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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on April 17, 2014

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Indirects and Tankless's:

@ April 17, 2011 9:16 AM in Yet another conversion question.

Oh yeah, and you don't even need to change the piping feeding the water heater and going to the hot water fixtures.

Indirect and Tankless's

@ April 17, 2011 9:13 AM in Yet another conversion question.

Here's the point to ponder.
You said that the tank less on your oil boiler wouldn't give you enough hot water for your wife to take a good shower. So you put in a water heater and that solved your problem, more or less.
I haven't figured how to post photos to this site from my albums so, I can't show you.
You need an indirect but the cost,,,,,
You know what the cost of an indirect would be. We don't discuss pricing here. I'm not. But in generalities, could around $3000 be a reasonable amount for buying an indirect, controls, circulators, wiring and piping, and adding labor to the cost be reasonable? In a large ballpark +/-?
And if I came along to service your burner and said to you, (I'm a Licensed, Master Plumber) you know, for less than $1000 bucks, I could convert that electric water heater to a storage tank that is really an indirect without all the extra piping. Just with a bronze Taco 006 circulator. And you can drop the temperature in your system to something like 140 degree operating temperature and a 160 degree high limit. Whatever you need. And completely disconnect that 30 Amp 240 volt line and run the circulator from the wiring you already have with a cord whip. Would you find that reasonable?
In 1971, I built completely from scratch, a 5 bedroom house. I built most of the block foundation, framed it, plumbed it, heated it, wired it, sheet rocked it, finished it, painted it and lived in it until 1985. My wife and I did ALL the work. We had 4 teenagers. I had the same boiler as you, I think it was a Weil-McLain 566 though. I fired it at 1.00 GPH with a Carlin 100 CRD. I had a 30 gallon copper storage tank and it leaked after 5 years due to the acidic well water where we lived. I replaced it with a 50 gallon electric water heater. I have been using electric water heaters as storage tanks since 1976 since I went in business. There were six of us, three teenage girls. We never once ran out of hot water.
I have a customer that has a home where I work. She has a Burnham oil boiler in a modular home that she had built. It had a tank less only. She didn't like the extreme swings of hot water. I told her that I could install what I do and she could run her system at a lower temperature and have her domestic water much cooler and never run out of hot water. I installed it and she loved it. She then asked her plumber in Belmont, MA to do the same thing in her house. He only would put in an indirect. He didn't believe or understand when I had done. She asked me to speak to him but I didn't and gave her a drawing and she took photos. He did it. It works as well as her house where I live. She knew what it cost her to have me do what I did for her. She was willing to pay for the cost of what she had done where I work. She wasn't willing to pay for what the Belmont plumber proposed to do.
It's called "Selling". Give someone what they want at a price they can afford and be happy with. I sell down and work up. Some sell up and work down. Some customers (I would be one) think you are trying to screw them if you sell up and work down. When you sell down and work up, the customer feels that you have given them a choice.
Don't get me wrong. I like in-directs. I like selling them. I also like selling tank less conversions when I can.
And in MY opinion, an indirect is just a tank less, taken out of a boiler and put in a water heater. A tank is a tank, the world around.

Heat/Gas is off:

@ April 17, 2011 8:01 AM in My heat is off

Do what you wish. You may be getting yourself into a serious legal area.
I bought a house with gas heat. The records were supposed to have been transferred to me from the previous owner by "someone" other than myself. A few days later, after we moved in, the gas was shut off. Not for non-payment but because the old owner notified the gas company that they were no longer responsible for the bill. They had no record of me. I was a new customer. The gas was not shut off at the meter. It had been shut off at the street. So miscreants that hadn't payed their bills couldn't go out and turn on the gas without proper authorization. Most gas (if not all) gas providers take a very dim view of customers touching their property. They own the meter. You don't own it. That's why YOU have a gas valve inside the building. For YOU. They have valves for THEM. If they choose to turn it off at the meter and not in the street, that is their choice. If they turn it off in the street, you won't have the tools to turn it back on. Let alone find the shut-off unless you see where they dug. And it isn't in the middle of the street.
If you choose to turn this gas on without their permission (and you won't get it), you may suffer serious blow back.
Do as you wish.

Fuel Filters:

@ April 17, 2011 7:43 AM in pre-filter on the oil supply line?

If you have only one filter, you should have two. It should be a
Spin-On" type like a Garber with a restriction gauge on the burner filter. The other filter, a spin-on type should go at the tank. There are some who feel that this is unnecessary or use another type of filter like a canister type. Like a Fulflo FB4 or a General but I find that they do not trap sludge at any way near the rate that the Garbers do. Some even install canisters as a "Pre-Filter" without the filter element thinking that it is like a "sludge Pot" to catch the "sludge". Which just flows by.
In my (seemingly minority) opinion, a filter should be equal or smaller than the smallest mesh filter in the system. If the filter will let fine sludge past and plug the nozzle strainer, the filter micron size is too big, If the fine particulate passes the filter(s) and clogs the nozzle strainer, the filter mesh is too large. There was nothing wrong with the nozzle. Just the strainer. When the strainer plugs, the pressure to the nozzle drops giving the impression that the nozzle is bad.
Inquiring minds (like mine) noticed years ago that when I pulled the nozzle assembly out of a dirty boiler that had been recently cleaned by myself and I held up the assembly with the nozzle down, very little if any oil would run out of the nozzle. If I changed the nozzle and it was fine, and I tried the same thing with draining the nozzle assembly, the oil flowed out rapidly. One day, I tried changing just the strainer. It worked like the new nozzle that it was. That's when I stopped using canister types at the tank and switched ALL my customers over to spin-ons. I have never had a clogged nozzle strainer since. And that was many years ago.
If you do it this way, with a restriction gauge at the burner filter, when the vacuum starts to go up, the first filter is plugging up. It is protecting the second filter. The second filter at the burner is protecting the rest.
So I must ask? Did you pay for the service call or did the service company do it for free (essentially, paying for the call)? How much would it cost to put a second DECENT filter at the tank if it saved a free service call for the service company or to you for needing the service? I go with the second filter. I hate arguing over call-backs. If I agree to not charge you, I took money out of MY pocket. If you don't agree to put the proper filtration in, the call is on you. If you don't do as I suggest, and you won't pay for the second call because of a dirty filter that isn't a spin-on, I will need to wish you health, happiness and long distance.

CE detecectors:

@ April 16, 2011 2:20 PM in Combusion Air Vents for Boilers, Dryers & Water Heaters?

What kind of CO detectors are they going to use?
I have a UEI # CO71A that I carry everywhere. It is idiot proof and seems to be very accurate. It wasn't expensive for what it does.
I'm really surprised at the places I get alarm readings.
The one I have I consider like a seat belt. It's only good if you turn it on. I've had times when I thought that something might be there and there wasn't. And times when I knew that things were OK and they weren't. Not dangerous mind you, but knowing that I checked.

Sodium Chloride:

@ April 15, 2011 9:55 PM in softened water in boilers

Where does the Chlorides go in a water softener? They go out in the back wash. Only the Sodium stays behind in the cation beads. It doesn't leave until an ion of hardness comes by and the exchange takes place. Everything I ever read about water treatment/water softening said that the sodium levels in treated water were very, very low. At least that is what the WQA said when I studied and got certified, back many years ago. Water treatment is a PITA.
It is deceiving to use the AMA recommendations on salt because they are rather extreme. EPA considers sodium levels over 20 Mg/L as a problem. And some extremist health departments have used this number to create problems in well water. But the EPA level is actually a range from 20 Mg/L to 240 Mg/L. There is 25 Mg/L of sodium in a 8 Oz can of Diet Pepsi. To give an example of how much 20 Mg of Sodium is, take a table salt shaker and try to shake as little salt into the palm of your hand. One shake. That's more than 20 Mg. That's in an 8 Oz serving of Diet Pepsi. I think that cows milk (whole) is 120 Mg or 240. I don't have any to look at.
High acid or low PH is a bigger problem. Where I work, all domestic water is ground water/well water. It is ALL low PH. It creates incredible problems in heating and domestic hot water systems. If you have water with a low PH, you will have worse copper damage than from "softened" water. "Hard" water usually means that a lot of dissolved solids in the water. It can be calcium, magnesium and iron along with other things. Iron is a form of hardness. A water softener will remove iron that is out of suspension. Ferris or ferric. I can never remember which is which. One is clear, one isn't.
I really don't think that the amount of sodium left in water after going through a properly maintained and operated water softening treatment system will do much damage. A heating system that has leaks, where it has water added and the water is acidic and has clear iron in suspension will cause far more problems.
In my acidic Cape Cod water, I have a neutralizing filter. When the filter needs to be replenished, I get green and blue stains in the shower. The soap comes off just fine. In Florida, where they treat the hard water with something, and it still has a lot of hardened in it, it is hard to get all the soap off and to get it to suds.
My take on water treatment though is that when you have a problem, and you try to treat it, two more pop up. There's nothing like good water.


@ April 15, 2011 6:25 PM in loud HARUMMMPH when Buderus+Riello boiler tries to start

Your assessment of the problem may be right. I've never found it to be so.
If I was the tech that tuned up your equipment, and it was behaving (as you say) after I left, I would HOPE, (no, I would EXPECT) to get a call from you so I could come and fix your problem. We all make mistakes. 87.5% sounds like pretty remarkable numbers. Whenever I tried to get a CO2 number high enough to get an efficiency as high as that, I got smoke, which led to soot. And a lot of other problems. Like what you have.
Call whomever cleaned it and ask them about it.
That's MY take on your situation.


@ April 15, 2011 6:25 PM in loud HARUMMMPH when Buderus+Riello boiler tries to start

Your assessment of the problem may be right. I've never found it to be so.
If I was the tech that tuned up your equipment, and it was behaving (as you say) after I left, I would HOPE, (no, I would EXPECT) to get a call from you so I could come and fix your problem. We all make mistakes. 87.5% sounds like pretty remarkable numbers. Whenever I tried to get a CO2 number high enough to get an efficiency as high as that, I got smoke, which led to soot. And a lot of other problems. Like what you have.
Call whomever cleaned it and ask them about it.
That's MY take on your situation.

Low heat:

@ April 13, 2011 11:24 PM in reluctant contractor, or scam artist?

I wonder what temperature your heating system was designed for. I have always designed to 180 degrees and then rounded off to the next highest level . In other words, if the room needed 7.2' of radiation, I always installed 8'. Not many designed for 200 degrees.
But you need an experienced pro. I would be checking what temperature you have going out and the temperature coming back. Because it is now Spring, it is now harder to do a real time operation. But you need a real heat loss calculation. Someone who knows what to look for with the things that really trip you up. Like soffett vents and recessed ceiling lights.
The only houses I have ever seen that didn't heat  were houses that had excessive infiltration. When that was fixed, things were fine.
Where do you live?
What kind and model of boiler is this? Gas or oil?

Pipe Expansion:

@ April 13, 2011 11:08 PM in Boiler Line Fittings keep Breaking

You're not hard headed, the engineer didn't understand what he was doing and you did what you were told.
When pipe is heated, it expands. If it is contained at both ends, it will either buckle or bow out. When it cools, it will revert to its origonal state. You could take a pipe and hold up a house with it. The pipe is in compression. If the pipe is heated, it will exert a higher pressure while trying to "lift" the house by pushing it up. When it cools, it drops. If you cool the pipe, it will shrink. But it is still under compression.
If the pipe is in a resting state, laying in a trench, not in compression or tension, it is in flux. When it cools, it shrinks, gets shorter in it's length. It will have the same amount of force of compression while shrinking. But if it is restrained, the same force of compression becomes tension. If the pipe is buried in the ground, when it gets cold, it shrinks as it tries to compress. When the coolant stops and it reverts to its normal temperature state, it will expand into compression. But if the pipe is restrained at some point, and it can not expand in the way it decides to expand, the free part wants to go where it wants. The example I gave of the pipe holding up a house, the pipe becomes an object to lift up the house. Like putting a bridle around the house, connecting the pipe to the bridle, connecting the other end to a crane and trying to pick it up. The pipe will break at the weakest point. In my opinion, because the fittings break in the inside of the elbow, show that the pipe is in tension. It is pulled apart' If it was soldered with soft solder, it would pull out of the socket.
At least that's how I see it.

Breaking Copper:

@ April 13, 2011 10:27 PM in Boiler Line Fittings keep Breaking

Another aside to this, yesterday, I turned the water in in a house. There was a broken piece of copper on the outside shower. The gooseneck for the head was galvanized steel pipe. There was a 8" piece of copper between the valve and the shower goose neck with copper adapters. A previous person installed the illegal shower valve. The valve body and arm didn't line up. So they annealed a section to bend it and make it align. The shower wasn't drained in time and the tube, split. Right where the tube was annealed. The whole section that had been exposed to high heat was split and bulged.
If copper tubing is annealed, and it is frozen and splits, it will split where the pipe is annealed. In MY experience. 

No Scams:

@ April 13, 2011 10:12 PM in reluctant contractor, or scam artist?

I feel for both your pains. No one told your contractor that there could be a problem like you are having.
I doubt that your contractor did all his heat loss calculations and such like I and some others here do. I don't get a lot of nice jobs because I would have been higher because I would have been aware of the problem you are encountering. There are ways and better ways to solve your problem. There is a company, Smith's Environmental that makes really nice stuff. They make a really nice toe kick heater and the best fan assisted floor blower assembly I have ever seen. They also make a copper baseboard unit/system that looks like regular copper baseboard but has two 3/4" copper tubes running through it and has almost twice the output of regular copper fin tube baseboard. If you are using fin tube baseboard, you can replace what you have, with this product. It will almost double your output. And the 167 degree water will heat your house to what you want.
I saw this product at the March, PHCC-MA Trade Show.

Pumps for Vitodens:

@ April 13, 2011 9:49 PM in circulator pump question for Vitodens 200

I use Wilo pumps.  I use Wilo "Star" 3 speeds for boiler, indirect and zone circulators. If I do the zones with zone valves, I use a variable speed pump. It works for me. I'm not an expert here. Someone else may say something else. That's just what works for me.
I started using Wilo pumps as soon as I realized that you can't use those disgusting red rubber gaskets that aren't supposed to be used with square cut O-rings. They use big fat wide gaskets that won't leak.

High Tide 2

@ April 13, 2011 5:38 PM in Can a gas valve fail if submerged?

There's also a high tide mark on the plastic info packet on the water heater in the first picture.
It also looks like something leaked down on the gas pipes going into the gas valve. I'd need to see more or look at in person to see where that came from.
I would also suppose that if there was some sort of power outage, and there was a freeze-up, the gas burner wouldn't light but a standing pilot wouldn't go out and would stay lit during the Noah Mini Flood.

High Tide:

@ April 13, 2011 5:30 PM in Can a gas valve fail if submerged?

The valve may have gone under water but the only sign I see in the photos is the line about 1" around the bottom of the boiler jacket. There is fine debris on top of the blocks from when the tide went out. Open water in a cellar can not be higher locally in one spot than it is in another. I don't know why the gas pipe near the boiler is so corroded but farther down, the pipe looks more normal. I would consider it a possibility that bad draft was allowing corrosive flue gasses to come on contact with the pipe locally, like in front of the boiler.
If you look carefully at the high tide mark on the bottom of the boiler, transfer a level line to the wall and you will see a wrack line on the walls and on any vertical structural post. It will be a level line around the space. The old time cranberry growers would flood their bogs, let them freeze, and put an even layer of sand on the bogs. It made the bogs level when the ice melted.
I have never seen any appliance that went underwater that didn't show a high tide mark on every part of the appliance and would correspond to a line on the wall. And I've seen a lot of flooding. I still see High Tide Marks on houses that flooded in the No-Name Storm of October, 1991 

Revenge Of The Experts:

@ April 13, 2011 5:10 PM in Can't get warm

I call this The Revenge of the Experts. They're smart and we're not.
I also define an "Expert".
"X" is an unknown quantity and "Spert" is a drip under pressure.
The old dead trades guys I once worked with had comments for those guys. "Educated Fools" was one and the other, my favorite, "Ive forgotten more than they will ever know".

Breaking Fittings:

@ April 13, 2011 4:48 PM in Boiler Line Fittings keep Breaking

Correcto again.
I once saw a heating install, PE designed, and installed by my old boss where a reverse return heat piping was done under a concrete slab and laid in sand. Screened and tamped. Uninsulated, (were talking early 1970's) and a loop kept leaking, in the same spot. In an expansion joint. The 2" copper tube would pull right out of a joint. The fittings can take the compression. They can't take the tension. Pulling apart.
Imagine the tension as opposed to the compression and you will see how to solve the problem. That is a tension crack. Compression would be crushing or a break in the back or outside of the ell.
In my case, the sand would be pushed out of the way when the pipe expanded while heated and fill in behind it. When cooling, tension came into play and the opposite tension caused by the cooling would pull the tube out of the socket.


@ April 13, 2011 4:25 PM in Boiler Line Fittings keep Breaking

Absolutely, right on.
Better expansion joints or expansion allowance.

Rusting Pipes:

@ April 13, 2011 9:39 AM in New hot water pipes rusting and spauling on exterior

Sens Photos.
Is the rusting and spalling on the outside?
Cheap pipe?

S1156F Watts

@ April 13, 2011 6:58 AM in water on floor around the boiler

Replace the valve. You shouldn't even need to drain the system. Close the valve with the yellow handle between the PRV and the boiler. Break the union in the inlet of the PRV. You should be able to unscrew it and replace it with the bronze model S1156F. After you replace the valve, drain enough water out of the boiler/system to get the pressure gauge to read "0" (zero). If it doesn't, and reads (say) 5#, the gauge reads 5# low. In other words, if the gauge reads 15#, it is really 10#. If it is the other way, you don't know.
Check the air pressure in the Extrol tank with a tire gauge on the Schrader Valve. If it is lower than 10#, I replace the tank. It came with 12#+. You can add air but if the tank is more than 10 years old, it may be bad and you don't have room for expansion.
I personally do not like Pressure Relief valves on boilers located where the manufacturer of that boiler wants you to put it. Any air or steam that develops in the system will end up under the seat and over time, will start to leak. Just like it leaks under the caps of float vents. Putting them on the hot stream/supply insures that they will leak after a time. I personally believe that they should go into the boiler where that tapping is but it is metric and requires an adapter. There is some ASME code requirement that the water must go in to the bottom of the valve with the valve in an upright position. I always install them off a tee with an air vent on the top with a nipples and an ell facing up so that the air and steam go into the vent before it will try to go to the bottom of the relief valve.
Someone may say that there is some obscure code requirement that you can't do this but I got tired of replacing valves every few years. No "Old Fashioned" boiler I ever worked on or installed had the relief valve installed in this location. It is for the convenience of the manufacturer to put it there.
I've seen these valves start to leak at 28# and over a short period of time, start dripping at 25#, then 22# and so on, down. All from evaporation crud residue under the seat.
Change the valve and replace the Extrol tank if it doesn't have the factory charge in it. You can charge it up but you will find that it is loosing air.
Just my experience,
Good Luck

Wattts CI 1156F PRV's

@ April 12, 2011 9:16 PM in water on floor around the boiler

If the valve body is painted with a copper-ish colored paint, and a magnet will stick to it, it is the old style CI valve. If it is the new style, there is no paint and it is natural bronze. The old valves are notorious for leaking water bye and also, not filling when the pressure drops. So much so that I think that there are many boilers out there that failed because the valve didn't fill. One day back a few years ago, you could no longer get the CI ones which were a lot cheaper than the bronze ones. But the new bronze ones with the same number, were the same price as the old CI ones.
It is my personal experience that once you operate the fast fill by-pass lever on an old CI 1156F valve, it will not ever completely seat properly and will continue to leak at some slow rate. The other problem is that there is a SS screen at the outlet and as CI particles drop off into suspension, the iron particles stick to the screen and stop the filling.
I strongly suggest that you replace the valve. They aren't very expensive. If I have the slightest hint of a problem with a bronze one or a CI one, I replace them.
The Extrol tank may be bad. It is difficult to tell you of all the ways to check it for correct operation. There is a date code on that tag that is under the adjustment nut on the PRV (1156F). You should be able to decipher the date code. The Extrol tank is probably the same date. It may need to be replaced also. 

Blue Water:

@ April 11, 2011 11:19 PM in New Indirect

That about covers what I see. "soft water" that is acidic with PH's in the 6's. High levels of CO2 from rainwater and water picking up CO2 from dead vegetation. Iron in the water, and throw in some calcium carbonate or bicarbonate to finish off the brew, you get blue water. Then, heat up the water and the fun starts. If I could figure out how to post pictures here, I could post some rather interesting photos. Those instantaneous gas water heaters are plugging up as bad as old tank less heater coils in oil boilers. Someone is selling acid pump kits for cleaning them out. I'm already set up. I never stopped using my old one.