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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on April 24, 2014

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Getting confusing:

@ March 31, 2014 10:06 PM in Navien 240 combi installed - I have concerns

This is getting confusing.
First of all, no matter what size water pipe you have going to a fixture (except shower valves and tub valves), they all reduce down to 1/4" ID Tubing. The current El Cheapo PB spaghetti risers are even smaller. Even if you ran 2" copper to under the sink, the fixture is still fed by 1/4" ID tubing.
Although it is nice to have 1" run all over, it is commonly accepted installation practice to use a majority of 1/2" tube/piping in residential installs. Its nice to go bigger if you can afford it. Its nice to be competitive for jobs.
Massachusetts is as middle of the road as you can get. The minimum water service size is 3/4", even if it only serves a toilet. I don't know how cold it gets where this house is but if Canada, I'll bet the service is 4' down. Not a recital of the Earth Guitar Band. As far as checking the pressure, go to your local supply house and pick up a 0-160# 1/4" Bottom gauge and a 1/2" X 1/4" Reducing coupling or ell and a 1/2" boiler drain. Plus a washing machine hose. Connect it to any boiler drain you can find and turn it in. That will be the pressure. Let it flow, check the pressure. Its not expensive science.
Before you go nuts and start re-piping the house, check the PRV. It isn't working properly.
My Florida place is all 1/2" copper with a 3/4" copper service. The city maintains at least 60#. The pressure doesn't go up or down. But because of El Cheapo Moen 1982 Moen single lever Non-Pressure balance valves, if anyone turns on a faucet, you immediately feel it in the shower. Like I said in an earlier post, the Pipe Du Jour is now, 1/2" PEX, with home runs from a fixture to a manifold. Plumbing, heat and gas. 1/2" piping is the rule of the day.

Bee stings:

@ March 31, 2014 9:14 PM in Burnham MPO IQ147 or Weil Mclain WGO3

How many times should someone stand under the tree that the bees live in and be stung.
I've never had a Weil McLain boiler ever crack that was properly installed or improperly installed. I've seen more than a few "V" s leak in that exact same place. "V's aren't the only Burnham boilers I have seen with cracks.
I've installed a lot of WGO/WTGO 3's, 4's, and a few 5's. Along with a few 8's. Nary a crack.
IMO, it's the best "Pinner" out there. If they are left as "Warm Start", they are easy to clean.
Whatever your installer is happy with, that's what you should go with. If the new one cracks like the old ones, you'll be calling him first.


@ March 31, 2014 6:21 PM in Navien 240 combi installed - I have concerns

If the line coming through the foundation is copper, and what the water supply company replaced was connected to copper (they should know), you do NOT have a plugged up or obstructed copper water service. Unless it is common in your locality, it just doesn't happen and you're not the one. They make inline filters. CUNO makes an excellent one with high flow and replaceable cartridges. I would install them on new well water systems because one driller where I worked, never developed his wells to get all the fine sand and drill mud out of the casing. You sound like you have an iron issue. Like it is precipitating out of suspension and into a solid. There should be a small screw in filter on the water inlet to the water heater part of your Navien. I'm not familiar with Navien's, but all the others I have worked on, have this filter. Look for it. Pull it out and check to see of it is plugged up. Sometimes, you have to blow it with air. But if it slows down the water flow, it turns down the gas flow so as not to overheat the unit.
As this string goes on, I personally think that you have a service issue and not a mechanical issue. I promise you that if that Pressure Reducing valve was set at 75#, and you got in the shower, it would hurt a lot. Like most people can't take the pressure. Even at 60#, it still hurts in the second floor. And the first floor, you'd be backing off the pressure.
Check out the filter I am posting (I think). I always connect them up with McDonald MPT X CTS compression adapters for underground use with the big clamp and stainless steel bolt to keep it from blowing off.
This one:

Good Chlorine Points:

@ March 31, 2014 5:55 PM in Dormant commercial water heating system

Good points. One of the advantages of first blowing out the system with air is that you can usually measure it fairly accurately. If you really shock the system with adequate chlorine, you don't have to worry so much. A few years ago, I took on a large Museum like restored brick house with copper radiant heat in the ceiling. I wasn't concerned with that. But just with the Potable water. The previous plumber had been pumping trailer anti-freeze in the system for at least 5 years when I took over. The owner told me at least 30 gallons a pop. He was afraid something would break. I blew the house out with my small air compressor. I couldn't use the Weil-McLain TT Indirect for a air storage tank because draining the water and leaving the heat side would have broken the tank. I never had a single problem draining with air and refilling with water in the Spring. But it was at least 3 years before the alcohol smell of the anti-freeze was completely gone when I filled it. The water would also foam out of faucets with aerators.
Its a really accurate way to measure how much anti-freeze any heating system needs. To much is a waste and too little is dangerous.
Another thing on bleach. Cheap store brand is just as good as the expensive stuff. But be SURE to look on the label and be sure that it is 5.25% Sodium Hypochlorite and not the cheaper 3.5% stuff. It makes a big difference.

No Oxygen: Missing Aircraft:

@ March 31, 2014 5:42 PM in Coming From the"High"Country CO...(Altitude not Attitude:-)

Again, I've said that I'm not talking about Oxygen and concentrated oxygen, just slightly compressed air. Enough compressed air to equal sea level at 10,000' or 3,000 meters, pick one.
In 1976, I bought a new Ford F-150 pick-up with a 351 "M".Motor. I bought in coastal Massachusetts. Had I bought it in Denver, it would have bees set up for "high altitude" driving. Like Denver. The gas mileage sucked. There was no way of knowing what you bought. If you came down to Massachusetts and bought my truck, it would have run like suck in Denver and have needed adjustments by the dealer (high altitude kit). The same truck bought in Denver would have run fine, maybe too lean, better gas mileage, shorter engine life. Today, my 2001 BMW 325XI wagon doesn't care where I drive it because the onboard computer constantly adjusts the fuel system with info from oxygen sensors. It even has the ability to tell whether you are using high octane fuel or "regular" grade and adjust the settings in the brain.
I think that it is already being done with sealed combustion and variable speed fan motors, You just didn't realize that it was done.
Mark Etherton said that there is a 2% pick-up in input with sealed combustion. It has to be because of the variable fan speed. If 2%, why not 4%. With a modulating gas and fan speeds, anything is possible. I'm not talking 4 meters in altitude, just 2 to 3. They're already set up for Seal Level where most of us work.
Another stunning bit of useless information from CM, I've been saying for over a week on Boards that they will never find wreckage from the Boeing 777 that is missing because of trash in the ocean where it went missing. It is lost in a "Gyre" however that is defined. Some prognosticator this afternoon was commenting on the stuff they keep finding that they can't find after it is first spotted or its nothing. The area that they are searching has floating trash to the tune of 43,000+ pieces of trash and debris PER SQUARE MILE!!!!.  And I complain about taking out the trash.
Hopefully, no trash at 3,000 meters.

It was fine:

@ March 31, 2014 5:05 PM in Bad hydronic panel install...

And it was just fine. It worked for 2 years.
In your travels, you must see some fine examples of Kindergarten Plumbing Picasso's.
What were they thinking?
Is it even legal to vent a Weil-McLain 90+ boiler into a chimney? Let alone with the atmospheric gas water heaters. How did the they handle the Stainless Steel exhaust that's part of the heat recovery? The condensate? Is it just run on the floor?
Sounds right nifty.

1/2" piping:

@ March 31, 2014 4:51 PM in Navien 240 combi installed - I have concerns

It is perfectly acceptable to pipe a house 3/4" and 1/2" copper and the house must have a 3/4" service into the house. And then, a 3/4" pressure reducing valve. You split the copper into 2 halves, one going for the cold and the other feeding the water heater. That way, you have equal hot and cold water pressure and volume on both sides of the shower valve. Good money is on a bad PRV. If you have 110# at the street, and the house isn't on a hill, 100' above the street, 110# is enough to blow a glass out of your hand.
We always talk about the need for digital combustion analysis on heating equipment. You need pressure gauges to tell you what's up. You need one on the street side and the house side of the PRV. To see if the street side is 100#+, and stays there when t runs, or drops appreciably while running, and see that the house side is adequate for the height of the house and how much it drops.
For smelly toads sake, all the hot shot plumbers are now running home run 1/2" PEX CTS tube in all the new and old houses. 1/2" CTS PEX has a smaller ID tha 1/2" Copper Tube.

Bleach @ Bacteria:

@ March 31, 2014 4:35 PM in Dormant commercial water heating system

If its just safe water in the system your concerned about, and the system has been sitting dormant for a very long period of time, there are other considerations. It is kind of a aerobic (lives in air) and anaerobic (lives without air). Li lives in slime inside pipes and lives in shower heads or cooling tower water.
If everything is on the up and up with this place, and you want to get it going, I'd take a great big air compressor and blow down the entire system. And blow a lot of air through the system. It will get rid of any slime and critters that reside there. The air/oxygen will kill any anaerobic bacteria. The swirling air and water will polish the insides clean. If the water is off, you can test for leaks. If you're really serious about doing a fine thing, after blowing out all the water (and you WILL blow it all out), note the water meter reading before you fill it and then what it is when you are done. Compute your bleach strength on the amount of water in the system. You can connect a handy utility water pump to a drain on the water service as close to where it comes in to the building and mix bleach and water in a 5 gallon bucket or two and get all that bleach into the system. Let it sit. Blow it all out with air, then, fill and flush to your desires.
In the case of chlorination disinfecting, not enough is worse than none at all.

Oil tanks:

@ March 31, 2014 4:11 PM in To convert or not

I'm not commenting on your gas situation except to say that if you're worried about a 70 year old oil tank rupturing, I'd be far more concerned about a 70 YO unused gas line.
As far as the oil tank, I've never seen any oil tank, just rupture like delivering a child one day. They usually show some form of weep first along the bottom or a side seam. I'd be far more concerned about driving down the road and being T-Boned by someone running a stop sign or a red traffic light.
And if you are not a current gas customer, there is a possibility that with some previous gas system improvement, the gas company disconnected and abandoned your unused service. Check with them to find out.


@ March 31, 2014 3:58 PM in Dormant commercial water heating system

There's a "history" to this. It looks like it was never ever turned on or run.
Like is everything signed off by the AHJ's? Is there some "Issue" between the Contractor, the owner, architect or the AHJ's? Is there a CO?
If it isn't signed off and you touch it, someone might have something over you without your permission. Like going on an unfinished job without the permit holders permission and working on a job without a permit. A job isn't finished until the final is signed off. The file for the building is a public record. You have a right to see it. I'd be looking it over. 
IHO, it might be worth time for a discrete trip down to see the AHJ's to try to get the straight scoop on what is going on. From appearances, there doesn't seem to a gang of hackaroos have worked there. Something is up.
If you have to post photos of something your concerned about, you probably should be and your instincts tell you so.
Been there, done that.
If some builder/developer/contractor owes someone a pile of money and they won't come back until paid, you could be getting someone off the hook by getting the job finished and a final inspection done. More than once, I had some smarmy POS try to get me into something like that. Not without the full story.

Those things:

@ March 31, 2014 11:51 AM in Coming From the"High"Country CO...(Altitude not Attitude:-)

I think that the program doesn't recognize those symbols as legitimate. When you put " "" >>> "" " in a Post Tittle, topic, it might post the topic but it doesn't recognize it as a legal topic or word. When you bracket something with a " "" < "" " and a " "" > "" ", in a posting, it thinks it is a hot link and looks to see if it is a legal place or site. If it can't find the legal place, it dumps the posting.
Or it seems to me.

I can hear the inspector:

@ March 31, 2014 11:43 AM in Modcons in Closets-

"But it's never fired at more than 60%-"
But it CAN be fired at 100%. It has the POTENTIAL of being fired at 100%.
Or like the sign one of our former inspectors proudly displayed on the wall in his office:
"Arguing with an inspector is like trying to catch a greased pig. You'll never know how much fun the pig is having".

Combustion air/sealed combustion:

@ March 31, 2014 11:37 AM in Modcons in Closets-

It would seem to me that unless the air intake is directly connected to the burner blower, and gets ALL make-up and combustion air through the outside connection, you can run the risk of using up excess air in a bedroom if the unit is run with the cover off. And the covers aren't all that tight. Then there's the issue of ventilation in the door.
Sounds like a "Camel's nose under the tent". thing. Once the nose is under the tent flap, and smells that's there, the camel wants the whole tent.
"What do you mean it's wrong? The Code says 96" developed, I'm only 2" past that at 98". No, you have to include the two 90's and the 45* in the total developed length. You need to go up in size. Its in the I/O manual. Didn't you read it?


@ March 31, 2014 11:21 AM in Coming From the&quot;High&quot;Country CO...(Altitude not Attitude:-)

Because of my Type 2 diabetes, I don't do cookies.
I figured that you can play with quotation marks.
Some symbols go back to DOS commands and will make UNIX and some other operating systems lose their collective minds.
Or so I have figured out.  These things " < " and these things " > " will cause untold grief. Along with forward slashes and back slashes. It seems that any forbidden symbol under DOS will cause some browsers to loose their collective minds.
And maybe this won't post because I have violated some unknown rule of applications.


@ March 31, 2014 11:13 AM in Navien 240 combi installed - I have concerns

You should be able to go to the water supplier and find out what you have for a service. Copper was cheap post WW ll, but if the builder had a surname that is often common in the northern British Isles, galvanized steel was cheaper and would be working fine when the deeds were signed over. If it is galvanized, there is definitely plaque problems with brass valves. Unless the pipe is galvanized wrought iron. If you have high dissolved iron in your water, definitely.
If you replace the service, go with a minimum of 1" SDR/200# Poly. It will equal 3/4". I always used 1 1/4" with compression couplings to equal a 1" flow.
If you get the water service fixed, you'll think you died and went to heaven.
One good way to spot bad services without a gauge is to open a tap that is at the service entrance like a boiler drain, and open it up as wuickly as you can, note if the flow is high and then drops off to a steady, slow flow. Stop it, then repeat it. If the pressure goes back up and does it again, there is an obstruction. Sometimes, you can actually hear the water filling the pressure back. The slower the refill, the worse the obstruction.
Where I worked, the water provider was a very old company started in the late 1800's.They had records going back to then. If you wanted to find out of an old house had a lead service, you could look in a 1890 service record and see the fittings they used to connect it.

Before you dig:

@ March 31, 2014 10:55 AM in Navien 240 combi installed - I have concerns

Before you dig, check the service pressure like I told you in a previous post.
If you have metered water, where is the meter? At the curb or at the house? Have it checked for flow. It can be "hanging" and not flowing as fast as it should. When the house was built, did they use 3/4" poly pipe? Is it 160/200# poly and did they use compression fittings or insert fittings? Some cheap installers back when used some galvanized steel insert fittings that if screwed into a brass  curb stop, will develop rust at the connection and slow the flow. Is there a curb stop just outside of where the water service enters the house? If the meter is at the property line and it is a distance away, is there a bib pressure drop from the meter location to inside the house? It will show that the curb stop needs to be replaced. Or you could have a big rock crushing the plastic/poly water service because someone was too lazy to hand backfill the trench to cover the pipe, Then finish with a machine. If it is rocky soil, it may not have clean sand under the pipe.
If its a long run, really consider a booster pump.

Another take on your problem:

@ March 31, 2014 10:42 AM in Navien 240 combi installed - I have concerns

Here's another take on your problem.
First of all, that is a really nice professional installation. Be proud that you hired someone that knew what they is doing.
You need to get something (or someone) to check the static (nothing running) and the flow (something running) at the water in the house. You have town supplied water. Piping houses with 1/2" copper is wrong, but if you go by the fixture unit valves in piping, it is OK, but you still need a minimum of a 3/4" water service where it may split and go 1/2" each to the water heater and the hot water, If the service entrance is 3/4" and reduces to the whole house from there, it is wrong. Put a pressure gauge device on the service entrance and measure the pressure, If it is under 40# static (not flowing), it will never work properly. If it drops below 30# when flowing, it will never work properly. If you have a single lever pressure balance shower valve, it will never work properly because the valve is constantly doing its job and protecting you by trying to balance the hot and cold water. If the Navien is set to 120 degrees, it probably can't over come the lack of hot water pressure and the volume of cold water.
If you want, the easiest way to solve your pressure problem is to install a booster pump on the water service as it inters the house. You can buy stand alone units or make up your own. But it will raise the pressure and volume available in the system. Remember, when you raise the system pressure by sucking on a water service, you are theoretically increasing the street pressure by making the system use atmospheric pressure to push harder on YOUR system. Mother Nature HATES a vacuum.
Where do you live?

I know what you mean:

@ March 31, 2014 10:15 AM in LP Gas usage rating? GPH?

I know what she means.
I still have ALL my teeth except for one in front with a implant that I had 6 years ago. Now, at my age, and in Florida, every dentist looks into my mouth and thinks they see the inside of my wallet or bank account. I have a back upper tooth that I had to have removed. Everyone wants to put in an implant. That can take over three years in upper, back teeth. They get really distressed when I tell them NO, because I won't live long enough to pay for it and I don't want to stick my wife with a bill if I am dead.

Brake Cleaner:

@ March 31, 2014 9:59 AM in Sporadic Vac Readings

Ever try PVC cleaner? Its cheaper and more readily available. Will brake cleaner get Rectorseal #5 off your tools and fittings?

Certainly are:

@ March 31, 2014 9:52 AM in Circulator pressure differential question

They certainly are. And you are 100% correct.
Those work well on gas. Not on oil if they are ODR and not have any boiler protection. The sections are horizontal and if you can't get the exhaust out of the top, you can't clean them and they will plug up and fail. The seal breaks between the block and the firebox. But that has nothing to do with the need for Primary/Secondary. Which will even work satisfactorily if the crossover bridge loops are reversed.

Bad Hydronic Panel Install Joke:

@ March 31, 2014 9:44 AM in Bad hydronic panel install...

This is really a bad joke.
Manufacturers are selling their complicated products to the lowest common denominator in the quest for sales and leave we professionals to compete for scraps and then be expected to fix these disasters. I put in a few of these advanced, complicated and expensive systems. They never worked to my satisfaction. And although customers never complained to me directly, I never thought they were all that happy with the results. I spent more time looking at systems that couldn't be fixed in expensive houses.
Some hot shot contractor didn't want to pay to have it properly installed by a professional that knew what they were doing, so he buys it on-line and installs it himself. He made a ton of money off his defective install. It doesn't work. Now he doesn't want to spend any money on you to fix it? When the cost of you doing it right in the first place would have been less than if you had done it in the first place.
I came to find that I learned far more from fixing other installers wrongs than I ever did by my own mistakes. The more I had to do to keep it correct and proper, the more expensive it became to do it right the first time.
These contractors all want to drive 5-Series BMW's but pay Ford Focus prices for it. Same philosophy they have about hiring professionals to do their work. Fast, expensive and cheap in price. A late Electrician contractor friend had a big sign on the wall of his shop where people first cam in and for all to see:
"Your poor planning, doesn't constitute an emergency on MY part".
There for "Contractors" who just spent 6 weeks in St. Barts in the Caribbean while nothing was done on their job with a completion date on June 15. And owners moving in for July 4th weekend. They were lucky if they moved in by August 1.
And you wait 60 days or more for your money. After you cut 10% off the bill or they want you to cut them a check for cash.
There's a line in a song by Woody Guthrie about "Some will rob you with a six gun, others do it with a fountain pen."
I had a very long time customers who I did a couple of houses for him. He decided to build another one. He hired this Contractor that I knew as a sleaze. I told the owner that I would be working for him and not the contractor, that any pricing and billing would be going to him the owner, and any arrangements between the builder and the owner were out of my jurisdiction.  And that I was redy to start that day (November) and I had a lot of work to do the plumbing and heating, that it was a complicated install in a custom house. And that I didn't want the contractor calling me up on April 1 and telling me that I had 2 weeks to do the rough because he had sheet rockers scheduled for April 15 and if I couldn't do it, he would get someone else (which he had already. The foundation was done before November, and the lumber was already there. He started framing February 1. The owner called me April 1. I reminded him of what he said. Someone else did the job. I have too much work in the Spring to drop everything on a house like that. The heating was a disaster. A first floor loop was Runtal Panel Radiators, 15 panels piped in series with 1/2" copper, It started in the kitchen (thermostat) and ended up in the Living Room. The kitchen was hot, the living room was cold, with lots of NW facing glass. They used a Taco high head, high volume circulator to try to push the water around faster. Within 6 months I was back trying to salvage what was there. Much of what was there couldn't be salvaged. They learned to live with it.
Just because you're handling a lot of money, doesn't mean you're making any.
Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me.
Is it worth it? Sometimes its hard to separate pride from good sense.

More ?

@ March 30, 2014 5:34 PM in Coming From the&quot;High&quot;Country CO...(Altitude not Attitude:-)
Starts with AIR, makes Oxygen, Scrubs Nitrogen. Not what I'm talking about. Compressed AIR.
You know, you're right. It can't be done. Stupid me for even suggesting it. Suggesting that there might possibly be a way to get enough AIR at high high altitude to make something like a sealed combustion gas boiler at 10,000' act like it was at sea level.
And airplanes don't fly at high altitude with kerosene burning engines using compressed air for an oxidizer. Like a SR71 Blackbird at 0ver 100,000' and over 2,000 MPH.  That same aircraft is incapable of flying at 10,000 because of a lack of oxygen.
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