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John MacGregor

John MacGregor

Joined on February 8, 2003

Last Post on November 17, 2005

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@ November 17, 2005 4:45 PM in Heat Anticipator Setting?

Thanks for your advice everyone. I've verified that it is level and also figured out that the reason it feels as though the heat never comes on is because the temp swing is too wide (aka 6 degrees). The landlord sets it to 68, but it doesn't click on again until it gets down to 62...Am I correct in taking the face plate off the T87 and nudging the anticipator up counter-clockwise to reduce the temp swing? I know that technically, this needs to be calibrated by checking the gas valve in the basement (which is locked with a padlock, against code) or by using an amperage meter (which I don't have) but as long as I'm only moving it slightly and observing the results, will trial an error work as well? As for tenants and heat control, I live in MA where there are laws protecting the tenant in this situation. The landlord has to keep it at 68 between 7am-11pm and 64 between 11pm and 7am. Last winter, I paid for my own heat and as a result, was on this board everyday, reading Dan's book, trying to make my steam heat system more efficient. After having $300 heating bills because the apartment *was not insulated* (landlord said he only had to make sure the furnace came on and wasn't responsible for ensuring that the heat would actually stay in the apartment), I got smart and moved. I've told my landlord that I could install a digi-thermostat which would save him money but he just doesn't want to bother. I'm trying here!


@ November 13, 2005 12:04 PM in Heat Anticipator Setting?

I have to be somewhat covert when taking apart the stat as my landlord insists it is working fine (again, the poor eyesight doesn't help my case when I'm trying to show him that its set to 68 but is only 62 in the house) and probably doesn't want me messing with it...he's here all the time taking care of his dad so its hard to go about this unnoticed!

Before I begin...

@ November 13, 2005 12:02 PM in Heat Anticipator Setting?

When you say to check that the "mercury is making the contacts" I'm not sure how to verify that...This morning when it was 62, I turned the anticipator up in the "shorter" direction thinking that would make the calls come for heat more often. Once I moved it in the shorter direction, it did make the heat click on, but only for 10 minutes and then shut off, again, nowhere near 68. As for the location of the stat, its right above a light switch and two plugs. the switch itself has been broken off but I think it is left in the "on" position. would that be affecting things? And yes, I've investigated in the basement and this furnace services the whole house or at least, the first and second floors. I haven't been up to his dad's apartment to check it out.

Definately a real thermostat

@ November 13, 2005 11:41 AM in Heat Anticipator Setting?

I had thought about the fact that it could be a dummy stat but my apartment is on the first floor of a house, the thermostat is on the second floor and my landlord's 90 yr old dad lives on the third floor so i believe its pretty legit as it is the only thermostat I can find, and its outside my unit. Its the same thermostat i see my landlord turning up and down every day -- he can't see too well so I intially believed that the reason it was so cold was because he said he set it to 70 for me, but really, he was turning it "up"to 60... The only way i can get the heat to turn on is to turn it all the way off, to the left, and then all the way back up to the desired degree - that triggers a call for heat. but once that cycle is over, i got nothing. i've been able to verify that it is level too. I just can't figure out why no call is being made if left to its own devices...should i check out the wiring? When I've "reset" the heat by turning it all the way off first, I've definately seen a spark as I turn it back up...

@ November 13, 2005 9:08 AM in Heat Anticipator Setting?

I've moved in to an apartment with a forced air heating system controlled by a basic round Honeywell thermostat. The thermostat does not have the "Auto/On/Off" switches, just the dial. The problem is, the heat never turns on and I think it has to do with the heat anticipator. For example, yesterday my landlord turned the thermostat up to 68. The heat clicked on, warmed up the apartment to 68 and then clicked off. However, when I woke up this morning, the temp had dropped to 62. The themometer on the thermostat was reading 62, and the control was still set to 68. So why didn't it come on? My landlord insists that there is no problem with the thermostat, that he had it installed by an electrician only a year ago. So its up to me to figure this out. I looked at the heat anticipator setting and it was set to .4, the standard setting correct? I tried swinging it up, counter clockwise, and that made the heat come on for about 10 minutes and the thermometer now thinks its 66 in the apartment when my independant thermometer still reads 62. I feel like this is a relatively simple adjustment once I know what to do!

Thanks for the help!

@ January 14, 2005 12:16 PM in Pressure rising past pressuretrol setting

This system looks pretty cobbled together and has lots of issues but I'm glad to know that its probably the gauge and not the pressuretrol...

Why is the pressuretrol wrong?

@ January 14, 2005 11:44 AM in Pressure rising past pressuretrol setting

Hello, I have a 1 pipe steam system and even though the pressuretrol (subtractive...i think) is set to cut in at .5PSI and the dial is set to 1.5PSI, the pressure is rising beyond that. Originally, the problem was that the boiler was short cycleing, allowing the pressure to get to 5PSI, then cutting the power, only to have it fire again when the pressure read 3PSI. I had the pigtail cleaned of thick black sludge and sediment but now, even though the pressure gauge is still climbing to 5PSI, it waits until the pressure gauge is at .5PSI before refiring. I can't figure out what would be wrong with the pressuretrol to make it think that the pressure is only 2PSI when the gauge is reading higher than that. Assuming that my pressure gauge is correct, what do you think? Thanks! Jenny PS. My landlord is clueless and reluctant to call in a professional, but seems to take the suggestions I give him (from this board) really well!

Pig Tail cleaning?

@ December 29, 2004 12:49 PM in Rad Vent size advice?

I've been reading other posts about making sure that the pig tail is clear when concerned about short cycleing. About a month ago my landlord "cleaned" the pig tail because a blockage had caused the system to keep firing until the relief valve set off at 15PSI. Ever since then, the system has been short cycleing...I had attributed it to the fact that its gotten colder and the system has to work harder but I wonder if it is clogged again. Last night I found water in the pigtail - is that a cause for concern? I'd think that would indicate that as the steam cooled in the pigtail, some obstruction is in the way to prevent the water from running back down the pipe...

Pressuretrol cuts out at 3 PSI

@ December 29, 2004 8:58 AM in Rad Vent size advice?

That is another problem that I'm asking my landlord to look at. Even though the dial is set to 1.5, and the cut in is at .5, the system's pressure gauge says that it builds itself up to 3PSI before shutting off. There is definately short cycleing happening but my landlord will not replace the oversized boiler just because of this. What is worse, letting the pressuretrol kick in less often but allow more steam to build or fix the pressuretrol, possibly making the cut in and cut out happen more frequently? I'm trying to find workarounds for an oversized boiler that used to heat 2 floors of a house, and now only heats mine...

Measurements to follow!

@ December 28, 2004 11:34 PM in Rad Vent size advice?

Thanks for the tip Steamhead - I'll measure tomorrow evening and post the results. I hope it is as simple as replacing the main vent with a bigger one (and by simple I mean, something that I can do myself). The rads sound like they are going to pop their vents off when releasing air bursts!

Problems venting too fast?

@ December 28, 2004 4:52 PM in Rad Vent size advice?

Just a thought...Is there such a thing as venting a radiator too fast? For example, if I put Gorton D's on all my radiators except the one in the room that the thermostat is located, would that cause problems? Perhaps a water hammer resulting from steam rushing up the cold pipes? I know the system wouldn't be balanced but I wasn't sure if there would be any other problems as a result of venting radiators as quickly as possible.


@ December 28, 2004 2:17 PM in Rad Vent size advice?

I have a one pipe steam system with only 1 main and a random assortment of rad vents that i'd like to replace. I rent the place and have figured out that the boiler is oversized, but my landlord will not replace it just because its too big so I thought that I could help out my system by getting bigger and better rad vents. I figure the faster all the rads heat up, the shorter my boiler cycles can become. At the very least, its a step in the right direction I hope. I've read alot of good things on the board about Gorton and although I've checked out their web site, I'd still like to hear from the experts. Given that I am on the second floor, and the boiler that used to heat both floors now only heats mine (the 1st floor has forced air) can you recommend vents to try? I also want to say thanks to Dan for writing such a great book. We Got Steam Heat proved to me that my landlord was slacking off on the boiler maintenance and I was able to make some easy fixes myself (insulating the pipes for starters!) that have helped me dramatically.

@ December 13, 2004 7:28 PM in MZ boiler piped to CI rads w 1/2\" pex

I have some questions regarding my system.My 1830's house is heated w/an Mz 40 140,000 btu condensing boiler. House/system info: I have CI rads that were fed with 1/2 pex, all home runned to a manifold. Piping system to me seems to be "parallel", in that the supply pipes come out and branch right away into supply manifolds, return lines do the same thing. There are three vertical manifolds, one for every floor. Heated areas are-basement, 1st floor and 2nd floor. Currently I have only one zone for entire house, run on constant circulation, as well as IDHW. There is a Grundfos 15-58 on the supply, and the 15-42 that comes with the boiler on the return. Heatloss is 96,000 btu. (planning large addition so went w/140k mz). I have been able to heat the house here in SE Pa w/ water temps of 135 degree w/out a problem. Return water temps are about 110 degree. The problem I have is that the higher rads in the system, esp. ones that are furthest from the boiler, dont heat quite as well. (the return lines are much much cooler than the ones closer to the boiler) The plumber that did it for me didnt do any calcs in terms of pump sizing. How can I find out how to do this (as I am assuming that I have flow problems) I have done a room by room heat loss, and Edr of rads matches heat loss very closely. One of the second floor bedroom rads is a bit small in terms of matching btu output to heat loss, but still seems cool even when I crank water up to 160 plus. I have purged each rad in the system and have an air elim. also. Thanks!

barn floor

@ December 13, 2004 10:40 AM in radiant/ floor warming in a barn

My advice is to install metal decking, then pour a slab w/radiant and install floor drains. The metal decking will isolate your new slab from any expansion/deflection issues related to a wood floor. Almost certainly you have enough strength in the floor system. I consulted an engineer for my barn floor. The problem for 2x12s and trucks isnt the joists, its the point load of truck tires, assuming youre not overspanned of course. You said its a cinder block plant though, so I wouldnt worry! 3'x20' piece of decking is about 50 bucks if I remember. Hire an engineer, will be money well spent.

That's the answer I was afraid of...

@ December 9, 2004 7:07 PM in Pressuretrol vs. short cycling

Hopefully my landlord will get a professional in here soon to take a look at it. Thanks Dan!

fast rad vents?

@ December 3, 2004 9:19 AM in New Near Boiler Main Spitting-pics!

As far as the landlord situation goes, he did call a plumber in to replace a main when I found that it was blocked and he also replaced/repacked two radiator valves that were leaking when I asked him to so he is not a slacker. I've only been a tenant since Sept. 1 and I am hesitant to ask him to get a plumber in to pipe in another main...which is why I wanted to just take care of it myself. I think I just need to suck it up and do the best I can for now. I think its not a great solution but I'm going to just close off that incorrect/misplaced main and purchase faster vents for my radiators. I have one main that works (and is in the right place!) which is something. Anyone recommend a fast venting radiator vent that I could purchase at Oh, and to answer an earlier question, I have a 1-pipe system... ~Jenny

A short-term solution?

@ December 2, 2004 6:39 PM in New Near Boiler Main Spitting-pics!

Given that adding pipe to attach a main vent is something I'd rather a pro do while at the same time plumbers seem to be reluctant to do any work on it (because I rent the place), how does this quasi-solution sound? Could I just close the improper main vent that is on the system now to prevent steam from escaping and then purchase better (faster venting) air vents for my radiators? I understand that my landlord has no interest in making my system more efficient (and consequently my bills lower) but I am so frustrated because through Dan's book and the help on this board I've received over the past few months, I know what needs to be fixed to get it working right! ~Jenny

a bushing?

@ December 2, 2004 4:27 PM in New Near Boiler Main Spitting-pics!

Hi Dale, I have to admit, I'm not familiar with what a "bushing" is but I'm assuming its that skinny pipe sticking out from the T that the main vent is currently sitting on. I had hoped that if I walked into my local plumbing supply store, armed with all the measurements and these photos, someone could steer me towards the right components...besides that, I am not sure how else to figure out what attachment I need to fit on that T to suit a proper main vent. I'm renting so no plumbers are willing to look at it and my landlord is not interested in fixing it (he has no reason to care about how efficient my system is unfortunately). If I measure the surrounding pipes and post them, could someone tell me what parts to buy? I actually already have the book and love it! Thanks so much for your help... Jenny

That explains it!

@ December 2, 2004 11:36 AM in New Near Boiler Main Spitting-pics!

Thank you -I wonder who the genuis was that put it there in the first place! Can anyone recommend an appropiate replacement? I am guessing that I'll have to go to a plumbing supply store rather than home depot so any direction you could give me would be greatly appreciated. It would need to fit into 1/4" and I can't recall a main vent that meets that spec... ~Jenny

New vent still spitting

@ December 2, 2004 10:47 AM in New Near Boiler Main Spitting-pics!

Hello, I noticed that the main closest to the boiler was spitting out wet steam during and immediately after the heating cycle turned on. I replaced the vent with the same model that was originally there (Watts FV4M1, 1/4") but it is still spitting. Perhaps I need a different kind of main vent? I have one other main further down the system that is a Vent-rite and that works perfectly. I've attached photos so that you can see where the vent is in relation to the piping and the boiler itself. Oh, and don't worry, I plan on insulating those exposed pipes this weekend! What do you think? ~Jenny

While trying to save money

@ November 15, 2004 11:49 AM in Keeping the pipes from freezing...

Hello, I've heard conflicting reports on how low I can set my thermostat when I'm not around. I have a one pipe steam system powered by a gas boiler...I'd like to save a few pennies by not heating my place when I'm not there/asleep but I don't want to set it too low that my pipes might freeze! Keep in mind I live just outside of Boston... I've read that you'll only save money if you set your thermostat back by at least if I keep it at 70 degrees when I'm there, I should set it back to 63 when I'm not. Is there a general rule that you guys go by? ~Jenny

Is it possible to clean a main vent rather than replace?

@ November 4, 2004 12:12 PM in Cleaning Main Vent

Hello, I've read that its possible to clean the sediment that has accumulated from radiator air vents by boiling them in a 50/50 vinegar and water solution for 30 minutes. Could this also work for cleaning a main vent? I'm positive that it is blocked as no air escapes and the back half of my apartment (where this main is located) only gets moderately warm as the radiators heat up a good 15-20 minutes after the first two do. If you've read any of my earlier posts, I have a rather unresponsive landlord who will only call a service man if the system is completely broken. Would a service professional be willing to come over to replace this vent if I called regardless of the landlord? Thanks, Jenny
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