water in the baseboard. You put a design temperature into the calculation so they can tell you how much Slant-Fin baseboard you need to heat the room. What changes the heat loss number is the outside temperature. The lower the outside temperature, the greater the heat loss, and the more baseboard you need at a given water temperature
As far as basement heat loss, it is there. Basically, from grade to the floor, you use an average loss of .07, the same as an insulated frame wall. Because the ground will always be warmer than the cold outside air. Then, you tale grade to the sill as a number. I think it is .56.  So, if you have a 8' wall with 2' exposed, you do a wall 6' high and as long as needed and then a 2' wall the same length. Depending on how I feel, I usually use .027 for infiltration . Add it all together and you will think that there isn't enough radiation. I've never had a cold cellar.
I'll have to go to the Slant-Fin Web Site. I have the Heat Loss Explorer on disk on my computer. I'll need to see if they changed anything.


@ February 26, 2012 9:08 PM in Is this vent pipe installed incorrectly and the source of my problems?

Where I live, the roofers use a starter strip that is ventilated under the drip edge. It is always used with those pan ventilators that have a name I can't remember. One picture you posted shows those foam pans under the plywood. If you see light in them as you said you do, and you either power fan it or ridge vent it, I'll bet it takes away a lot of your problems.
If you have Cable and get HGTV, you really should watch Holmes on Homes and his new show, "Holmes Inspections". I love watching it for all the fluster clucks he runs into and fixes. It comes on on Sunday night. I'm watching it right now and he is going to get into a problem like yours.

Heat Loss:

@ February 26, 2012 8:37 PM in condensing vs. conventional right application

There are different piping strategies to get around your example of low temperature at the end of a zone. Reverse Return comes to mind. Allthe supplies are connected to the supply. The rerrns are connected to the return back to the boiler.

Boiler Replacements:

@ February 26, 2012 12:57 PM in condensing vs. conventional right application

Those 40 YO Dunkirks have a value on the shore as boat moorings in mud. More valuable than the scrap. It ran like crap when new with a 1725 RPM burner and runs just as bad with the AFG. They leak air like an old rotten tubeless tire. The first house I built myself in 1963 came with one as a un-assembled home from Grossmans Lumber in New England.
If you are considering gas, the new Weil-McLain GV 90+ would be a plug and play for you. It comes all piped to where you just connect the supply and return and vent it with PVC. Or use Inoflue PE venting because there is no PVC manufacturer who approves of Sch 40 PVC pipe and fittings for any other use but drain, waste and venting of waste and water.  NOT exhausting gas appliances.


@ February 26, 2012 12:26 PM in Adding radiant under floor heating to bathroom from existing loop

That's right.

Radiant Loop:

@ February 26, 2012 12:23 PM in Adding radiant under floor heating to bathroom from existing loop

That might work for you. I've never seen it work for anyone else.
I can see no reason why it would work as drawn but it might work for you.


@ February 26, 2012 11:44 AM in condensing vs. conventional right application

The reason your cathedral ceiling rooms don't work is because you increased the heat loss but didn't increase the radiation. If you raise the high limit setting on the boiler to 180 degrees, it will heat faster and better. As far as adding baseboard, where you don't have enough to add more, you need to know what the output on the baseboard is. Take Slant-Fin, the most popular. At 180 degrees, the cheapest is #15 that produces App. 550 BTU's per foot. Nest which is more popular is #30 at 600 BTU's per foot. Last is #80 at 750 BTU's per foot. So, if you should happen to have #15 baseboard, you can get an additional 200 BTU's per foot by changing the baseboard. This is just an example.
I'm not commenting on the difference between CI and Mod-Con other than to say that if your system was designed for 180 degree water and are running it at 160 without you mentioning any problems, you could possibly have long periods where you don't get condensing. I'm not comfortable with the claimed longevity of Mod-Con boilers. They could be more expensive in the long run. I haven't seen a lot of old Weil McLain GV Gold boilers croaking and being replaced. But Weil McLain just came out with a GV Gold 90%+ that is the same bomb proof cast iron boiler that can be direct vented with PVC and has heat recovery in the exhaust to suck any available heat out of the exhaust and put it into the return water. It comes with all the P/S pumps installed and a SS HX. It looks like a nice unit. You just can't hang it on the wall. And it isn't an aluminum block.
A new boiler isn't going to make those rooms warmer. Only a change in radiation will do that. What's wrong with the old one?

Chronic Roof Leaks:

@ February 26, 2012 10:05 AM in Is this vent pipe installed incorrectly and the source of my problems?

And if they were, they didn't understand what they were trying to fix.
My biggest fear in  business is that someone wwill come to me with a complicated problem, I davise them, and it doesn't work. A loose, loose situation.
If I'm correct and I solve the problem, it is a win,win situation.

Venting Attics: YouTube:

@ February 26, 2012 9:59 AM in Is this vent pipe installed incorrectly and the source of my problems?

Check out this YouTube Video. And check out the ones around it. The one linked talks about the soffit and ridge vents.