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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on July 22, 2014

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@ December 18, 2011 7:50 AM in more boiler help

If the tank is an Extrol, over 15 years old, replace it. And replace the fill valve at the same time.

I agree:

@ December 18, 2011 7:47 AM in more boiler help

I agree with everything you say. But I never remove a bladder tank to check the pressure. If you shut off the fill valve to the boiler and put a hose in a bucket and open the drain on the boiler, if very little water runs out and the pressure immediately drops to zero, its almost a sure thing that the tank is shot. When it goes to zero, I put a tire gauge on the Schrader Valve on the tank. Whatever it reads, is what pressure is on the tank. If there is no pressure, the tank is probably shot. If water comes out, it is shot. I can add air but I will be back in a day or so.
If they are full of water, I try to blow the water back into the system and get it out of the tank. If it doesn't go out (and it usually doesn't), the tank will drop instantly like a stone when it finally goes past the last thread. I try to tie a 5 gallon bucket under the tank to let it fall in to. They weigh a lot when full of water and can do some serious damage before the sudden stop.

Watts 1156F PRV's

@ December 18, 2011 7:33 AM in more boiler help

Those third world Watts 1156F's of old were the Cast Iron ones. You can only get the Bronze ones now. Top shelf, made in China like all quality plumbing and heating products we buy today. At least that is what my wholesaler says and carries.
I'm limited to what I can buy. I only buy from one wholesaler. What I have to replace will be a Watts. There might be a Conbraco in a bin but it is well out of date. They carry Califfi but it becomes a replacement and re-pipe on a replacement of a Watts.  


@ December 18, 2011 12:16 AM in Gas flame oscillating

Corporations are people and have special rights to screw people.

Temperature settings:

@ December 18, 2011 12:07 AM in aquastat control

Are you saying that the triple acting control circculates water at 130 degrees?
Not so. It will maintain at 140 degrees (that's what I said) but when the thermostat calls, the thermostat over rides the operating control and jumps it up to the high limit, 160 or 170 degrees. The circulator runs when the call comes. The circulator stops if the water drops under 140 degrees. It's the continuous pumping of cold water through the boiler that causes the condensation problems. I run my boiler M-M WTGO-3 at 135 low limit circulator and 170 High limit. I cleaned it with a fluffy radiator dust brush and when donee, it looked like it just came out of the crate.

Carlin 400S-3 Burners:

@ December 17, 2011 11:48 PM in Replace vintage Carlin 400s-3 with newer Beckett AFG?

The Carlin 400S-3 was/is a Shell Head burner. It was the nuts and once set up, ran like a top with the proper nozzle and installation. Often fired into round chambers. It was critical that they be sealed around the end at the combustion chamber. They burned hot as hell. The next generation was true flame retention in a 1725 burner. Then came the FR and FRD's Flame Retention and the 3450 FRD, Flame Retention Double Speed for those situations where draft was a problem. Like all Carlin's, it was an adjustable head burner like all Carlin's. Unlike that thing with the "Z" dimension that depend on static plates to change air pressure over and around the flame.
But I was spoiled.
Losch boilers are still made somewhere but I think they are modern Gucci coal boilers.

Transformer problems:

@ December 17, 2011 11:14 PM in Transfromer trouble

You can't do that. Every zone valve must have a thermostat. You can only run three Taco 571 zone valves, And you MUST use a 24 volt, 40 VA transformer on the three, If you use four, it MUST be a 60 VA. I don't know how you are trying to wire the fourth zone valve with the other three but you may have fried the heat anticipators on the thermostats and/or you may have almost 2.0 amps going to the power heads. They fry because the coil around the wax motor gets too hot and if it is cycling too fast, fries the coil or the wax runs out. They are very rugged valves. You must be doing something really bad to have them blowing like that. I've installed 571's for over 30 years ago that are still going. The ones with the green heads. Not many but a few.  


@ December 17, 2011 7:38 PM in aquastat control

140 degrees for the operting control (low limit/circulator) is the consensus setting for the least condensing in an oil boiler.

wrong or right:

@ December 17, 2011 7:29 PM in CPVC vs pex

I'm not always/usually right.
I've lived my life/career with the thought that there is never enough time to do it right. But always time to do it over. Figuring out why it is wrong and correcting it, is part of me. And a debilitating problem with a fear of doing it wrong.
You seem to have the same characteristic as I. Keep it simple but don't be stupid.


@ December 17, 2011 7:21 PM in Convert only the oil burner head to gas?

That's a good part of the equation, but I always wonder the cost of the conversion versus how much saved and the time of payback.
And the Bankstera and Wall Street Crime Family are just bidding their time before they run up the cost of natural gas. There was a time not all that long ago that customers who switched from oil to gas in 1971, still hadn't made up their investment in gas equipment.


@ December 17, 2011 7:12 PM in Weil McLain Gold GV Series 2 with Honeywell S9201a module - intermittent issues

Where I work, the power was at one time, generated on the location with diesel generators. Now it comes by two large extension cords.
There were four primary 3 phase circuits. A problem they had was keeping 3 phase circuits in balance. It was easy to let a phase become overloaded in relation to other phases in an area. Phases working together, become a neutral to each other. Isn't that why they have three light bulbs, one on each phase to see if one is using more power than the others?
There was (and still is) a time when an area had a subdivision that only had one phase going into it and was fed from a branch of a three phase circuit. We plumbers started getting calls about people getting shocked when in the shower. Especially outside showers. The power company was at a loss as to the cause of the problem. They recommended that we put hoses on the handles to insulate the persons from the electricity trying to get to ground. I once measured 14 volts with a volt meter clamped to a screw driver stuck in the ground. This occurred for many years. I've gone into houses that had a failing neutral  or the other secondary leg not connecting completely. It isn't always easy to spot and if you believe some, it can't happen but it does. I've seen water get into an outside weather head and travel through capillary action, through the wire and drip down all over the neutral bar, making the connections lost. The guy called the shop in the AM to ask the boss why his dishwasher was shooing sparks from his dishwasher to his refrigerator. Water down the SE cable.
If I see the lights dimming, I look for a problem. I just wonder when these unusual and hard to detect  drop outs, what relationship squirlly power has to do with it.

Gas Service:

@ December 17, 2011 6:27 PM in Gas flame oscillating

Tim, my man. This is the age or Corporate America where the bottom line rules. Stockholder have more rights than the consumer.
All it will take is a serious mishap where a lot of people are killed and some good tort lawyers to put the blame where it belongs. He who owns the gas, has some liability. Just because they gave up service, doesn't absolve them of responsibility. If you call for a problem, and they take over 4 days to get there, the very fact they they are coming shows that they are accepting responsibility.
They at one time, had the best technicians available to be trained. I know a guy who worked for a gas company for quite a few years doing installs and TS'ing. He is now a Master Plumber. He asks ME gas questions and questions about gas and heating situations. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with his knowledge. I just wonder about his training.
Utilities all over the country are saving money by cutting back on their service departments and pushing it off on us. The responsibility and liability make my head hurt just thinking about it. There was a time that if you called the gas company about a problem, they sent someone out to check to see if it was their problem. Now, they tell you to call a plumber. To let them decide if it is their problem. If it is, they will be there in over 4 days or under. Unless you smell gas.


@ December 17, 2011 6:14 PM in Gas flame oscillating

Isn't there a vent on the primary regulator that has to be moved or piped to a remote location if it is too close to a source of ignition? Like an electrical meter or an AC condenser? With no threads on the opening so someone can't cap it and defeat the purpose? Where I work, gas is all LP. I see these vents all the time when the regulator is too close to a prohibited device.Maybe they fed the first stage with 3/8" OD tube and the second regulator is copper. But the vent is usually 1/2" OD copper.
Or it is an underground or remote location tank, piped underground with 3/4" or 1" IPS pipe into the first stage regulator and both lines (3/8") are a feed and a vent. I've seen a lot of things piped with 3/8" soft copper. Not what I learned in my CEU's but hey, they're smart, I'm not. I hook up what the code says. I pipe it to the outside. The LP supplier supplies the connections outside to the regulator and tanks..
Maybe that's what he is seeing.
I've seen that fluttering when the first stage regulator was screwed up and the vent wasn't working properly. Where I work, if this problem occurs, the LP provider is the one to fix it. Maybe it is different in other places.
You're the man though, Tim. You've forgotten more than I will ever know about gas. And I mean that as a sincere compliment.

PH and Copper

@ December 17, 2011 5:48 PM in CPVC vs pex

And if you don't correct the PH of the water, anyone living in the house and using the water that uses any kind of hair coloring that is bleached based, will have green/blue hair. Most getting grey hair will use coloring. Women don't like green tints in their hair color. Ice cubes made in the refrigerator will taste like #$@&.
It's a lot cheaper to first fix the water and then do a re-pipe if you need one.
MY wife doesn't have green hair. I don't need coloring. I'm fine. So is she. But I get the word when the tub and shower floor is getting green/blue.
I'd rather sell you a filter system and you be happy than to sell you a re-pipe and have you not happy with the green/blue water and cruddy tasting water. Especially that first coffee in the morning.

Rising Pressures:

@ December 17, 2011 2:55 PM in more boiler help

There's another reason I see all the time.
The fill valve is shot. I don't use Taco PRV's but Watts 1156F's. It used to be that the only ones that the suppliers carried were the cheap Cast Iron ones. The brass strainers would plug up and not fill. Pressure would drop and steaming might occur. Or air in the top of the system. Then, if you futzed with the fill part, the seat and diaphragm had scuzz on it and although the valve shut off when it should, it leaked by slowly and continuously. Causing the Pressure relief Valve to leak all over the floor.
I personally saw more than one boiler crack from lack of water. Not on me though.
I also found that the cast iron Watts 1156F valves are no longer available though they are listed. The brass ones are now priced as the Cast Iron ones were. It couldn't be from fear of liability for failing PRV's and cracking boilers. I'm sure of that. Quite sure. But not so sure.
I agree that a tech missed the call. I would fill the boiler to 12# or whatever and shut off the fill valve. If the pressure doesn't go up in time, it's a bad valve. If an indirect or a tank-less coil in the boiler, and the pressure goes up, its a bad coil that is leaking high pressure to low.
Any time I have ever tried to adjust an old fill valve, it leaked bye. And there have been discussions here that say that the fill valve belongs off. Insurance companies and some manufacturers demand that. Shut off the fill valve and see what happens. Just monitor the pressure and add water as needed. Like you are supposed to do aanyway.

Backwards thinking:

@ December 17, 2011 2:23 PM in Just for fun, pumping backward

I don't see how a volute designed pump can pump backwards. The only kind of pump that I can think of that can pump backwards is a paddle pump. It doesn't matter which end the fluid or product comes in or goes out.
My first experience with backwards running pumps were the lesson of three phase. When I first started plumbing, we did a big building that was a Boy's Club with a big Smith-Mills 2500 series hot water boiler. It had two redundant B&G P-3's or larger. I thought that "Phases" were a time in your life. More than 5 years later, the boss sent me down to change the drive couplers on the circulators. He had changed them a month before. I noticed that there was an arrow on the bearing assembly. It meant nothing to me. But the new couplers still made the circulators shake. The boss had me call a guy in New Bedford. We went all through it. I kept telling him that the motors seemed to be running backwards but I couldn't really tell because I had to climb up and down from a step ladder. The springs didn't seem to be "pulling" the couplers aroound but that the couplers were "pushing" against each other. Finally he asked me if there was three phase in the building. I looked at the transformer outside and saw that there were 4 wires going in the service. I knew that. I switched the leads and everything was fine.
The cause was that the power company replaced the poles and wires on the street 6 months before. The only thing in the building that was 3 phase were the two pumps. They switched leads on either the primary or secondary and didn't consider that there were any three phase motors in the building. The heat still worked in spite of the fact that the motors were running backwards.

GV Series 2:

@ December 17, 2011 2:02 PM in Weil McLain Gold GV Series 2 with Honeywell S9201a module - intermittent issues

Those GV Series 2's seem to be a real bear. I have one in my customer base that has been going off for years. It gets worse with time. It goes off when you are standing there for no reason. The LP gas supplier services it. Your suggestions sound like it may be part of the problem but most everything on it has been replaced and the person who works on it is really on top of his game.
In this case, I've felt that there are phasing/neutral problems because they are always blowing underground primary cables. I went to a house last summer, across the street that seemed to have lost their neutral when it was a problem with the transformer in the street. They had to put some sort of electrical back flow device on the transformer. There was voltage in the neutral and the two feeds weren't equal, then they became equal. I see it all the time.Everyone tells me that it doesn't matter. I think it does. But what the #$@! do I know. I'm just a dumb plumber.


@ December 17, 2011 1:43 PM in Gas flame oscillating

Thanks Tim.
In Massachusetts, we all went over that in the CEU classes required for our license renewals next year. All LP Installers, Licensed Gas Fitters and Plumbers.
Does anyone ever consider a gauge where the gas comes out of the regulator and one at the gas control and check the pressure drop between the two? The gas company only wants to sell you gas. They don't want to train their service folks. Costs too much money. They have insurance in case something goes wrong and someone has a policy that says that something will. It's a win-win for all, except for the consumer.

Changing to a used oil burner:

@ December 17, 2011 1:29 PM in Replace vintage Carlin 400s-3 with newer Beckett AFG?

A Carlin 400-N was a very good 1725 RPM burner. It worked well in any boiler it was rated for. Your used AFG 3450 RPM burner may not be happy in your Losch boiler. AFG's are not famous for liking to fire against back pressure in my experience. Carlin EZ-1's don't seem to notice the back-pressure.
You would save a lot more Ca$h with a new boiler and burner properly sized for the heat load of the house. The burner is probably way over-fired for the application. If you are asking the question about the burner replacement, you need the help of a professional. This shouldn't be taken lightly.
From what you describe, you could probably pay for a NEW and properly sized burner properly fitted to your application than you will ever get with the AFG just jammed into the old boiler.
But you asked, I'm replying.

Inferred heat load:

@ December 17, 2011 1:15 PM in Mandated reset controls in 2012

Probably the amount of energy needed to be put into the heating median (air or water) to equal the heat loss to the outside through the building.
The higher the outside temperature, the lower the median temperature needed. As the temperature goes, the higher the median temperature.

Low PH:

@ December 17, 2011 1:04 PM in CPVC vs pex

Install a whole house Cuno UN200 2 Cu. Ft. Neutralizing filter. No moving parts and it back washes as it runs. It uses reverse flow. Add calcite media when the level gets below 24" from the top. I have one in my house and put them in any house I can that has a low PH. I assume you are using Poly Pipe from the pump, well and to the house tank. They are very reasonable in price and have no electrical connections or drains. You set the flow rate through the filter with a bypass valve.
Look into it. You will be satisfied. I've used "regular" ones and the backwash water was always a problem. It ends the green hair in the women and if you start to see blue/green in the showers and bathtubs, it's time to check the media and add more.
It has worked for me and my customers who need them and will pay.
If you get the backwash kind, you must get rid of the backwash water. You run it on the ground or put it into your septic system. Overloading the septic system. It will also remove small amounts of iron (usually present). It will only add a small amount of hardness to the water.
This one:

Running in Reverse:

@ December 17, 2011 12:48 PM in Just for fun, pumping backward

Why on earth would you want to do it?
There is an arrow on the pump that denotes the direction of flow. The only way you can do this is with one pump stopped and not running but the impeller will be turning because of flow through it from the other (backward) pump. Whenever you run a motor with no power load to the motor (like a fan) and there is no power to the armature, the bearings wear out. The torque of the power will keep the shaft and bearing in their proper position. Not so when spun with no power.
If you have "ghost flow" in a wet rotor circulator, it may be spinning the rotor. If the pump fails prematurely, it may be from running the motor without power.
Ghost Flow caused by those chintzy fake IFC's so popular in heat systems today. Real men install flow checks.
But under what circumstances would you want to do this?