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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on April 23, 2014

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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.

Threaded Rod, Overkill:

@ April 11, 2011 10:48 PM in Threaded rod size needed

It wouldn't be overkill if it landed on your head and you were killed. It must be in a code somewhere. 3" F&M rings take 1/2" threaded rod.

Flooded equipment:

@ April 11, 2011 10:41 PM in Can a gas valve fail if submerged?

If you have a flood and the equipment is damaged, unless it was a broken pipe that caused the "flood", your homeowners policy won't cover it. You need separate flood insurance.


@ April 11, 2011 10:35 PM in buying a home 100+ years old

Why does the radiation need to be replaced?

Blue Water Stains:

@ April 11, 2011 6:17 PM in New Indirect

That may be true about electrical grounds. I've never seen one do it. I've seen a lot of other strange things from bad grounds or neutrals.
But electrical is the root of the problem though. See, when all those critters and gizmos get out of convergence, all kinds of strange things happen. I've seen pin holes develop in a piece of copper tube. In fact, more than one hole but in different sections of tube. Upon closer inspection, all the holes were in tubing that came from the same length of tube.
My fiberglass showers get green/blue in the bottom when the media gets too low. It stops when I refresh it. My grounding seems to be fine.

Date Codes on Taco Handles:

@ April 11, 2011 6:07 PM in Taco zone valves

What's the story on the date codes on the lever/handles of the 57* power heads. I thought I had replaced a b ad one in my home and I had another that looked new but the date codes didn't make sense. I asked at my supply house (Plumbers' Supply) and no one knew or could figure it out. Every replacement head in the bin had a different date code that made no sense.
Is it a proprietary secret?

Aluminum Invoice Boxes:

@ April 11, 2011 6:01 PM in Looking for quality plumber's aluminium W.O. binder

As I take the boat home in the fog (the planes aren't flying), I have an aluminum invoice box from NEBS sitting next to me that is 35+ years old and still going strong.
Is that durable enough for you? I saw some in Staples the other day and had no desire to make a change to a new box.

Vacation submergence:

@ April 11, 2011 5:46 PM in Can a gas valve fail if submerged?

Tell me more about the freeze up.


@ April 11, 2011 5:44 PM in Can a gas valve fail if submerged?

Why do you think the gas valve went under water? If it did, it must be replaced. But you said that you have a standing pilot and it didn't go out. The gas valves are usually higher than the pilot so if the gas valve went under water, the pilot should have gone out. And you wouldn't be able to light it either.
What kind of gas in a vacation area do you have that allows a standing pilot in 2009?
You said that something froze in your vacation home. What froze? Are you looking to blame the freeze up on something to do with the boiler?
Give us more information than you have given.