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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on August 30, 2014

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@ August 26, 2014 10:09 AM in Swing joints. How do they work?

Expansion is one thing. It grows and just compresses upon itself.
Contraction is a different animal, If in the act of expansion, it resolves its position in life and takes a new set, and then contracts, the same rules that apply to expansion, apply to contraction. But it can rip itself out of a fitting if it can't stretch anymore.
With copper tube, buried under a floor in screened sand, it will expand and push sand away, to fill in behind. Then, when it contracts, it will rip copper tube out of a copper fitting and leak.
Never underestimate the power of contraction.


@ August 26, 2014 10:00 AM in puchasing a new ammeter, recommendations?

When it comes to testing. I found over time that I needed both digital and analog.
With a digital amp clamp, it wasn't as accurate for what I sometimes needed it for and it wasn't fast enough to catch spikes. Which an analog would always do. I found that if I really wanted to know things, a decent RMS digital Multi-Meter was the way for me to go.


@ August 26, 2014 9:46 AM in Honeywell flame control

If it is a 7800 Series Honeywell, one part of the control think it "sees" a flame and another part knows that there isn't a flame. I don't know what the burner has for a flame sensor, but if it isn't bad, the 7800 needs to be replaced. There is usually a troubleshooting ladder diagram that comes with a new control.

Swing Joints:

@ August 25, 2014 11:04 PM in Swing joints. How do they work?

The alignment of any fitting depends on the other fitting being in the ALMOST exact same plane. Some number that is divided by 90 degrees. With one ell, you can only operate through 90 degrees. With two, one plane will be within 90 degrees, the other plane can be anything. If you add a third, you can swing throughout any plane. With four ells, there is no plane that you can not swing through. You can make a swing joint with two ells when connected to a stationary point. Like an oil tank where two ells will give you any offset but you need a third to get back plumb.
It comes into play when you are rising from the vertical and you have to go to the horizontal and need to travel with pitch at say 1/4" per foot. Unless you use a crooked thread on the start of the horizontal, you will need two ells to go from the horizontal. If you do not use two ells on the end of the pitched horizontal run, it will not be 90 degrees plumb. You need another ell. Unless you have a crooked thread.
If that makes any sense to you.

Air Temperatures:

@ August 25, 2014 10:44 PM in Scorched Air vs Hydrocoil

Its not my specialty.
However, the HX in a warm air furnace will have exhaust temperatures as high as the combustion flame, regardless of the air temperature of the air exhaust. An Air handler HX will never be hotter than the hot water flowing through it. The hotter HX of the furnace will have a greater effect on humidity/moisture than will the cooler HX of the hydronic air handler.
Customers may think that their house may be wonderful. Compared to what?

Drum Traps:

@ August 25, 2014 5:16 PM in Cleaning 1-1/2" tub drain line

They would be legal if they were self scouring.
They are NOT legal when the cap is on the top. The cap MUST be in the water seal.
I've never seen one installed with the cap on the bottom.

Wringing of hands:

@ August 25, 2014 11:50 AM in Big Changes for Duct Testing in MA

There'll be a lot of hand wringing by those who have never sealed a piece of duct in their entire careers and see no need for it.

Expansion Tanks:

@ August 25, 2014 3:37 AM in you will go with one-pipe monoflo setting or two-pipe reverse return setting?

The Expansion Tank is still on the secondary side where in my opinion, it should be on the primary side.
Others may not agree but I consider that piping scheme a hybrid P/S piping. There's something about how the primary loop connects and the two secondary loops connect at either end that makes me think that if it didn't work properly, and I was called to look at it as to why, I would blame it on that connection. The idea of primary/secondary is that you have whatever flow through the primary loop and then secondary flows that create their own little bit of happiness inside the primary. That's why the closely spaced tees need to be as close together as you can reasonably get them. Too far away and the flow can collapse. How it is drawn and how it is installed are different. But of it is drawn in a way that bad, it might be a problem. I always have a gut feeling about running things through tees like drawn.
But again, if you shut off those two isolation valves on the primary side, with the expansion device on the secondary side, you have to expansion protection on the boiler.

Old Shower Valves:

@ August 25, 2014 3:19 AM in Plumbing Forum?

As I remember in this long thread, the valve was made sometime after the end of the Pleistocene era and before the descendants of the Chukchi Siberian reindeer herders crossed the Alaskan land bridge, where they settled in Canyon De Chelly and became Navajos. That was before pressure balance valve. I guess that is why in the beginning, I thought of anti-sweat valves. They are a direct cross connection between hot and cold. You can also get hot water cross connections where you have hand sprays and hoses with positive shut off valves. If the hot and cold are open but the hose shut-off valves is off, you have an open cross connection.
If you have plaqued up galvanized and the hot is obstructed on the riser to the bathroom and the cold is free, the cold will have a higher flow pressure and overcome the hot, making the hot water slow but cool because although water is flowing out of the faucet, the restriction is the overflow. There's all kinds of tricks like sticking my finger over a flowing faucet to see if the flow increases at another faucet. Its hard to remember all the things I have done. Its like one of those "moments". If you have supply stops on the sinks, you can always adapt an air hose to them and with the water off, see if you have equal pressure.

Third World Cut Downs:

@ August 24, 2014 2:07 PM in Hot water baseboard heater too big for room

A tried and true third world solution  world be to take strips of cardboard as wide as the elements and cover them to stop the convection air flow through the element. If it isn't warm enough, remove some cardboard. Once you cut off the fins, you can never put them back.

Showers smelling:

@ August 24, 2014 1:55 PM in quick odor in sinks/showers

I just remembered that I once had a customer that had a smelly shower. It had to do with the type of shampoo they used but more important, that soap curds gathered in the drain above the trap seal. I took off the drain and scrubbed out the soap curds. There were even very small flies living off it. The owners were not slobs.
Lavatory sink drains can be a problem. Pull out the pop-up and shine a strong flashlight down. It may look like a Funnel Effect. Tooth paste and shaving soap will gather and form a funnel of black crud that has a really nasty odor once disturbed. That musty fragrance of anaerobic (without air) bacteria.  Especially if the drain is old. You need to loosen it up with a long screwdriver or something. If you have a drain that is far away enough from the back, you can take a toilet plunger, with help from another person to block the overflow on the sink and surge the water with the plunger. You will be disgusted by the black crud sitting just below the stopper. Look where the stopper lever comes through. If it has hair on it, you need to pull it out. I've pulled air balls out of sink drains that were up to 36" long. That is all outside of the trap seal.


@ August 24, 2014 1:43 PM in quick odor in sinks/showers

Look to the water quality first.
If the "musty smell"s like rotten eggs, it may be hydrogen sulfide. When you dray the water into a glass, you only get ONE SNIFF. No second one. JUST ONE!!!
If you are on a public water system, they chlorinate regularly. Where I live in Florida, I am on a municipal water system. They started doing a heavy chlorination flush that went on for three weeks. I didn't realize it until my Starbuck's finely (Expresso) ground black (no sugar) fresh brewed coffee tasted like something that you throw up over. If I take fresh tap water to boil eggs for egg salad, when I take off the cover, it smells of bleach. When I pee in the toilet, the chlorine in the bowl water reacts with the chemicals in my urine from my diabetes and blood pressure medicine. You have never smelled anything so bad. When I need coffee water or juice water, I run it through a Brita filter to remove the Chlorine.
If you have a private well, there are even more sources for nasty smelling water. If your smell is only in the kitchen sing, it might be a dirty drain like a disposal. You have to define what kind or where your water source is from.

Time for projects:

@ August 24, 2014 1:23 PM in home made thermostat

A great project for those with far too much time on their hands. I'd be spending the money and looking for other money making uses for my time.

If there's a problem, who you gonna call, Ghost Busters?

Speakman Mixers:

@ August 24, 2014 12:58 PM in Plumbing Forum?

Those old Speakman Mixers like the Kohler ones have a quirk. At least the Kohler ones do.

Did this start when the plumber changed or repaired the shower valve parts?
Does the valve open and cold water comes in and on when you first turn on the water? If you look at the parts that hold the washers, they appear to be the same until you compare them side by side. Then, you will see that they are exact opposites. If you are unaware of this difference, it is very easy to flip them over and have the hot spool on the cold side. If you take them out (carefully), you will notice that the scooped out part on one starts on the bottom by the washer and the other one is on farther up and open at the top. That is so as you turn on the water, one side (cold) starts first and as you move the yoke farther away from the seats, it exposed more of the other side. But that shouldn't be the cause of all your problems. I see things like yours when faucet washers come off because screw heads on bibb screws fail from de-zincification. The screw gets lodged somewhere and or the washer gets ground into the seat, partially blocking the hole for the water to come through.

There is a way to add stops to the sink. Some may not see it but others among us can see how it is done. The soaring thinkers among us who can't walk away from a situation and find out that someone fixed it. Because the hot supply only feeds the tub and sink, it has to be in there. You need to install a stop valve on the sink so you can make air or water go in reverse and blow whatever is in there, out. I can see and hear subtle things that mean absolutely nothing to you and others that mean a lot to me. That's the difference between one and another. Experience.


@ August 24, 2014 12:21 PM in you will go with one-pipe monoflo setting or two-pipe reverse return setting?

Where did you get that PDF? Most of us wouldn't mount the expansion tank on the secondary side where you can shut off both secondary side valves and isolate the boiler from the expansion control.

On the second drawing, it always has part cut off on my computer but it looks like you have (or someone has) drawn it with a two pipe direct return. Direct Returns are considered by most as a bad practice. If your intent is a Two Pipe reverse Return, that isn't one. Parallel Reverse Return = First In, Last back. Direct Return= First in, first back, last in, last back. A properly installed reverse return will almost always have a place where there are three pipes in parallel where a direct return will not.


@ August 24, 2014 12:12 PM in How much flex in piping?

Hag out the side of the new floor. What difference does it make.

Of more concern to me is that the old hole is shown on the top, and the fitting below the floor is no where near in alignment. Are you connecting to a radiator?
Unless you don't mind strange noises in the night, I would never let it rub on ANY wood.


@ August 23, 2014 12:02 PM in who builds?

Aluminum is not an acceptable vent material for oil. Steel or Stainless Steel only.

Hot & Cold:

@ August 23, 2014 11:53 AM in Plumbing Forum?

Its hard to follow what you did in the order which you did it.
I suggest that you do a single line drawing of all the fixtures with the hot lines in red and the cold lines in blue. With a green line as the outlet. You have to think of it like an electrical schematic except that electricity doesn't care where it goes (unless you use diodes) and of you turn off one side of a water supply system, the other side will go where it wants to go. The only place that you have a direct cross connection between the hot and cold is at the shower valve.
I once had something similar to what you describe, In a past renovation, years before, someone put a Watts #70A tempering valve under a floor to control water temperature to a hand shower on a tub. Through subsequent renovations, this fact was lost. The owner never complained about cold showers, but people paying $20,000 for a month Summer rental did, But you I couldn't make it happen when a tenant was there and the owner never complained. The house was sold. The new owner complained. After a lot of screwing around, I found the valve, covered over years before with no access anywhere. Because the house was built in the 1920's and had some parts piped overhead, I had to figure out how it was piped before I could pinpoint what the problem was.
Are you sure that there is no place where someone might have put a tempering valve that became buried in the walls that only controls the hot water for the tub/shower and the sink?

Can you shut off the water to the whole house, drain it back and take out the guts of the stop valve for the hot water in the cellar? Look and see if the bibb screw head has come off and/or the faucet washer is off and jammed into the seat of the valve. If it is a brass screw and the head is off, it could be jammed into some galvanized pipe.
At one time, it worked. The problem is finding out what happened so that now it doesn't.


@ August 23, 2014 11:25 AM in Hot water baseboard heater too big for room

Post a photo of the offending heater. Depending on what it is, there are ways.


@ August 23, 2014 11:22 AM in Offsets in pipes between floors?

A 45 degree offset takes up less room that two 90 degree ells, and has far less resistance.
All fittings have a resistance valve listed as equal to feet of pipe. 90's are far more than a 45 degree ell. 90's add more resistance.

Return Duct leakage:

@ August 22, 2014 10:22 AM in condensate drain ?

There can also be an issue of duct leakage on the return (negative pressure) in unconfined spaces. Like attics or damp crawl spaces. The one piece of return I see doesn't have any tape seal on it. You can also have a serious infiltration problem into unconditioned spaces which has a high heat and humidity ratio. Like Florida attics with attic ventilation.
That's an impressive amount of water. The only time I have ever seen pans like that were from long pan drains that had pitch issues. Once because an insulator knocked pitch blocks down and the drain had a sag. It doesn't appear that this is your case.
I plumbed a house for a well known person. They had two AC systems. One for the second floor and one for the first. They had a very large open stairway to the first floor. The second floor had massive cathedral ceilings. The second floor was VERY hot, no matter what. The first floor was around 60 degrees even though the thermostat was set at 75 or below. The cold air from the second floor was coming down the stairway. They had French doors across the entire Southwest side of the house. The prevailing winds in the Summer are from the Southwest. Hot and humid. Because it was cooler outside than it was on the second floor, they opened all the French doors to the outside to keep the second floor cooler. You needed a sweater to stay downstairs. I noticed that the second floor drains were draining constantly and had puddles on the ground. The first floor AH's didn't run at all.

The Cooler man said it was normal and always done that way.


@ August 22, 2014 9:58 AM in Should we use new steam boiler for hot water heating?

Is the existing radiator load measurement 585 EDR? Or is that what you think you need because of the reduced heat loss in the building due to improvements?
Those old dead guys were usually so tight that they creaked when they walked. They spent someone else's money like it was their own, they didn't.  I'm just wondering why they put a more expensive 750 Sq. Ft boiler where a smaller and cheaper one would have done. It is said that unexpected things can happen when you fire a smaller steam boiler into a system that needs a bigger one.
Just asking.
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