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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on August 30, 2014

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Loosing Water:

@ November 12, 2011 4:10 PM in System Losing Water

It has to be loosing it in the return, that is concealed. It has to be condensed water. I was taught that 1 cup of water converts to 1200 cups of steam. Therefore, if if you loose one gallon of water, if it was steam, it is 1200 gallons of steam. I would think that loosing that much steam, you would have seen it. If you can isolate the return, and blow it up with air, you will find the leak.

Hot Water Radiation:

@ November 12, 2011 3:59 PM in Need help with hot water system

First of all, those are not "radiators", they are "Convectors". They came from the factory with metal covers, NOT wooden ones. The metal covers are designed as part of a UNIT that will have a listed and rated OUTPUT. If someone decides to redesign the units with wooden covers, they probably cut the output down considerably. The elements with the fins in them must be clean and free of dust and animal hair. There must be a free flow of air through the elements and the cover in front must be tight to the element to force the air through the element. The openings in the top of the grill are designed to keep the air flow high and unrestricted.
Here is a third world way to check this. Get a couple of cheap cooking/candy thermometers from your favorite cheap store. Put one on the supply and one on the return of the boiler and wrap it with towels or insulation. Wrap it so you will be able to see the readings. Look at what the high limit is set at. If it is 180 degrees, take note. Start the system. Watch the temperature going out and coming back. You should mostly have a 20 degree difference in what is going out into the system and what is coming back. If the boiler goes to 180 degrees and the burner stops but the circulator doesn't stop, and the rooms are cooler than the thermostat, and it is only 40 degrees outside, you do not have enough heat going into the rooms because of the screwed up heat emitters.
When the system was running in the cold and it wouldn't get hot, was the burner cycling on and off? If so, it is the radiation, not the boiler.
You need to fix the convectors to get them to work properly.

High Pressure:

@ November 12, 2011 3:34 PM in efects of presure too high

Does a bear poop in the woods?
What does the system have for expansion control? That would need more than a few #30 Extrols. How many floors does the boiler service?
Are the boilers all cold start? Warm start?
Maybe the "other" contractor thinks he found a cash cow. Maybe he didn't.
We LOVE photos. Send a few. What kind of zone valves are there installed. Are they are ones known to be leakers?
Maybe somebody else doesn't understand the concept of water expanding when heated and if the pressure in a system is higher than required, it may expand enough to raise the pressure above the pressure relief valve. Are the boilers rated for 40#? If they are rated at 30#, why do they have 40# relief valves on them?
Oh well, just asking

Low Limits:

@ November 12, 2011 10:53 AM in gravity hot water conversion

Not to be redundant, but you don't need to worry about a low limit because the boiler protection lets the boiler heat up really quickly and as it gets to the set point, allows more cold water to enter the boiler, stopping condensation. A far better way than cold shocking the boiler. I'm big on low limits. With this, it isn't a problem.
So far.


@ November 12, 2011 10:49 AM in gravity hot water conversion

I did this on an existing gravity system that had a 10 YO +/- Peerless boiler with an indirect. It is cold start. The owner, and most all customers I run into will not spring for a new boiler and such. It is just too much money at this time.
This 4-way valve gave me boiler protection, outdoor reset and total temperature control of the system. The system was extremely over pumped with a Taco 010. I left that as the boiler pump. I installed a much smaller system pump that does the job better than before. You don't need 40 GPM in a 4 GPM system. You can install it in a day. You can connect the primary pump wiring to the secondary pump so that they pump together. The supplied system sensors can be connected to make that part of the valve work. If you supply it with 24 volts, and connect the low voltage outdoor sensor, it is running.
I'd personally rather offer this to someone who might spend the money on it and I get something for my time than offer toots and whistles and get nothing because of the cost.  If you have an old system, with an old boiler, you could offer this as the first stage of an improvement/upgrade. Connect the supply and return together on the old boiler, make your closely spaced tee connections as recommended, and when the customer sees that you gave them something truly awesome and they save money too, and you have a potential customer for life. When they get the cash for the new boiler, you just connect it in place of the old boiler on the boiler loop side. Piece of cake.
I've seen a lot of old gravity/pumped systems where a new radiator was installed on a long run off the system. It never gets hot as fast as the rest of the system so there is a cold room. When you do this, the long pumping times where the water really flows into the whole system, this cold return would usually be resolved or at least improved. Gravity systems weren't designed to have high capacity flow to work properly. They depended on low flow in big pipes to get the GPM proper. A lot don't understand this.
The only time I make money is when I sell something. If I don't offer what someone needs and can afford, I don't make any money.
Think about it.

Gas piping:

@ November 12, 2011 7:48 AM in Gas Pipe Question

If you called thge manufacturer about your problem, the first thing they would ask is the heater connected full size from the incoming gas main, and is it properly sized. If you told then that it is connected to a 1/2" line and increased to 3/4" to the appliance, they would tell you to get that changed first and then call them back.
Unless it is LP gas, and it is a short run, you can't get away with it.

Does anyone read an installation manual any more?

Loosing Water/Backflows:

@ November 12, 2011 7:21 AM in System Losing Water

NBC, Back-flow valves are not supposed to be installed AFTER the PRV, like between the PRV and the boiler. I've seen some Heaters do this. Where I work, it is pretty standard to install shut-off valves on either side of a Watts 9-11 PRV/Back-flow so you can service them without draining the system.
As far as finding the leak, I would have my trusty air compressor out and running right away. I test and drain everything with air. My air compressor is the most used tool in my truck. You can blow the water out of a system, tank or boiler in a fraction of the time it takes to pump it out. Steam boilers excepted if you have a lot of working air vents. But if you block some, it will work well. Plug all vents and the air will find the leaks. If it is in concealed returns, if there is water in the pipes, the air will blow it through the leaks. Listen for the air leaks. Another trick I use when it gets out there, I blow peppermint extract into the system. Sniff for the smell. I suppose in a steam boiler, it might smell like peppermint when the system is fixed and venting, but it will go away.
I once had a person call me about a water leak he had in his kitchen ceiling in his multi-million dollar home. There was a frozen, broken pipe somewhere and the water was coming through the lights in the ceiling. The regular plumber wanted to tear down the ceiling to find the leak but he wouldn't come for three weeks so he should get someone else. I was someone else. The leak was 22' away in the garage, in the wall behind a sink in a bathroom over the garage. I cut a hole in the back of a sink cabinet that faced an unheated ventilated knee wall and fixed the leak. The leak was no where near the kitchen.
Whenever I do a lot of piping, I test it with air. That way, you don't need to drain out the water if you have a leak.

HX Testing:

@ November 11, 2011 7:51 PM in heat exchanger testing

If there isn't soot coming out of the heat outlets or you are getting  "ghosting" from soot, I'd try this.  Get a bottle of Peppermint oil extract and pour it in the combustion chamber. Jump out the burner so the burner motor will run but not fire the oil. Have the fan come on. Give it the smell test in the house. Let it run for a while. If you start smelling Peppermint, yiou have a leaking heat exchanger.

Hot water to emitters:

@ November 11, 2011 7:32 PM in gravity hot water conversion

Did you have not enough hot water to the emitters because the boiler was too small or because the temperature leaving the boiler was out of control?
Did your 4-way valve have sensors?

"I" Series Mixers:

@ November 11, 2011 7:27 PM in gravity hot water conversion

This valve will do it all for you.  I used the 4-Way. It comes with either outdoor reset to the boiler or reset the valve to control the system. That's what I used. It has two DIP switch settings. 120 degrees for gas boilers or 140 degrees to protect oil boilers.

I turned the boiler on at a cold start. I have no idea how much water is in the system. In 15 minutes, all the returns were coming back at the same temperature. I put thermometers on the system supply and return. In that 15 minute period, the system settled down and I had a 20 degree delta T in the system while the boiler ran on the high limit it had been set at, 160 degrees.
What has been said about primary/secondary piping will overcome gross mismatching of pumping is true in spades. I could get adequate flow in the system with the pump set on #1, the slowest speed.
If you had a high mass system with a low mass boiler, this valve will solve a lot of problems. It comes with the sensors and all.
Check it out.

Gravity Conversion

@ November 11, 2011 4:27 PM in gravity hot water conversion

Check out the Taco I Series 4-way mixer. You get Primary/Secondary and outdoor reset PLUS boiler protection. They are the nuts. It modulates the system and resets the system water. They are the perfect set-up. I just did one on a gravity system that was one zone on two floors with 4" supply and return. The new boiler was over pumping the system and so on. They are about to call my flight. If you are interested, I'll tell you more.

Contaminated Groundwater:

@ November 11, 2011 4:21 PM in Up Date for those concerned about this process

Sorry Tim, coming from them, there couldn't be a disparaging word. Not ever.
I just read an article in my latest issue of Water Well News about drillers doing ground water heat pump loops who aren't grouting bore holes properly and having contaminants go down the improperly sealed casing and contaminating the ground water below. Natural Gas, being under the high pressure it is, will be more than happy to take any advantage of a poorly grouted casing. And travel UP.  I read of a case that is fully documented in Pennsylvania where a ground water aquifier was contaminated in a form of this way. The cause of the leakage was poorly trained or untrained drillers not knowing what they were doing or using the wrong grout. The worst problems were when they drilled through layers of Karst and huge amounts of grout were needed to fill the spaces. And needing to go back numerous times to fill the drop..
And poor grouting procedures were the cause of the Macondo site disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year or so. And that wasn't supposed to happen.
Fracking will go on, there's no stopping it. Big oil and gas gets what they want. We get to pay their price. But the report from a University in Texas comes with kooties on it for this jaundiced reader.

Gas conversion

@ November 11, 2011 4:07 PM in gravity hot water conversion

Personally would go with the larger of the two. The 95,000 Net IBR will do the job and will give you what it is rated for.
But in the world I live in, oil gives you a rated number. It is always the same BTU content per gallon of oil.
Nat. Gas is the perfect fuel. As long as the supplier can deliver gas at the rated pressure and the rated BTU content, on the coldest design day, you will be fine. If however, something happens and the gas pressure is lower due to unanticipated demand due to weather conditions, you will not be covered. You will rue the day that you picked the smaller one.
But that is my opinion and others will argue that it never happens. Except when it does happen.
I was at a Veissmann class and a guy asked about the ability of a Vitodens 200 being able to correct for lower gas pressures. The instructor said that the burner brain could adjust down to below ..045" but wouldn't give the rated output. The guy said that in certain areas around New York City, it goes that low when it really gets cold.
Just my opinion.If I did the install and you were cold, what could I say?
How are you going to connect the high mass system to the new boiler? 

Square Pipes:

@ November 10, 2011 3:44 PM in pipechange

I was taught, "Pipes increase as do their squares" That means it takes 4-1" pipes to equal the capacity of a 2" pipe.
Whomever installed the 2" pipe in the first place would have gladly used 1" pipe if he could. 2" pipe is a lot harder to thread than 1.

Old house, radiators and heaters:

@ November 10, 2011 3:39 PM in Wall mounted space heaters

It's my experience that what you are proposing to do gives you an imaginary improvement. If the whole farm house is on one zone, split it in two or more zones. Zone valves are cheap.
You are considering three wall mounted heaters. They aren't cheap and the install can be silvery. Complicated too. If you are shy on insulation, you are just feeding the outside in a different way.
I've put in wood stoves and coal stoves in houses I have owned in the past. The room that the stove was in was too hot and the other rooms were cold because the thermostat never called. My fuel savings didn't come close to covering the cost of wood or coal.
If you have a room that looses 10,000 BTU's per hour and you have no insulation, you can cover that loss with a 10,000 BTU radiator or a 10,000 BTU wall heater. But if you add insulation that drops the loss to 5,000 BTU's, the radiator is twice as large as it needs to be, and the gas wall heater is over sized.
There are better ways to save money and do what you want.

Mod-Cons, Gravity and pumping (FWIW)

@ November 10, 2011 3:22 PM in Mod-con stainless with cast iron radiators - problem?

I just did a job that is like what you are doing, in a sense.  Consider this.
I was doing some plumbing in an old house and it had an old gravity system on two floors with a 4" supply and return. Someone had installed a Peerless Mooring Block for a boiler and added an indirect. They connected the boiler to the supply with 1 1/4" copper and the return was the same. On the return, they installed a Taco 010 40 GPM pump. The indirect was a Taco 007. The house would overheat like crazy with little control. Most of the radiators on the second floor were disconnected in the cellar with the pipes still there. I left the 010 circulator and made it a primary heat loop. I installed two closely spaced tees and a Wilo Star 21 3 speed pump for the secondary loop, connected to a Taco "I" Series, 4 way mixer. The valve gives you outdoor reset and boiler protection. A dip switch controls whether it is 120 degree or 140 degree boiler water. The 4-way kept the flow in the secondary loop even and within 20 minutes of turning it on, all the returns were warm and I had a 20 degree Delta T.
The Taco I series 4 way is an awesome way to deal with high mass systems and low mass boilers. I love hydraulic separators but this really impressed me.
The owner wasn't in anyway going to go for a new boiler and a complete change of his heating system. He likes his old radiators in hos old antique house.
If you just P/S a high mass system with a low mass boiler, you can't really control the flow in the system. This way, you can. It doesn't matter that the primary system is grossly over pumped, It works fine on medium speed and would probably work as well on low speed. But its something to consider. 

Space heaters:

@ November 10, 2011 2:46 PM in Wall mounted space heaters

How do you heat these spaces now?

Booster Pump:

@ November 8, 2011 6:43 AM in Need help with a booster pump.

That's an interesting set up. Not one like I'm familiar with.
It must work.
There are easier ways to do that now
The pump is available. I've used one lately.
The primary pump is "usually" connected as a two pipe" system, not one pipe unless the lift is little or none. That way, you never need to vent it. It should be a 2-pipe system. In my opinion.
The by-pass plug goes in the bottom, discharge, not the inlets.
That fitting on the wall with the two pipes coming from the pump from above is like a "Tigerloop" only a "Tigerloop" would be better.
The whole set-up is someones better idea. There are better ideas.
What is the static lift from the bottom of the oil tank to the level of the burner pump?
A Tigerloop may do the same thing and eliminate the primary pump system.
If it is working, don't futz with it. It will probably work longer than I will be alive.
For what it is worth. 

Spill Switch on Barometric Damper:

@ November 6, 2011 8:08 PM in Water seepage from chimney cleanout

Mark, are you saaying that in Colorado, they require a spill over safety switch on an oil fired boiler with a Fiels "RC" draft control?

50# boiler, 30# Pres. Relief Valve:

@ November 5, 2011 10:15 PM in Hot Water System Air Problem & Questions

The boiler may be rated for 50# but if it has a 30# Pressure Relief Valve, it will be leaking at 30#. You only need enough system pressure to get the water to the top floor radiation level. Any pressure/expansion created by the heaating of the water will just be absorbed by the expansion system. Even if the high limit had the supply temperature leaving the boiler at 215 degrees, you can be sure that it will be lucky to be 200 degrees by the time it gets to the top floor.
In my experience, as long as there is sufficient pressure maintained in the system, it will work trouble free for years. Or until something lowers the system pressure.

40200 Substitute:

@ November 5, 2011 9:45 PM in carlin 40200 substitute

If the control was submerged, the control must be replaced. However, if the control was submerged, the igniter, the cad cell assembly and the motor were also submerged. Therefore, if the burner went underwater, so did the heater. The chamber is shot. Insurance and codes require replacement. It would be unwise for any professional to help you get around these issues.
Anything electrical is supposed to be replaced.


@ November 5, 2011 1:37 PM in Best Tstat and boiler settings to use on a mod con?

Its my understand and experience that set back thermostats and outdoor re-set thermostats don't go well together. Ste-back thermostats really just manipulate the outside temperature by making the outside temperature to falsely go up and down. Reset boiler controls only sense the actual outside temperature.
When the thermostat turns down, it is like raising the outside temperature. When the thermostat comes back up, it is like lowering the outside temperature. If the outdoor sensor  senses 30 degrees outside, and you have been running the thermostat at 60 degrees of set back, and you move it up to 70 degrees, it is like it is 20 degrees outside but the sensor doesn't know it. This excludes the re-set ratio.
If you set your ratios so that you maintain the lower temperature, 60 degrees, the system will be hotter and then able to bring the rooms up more effectively.
In my opinion. (worth nothing)