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Joined on January 19, 2012

Last Post on September 1, 2014

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@ September 26, 2013 9:58 AM in How to find a leak

In the somewhat unlikely event the boiler's heat exchanger has a leak, the water will end up in the condensate line. The normal condensate comes from the combustion.


@ September 26, 2013 9:43 AM in How to find a leak

It is supposed to drip when firing, Especially at lower temps.
If you have a cold (off) boiler with a steady drip, that is a problem.

Lost art

@ September 26, 2013 9:09 AM in burnham steam boiler pressure issue

I think you were correct to install the new pigtail and pressuretrol. Since you were not scalded when you unscrewed the pigtail, I am thinking you don't have 10# of steam in the system when cold. I think your new gauge is measuring about 1# and is accurate.
The system you are working on is an ancient art. It is not like most intuitive mechanical projects you have likely encountered. I think you should stop what you are doing and read "the lost art of steam heating"  available on this site. Once you have read the book you will understand the nature of your heating system.


A mess....

@ September 26, 2013 8:53 AM in Boiler is piped to elec..water tank is that ok?

So, you have a propane boiler, an oil boiler and an electric water heater all as heat sources?
How in the world is this mess plumbed?
The only reason I can see for the water heater is they may be using it as a buffer tank for the oversized boilers, to keep them from short cycling.
You are correct about the expansion tank.
I would start with a heat loss calculation on the home. This is going to tell you how oversized your heat sources are and help you make some decisions. To give you an idea, your heat loss is likely in the 30-40K/BTU range.
Maybe you should draw out how this mess is piped so it is more clear how to deal with it.

T&P valve

@ September 26, 2013 8:38 AM in How to find a leak

It sounds like all the piping is in the boiler room and you have no puddles.
I agree that the t&p or maybe the relief valve on the backflow preventer are suspect.
I would watch the gauge as the boiler comes up from a cold start. If it rises, check the expansion tank. It is also possible the boiler has a leak. Does the condensate line drip when the boiler is not firing?

Heat loss

@ September 26, 2013 8:27 AM in radiant heat

Is heat loss.
That program should work fine.


@ September 25, 2013 10:01 AM in Water release from boiler

The orientation of those 3 parts are critical to the performance of the system.
The correct pressure for your system would be the height of the highest point over the gauge x .43 +5.  A two story house might have 20 of system height. That would be 20 x .43 +5 or 13.5 psi. The expansion tank needs to be charged to that pressure as well.

A picture..

@ September 25, 2013 9:45 AM in Water release from boiler

Can you post a picture that shows the expansion tank , fill valve and circulator?
Tapping on the tank can give a rough idea of it's condition.You cannot get definitive info without pulling it and checking the pressure. What does the gauge read when T&P discharges?


@ September 25, 2013 9:27 AM in First high efficiency boiler on my own...short cycling! Help!

Rich is absolutely correct. Applying random "rules of thumb" and listening to the counter guy is a bad plan.
Now that you are stuck with this thing, the length of your cycles are determined by the amount of radiation compared to the minimum output of the boiler. As Rich said you should never size a system based on available radiation, but now that you are trouble shooting, it is important to know whether this is a boiler problem or a local one
How much radiation is attached to this system?
The speed of the primary circ can be important in a modulating boiler. If the speed is off it can trick the controller into doing strange things.

Short cycle

@ September 24, 2013 11:22 PM in First high efficiency boiler on my own...short cycling! Help!

What is going on with the temperature of the pipes?
It sounds like the boiler is running fine but the water is not getting to the zones. Are you getting hot water to the radiators? What kind of radiators?
Which circulator do you have on the primary?
You are missing the boat on the outdoor reset. That is a different subject

Difference Setpoint

@ September 24, 2013 11:06 PM in Help with using Navien in a primary/secondary loop

This would be my preference


@ September 24, 2013 10:21 PM in Help with using Navien in a primary/secondary loop

Do you have a brand preference on controls?
What were you thinking for t-stats and zone controls.
It would probably be easier to find a brand you are familiar with.


@ September 24, 2013 4:45 PM in Help with using Navien in a primary/secondary loop

I think you should either do this as you are intending or do it the way I posted originally. Did the drawing come through?I would use the exchanger tank you have as a hot water indirect and pipe the two heat sources in parallel.
The way I did it will probably cost an extra 3K-4K  but will work better and last longer (my humble opinion)
I think what you are considering will work. For the priority I would use a flow switch to temporarily turn off the heat when the domestic water calls

What kijnd..

@ September 24, 2013 8:41 AM in System design

What is the boiler?
Are these baseboard heaters in series?
What does your local code say about LWCO

Hydronic formula

@ September 24, 2013 12:15 AM in Help with using Navien in a primary/secondary loop

The reason the 2 appliances  numbers are almost the same is that they have almost the same output BTU. The first one is 196k the second 189k.
delta t x gpm x 500 = BTU/hr
Works every time and you don't need the chart.

Heating side

@ September 23, 2013 11:56 PM in unitrane fan coils

If you have nothing else to go on, many of those where designed for 4fps flow and a 20 degree delta t.
If you have a 1" supply that would be 8gpm x 20x500 = 80,000 BTU.
There is a chart in the "conversion factors" tab on the top of the page.
It is only a rough estimate but it's better than nothing.

I agree...

@ September 23, 2013 11:46 PM in 2 Gallon electric water heater.

I agree with Chris on the electric. I put in the electric version of
that exact warmer. They literally screwed the element in where the
piping threads in and filled the thing most of the way with water (a
little air for expansion).It was right next to a shower with the timer installed across the room.  It worked great. Some people fear electricity
and there is no talking them out of it. Personally, I fear all that extra stuff in cabinet waiting to spring a leak and flood my house.
I had not thought of the anode. An air vent is a good call,


@ September 23, 2013 11:33 PM in Low-Loss Header: am I understanding this correctly?

I assume you have triple checked the direction of the circulator and the orientation of the mixer. Could the mixer be malfunctioning causing the ghosting? I can't really picture it but maybe that is what is going on.

The circs on the other zones, Are they turning on?



@ September 23, 2013 10:04 AM in Help with using Navien in a primary/secondary loop

Don't be fooled by the charts. A btu is a btu. If you apply the hydronic formula (gpm x 500 x delta t) all the products have the same capacity.
The only capacity problem I see is a simultaneous load issue. Do you have tubing in slabs?


@ September 22, 2013 10:36 PM in Help with using Navien in a primary/secondary loop

My concern is that if you are under a full heating load, especially if you have a cold slab heating zone that has just fired up, the domestic water will suffer and the customer will complain.
I would control the system so that if there is a call for heat and hot water at the same time, the heat zone would temporarily cut out.

2 answers

@ September 22, 2013 7:11 PM in Two Questions Annual Maintenance and Antifreeze

As for the maintenance,it really depends. It seems some systems need quite a bit of cleaning and some go years with no issues. I would be sure that the original system was tuned with a combustion analyzer on startup. The first year I would have it serviced and tuned again. I would then get the opinion of the service tech as to whether or not it needs servicing every year.

As for the cottage, I sounds like you have a hot water boiler there as well? If the building freezes you would have both the domestic water and the boiler water to worry about. It is pretty easy to glycol the boiler water. As far as the domestic water goes it depends on the layout and wether you want to winterize for the entire season.

I did the math on a battery backup a while back. I figured 4 marine batteries would last about a day.

An automatic generator that runs off natural gas might be an option.

The controls in some of the newer boilers do not like the power generated by some inverters and generators. I would test before you buy.


Flow switch

@ September 22, 2013 11:37 AM in Help with using Navien in a primary/secondary loop

You could put a flow switch on the domestic side that would disable the heating circulator.
That would give you domestic priority
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