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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on April 23, 2014

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System Pressures:

@ March 24, 2014 9:28 AM in Circulator pressure differential question

In my (obvious) minority opinion, a circulators add absolutely nothing to system pressures. The system pressures are controlled by the fill valve pressure settings. And nothing else.
Circulators add pressure locally and not globally. What a circulator "sees' is restriction. It develops enough pressure to overcome resistance in the system. The system pressure only needs to be high enough to push the fluid to the highest point in the system above the fill, nothing more except maybe a small cushion of pressure to overcome unplanned situations. When the circulator "sees" resistance and overcomes it, you do not add the system pressure because the system, when say at 12#, causes equal pressure on both sides of the circulator when off. If gauges are installed on either side of the circulator, they will both show 12#. If the circulator starts, and the outlet pressure rises to 15#, the return should drop to 9#. Which would equal 6# or 13.86' of head pressure. If the pump is shut off, the pressure reverts to 12#. If you could flip the whole system into a horizontal position (like flipping a ferris wheel on its side) the pressure would still be 12#. If the circulator starts, it will show the same 6# or resistance as it did before. The closed system maintains pressure through the expansion or pressure tank. The fill valve/PRV can be turned off.
As a plumber, a pump installer and a well pounder, when I first read the explanation in the IBR heat loss guide on system head pressure, it took me a while to wrap my brain around the concept. Which IBR went out of their way to explain. Consider this.
If you had an open 2" pipe, 100' into the air, with a pump connected to the bottom with a never ending supply of water to draw from, the pump would need to develop 44#  (43.29#) of pressure to make the water flow over the top of the 2" pipe. If you dropped the pressure to 43#, it wouldn't flow over the top. If you close the system and connect a 2" return pipe so it becomes a "closed" system, it will still take 44# (43.29#) to fill and keep the pipe full. Assuming that the 2" circuit has little or no restriction, the pump sees no "head" pressure. Both gauges at the pump will read 44# "head" pressure when the system is static, not pumping. The pressure at the top of the 100' pipe is zero. At the bottom, it is 44#. If you drop the system pressure or the level in the pipe by 10' or 90' above the ground, the gauges would both register 39# (38.96#) with the pump stopped. If the pump starts, it will need the additional 4.33# to push the water over the top of the pipe. If the pipe is still connected as a closed circuit, the gauges will show about 5# more pressure on both gauges because there is no restriction of the large 2" pipe. The pump only adds pressure to overcome the height restriction.
If you have a massive municipal water system, with a standpipe on the top of a hill, the same rules apply. If the top of the tank is 100' above the pump, and water is being pumped to keep the tank full, the head pressure stays the same. The discharge pressure is such that it keeps the tank full while users draw water. You can go to a municipal water pumping station. There will be a gauge on the wall showing pressure at that location. They can be pumping 1,000,000 gallons a day into the system. The pressure on the gauge stays the same. Multiply that pressure by 2.31 and it tells you how high the water is in the tank. It doesn't change unless the water in the tank goes up or down. That's how pressure switches work.  

3 sided chimneys:

@ March 23, 2014 10:17 PM in Advice on Oil Boiler Replacement

" "" Current boiler is vented through a 6x12” clay lined flue within a three sided chimney, about 30’ high. " ""

If you have a 3 sided chimney, if you are in Massachusetts, it isn't legal to use it and you need a certified chimney inspection. If the installer can get away with the install and the AHJ doesn't care, well and good. You're a candidate for a power sidewall vented boiler or a direct  LP gas until the Nat. Gas gets there.
LP gas probably won't be nuts next year because this year, the Nat. Gas providers had to suck up as much LP gas as they could to keep their gas pressures and BTU's up because they oversold their supply.

Old tanks:

@ March 23, 2014 10:05 PM in Superstor sidearm problem?

I got to tell you, the oldest electric water heater I ever replaced was installed in the early 50's. I think that Vaughan went by another name. Willard M. Romoney was around and the Carlyle Group probably bought and flipped them. It was a cement lined heater. The top element had been bad for years so I ran it on the bottom element. It was the 4 bolt flange type. It finally went around 1996 and I replaced it. I had an account that had a couple of steel hot water storage tanks that were cement lined. The main one was for a hotel and all the hot water. The recovery went south because the tanks had been in for about 15 years without being re-lined. I found a company in Boston that specialized in re-lining water tanks. The sent a couple of guys down to do it. That hole at the bottom end of the tank at the bottom with the oval shaped cap/plug, held in place by that backward clamp? This little guy crawled through that hole and his helper passed him the mud to re-line it.
If you can get your shoulders through, YOU can get through. Just like a rat. If a rat can get his shoulders through a hole, he can get the rest of his body in.
There's still something to be said about cement lined tanks.

Filtered out:

@ March 23, 2014 9:49 PM in main line water filter

In the world of water treatment, the problems you two describe is like putting Bacitracin on a scrape.
Real men have REAL water problems and treatment. Like going into the bathroom and thinking that someone forgot to flush the toilet (Hydrogen Sulphide),
The water is crystal clear when the tank and toilet are new but now, they are stained orange. But the water is still clear. You can scrub out the rust in the bowl but not the ring at the water line. And wherever the water sprays outside, you get an orange stain. On the lawn, house, bushes and lawn.
The shower head is totally clogged up with white scuzz and the water won't flow out. None of the above problems can be fixed with a whole house spin-on filter on the service line.
Mother complains that her backside is being is being sanded raw when she sits in the tub by fine sand. The faucet strainers are getting plugged by very fine sand.
THAT can be helped. But, if you have a well, it could be that the well location is in a low location and when it rains, water forced its way up the electrical conduit and water washes fine sand into the casing. Or, ants take up residence on top of the pull rope and wires. Occasionally, some lose their grip and fall down the well. To be sucked up by the pump and delivered to a glass near you. That can be addressed by a inline filter.
Find out what you want and need. Whatever you need to correct, once corrected, will cause another problem to surface.
Have your water tested first by a competent water testing laboratory.

More is better:

@ March 23, 2014 11:30 AM in How should I insulate this tank?

Snowmelt is right, Add enough heaters to cover more than enough for the load at any pressure or temperature they select.
I straightened out some issues in a distillery that had much higher hot water demands than I ever could imagine. They used it for hot water washing/cleaning purposes. I used a 199,000 BTU commercial heater with an existing storage tank. It worked fine for 20 minutes until the storage tank went down, If I had used 2 heaters, it would have lasted longer. I saw promotional literature for a Japanese heater manufacturer I used where they had MANY multiple heaters on a roof to supply needed hot water for a lense fabricating company. No tanks, just the tank less heaters with some control strategy to supply endless hot water.
If it is meat and other biological as an issue, you need really hot water. If they get cheap, it will never work. If you want really dependable hot water, someone has to pay you to install it.  If you do tanks, it only extends the amount of time you have water, Then you have to recover. Put the amount of energy(BTU's) into the hot water supply.
It sounds like it really needs something like a water heater used in car washes or concrete plants. A Scotch Marine boiler, run with a huge indirect coil. Like my son's father in law has with his concrete plant. If it is a 10 yard ready mix truck, and it is 20 degrees out, they have to supply enough mixed hot water to hydrate 10 yards of dry concrete, hydrate it properly and raise the temperature of Portland Cement, sand, gravel and additive to a set point well above freezing to meet engineered specifications to make it legal concrete. That's enough available BTU's in the hot water to warm the mix above freezing and still be warm enough for the pour. The same as in the summer, they have to use chilled water in the concrete mix so it doesn't get too hot in the form/pour.
Something to think about.
How is it provided now?
Something like this:
I looked for information on the water heater my son's father in law has. I can't find any. It is a Scotch marine type that runs on low pressure steam, under 15# so you don't need an operators license. It has all the required steam controls, it is filled with treated water, and has been running for about 20 years. The only thing changed on it was to go from a Beckett CF 1300 that wasn't low-high-low fire to a Carlin 950CRD that was. The Beckett was sized at the end of the range but the concrete dust wore out the vanes of the fan. At 13.00 GPH, a delayed ignition start was an exciting event. Solved by the 950 CRD.
Maybe there is some issue now with that type. If it is anything of interest, I will find out. My son's FIL can cut a penny in half and get a nickel in change. So it must be effective and work. If the water temperature isn't correct, the mix will be rejected on some jobs.

Overblown savings:

@ March 23, 2014 11:04 AM in are asbestos risks overblown?

Saved for as long as I can remember it and where I stored it.
Thanks for your experience.
You'll never see someone dying from asbestosis related lung cancer who was a non smoker, sucking on a death stick through the Trach Tube hole in their throat while suffocating to death. Like you will a death stick smoker will. They have to turn off the oxygen first. 
I was 16 years old when my Oncologist, Dr. Sidney Farber said to me, "If you don't smoke, don't. And don't start. Because if your cancer (Osteosarcoma) ever starts again, it will go to your lungs and/or brain". I never did. When I read peer reviewed articles about Asbestos exposure and Asbestosis, I equated it to smoking death sticks.
30 years ago, I used to watch house insulators put up fiberglass and mineral wool insulation. They never wore masks. Now they do. What have they learned?
You can go on a job where they are insulating, wearing masks now. If the sun shines through a window, you can see the particles floating in the air. There are some peer reviewed retracted articles on dangers of fiberglass insulation from pulmonary ingestion. The manufacturers threatened to sue if the authors if they didn't retract. Thank goodness for the Lawyers, working for the manufacturers who have so much caring for our welfare and not their bottom line, the Higher Power of the USA, PROFIT, At all costs.

That's the one:

@ March 23, 2014 10:27 AM in Superstor sidearm problem?

That's the one. My Oldtimers brain is getting fuzzy. I only installed a couple of those because of special situations. I preferred Super Stors because I could cart them around by myself on my dolly. Not so with the cement lined Vaughan's.
That depicted coil is from one of those tanks.

Good Information:

@ March 23, 2014 10:16 AM in Why would i want a mixing valve for my indirect hwh?

I've said that for years. That's my experience.
It made me an a$$hat.
Welcome to the Truth In theory and application club. It can be lonely.

Changing fixtures:

@ March 23, 2014 9:54 AM in Controling hot water

Actually, someone didn't do you any favors when they changed your two handle shower valve to another two handle shower valve. If it was done recently, it should have been changed to a qualified single lever pressure balance valve that opens in the cold position and moves to hot. In some jurisdictions (like Massachusetts), it has been illegal to replace/install a 2-handle with anything but an approved single lever "Anti-Scald Type" which is what your valve is trying to do. Replace it with the appropriate valve and your problems will go away.
You can spend a wheelbarrow full of cash trying to resolve the issue and you won't. Replace the valve and you will.
If it is a antique 2 handle faucet that you are trying to save for asthetics or other reasons, there is a way to get around it. But it requires work and most won't do it.


@ March 23, 2014 9:45 AM in Lochinvar squire leak

Europeans expect their cars to last 20 years and replace their boilers every 5 years.
Americans expect to buy a new/newer car every 5 years and expect their boilers to last 20 years.
Americans have to get used to the European concept of replacing beer box boilers. Like the Europeans did.
Progress. Onward and upward.


@ March 22, 2014 4:06 PM in Radiant

They didn't even bother to clean the PVC exhaust pipe before they glued it together. Just because you use purple glue doesn't mean you don't have to clean the pipe.
Do they require permits where that is?
Anything as clucked up as that probably needs someone far smarter than any one here to fix it. The bad end to what started out as a good job. A few years ago, when this Green Revolution started, there was an earthy crunchy carpenter that added Green Heating systems to his offerings. He even bought a newer truck and put signs on it. "The Green Builder". I heard that his first two (and only) jobs went far south when he used all iron circulators with his copper and PEX. Last time I saw, there were no more Green Builder signs on his newer truck.
If they want a price, you won't quote close to being high enough. The biggest health and safety mistake made in the last 20 years was when the  cheap homebuilders got hybrid water heaters approved. We knew better. They paid for the best. And the best is the worst.

Leaking caps

@ March 22, 2014 1:59 PM in American Air Purger 443 - Are they every 1 1/4" Thread?

Because you or someone left the caps loose.
Like I said in the beginning. That system is on the second boiler, the first installed in 1984. It has run continuously since then. Even when I changed the boiler, it never had a vent cap opened on a baseboard to vent it. Once purged, it ran continuously. Most of the 6 Taco zone valve power heads have been replaced.
So again I ask, where's the air? Where's your air coming from? Spirovents are just a big float vent and if they start leaking, IF you can get them apart, you can fix them. But the easiest fix is a 1/2" coupling, a reducing ell and a 1/8" float vent.
If you're getting air in your system, where is it coming from? If you're getting air, your system will fail from oxidation. Where's the air coming from?

Cold Boilers:

@ March 22, 2014 11:19 AM in indirect question

That boiler looks like a New Yorker steel boiler. Don't run it as a cold start. It is also a dry base boiler.
What's wrong with the tankless? If it works, put in a storage tank and you can run the boiler with the existing controls and have the operating control at 140 degrees.
This boiler replaced a New Yorker that I think is what you had, with a water heater as a storage tank. The "Indirect Coil" is inside the boiler. The only piping is between the tankless coil in the boiler and the water heater.
Whatever you do, don't run it cold. The seal around the block and base will fail. The savings in money will come from being able to run the boiler at a lower temperature like 165 degrees for the high limit.
Are you in Canada? Granby's are sort of a Canadian boiler.


@ March 22, 2014 10:54 AM in American Air Purger 443 - Are they every 1 1/4" Thread?

It is a 1 1/4" thread. Why do you need to replace it with a Spirovent? Did yourself or someone decide that there was something wrong with the 442? What can go bad with it? I've installed many of them or same type. I've never ever changed one.
Does it look like this one (hard to see). That one is over 30 years old. Its been through numerous air vents and a Extrol tank. Plus a boiler change.

What kind of valve?

@ March 22, 2014 10:08 AM in Controling hot water

What kind of valve is it?
Can you post a photo of it?

Where's the air?

@ March 22, 2014 8:54 AM in Pump with integral air vent

Again I ask, "Where's the air"? Where's it coming from? There can only be so much air inside a closed hot water heating system. Is it forming on the impellor vanes because the system pressure is too low or there is too much restriction in the badly designed piping array? I would have been getting panic attacks if I was thinking about all the stories I hear here about Power Purges and special schemes for getting air out of systems. What did I do wrong that I didn't get to experience the agony of special power purges. I purged it once, never left the boiler and was done. Not ever to go back.
Sadly, what have I missed? Not running up and down stairs to keep adding more water because of an old (needed to be replaced) fill valve.

Asbestos Smoking:

@ March 22, 2014 8:36 AM in are asbestos risks overblown?

What your lawyer friend says may be true to him. Not to anyone who dies from it.
Where I lived, there was a local plumber and heater that had bought his business from his former boss when he retired. "Bob" had a crew and a lot of customers. He was a smoker. He started to appear ill. Like deathly ill. He was diagnosed with lung cancer. In researching for causes, we all thought smoking. After all, Bob WAS known as a heavy smoker. But they can tell from X-rays and lung biopsy's. He had been suffering from Asbestosis. Seems that "Bob", when he was a sailor in WW 2, he was stationed on a destroyer that was all shot up in battle. He had to work in the shipyard to repair the battle damaged ship, Ripping out and recovering asbestos that covered the steam pipes and boilers. Some of us were skeptical. Later, some came to believe the information about the hazards of asbestos. There was a carpenter who used to cut a lot of asbestos to put around foundations. He died of lung cancer.
I think I'll avoid it. Being a 50+ year pediatric cancer survivor, I'll let the people in the Tyvek suits and the air packs handle it, thank you. I'll watch from a distance. And think about Bob. Trying to breathe.

Cleaver devices:

@ March 22, 2014 8:18 AM in New Flue

I'm sure that you are and I don't doubt your ability.
I'm just thinking about myself. How it will be if, after dropping a chain down the chimney, connected to the flue liner, I can hold it up (while standing on the roof to feed it down, while pulling it through from the bottom. Or, while pulling from the bottom, it gets stuck and needs a push down from the top. While pulling the chain from the bottom. I was only suggesting that for me, it would be a 2 man job. I could scamper up a roof with the best of them. Better than many. I always put vent terminals through roofs by myself, no help and no leaks. But in the back of my mind was always, if I fall and get hurt, and can't work, is this really worth it?
That's not a one man job. Not even for me.

Aching Backs:

@ March 22, 2014 8:05 AM in Superstor sidearm problem?

Vaughan "Top Performers" aren't cement lined. The coil goes in at the top. They usually leak bye at the square cut O-Ring between the coil flange and the top flange. All connections like that, I always pulled it apart at installation and greased the gasket surface with Super Lube synthetic grease. Once the water got under the gasket, it will boil away and leave lime or rust deposits. I hate going back to leaking things that I installed. Its a personal thing. Never seize the bolts too.


@ March 22, 2014 7:53 AM in How should I insulate this tank?

Can it be spray foamed?
When it comes to storage tanks, I prefer to feed the street pressure through the tank with the cold coming in and the hot going out, with no restriction. Then, feeding the tankless's off the colder bottom of the tank, pumping through the tankless's, and returning into the cold water inlet of the tank where it mixes. That's how the old dead guys did it with side arm heaters. You get full pressure through the tank to the fixtures without any restriction through the heaters. That was before Delta T's, PONC's and all that high tech stuff. But it worked for them and always worked for me. The idiots way. I noticed that they were smart idiots.

The Scales of Lime:

@ March 22, 2014 7:32 AM in Superstor sidearm problem?

It scales up on the water side, not the inside of the coil. Do you get a lot of white lime scale on your shower heads? Have you had your water tested for hardness o TDS? If you take a pot of cold water, put it on the stove, and boil the water away, is there a white powdery substance in the bottom of the pot? If so, those are dissolved solids no longer dissolved. They form on the outside of the coil because the coil is hot and the water inside the coil causes water inside the crust to boil away. I don't think the coil is removable. The only way I can think if to clean it is with a massive dose of diluted muriatic acid, CLR or full strength white vinegar.
Where I worked, Vaughan Top Performers were notorious for becoming plaqued up. But they come out easily.

Alone at last:

@ March 21, 2014 9:55 PM in New Flue

You see a lot of plumbers and heaters that work alone. They develop all kinds of schemes to do their job alone. One thing I always remember about moving stuff is to "Keep one end on the ground". A wheeled dolly qualifies as keeping one end on the ground.
You seldom see an electrician that works alone and doesn't have a helper. That's because it is extremely difficult to "fish" wires. You often need someone to push while you pull, pull while you push or feed, or keep the wire from developing a$$hats. What my good electrician friend calls wire twists. That said, I've done a lot of stupid things in my past. Unless you can find someone to help you fish that liner in, and one of you need to be on the roof feeding it down while the other pulls it down with a chain. you might find that it is stupid money to have a professional do the flue. Its something that even I wouldn't do alone. Especially the roof part.
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