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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on September 15, 2014

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@ September 9, 2014 9:08 AM in odor from duct board

Duct Board often has a dead smell when you take it off a pallet. It goes away once exposed to the air. The smell leaves once installed and used.
I always found a bigger problem with it. Rodents. They live (and die) for that stuff. It gives the Meece's 100% access to a structure. I once was cutting a hole in a first floor ceiling to get at a broken pipe and was showered with meece droppings and a petrified meece or two. The only way they got there was through the duct board and flex duct.


@ September 9, 2014 8:51 AM in Oil indirect or Heat pump hot water heater?

Sounds too good to be true.
$.18 KWH per month? Is that if you use 5000 KWH Per Month? Or 500 KWH Per Month? Take the cost of your monthly electric bill and divide it into the KWH you used for that month. Utilities are deceptive in quoting cost to operate electrical equipment. You can put lipstick on the talking TV pig, but it is just a better looking TV pig that talks. An electric water heater is an electric water heater, no matter where the energy phase change occurs, Inside the heater tank or the inside of a HX coil. Its still done with electricity.
Be careful when stepping over all those $10.00 bills scattered around when going after that broken roll of dimes someone dropped on the sidewalk. You're paying $.02438 Per BTU for oil. How much for electricity when compared? The less electricity you se, the more it cost.
Electric water heaters last 5 to 6 years. The warranty length. They fail any time after that? How many years have you been running your oil boiler?
Do you have perfect water where you live? Where I live, I can hear the elements sizzling any time the electric water heater is running because they are encrusted with insulating hardness.
If it sounds too good to be true, it might be.


@ September 8, 2014 3:30 PM in Old furnace, change of repair?

It sounds like a service issue, not a replacement issue. Best determined by a qualified heating professional with his eye upon it.


@ September 8, 2014 3:27 PM in dishwasher waste piping

Statewide uniform codes equally applied and enforced are the solution.

Massachusetts may have some issues, but one registration is the solution. A local jurisdiction can apply a local rule that is stronger with cause. You can't outlaw PVC because some prehistoric inspector says "I just like to see that nice cast iron soil pipes with caulked lead and oakum. There's just nothing better". Hog Wash doesn't wash. We even have a Statewide plumbing permit that is code required. A town may put other things on another side. A town can't refuse a application that meets the State standard but not the town form. The town has to make their form comply

A bigger problem is the competing codes. They all want to sell code books. There's a lot of cash in printing and selling code books.

Flipped Out:

@ September 8, 2014 10:56 AM in Break the old elbow?

Right Nasty.
The photo is flipped 180 degrees.
If I was attempting that, I would be working hard to get the Union apart. Kroil the heck out of the union nut. Hit it with the heat wrench. Whack the ship out of it with a hammer. That nut will come off easier than the elbow. I'd bust the ell off by cracking it with a 4# hammer. Take the union half out and heat wrench the ship out of it to save the union. Get a new nipple and ell. Teflon Tape and paste the clap out of it. There should be enough spring and swing to swing the ell and union back into place. Most Unions are Malleable and will stretch a little. Elbows are Cast Iron. They crack before they stretch.
If your worried about pounding on the ell and disturbing things to get the ell to crack, take a sawzall and cut a groove across and over the threads. Take an old beater screw driver and stick it into the saw kerf and give it a whack. It will break easily then. Cut two grooves if you're so inclined.
I hope that there's room for the dirt that you will be moving to dig out some work space for yourself. I'm feeling an anxiety attack coming on just thinking about doing things like that in a tight space.


@ September 8, 2014 10:38 AM in Old furnace, change of repair?

I never in my life heard of one. I thought it might be made by Bock. I found it on the Internets. Maybe a phone call to the number listed on that link would give you what you need.
Many Americans are unaware that there is a vast world on the other side of our borders. Like Canada, where it is far colder than the USA. They like to be warm too. Many Canadian Manufacturers do not want to deal with the USA BS of UL Listing. They have their CSA which seems to be slowly supplanting UL as a testing Standard. In many ways, they are way ahead of the USA and the Wall Street Crime Syndicate and their Bankster Subsidiary.

Speeding Pumps:

@ September 8, 2014 10:29 AM in Gravity hot water diverting tee

Multi-Speed and Variable Rate circulator pumps can be a wonderful thing.

Not Bad Products:

@ September 8, 2014 10:20 AM in PVC Venting on boilers again!

Not so with Plexco, Plex Vent and Ultra Vent.
You needed RTV Silicone to seal it. Silicone will stick to your clothes but not adequately to smooth plastic pipe. Plus, the grey stuff needed the steel clips to help hold it in place. If you had a clip on the bottom of the pipe, and condensed water got past the RTV and got on the clip, the clip would rust, expand and could break a piece of pipe or fitting off. That, and just the plain falling apart.
I never installed any when new. I just found the bad ones and replaced it with SS.
Then, because it was a PITA and expensive to replace, the owner would call the original installer and complain. To which the OI replied that some one was full of ships and there was nothing wrong with the many of installs they had done.
Now, your considered a crook and a liar.

Unions. Codes & Learning:

@ September 8, 2014 10:04 AM in dishwasher waste piping

In some ways, the Unions have contributed to the problem of a lack of new blood.
In Massachusetts, we have a comprehensive uniform plumbing code 248 CMR. In 1965, the code covered the entire Commonwealth but only for towns that were over 10,000 in population. Towns smaller could do whatever they wanted. Boston had their own code. If you lived and worked in Worcester, MA and you wanted to work in Boston, you needed a Boston license. In 1965, they started lowering the population requirement for small towns that were covered. The town I worked and lived in was still under the limit, but everyone decided to get licensed. We all still had to take tests There was no "Grandfathering". Some old "Grandfathers" wouldn't take the test and quit working. Those of us, the rest, hired someone to teach us what was asked on the test. "Test Teachers". Ours was an instructor at a Vocational Trade Technical High School. It was stupid money. In my group where I came from, I was the only one who passed. We all passed the written test, they all flunked the practical test because you had to silver braze a copper fitting and the instructor hadn't shown anyone how to do it. He didn't expect that on the test. But having spent 6 years in the LA City School System taking Industrial Arts/Vocational classes, I was well practiced in the art of brass brazing. I convinced the test person to "just let me light the torch". When I cracked the O2 to give the gas a sniff of O2 before I lit it off, to avoid the "Black Floaters", he knew I knew what I was doing. So much for that.
The Board of Examiners noted that most all the apprentices that had done test prep schooling, passed the written part of the test. So they made it a requirement to have 100 hours of applied schooling. The pass rate went up to well over 90%. It wasn't a requirement, but in 1974 when I went for my Master's license, I did another 100 hours. Time and money well spent. You can never learn enough. I passed first try. At some point, 248 CMR changed to cover the whole entire Commonwealth. No matter where you worked, 248 CMR was the code and that is what you went by. Cities and Towns couldn't have their own Codes. Four year "Voke Students" could graduate from Voke Schools with the 100 Hours of applied schooling. They got 1 1/2 Years credit on the three year work requirement, and if they had worked hard and worked after school and Summers, a really ambitious student could get his Journeyman's Plumbing License after graduation from high school. They, the Board changed the Educational Requirements to 300 Hours and three years apprenticeship. Your apprenticeship can only be done while legally employed by a Licensed Master Plumber who must swear under perjury that they have tax records for the employment of the apprentice. Cash under the table doesn't cover it.
The Pass Rate was overwhelming. But when the educational hours were changed to 300, instructors complained that they had a hard enough time coming up with things to teach for 100 hours, what were they going to do with 300 hours. I can't recall any apprentice that worked three years and did 300 hours of schooling that didn't pass on first try. They were all code and theory weenies.
Enter the Unions. They have a 5 year apprentice program that you need a multi generational legacy requirement to get in to. They lobbied hard to get the apprenticeship and educational times to coincide with theirs. Which happened. I said that there would be problems. There have been. Now, a graduate of a Voke School, doesn't have enough classroom training to qualify no matter what. And they need some amount of years of apprenticeship to add to what they get from the Voke Schools.
What I'm trying to point out is that you get some bright 18 year old, who now faces 5 years of apprenticeship/employment with a licensed Master Plumber and 500 hours of applied schooling, at low wages and probably not being able to be continuously employed for 5 years. What I saw was an immediate drop on new Apprentices. They can't imagine spending 5 years doing something they might not like. If they do go through all this training to get licensed, they work a year and leave to start their own one man business. In Massachusetts, you need a Master Plumbers License to hire another Journeyman and Apprentice. Laborers are considered apprentices if they pick up a shovel to dig a trench.
Now, we need 6 hours of CEU every year to keep your license. 3 hours on gas and three hours on Plumbing. They have a hard time coming up with curriculum for each 6 hour CEU. Everyone is smarter and better educated. The "Board" sets the curriculum. Inspectors now need to be licensed and they have their own special training. Their CEU's are for 12 hours per year. So that they are all on the same page. The real problem is that the requirement to get licenses is so long now, that it discourages new people from going into mechanical trades. They just put in a Sheet Metal License. Next, it will be expanded to residential wet heating. Or a pipe fitters license will be lowered to cover boilers under 400,000 BTU's.
Homeowners go to Home Depot or Lowes, buy what they want and install it themselves. And make a mess. Watch those DIY reality shows with kitchen remodels. Are you shipping me? Those homeowner couples aren't doing those kitchen Reno's like they appear. They have (behind the scene) professional help. I probably know more about those kind of things that the "professionals" that they have helping. Ripping out bearing walls to have an "Open Design" is a lot more complicated than they show, And there's a lot more to putting up a couple of temporary walls on either side of a bearing wall you want to remove and put a big long LVL beam under the load. No mention of the fact that you might need an engineer to design and stamp it, and you might need a column to shorten the span and a pier under to pick up the point load.  And the DIY'er who doesn't get Permits and inspections will do a fine job.
When I was 19 years old, I started plumbing because we were all laid off from a big Union Carpenter Job when I was a union Carpenter Apprentice because they didn't want carpenters banging on walls while they were plastering. I got a job as the second person hired by my old dead boss. If I knew I would have faced 5 years of apprenticeship and 500 hours of schooling (100 hours per year) when being paid apprentice wages with three children by the time I was done, I'd still be a carpenter. Massachusetts Voke Schools are filled with a waiting list to get in. They graduate some of the best mechanics.

Education is a wonderful thing. Too much required can be a bad thing. One other thing about the Voke Schools, they are often a dumping ground for the students with mechanical attitudes but poor academic skills. Voke Schools teach you HOW to learn. And what you NEED to learn. With the National "Teach To The Test" craze, Voke Schools often count in the overall academic average. School boards hate adding Voke School scores into their averages.
But the best mechanics come from the Voke Trade Schools.
Sorry for my long rant.

Which Burst First:

@ September 7, 2014 12:20 PM in What do you see wrong with this set up?

I've seen heating pipes burst along knee walls exposed to roof/attic spaces with the heat on and people living in the house.
As long as the circulators are moving water through a zone, it will never freeze. Let it stop, and it will freeze. If the split is on the ends, it is usually because of cold air infiltration. Especially if the riser comes through a wall sill/shoe and through the wall. Insulators will be sure that there is no exposed piping along the floor to freeze.
I would rough heat risers to upper floors and block out with 2X4's on the flat with Van Hangers, making the hole almost 3" centered from the outside wall so that the insulation HAD to be behind the pipe and the pipe on the warm side of the insulation. I would always go back and check after insulation. More than once I found the insulation OVER the pipes, insulated from the warm side. Sheet Rockers might just rip out the insulation and leave it bare to avoid the bubble in the sheet rock. Its the law of unintended consequences.
Like the time a customer found water marks in his crawl space on a beam next to a 3" PVC waste. (What he was doing crawling around looking for things, you had to know the guy). After carefully removing a section of very exotic molded baseboard, I found that when the woodpecker came along with his air nail gun. the nail wouldn't go through the ouch plate, he pilled it out and used a fine wire drywall screw for metal studs. He got through the ouch plate AND into the PVC waste.
Laws of Unintended Consequences. No good deed goes unpunished. The plumber should have used an ouch plate like the electricians use. They're heavier. Not like those thin @$$ ones sold at the Plumbing Supply House.

Indirect Dishwashers:

@ September 7, 2014 11:39 AM in dishwasher waste piping

Non-Commercial/residential wastes are Indirect Wastes. The waste needs the heights to the top of the drain hose under the cabinet, to give it back pressure so that all the water isn't drained out of the tub on machines that don't have drain solenoids. Not all machines have drain solenoids. But they all have indirect drains. The sink beside the dishwasher provides the indirect drain. The places where code requirements require the air gap device above the counter top is to make the indirect drain above the flood level rim of the fixture (sink). But the sink becomes the receptor. If you want to put the dishwasher into a separate, unconnected cabinet, that cabinet should have a properly trapped and vented indirect waste receptor in it for the dishwasher to drain into. The drain level from the sing drain entrance (DW Drain tee or disposal connection) to the top of the loop allows the water to drain out but leaves the hose full of water. If the disposal or sink fills because of a blocked sink, the air will cause a air lock and prevent the sink waste water from draining back. If it doesn't, work, the entire contents of the sink and disposal will back up into the dishwasher and overflow.
There are often unresolvable issues with that type of drain. If it is a dishwasher without a drain solenoid, the excess water can back up into the dishwasher tub, and because of the timer control limitations on drain cycle times, the dishwasher doesn't completely drain.
Its always difficult when these so called "GC" Experts, put their self inflicted problems on everyone else. Then they want you to help solve their financial losses at your expense. When YOU didn't make the "structural issues" mistakes. If they (GC's) spent less time on being experts in our trades and focused that time on being experts in their own trade, things could run a lot smoother.  

FWIW/Freeze Up:

@ September 6, 2014 11:17 AM in What do you see wrong with this set up?


FWIW, and in MY opinion, everyone is wrong as to the cause of this freeze up problem and are no where near the cause. I've seen it far too many times.
First of all, hot air rises. The third floor is a zone. They turn the thermostats down to save fuel. The 3rd floor thermostat is set to 40 or 45 degrees. Heat from the lower floors ends up on the top floors, not letting the thermostat run. So, during long off cycles, the third floor freezes. If the fill valve is working, and the top floor freezes, it will flood the house from the third floor down. Then, there is the issue of the water pipes that went to the second or third floor. They should have all been drained. The whole house should have been drained with the heat on. Set back thermostats can and will do the same thing. When it is cold, the zones need to run.
If you are leaving the heat on in a house like that, turn the high limit down as low as you can get it. Oil boilers, 140 degrees. It makes the heating system smaller so that it pumps cooler water when the temperature drops. The flowing warm water will not freeze. Still water will. If there is a door to the third floor, keep it closed. Don't let the heat from the rest of the house over ride the thermostat. If the third floor is the roof space, and you have knee walls, there is a very good possibility that cold air infiltration will freeze still water.
There are really only two things I hate in life. Motion sickness and cutting holes in finished surfaces looking for broken pipes.
And caretakers who lack honesty. They always try to blame the plumber for their having "just checked the house last night and everything was fine" so it's the plumbers fault. And they are believed. Well, lets see. It snowed 2 weeks ago. And got very cold. Down to zero for a week. 3 days ago, it went into the 40's. The snow hasn't melted yet. There are no tracks in the snow. How did you check the house? True story.
Then, there's a plumber friend. The Police Department checked the house because a sound alarm was recorded and alarmed. They looked inside and saw the living room ceiling had fallen down on the floor. They found the water running from a second floor bathroom where the 3/8 OD spaghetti supply to the sink had split and ran. The 26' X 40' cellar had 74" of water in it. The damage was in the MILLIONS!!. The Caretaker claimed to have been there the night before and it was the plumbers fault. The owner was the litigious type. He and the insurance company were going to sue the plumber. He passed me a few days after word was out about the damage. I was in a hole in a street thawing a frozen water service when he drove by. "TONY". How you making out on that freeze up with all the damage. Did you figure out when the pipe broke?  SHOCK, HOW? Well, you're a licensed Master Plumber. Remember in class? What are the dimensions of the cellar and the height of the water, Times, LXWXH equals how many cubic feet. There are 7,5 Gallons in a cubic foot. Do the math. How long does it take for that amount of water to pass through 1/4" id pipe?

No more was said to the plumber about the broken pipe and how long it had leaked.
Many Caretakers suck.
Many other war stories freely given upon request. Or I'll be reminded of them.


@ September 6, 2014 10:36 AM in Old House, Single-pipe hydronic with diverter tees

Frosties suck for big and old guys like myself. If I still lived in the North, and I wanted to build another boat, it wouldn't be a Frostie, it would be another Iceboat. Which I don't need.
I have a need for speed. Sunfish are one of the most uncomfortable things one can ever sail. No place to hook your feet for that smokin' upwind planning in ideal conditions. Sailing a Sunfish is like riding around on that old fat tire'd 2 wheeler with the Donald Duck head and the big wide handlebars with the friction coaster brakes. Sailing a Laser is like riding my last generation hybrid mountain bike. Fat tires but no un-sprung rear and the 25 speed de-railers.
But DN Iceboats. The most fun you will ever have with your clothes on. Like stepping up to my son's 2013 Honda 250cc Dirt Bike that he races Motocross all over the North East with. THAT gets your attention. Given a choice, if there is sailable ice and racing his dirt bike? He goes sailing. If its windy, and it is warm enough he beats his Laser around. Like I did.


@ September 6, 2014 10:19 AM in Old House, Single-pipe hydronic with diverter tees

That's conjecture. Its the balance in the zone with the larger sixed piped circulator. How do they make the pressure equal on both sides of a split loop on the primary zone? The circulator is on the return, pushing through the boiler. The main flow is through the boiler, through the air scoop and past the wye. There will be an element of suction as the water rushes by like the exhaust of a chimney flue pipe venting two appliances with a wye fitting. There is a positive force on both sides. In your case, although the pressure is still positive (Delta T) on the return, it will be  considerably less on the side with the Wye in that direction. Unless there is something that I can't see. The tee on the supply with the Asbestos insulation going through the wall must be the other zone that comes back to the rusty circulator with the 3/4" copper.SO, that isn't part of the flow.
But like I always say to myself. If it worked for years and works now, don't futz with it. Spend a moment and try to figure out how it works. And learn something.


@ September 6, 2014 9:49 AM in Old furnace, change of repair?

Its probably one of these. Canadian.


@ September 6, 2014 9:38 AM in dishwasher waste piping

You could also just drill a hole through the floor of the cabinet and floor and drain it under the house. It might not pass an inspection.
It might be OK in your jurisdiction if the AHJ approves it. If permitted and inspected, hope that the AHJ inspector has a good satisfying meal and no arguments with irate inspectee's before he/she gets to your inspection.


@ September 5, 2014 9:07 AM in What do you see wrong with this set up?

WELL! If we're going to be picky-picky, I'd personally never have that copper connection to the supply main in copper with those two Extrols hanging off, trying to rip that copper out of the tee. I always piped them with hard steel pipe. If I wanted to improve it, I'd at least hang them up with F&M rings and plates. Ever unscrewed a failed #30 Extrol that was full of water? You aren't sure as you unscrew it. But know when it falls on top of the boiler and breaks something. Tie a 5 gallon bucket to the piping so it falls into the bucket and not on you.   Then, I never put a copper adapter on a PRV like that. I always piped them with black steel nipples and pipe them away so that if it leaks, you can put a bucket under it. The last, down piece gets the adapter and a copper drop piece out of old scrap or whatever. The odd angle on the pipe was to get it out of the way of the door. No more trips back to the truck for the hand torch.
You can really see where the gasket leaked on the old OEM black circulator where they tried using the heat wrench on the bolts. They burned the butt off the cow. Never-Seize is a new and wonderful miracle product, developed long before I knew about it (1958, Hot Rod Magazine). It is a wonderful addition to any fastener. Like circulator flange bolts, the nuts that hold the cleanout bonnet down or the bolt that lets the front burner door open.
I think that there is a BFD on the supply, There is a 1/2" copper line going to the right and down. In one picture, you can see the adapter behind the fill valve. Another look shows that they used a FPT adapter Tee to connect the expansion tanks. That's all hard piped with screw pipe.
Because it is a cold start boiler (no tankless), I'll bet it needs a REALLY good cleaning and the rug pulled out and replaced with a piece of Lynn Wet Blanket. The Kibbles & Bits are probably quite deep.
If someone just went over this boiler and added the new tanks and circulator, they did a fine job. Nice and clean. Years of serviceable life left. IMO.

Yellow to Brown:

@ September 5, 2014 8:42 AM in PVC Venting on boilers again!

I've seen it light brown, really brown on older Ruud PVP LP water heaters. Not so on the new ones with the different blower and restriction plate at the top.

Over and Under:

@ September 5, 2014 8:37 AM in Furnace to small service call

I've seen a lot of oversized boilers with undersized emitters when the OAT hit design temperature. Usually because of cold air infiltration, warm air leaving. Tightening up the building usually resolved the issue, made it comfortable and saved a ton of money.
Sometimes, just raising the system temperature.


@ September 5, 2014 8:28 AM in hot water demands

If Stratification is or becomes a real issue, the best way to resolve it is with return circulation. Especially on high output water heaters like Oil Fired or commercial high recovery gas units  that see very short intermittent draws.
With very high recovery/output heaters like Bock 73E oil fired water heaters recovering 220 gallons per hour @100 degree rise, you can have 180 degree water at the top, many different temperature layers on the way down, and 55 degree water coming in. It won't work well on undersized or under-fired tanks.
Its the concept.


@ September 4, 2014 9:37 PM in Old House, Single-pipe hydronic with diverter tees

That's what makes the job fun. Seeing and figuring out how these old systems work.
What interests me is the direction that the wye fitting is in. It is correct for water flowing from the boiler and through the run of the tee. Its the Wye part that is the question. If a direction of flow runs through the "run" of the tee, and another flow elters through the branch of the wye, it is more correct thab it it came in through the "bull of a tee. Because the flowing water through the wye gets restricted by the wall of water flowing through the run. It is the correct way to connect exhaust vents where two appliances are connected to a single flue pipe. I've actually found places where entering with a tee didn't allow the appliance that vented into the "Bull" of the tee to properly vent when the main appliance was running. A Wye solved the problem.
If you race small sailboats for fun and frustration, you come to realize how little wind energy it takes to move a boat through the water. And how just the right amount of something, gives you a competitive edge over your competition.
Moving air and moving water are the same. Just a different medium.

Sailboat Racing: Endless hours of tedious boredom. Interspersed with moments of stark terror.


@ September 4, 2014 9:18 PM in Long Island - code question

I have a daughter that lives in Amagansett. She built a new house a few years ago. It was the first place I ever saw an oil tank vent and fill piped with copper tube. DWV copper tube. It seemed to be sort of wild west territory way out there.
There was a BFD on the boiler. The house is on a well.
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