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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on July 29, 2014

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Steam Radiators:

@ May 28, 2011 8:10 PM in radiator flush?

I feel a consensus that flushing radiators may not solve your problem.
I'm not a steam expert in any way shape or form. But, it is possible that your boiler isn't large enough to handle all the radiators. The radiator output needs to be calculated to see if you have a boiler big enough to make enough steam. The steam venting seems to be the biggest problem with these systems. You need someone who can really get into your system that knows what they are doing. You need that professional that isn't just a heating professional, you need the one that has steam not as a job but a life. With a brain that "sees" how the steam wants to go and what will make it not want to go where you want it to and why. There aren't a lot out there. Sounds like a couple are helping you.


@ May 28, 2011 4:44 PM in radiator flush?

SOmehow, I understood that this is a hydronic forced hot water system. If so, what I said before applies. If it is a steam system, what Joe says may apply though as you describe the radiator getting only half hot, it sounds to me like it is a radiator that the pressure in the system isn't pushing the water up high enough in the system. If it is steam, system pressure has nothing to do with how high the pressure in the system gets. But the radiator getting only half hot would seem to preclude it being steam. It either works or it doesn't. A radiator on the top floor not working is more likely a hot water hydronic radiator rather than steam.
We both agree (Joe and I) that flushing your radiator will probably not solve your problem. Are there coil vents or squared key nebts on the top of the radiator or a can vent on the side? Are there any vents at all on the radiators. If coin vents to bleed the air and you don't get any air, you need more pressure in the system. If you have a vent on the side of the radiator, well below the top and only one pipe going into the radiator, it is steam and you have other problems, best left to a steam pro. It's been screwed up for a long time.


@ May 28, 2011 1:01 PM in Need a DHW solution for low basement.

I think you have over thought this situation.
I think you are one who is willing to spend $5.00 to save a dime.
You have a better system than I have and I don't spend what you do. Something is wrong or you are seeing things that aren't really there.
My wife and I can take showers one after another or at the same time without running out of hot water. If she ran out of hot water when in the shower, or any of my customers run out of hot water while in the shower, life as I (we) know it isn't worth living. No amount of cheapness is worth it.
I did a really expensive bathroom for a customer. Custom tiled shower with a big shower head and recirculated hot water so she didn't need to wait for hot water. She told me after a month how she hated her shower that she couldn't get the soap out of her hair. I told her that that was the first I heard about it and I would fix that instantly. I removed the flow restrictor from the $900.00 shower head and she couldn't be happier. She has clean, soap-less hair now. 
Be careful what you wish for. You might get it and be unhappy with the results. 

DOE and Electric water heaters:

@ May 28, 2011 12:45 PM in The EPA and elecric hot water heaters

Another really bad idea with the laws of unintended consequences in full display.
Electric water heaters are the cheapest DHW tanks on the market. On FLA, in W Palm Beach where they are building these high rise condo units, 200 units on 20 floors, I want to see the rooks where they have 200 heat pump water hearer compressors.
We have a condo unit in an over 55 development built in 1980, all on one floor. There are 240 units in the place. It was a Levitt development. All units had heat pump water heaters along with the AC. Every unit had their heat pump water heater system fail and every unit now has a 40 gallon short electric water heater with 3300 watt elements because the services aren't up to handling 4500 watt elements.
I'd rather see the extra money spent on a slightly more amount for electricity to an electric storage tank than more foreign companies buying more HVAC equipment made in China. At least most of the tanks are still made in the USA. I'm tired of installing products that enrich our foreign national corporations, based in the Cayman Islands, not paying taxes in the USA and getting tax refunds from US because they claim to be US corporations.
At least 1.6 gallon per flush toilets work and save money. There's nothing in this bad idea that will save the consumer any money. Especially in a retrofit that can't be retrofitted.

Half Cold Radiator:

@ May 28, 2011 12:14 PM in radiator flush?

"Any Other ideas?"
Sure. Is there enough pressure in your system to get the water to the top of the radiator on the top floor?
One pound of water pressure on a gauge (1# PSIG) supports a column of water 2.31" high. If you have 10# PSIG on the pressure gauge, the water will be 23' high in the system above the gauge. Not the floor, not the ceiling, but the gauge. If you have a radiator that the bottom of the radiator is more than 23' above the gauge, there will be no water in it. If, the 23' mark comes to half way up the radiator, the radiator will work "Half". The bottom 1/2 will work and the top half will be cold.
Flushing it out may work for you. It's not ever worked for me under the circumstances you describe. If it doesn't work (flushing), try checking the pressure and if it isn't high enough, raise the system pressure.
Because I am mathematically challenged, I figure 8' for a cellar and 10' per floor. Plus the height to the top of the radiator on the top floor. Plus, fudge.
You with four floors are talking over 20# PSIG.
Hope this helps.

Ghost Flow:

@ May 26, 2011 9:17 AM in Ghost flow

The "coil" is to an indirect? The two zones are for heating?
If you are running a boiler for space heating and using part of it for heating domestic potable water, and it is a cold start boiler, you can have a lot of thermal expansion with a cold start. If the Extrol type tank is on the supply and it is accepting the thermal expansion of the water, it is flowing to the expansion tank and you should get some flow in the 1 1/4" circuit. In MY opinion. If the expansion tank isn't big enough, I've seen this flow before. If you are trying to get 180 degree domestic hot water to a dishwasher, you have a big heat load on the boiler and the expansion tank may need to be re sized

Boiler Rating:

@ May 26, 2011 9:07 AM in Oil Burner Question

Regardless of the rating on the old boiler, you need an accurate heat loss calculation FOR THE BUILDING and install the heat source based on this figure.
The boiler you have now is probably older than dirt. I'm sure that improvements to heat loss have been added since installation and the boiler and heat system were over sized from the beginning. 
If anyone tries to sell you a boiler based on the old boiler and radiation, and not the heat loss of the building, call someone else.
Within the next five years, gas will be priced at the same per BTU ad oil. When the gas companies and commodity speculators get done converting all the oil power plants to gas, there will be a huge drop in price. Only speculation is keeping oil, Liquefied Petroleum Gas and gasoline as high as it is. Think Enron. Enron bankrupted California and other western states before they themselves went bankrupt, wiping out the savings of thousands of employees.

PVC Chlorides:

@ May 26, 2011 7:02 AM in solution for the chlorides leaching out of the venting systems

Is there any PVC pipe manufacturer that specifically lists their DWV pipe for exhaust gas use? From what I've read from Charlotte, the only approved application they approve is with potable water drains, sewerage (plumbing) waste and plumbing vents. If a boiler manufacturer lists an approval for a product that isn't approved by the product manufacturer, does it make the "listing" legal?
As far as the pitch of the exhaust, somehow in my brain, I thought an additional reason to pitch it back was to get any other possible heat out of the exhaust gas by condensation. Where the gasses give off additional heat to the condensed water. The colder the exhaust, the higher the efficiency rating.
I thought.

P/S, Bypass:

@ May 26, 2011 6:47 AM in p/s piping or bypass

It looks like the perfect application for a low loss header or hydraulic separator
The best of all worlds. Boiler circuit is whatever, system flow is whatever, and they all meet in the middle. Better than closely spaced tees.

New System:

@ May 25, 2011 4:27 PM in New system

Size the boiler to the building heat loss, not the other way around. The building is over radiated and will work fine with lower system temperature water.
Oil boilers tend to be on the larger output because there is a limit to how low you can effectively fire them.
A Mod-Con boiler would be a better choice for you. You can do all you want with ease.

New System:

@ May 25, 2011 4:27 PM in New system

Size the boiler to the building heat loss, not the other way around. The building is over radiated and will work fine with lower system temperature water.
Oil boilers tend to be on the larger output because there is a limit to how low you can effectively fire them.
A Mod-Con boiler would be a better choice for you. You can do all you want with ease.

Mix Valve Locarion:

@ May 25, 2011 4:21 PM in Mixing Valve Location

Is this Potable water you are starting with? How are you protecting this? They make pumps that can take corrosive abuse but I'm not understanding how you are going to control corrosive liquids. This sounds like a very complicated job that could have code issues.
Some here may ask for more information on how or what you want to do.

Three Tanks:

@ May 24, 2011 8:40 PM in Eliminating blow back when filling tanks

It's nice to be informed.
A good oil company would have gone and looked at the install to find out why the tanks burped all over the house. Known what was wrong and told the customer to get it repaired and brought up to code.
There's not enough profit in a gallon of heating oil to cover the cost of an oil spill remediation.

Gravity Systems:

@ May 24, 2011 8:22 PM in Gravity system

Some gauges have the pressure also marked in feet of head. The true old gravity systems had not a pressure gauge but an "Altitude" gauge. Altitude in feet. Altitude of the water level above the gauge. These were "open systems". With pressureized systems, the PSI pressure is only equal to the altitude on the gauge.
Or as I learned, 1# PSIG supports a column of water 2.31' high or if 10# PSIG, the top of the water would be 23.1 feet high.
As far as that tank, the boiler ssystem water goes in the bottom. It is on the second floor. It looks to be located in  bathroom soit is easy to lookat the fill line in the gauge glass. The vent comes out the top and may go out the roof. The lateral pipe connected above the tank is the overflow that probably goes down to a place near where directly below it is the boiler where the overvlow pipe ends. So, someone that is not paying attention when adding water to the system, will suddenly, hear a rush of water from the overfilled expansion tank.
It gets your attention.  

Underlayment/olf finish floor.:

@ May 24, 2011 4:24 PM in Subfloor and Underlayment Questions for Staple up Application

If at all possible, I would remove the old finish floor. If you do not, you will find all kinds of glitches. You will need to cut 3/4" off the bottom of every. The bottom stair step will be a "Shorty" that can seriously screw someone up. The new floor will stand proud of your old kitchen floor making a foot thumper. If you raise up the kitchen floor, you need to replace your cabinets or raise the counter-top. If you just raise the counter-top, you will not be able to remove the dishwasher. If you remove the dishwasher and run the new floor under the counter-top, you won't be able to get  the dishwasher back. If there is a cabinet over your refrigerator, make sure that the refrigerator will go back without interference.
Among Other Things.
And 3/4" of wood has a good insulation factor. Enough to compromise the heat output of the floor.

MA Gravity:

@ May 23, 2011 9:40 PM in Gravity system

You missed what I said. I'm from Massachusetts. I consider Massachusetts regs the best around. Massachusetts had the first water heater safety regulations in the country. Because of blowing up water heaters with uncontrolled side arm gas heaters. We have a uniform plumbing code. The code book where I work is the same one that Charlie Form W Mass uses. And if an inspector decides they "Like to see it this way" and it is contrary to the code, the board will set them straight. As far as plumbing, Massachusetts probably has the best trained technicians in the country because of our requirement of 6 hours of CEU on code compliance on gas and plumbing. Journeyman Plumbers have had 300 hours of applied schooling in plumbing theory during the three years they were apprentices  and Master Plumbers have an additional 100 hours. The pass rate is extremely high leading to a very professional group of individuals. We're not talking about handyman plumbers and heaters. We're talking really trained and smart installers. A whole lot better than when I started out almost 50 years ago.

Water Heater Rating:

@ May 23, 2011 9:00 PM in Water Heater Piping

Where did you get this number of 1.5 GPM? and 3.0 GPM with two tanks?
I said earlier that 4500 watt electric elements recover 18 Gallons Per Hour. Add the volume of your tank and you still don't get to 1 GPH

3 Tanks:

@ May 23, 2011 8:52 PM in Eliminating blow back when filling tanks

So, NFPA says you can use three tanks but you can only connect two of them together through the vent and fill. Massachusetts seem to just eliminate the third tank and all the problems that come with it. Massachusetts doesn't say you can't have three tanks, just that you can't fill three tanks from one fill. I guess.
It appears that the poster has an install that doesn't meet NFPA rules.

Rannai Heaters:

@ May 23, 2011 8:45 PM in Need advice for heating a room addition: options?

They are tough little units. People that have them, love them. You won't be sorry.

Gravity System:

@ May 23, 2011 8:39 PM in Gravity system

To me, it looks like a run of the mill, old gravity system. Completely intact and not ruined by any changes.
So, In MY opinion, and it would be fine for someone to dispute my thoughts, I'd put an outdoor reset control on the beast and let that controller set the boiler temperature and it would run like it was designed to. Isn't that what you try to do with outdoor reset? Mimic what a gravity system did? All the old ones I ever worked on only got as hot as needed and when the thermostat was satisfied, it shut down.
As far as the AHJ guy, I have a POV. Those that can, do. And those that can't, become inspectors. To harass those that can, do, and know what they are doing. They also like to make up rules that only they know and they put them on us. Not ALL of them, but enough of them to make my life uncomfortable.
If there are regulations saying you can't have open gravity systems, I haven't heard of them. Massachusetts would have them if they were around. I'm teachable. Show me the regs.

Delayed Ignition:

@ May 22, 2011 7:52 PM in Air Leak under Igniter on Burner

The "hole" isn't something you could have lost sleep over. Whomever set up the burner, inadvertently allowed for the leakage. There was proper airflow down the tube. Now that you plugged where the air blow outs, the static pressure down the tube has gone up and it is blowing out the spark or the transformer ignitor isn't hitting the buss bar on the nozzle assembly. Either way, you need a burner pro with combustion analysis equipment to re-set the draft over the fire and other such good things. There is a lot of leakage around the transformer assembly on an oil burner. Regardless of how much leakage there is, it becomes compensated for when you adjust the burner. If someone comes along and tries to correct this leakage, you will automatically change the air/fuel ratio and burner adjustments.
Some things are better left alone and left to a professional.  

Removing Plug:

@ May 22, 2011 7:27 PM in Welding Cast Iron to Steel

Ron & Others,
Cut carefully in two spots at the point where it is easiest to hit it with a chisel. Cut the two spots as wide as the chisel. I always use a beater screw driver but I haven't done a 10" plug lately. Make another cut 120 degrees from both sides of the dual cut. Cut ALL the way through on a level plane to the top of the threads. You are cutting parallel to the run of the fitting. Use a sawzall blade and cut so you can tell when you get to the top of the female threads, the fitting. I find that a 14 tooth works best on cast iron. It helps if you have someone to watch to see if you are cutting parallel to the threads. When you have the blade tipped so you are cutting 10 or 15 degrees from parallel, close the angle so you are cutting the back of the fitting/plug. That's where the extra eye comes in. It's hard to tell. I know. I do it all the time. Because I always work alone, I must use a short level and a combination square. Try to get to the top of the threads along the whole plane. Then, drive the piece out with the chisel. The plug remains are under tremendous compression. Removing that piece will release that compression and you can spin it out with a pair of pliers. The other cuts help relieve the pressure. All those cuts in the pictures don't have cuts that are effective. Three cuts done properly would have done it. Four cuts is the most needed. The more cuts, the easier to get the pieces out.
Cast Iron fittings are the easiest to get out. Steel pipes and nipples are the hardest. The Cast Iron cracks easier. Steel bends.
If you do it properly, it won't take a hard hit to break out the piece. If you hit it hard and it doesn't break, you probably haven't cut enough. Cut more. If you prepare and make all the cuts before you try to get the small piece out, you may have released the compression.
If you are uncomfortable, go get a fitting and do a dry run by trying it. It works. Don't worry about scratching the threads. Get a roll of 3/4" Blue Monster Teflon tape and wind many turns. I don't know what you use for a thread lubricant/pipe dope but use that too. I've put dope on the male threads, taped it, doped it and doped the female threads. Screwed it all together and had no leaks. I usually just do the tape and dope. The extreme was just a precaution.