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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on July 29, 2014

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@ June 27, 2014 1:56 PM in Cast Iron baseboard clearance question

It will be a bigger issue that you realize. Rip up the old tile and replace it. Your bigger problem will be the toilet closet flange.
"There's never time enough to do it right. But there's always time for someone else to do it over".


@ June 27, 2014 1:52 PM in Need to replace big old galvanized pipe with pex

Well, just barely.

As we Plumbers understand it, "Pipes increase as do their squares". Therefore, it takes 4 -1/2" pipes to equal a 1" pipe, and 4 - 1" pipes to equal a 4" pipe. However, the 4 - 1/2" pipes have more internal surface area to create friction. Therefore, the 1" pipe is better than 4 - 1/2" pipe because of less friction.
A 1/2" ID X 10" length of copper tube holds .102 gallons of water
A 3/4" X 10'ength of copper holds .216 gallons of water. The total is .318 Gallons'
A 1" X 10' length of copper holds .408 gallons or something along that.

Respectfully weighted:

@ June 27, 2014 1:34 PM in Freon leak

Not stepping on the respected Professor, but any time I have seen anyone (and I've seen it a lot) in the last 10 years add liquid to a system, uses a very accurate scale to weigh the cylinder. An electronic scale that might be used by some Latin American drug cartel.
At the cost of refrigerants today, just "Guessing" is either stupid or someone is going to be ripped off.


@ June 27, 2014 1:26 PM in Water Tank Temperature After Shower

What cloud did you pull that theory from?
Any water tank, Hot water tank, that is a common shaped and installed tank that has been sitting for some undetermined (but adequately long) time, will be filled with water that is approximately the temperature of the location that the control is sensing. And the sensitivity of the control. If for example, the water in the tank is at 140 degrees because that is what the control has controlled the heat source to create, it might be slightly hotter in the top of the tank than is in the bottom of the tank. Internal circulation will equal the temperature over time. If hot water is drawn out of the tank, as it leaves, cold water replaces it. In order for water storage heaters to work, they must place the new and incoming cold water at the bottom of the tank where it can mix with the coolest water in the tank. If it is a gas or oil fired water heater, the burners will heat the water in the bottom of the tank and the higher temperature mixes as it rises. But it will not get to the 140 degree water temperature until the cold water stops entering and the hottest water at the top stops leaving. It only takes a 7.5 degree differential in temperature to cause circulation in a tank. Once the water in the tank reaches a level where the whole tank is within 7 degrees, circulation stops. When ice forms on the top of a lake, the bottom of the lake is 39 degrees. No matter where you go on earth.  
If you look at the EPA tag plastered over the side of the tank that gives you what some wag considers what it will cost to run it, it gives you performance numbers. If it is a 50 gallon tank, it will give you a "First Hour Use" which is supposed to make you think that it is how much it will develop continuously. It isn't. It is the volume of the tank, and how fast the water can be heated in one hour. Plus some unknown fudge factor that is like vitamin supplement claims.  50 gallons of hot water plus 18 GPH (Electric WH with a 4500 watt element)added to that (68 gallons) plus that FM number that no one can explain. Its like when you hit a strange combination of keys on your computer and you immediately know that you did something very very bad? Because the screen goes blank and suddenly, the screen is filled with smiling faces and signs of the devil. And it has absolutely no meaning to you. Those things, FM. Magic.
As far as being able to calculate at any one moment in time what and where the temperature is in a water heater is, is pure speculation on the part of the speculator.
For anyone not understanding, understand this. There's a big difference between heating water in a closed system to heat radiators than there is to heat water in an open system where you do not know  the varying flow rate and the temperature of the incoming cold water. If the incoming cold is flow restricted and the rate of entry is set, it becomes lust like a heating system with a Delta T  that would turn any Wethead heater upside down.
We who deal with it, or have dealt with it, wish we could deal with a 20 degree Delta T in a shower.
Whatever someone comes up with for an answer as to how much hot water is in a water heater tank and at what temperature it is, while trying to figure out if there is enough, there isn't enough. Even twice as much isn't enough in the time you need it. The rest of the time, you don't need any of it.

Way Up North:

@ June 27, 2014 12:42 AM in Thermostat and humidity settings when away in coastal FL

One article mentioned that this was devised in Norway and Canada. It probably works just as well in Massachusetts in the winter.
Which way does the heat flow in a house in a tropic climate like the Gulf South, Florida or the tropics?
If you have a cooled structure in South Florida, and it is 100f degrees  outside and the AC is keeping the inside temperature at 78f degrees, which way does the heat flow?
If the outside air at 100f degrees has 80% humidity, and the inside 78f degree air is 40% humidity, which way is the moisture flowing?
If you have a house in New England, and it is heated in the winter, and all the trim that is exposed to an outside wall, and the wood trim shrinks, whuch way is the moisture flowing? Which way is the heat flowing? If you had wood trim in the same heated New England building, and the trim is on an inside wall, why doesn't the wood shrink?

Why is it that it swells back to its original size in the summer?
Why is it that in New England, the moisture mold forms on the inside of the outside sheathing? But in Florida, it forms on the back side of the wallboard?

WHy is it that in a Florida house that is stucco'ed outside, that there will be more mold at the base of the wallboard wall in the inside than at the top?
An inquiring mind is inquiring.
I have always understood that heat flows to cold and dampness flows to dryness. Etc.

Bathroom Heat:

@ June 27, 2014 12:17 AM in Adding hot water heat to a small bathroom

For the gymnastics and expense you are going to go through, you could put in more than enough electric heat and still be ahead of the cost game for the rest of your life.


@ June 26, 2014 11:17 AM in Combine two heating zones into one, any savings?

There won't be any savings unless you compare degree days from other years and how you set the thermostats.
If you're one of those that lives in the city, and drives, stops at red lights, and mat's it when the light goes green so you can stay ahead of the other cars beside you, don't even bother. You use more fuel in a week doing that than you will ever save in a month. In fact, you burn more fuel just sitting and waiting for the light to change. Unless you shut your engine off for long lights, you aren't cheap enough to make it worth your while. While you are stopped, with the engine running, an onboard computer trip computer will actually set your MPG DOWN. Because it is MPH, how much fuel you burn = MPG. You travel NO MPH when you are stopped.

2" & 3" pipes in basement:

@ June 26, 2014 11:02 AM in Need to replace big old galvanized pipe with pex

Your pipes may measure 3" and 2" in the basement OUTSIDE diameter, but are probably 2" and 1 1/2" INSIDE diameters.
Even in 1929, it took bigger mens with strong backs to thread 3" pipe. It cost more money too. The boiler may have had 3" connections but those old dead Mens used t' reduce to 2" or less for their circuits as fast as they could. If you've ever tried to thread 2" pipe without a Power Drive, you understand.  A geared threader threading 3" pipe was really tiring. You REALLY want a power drive and a universal for that.

Two Zones into One:

@ June 26, 2014 8:58 AM in Combine two heating zones into one, any savings?

Were the two zones installed when the house was new? Is there something about the house that makes it so that two zones two zones are better than one? If you set both thermostats at the same temperature, you then have only one zone. If one zone runs more when they are both set the same, then you have a different load on one zone.

1" PEX:

@ June 26, 2014 8:41 AM in Need to replace big old galvanized pipe with pex

IMO, the Engineer has it right.
If you have a 1,800 sq. ft. house with baseboard, and 1 1/4 supply and return at the boiler, and cast iron baseboards (because some are 3/4" and some are 1/2"), you probably have a "monoflow" system and it splits to 1", going back to the 1 1/4". If you do, put two zone valves at the 1" split and make the building two zones. I don't understand all this galvanized pipe. No one used that stuff for heat. Are you sure that the pipe isn't painted silver?
What you are trying to do is hellacious expensive and difficult. If you got three prices from people that gave the price on what you want to do, and only one gave you choices of alternates, that price would be so much lower that you would think the other two were pirates and acting like the Florida dentists I've been to.
Some of us can think of far better ways to spend your money effectively and not doing what you are contemplating.
Its no longer an amazing fact to me about what people learn to live with once they find out how much it cost to do it. Some of us have spent a lot of valuable learning time, figuring out how to do these type of things and what it will cost. We end up chalking it up to "learning experiences". Or, at least that's what I had to chalk it up to. Uncompensated time.


@ June 26, 2014 8:18 AM in Trap on 4" sewer main in basement

Stalactites appear where there is a crack in a horizontal drain in old cast iron. With a vertical drain, the crack spreads open. You wouldn't believe the force required to cause that crack. IMO, the bottom of the pipe can crack in old pipe with leaking toilets and faucets having a slow stream across the bottom. Vertical ones have the water flowing around the entire inside of the pipe. But will find a path down some side of the inside with a slow leak. That's where the crack appears. Some old pipe is better than other old pipes. Sometimes the center core of the casting is not properly centered. You can see this if you cut all the way across the pipe with a sawzall. Where you are, the plumber probably bought all the pipe for the job from one place and all the pipe is new and from one supplier. Where I worked, everything had to be brought in as freight on a boat. So, you might find one piece in a stack that was split but of a different brand. Because the plumber had left over lengths from other jobs. If you find one split pipe in a house, chances are, you will find more of the same manufacturer. I've seen three different manufacturer's pipe in one horizontal drain in an old house.

Popping By:

@ June 26, 2014 7:55 AM in Freon leak

It's been my experience that to some companies, that's what a service call entails.
How much can you check in the allotted 45 minutes with 15 minutes allowed to get to the next service call/annual check up for the advertised  $50.00 annual comprehensive system check up?

Like the guys who can clean, check and adjust 8+ oil burner/boilers in an 8 hour day.


@ June 26, 2014 7:51 AM in Freon leak

Yeah, that's how it usually goes. A few years after I bought my Florida place, the 10+ year  old AC system wasn't cooling and the inside A coil was freezing up. I called some recommended company who sent someone out in an old beater truck with no name on it. It obviously was low on gas/liquid. He put in a few pounds and replaced the missing Schrader valve caps. He could find no leaks but said that the lineset needed to be replaced. That was over 20 years old. Vintage:1982. The old lineset was under the slab and came up 20' away through the floor in the middle of the house. We agreed, and left it that he would run a new line set after we went home the next day. He never came back to do the job. 5 years later, when we moved down here, I called another company that does a lot of work in the community. Someone came, in a truck with the company name plastered all over it and the tech had a shirt with the company logo on it and his very own name on the shirt. He checked the system and said that it didn't need and gas/liquid. He was well dressed, clean and extremely polite. Everything checked out OK. No lost gas.
I was so impressed with his honesty and the quality of his work that I had them replace the 30 YO ductwork in the attic that was falling apart. They did such a nice and thorough job that I had them replace the whole system. They even put new tamper proof caps on the ports so that the little chips around can't connect a hose on the ports and get baked. Honesty and quality can pay off.
What I'm saying is that you might need a second opinion. Unlike Massachusetts, in Florida, every time I go to the dentist when I first got here, opening my mouth for an exam was the same as opening my wallet for an inspection to see how much value was in there.
You may have leaks and need replacements. Did they find a leak? If not, when I waited a few years and the symptoms of a leak didn't appear, I realized that the first guy must have been a frustrated dentist. Working as a sub-contractor on a commission basis.
If you DO change it to a higher SEER unit, and the unit is quiet, make sure that whatever they replace it is guaranteed to be as quiet as the old one. I had one that was brand I was very familiar with. Reminds me of what the dentist or the first guy wanted to do to me. The new one reminds me of railroads and is just as loud. So loud in fact that if I am watching Television and it comes on, I have to turn up the volume to hear the TV. And when it is off, I can hear a pin drop.
FWIW, get a second opinion. Unless there is some compelling reason to not do so. Like they showed you a leaking coil or dogs have been marking the condenser case. In my case, the drain trays in the evaporator above the A coil were rusting out and although draining, were allowing condensed water to be thrown back into the air stream and it was making the sheetrock wet at the ceiling registers. Five years ago, it didn't do that.


@ June 25, 2014 4:44 PM in The history of the toilet

I can't honestly say that I've ever cracked a bad bottle of beer. I'm still trying. I've sampled some that I didn't like as much. Too "Hoppy". But all in all, I'm still looking.

Draft & Fire:

@ June 25, 2014 4:34 PM in Riello 40F15 oil Burner

A burner, fired at the end of its range (like a Carlin EZ-1, .50 to 1.65 will not run any near perfectly at 1.65 GPH that it will at 1.50 GPH. Similarly, a EZ-2 will run better at 1.65 GPH per hour than the EZ-1 because of the bigger fan and higher available static pressures. A EZ-1 fired at 1.65 GPH with a dirty or worn fan cage(dirty or worn vanes) will not develop the static pressures that a new on will.
I have seen a Tjernlund SS1 Sideshot in a confined space that calculated OK for make up air. But the Side Shot needed more air to create its draft and cooling air. SO, during Post Purge, it sucked air back through the burner tube to the point that it was hot enough to burn your fingers. There was not enough make up air. There were two doors into the crawl space. I installed two 12" RC draft controls in backwards in the doors. When the burner and Side Shot would start, both RC's opened to let equalizing air into the room.
What you say may be true most everywhere. But not everywhere.


@ June 25, 2014 4:19 PM in Fire o' matic valves

Air Conditioning News should stick to Air Conditioning. Down here in Florida, it's code where I live that you have to put child proof Schrader valve caps on the AC connections outside so the little shippers don't come around and connect a hose to the line set and get baked. It won't pass inspection unless they are on.
I thought that whatever NFPA regulation covered oil burners, had "Firomatic" fusible links in the requirement. Maybe NY doesn't require them. Leave them out when there is another jurisdiction that does, and have some deaths by fire that a Firomatic fusible valve MIGHT have stopped the oil that was leaking and led to a fire where a family was killed. See what some expensive Tort Lawyer representing the dead family has to say to the jury about it. "Cheap @$$ Sob was too cheap to install a less than $10.00 valve that would have shut the fuel off and saved lives". .
It sounds like the same argument I had with the Town when they passed a regulation that said that young children who couldn't swim, weren't allowed to wear USCG approved properly fitted life preservers. The Life Guards were afraid that they might have to swim after one that floated away. "At least they are floating and not dead on the bottom". One of my daughters was found crawling underwater on the bottom while the Life Guard was chatting with a stud muffin. USCG approved life preservers for children became approved. That day.
So, can I ask. A Tigerloop comes with a fusible valve to go in the bottom. In NYC, do they make you leave them off?

Look like this:

@ June 25, 2014 3:57 PM in Trap on 4" sewer main in basement

Did it look like this?


@ June 25, 2014 3:35 PM in Replacing shower diverter spout

Spray some Kroil (or whatever liquid stuff you like) down the stem hole. So called "Plumbers Grease" is a Petroleum based product.  and may cause the O-Ring on the stem to swell up and stick. My favorite is Super Lube synthetic grease.
If you ever need to get it off, I usually put the odd end of a 6" adjustable wrench into the spout and slowly apply pressure. Because I'm quite certain that whomever installed had a personal thing against Teflon Tape, it probably won't come off because the White Metal of the spout is now welded on to the copper adapter. If it isn't going to come out, cut around the spout exposing the copper tube and unsolder the adapter. You might have to do some serious demolition of the spout. Solder a new adapter in the proper location and screw the new spout on.
Most new diverter spouts now connect with an O-Ring so you don't need the a new adapter. Just be sure to always round over the outside corner/edge of the copper so you don't rip the O-Ring. Lube it up with some silicone grease. It will still be working fine when we are both dead and gone.


@ June 24, 2014 9:36 PM in The history of the toilet

Fermentation of grains grains and fruit was a way to keep and store crops and keeping them from spoiling. Beer goes back thousands of years, WIne as far back also. Beer used to be drunk warm and quickly before it spoiled. The Inca's made (and still do) make a beer with spit. I'll pass.

Another problem:

@ June 24, 2014 3:00 PM in Riello 40F15 oil Burner

Here's another suggestion.
How's the make-up/combustion air? That can drive you up the wall. It takes a lot of free and available air to fire that boiler. If you are working on it, and the doors are open to the room, you might have enough air. Close the door and you never know what will happen. Power ventilation fans. Anything that wants to get air from somewhere. If the pressure inside the building drops below the flowing air pressure outside. Mother Nature, who absolutely hates things out of place, will do her best to equalize the pressure. Like back draft the chimney flue.


@ June 24, 2014 2:53 PM in Riello 40F15 oil Burner

Some of what you say may be true.
Why was a Powerflame CI-O burner replaced? They aren't known to be burner dogs. Especially commercial burners like that one. Without being there and knowing the whole history, I get back to why was it changed?
I worked on a place that had a Riello dual fire commercial burner. I don't remember the model # but it was some kind of slick. Once I figured it out and had time to get it back right. The previous person had replaced a Carlin 701 CRD that he couldn't figure out how to make it run properly so he replaced it with the Riello. It still didn't run right. He said it was old and you couldn't get parts for it. Which was total BS. He didn't know how to make the Riello run either.
I replaced a Weil McLain 672 or 674 boiler that the only thing wrong with it was it was improperly installed and the internal water gaskets leaked all the time. I replaced it with the newer series, 476 or 478. I don't remember which with a Carlin 201CRD. I knew the chimney had some rumored vague history. It started sooting up. Within 2 months, no matter what. I finally realized that someone had re-lined the 40' X 14"x14" masonry/tiled chimney that fell apart from the leaking gaskets. So, it was re-lined with a "Solid Flue" application of two 8" "Socks, that seriously reduced the size of the 14" X 14" chimney flue. My resolution was to put a Field blower, blowing positive draft pressure into the chimney, pressurizing the entire chimney and the fan made draft. Enough so that I always had consistent draft AFTER the restriction plate that gave it positive pressure. Although it was designed as a positive draft boiler, in this application, it really didn't like a lot of back pressure. When I had good draft, the problems went away.
I've always found that whatever Carlin spec's for their burners, is a really good place to start. I can't remember ever finding that I had to play "Fun With Nozzles" to get one right. And if I found one that was way off by someone else, going back to Carlin Spec's, was the best place to start from the beginning.
And just because it shows OK on a draft gauge, doesn't always mean it is. Especially if it is windy or cold.
Remember, wind velocity is the same as draft. I've spent the best part of my life chasing draft. My iceboat will go 2 to 5 tim4es faster than the actual wind speed because moving through the air increases the apparent wind speed. Another form of draft.
I still want to know the reason that the Power Flame was changed.

History of where toilet contents went to:

@ June 24, 2014 12:13 PM in The history of the toilet

Over the years, I've had a lot of related articles on these subjects. Getting new computers and closed links sort of eliminate the best ones.
Here's one on London Sewers. Not the one I wish I still had. It was one by a woman engineer for her PHD dissertation.

Consider this. Most cities, especially in Europe were built along rivers. The cities moved UP river because the water was so fouled  by waste. Butchered animal remains were thrown into rivers to get rid of them. The butcher buildings were always located DOWN stream from the city. The wealthy lived downstream of the city. The wealthy moved and built new homes UPRIVER for the clean water.
The first proven case of water born epidemiology was in London where they showed that leaking sewers leached contaminated water through the ground and into the Thames River. Where the less fortunate got their "fresh water". They mapped the cases in London for some serious water borne disease like Cholera, and the cases were all around the river.
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