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Joined on July 10, 2006

Last Post on June 28, 2013

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Potable water relief valve

@ June 28, 2013 5:58 PM in Solar Expansion Tank Questions

I suspect the relief valve goes off after the use of a fair amount of hot water, correct?

I suspect that there is a check valve between the water meter and your water heater.  When you use hot water and the heater cools down, the tank is full of cooler water.  When the heater fires up and heats the water, the water expands but there is no place for the water to go.  The pressure builds up until the pressure is relieved by the relief valve opening, flushing a toilet, running a sink or something.

If there is a check valve, you need to install a correctly sized expansion tank to accomodate the extra water volume created by heating a cool tank.  The expansion tank needs to be rated for the higher pressure of the water system.

Was the water heater recently replaced because it was bulging and making snapping or cracking sounds?  When you first turn the water, does it come out at a high speed and then slows down to normal flow after a second or two?  Those are also indications of the system being over pressurized.

Electrical surge suppressor and UPS included?

@ April 26, 2013 3:02 PM in A Steam Odyssey (Part 2): Midco Low-NOx Burner


Is the whole system protected by a decent surge suppressor.  I would be concerned about the solid state relays being taken out by a decent lightning strike in the area.  This is where I prefer mechanical relays for the additional isolation.

Larry C

Electrical question

@ April 20, 2013 12:39 PM in A Steam Odyssey (Part 2): Midco Low-NOx Burner

If your thermostat uses a mechanical switch contact for generating the heat call, does the Solid State Relay draw enough current to keep the switch contacts clean?  I have run into issues when driving digital inputs with mechanical switches, I did not draw enough "wetting" current and the switch operation became erratic after several hundred cycles.


How about a sniffer?

@ April 20, 2013 10:09 AM in Finding Vacuum Leaks

I am under the impression that HVAC techs have a device used for determining locations of refrigerant leaks.  Could something like that be used to pinpoint leaks?  It might be more sensitive in finding the leaks without smelling up the building.  ( I personally do not like the smell of peppermint.)

I am also curious what you would use to seal up any pinholes or leaking joints you would find.

Do you have the ability to isolate a single floor at a time when searching for leaks?

Is the trigauge port a thermocouple well?

@ April 12, 2013 6:38 PM in pressure paradox?

I know this a stupid question, but perhaps the original installer of the old trigauge used a port that is not pressurized by system pressure.  The temperature would still read and if there is trapped water in the well, the pressure will change but not reflect actual system pressure.

Woodworking dust

@ April 4, 2013 6:57 PM in If you were designing a heating system for dream house/dream shop, what would it be and what design tweaks would you take to maximize efficiency?

I don't know his name, but a woodworker was on a mission to get woodworkers to exhaust their dust collection systems outside.  He developed a serious lung condition after using top rated recirculating dust collectors.  The issue was the 1 - 20 micron range sized particles that just pass thru the filters and stayed airborne.

What is the intended shop use?

@ March 31, 2013 9:09 PM in If you were designing a heating system for dream house/dream shop, what would it be and what design tweaks would you take to maximize efficiency?

What is the intended shop use?
Making the building airtight could lead to some issues with respect to indoor air quality if you intend to do wood working.  Same with volatile solvents like gasoline, paint thinners, PVC cements, etc.  Smoke from welding and machining could also build up to unhealthy concentrations.

Just something to think about, in addition to the energy conservation concerns.

Is your signature correct? 0.5 psi cut in and 2 psi differential?

@ October 8, 2012 9:12 PM in Oil & gas iexhaust nto same chimney?

Have you tried to reduce the differential setting?  Most of the steam people suggest keeping system pressure less than 2 psi unless needed for special requirements.

Separately, I was under the impression that solid fuel appliances could not be mixed with gas or oil exhausts.  I thought that if you did mix gas and oil, that the oil had to be the bottom thimble.


Mobile printing

@ October 7, 2012 7:00 PM in Mobile printing

Stop one of the auto insurance adjusters. 
The ones that come to you.
 I believe alot of them use the mobile printing setup similar to what you are looking for.

Low static system pressure?

@ September 22, 2012 10:19 PM in forced hot water air

ASSUMING the system has no water leaks and there is not an automatic makeup connection that is masking any leaks, the air could be coming from the pump sucking the air in because it is at a lower pressure than atmospheric.

Is the system set up so the circulating pump suction is directly connected to the Point on No Pressure Change (PoNPC) also known as the expansion tank.  If not, when the differential pressure across the pump plus the pressure drop to the PONPC is greater than the system pressure, the pressure at the suction port of the pump may be below atmospheric pressure.  Most circulators will draw air in thru the pump seals under these conditions.

A tempoary fix is boosting system static pressure so that this condition doesn't exist anymore.  However your upper limit is the 30 psi safety release valve pressure setting.
A better fix involves moving the pump(s) suction over to the PONPC so that the pump suction never goes below atmospheric.

Please excuse my ignorance ...

@ September 4, 2012 10:25 PM in "I'd like to see them make "

Please excuse my ignorance, but I thought the skim port was higher than the steaming waterline?  If that is the case, then how will any appreciable amount of oily water splash into the oil capture piping?

I am under the impression that one overfills the boiler up to the skim port, fire it at a level to not produce steam. and remove water out of the skim port to capture and remove the oil film that is floating on the top of the water.

Would it be possible to make an oil capture material shaped like a sauge that could be inserted and removed thru the skim port and just absorb the oil floating on the surface.  Something that absorbed oil but doesn't absorb water.

Where is the pressure?

@ September 3, 2012 12:36 AM in "I'd like to see them make "


Where is the pressure forcing the de-oiled water back into the return?  The standing column outside the boiler and inside the boiler would be the same.  If anything, the outside column would have less static pressure as the quantity of oil in it increases.  It would also have a greater headloss as it has to push back thru the assorted fittings to get back into the boiler.

Would a sightglass mounted between the skim port and the boiler return perform the same function as an oil catcher?

Version 3

@ September 3, 2012 12:25 AM in "I'd like to see them make "

Translucent 5 gallon container with cover.  Add a dip tube that ends a few inches above the bottom of the container.  Same idea as Version 2.  Hose from skim port into the top of container.  Take a pump suction from the diptube.  Pump discharge back into boiler return.  Mount a low flow rate pump onto container.  Prime pump by filling container from boiler return line before opening skim port valve.

Advantage is the oil is in an easy to carry container.  Wrap hoses and power cord around buck for easy storage and transport.  Clean out bucket and use for mixing and adding chemicals too.  Make the dip tube height adjustable according to use.

Version 2

@ September 3, 2012 12:09 AM in "I'd like to see them make "

Same but different.
Hose from skim port empties into 5 gal bucket.  Create near bottom tap in the side of the bucket.  Plumb transfer pump between bucket outlet and boiler return.  Add float switch that only empties the bucket 2/3 of the way.

Water dribbles in, when the water level hits the high set point, pump kicks in, recircs water back into boiler, turns off pump when bucket level reaches low set point.

Use a low flow pump to keep things running at a low rate to minimize turbulence in the bucket.  Depending on quantity of oil, use a paper towel to remove excess oil film from surface of bucket water.

Version 1

@ September 2, 2012 11:49 AM in "I'd like to see them make "

So how is this.  Come out of the skim port, 90 down into a large diameter pipe/sightglass.  Bottom of large pipe reduces into a vertical tee.  Come out of the bull of the tee to your oil drain.  Bottom of the tee goes into a low capacity pump.  Pump discharge into return.  Adjust pump flow to maintain a constant level in the big pipe that is slightly below the skimming waterline.
Maintain a high water level hot boiler and drain oil as necessary.  Pump would probably be a variable speed to match water flow rate.

Theoretical answer .....

@ July 7, 2012 5:45 PM in Theoretical question..........

It depends.


What does the thermostat wires control, the circulation system or the burner?

If it controls the circulation system, then the pump(s) or fan(s) will be running.

If it controls the burner, then the the burner should fire, until something shuts off the burner like a hight temperature safety switch, or aquastat high limit, or ODR controller.

How low does the ODR curve go?  Is there a minimum system temperature that the ODR will not go below? 

Just guesses from a non heating professional.

Reducing convection of radiators.

@ June 16, 2012 9:03 PM in Electric Boiler vs Electric Baseboard

To significantly choke off the convection heat transfer of a radiator, put a cover on it.  To reduce its output even more, enclose it in a cabinet.

Reduce sources of moisture

@ June 15, 2012 9:41 PM in Wet House


Immediate steps would include removing major sources of water.  Outside humid air getting drawn in, showering and bathing without using FUNCTIONING exhaust fans, excessive moisture from cooking, excessive moisture from lots of inside plants, improperly set or operating humidfiers, clothes dryer venting inside the living space, evaporation from standing water like uncovered drain sumps and open aquariums, clogged drains on dehumidifiers and air conditioning coil drain pans, moisture coming up thru the exposed dirt crawl space. 

Don't forget the goofy sources like a hot tub in a bedroom or basement, a leaking water bed, a wading pool in the garage, a hair dressing business in one of the bedrooms, a pot or mushroom grow room, etc.

If there wasn't moisture problem before, check for something that changed like exhaust lines that got broken, moved, or disconnected.  Did somebody install a laundry room upstairs and just vented the dryer into a wall cavity or the attic?  Does the stove exhaust hood actually vent outside?  Does the roof leak?  Perhaps the walls and ceilings are just drying out?

How about a lifting over pressure valve on the water heater or boiler system?

Good Luck.

What is your heatloss?

@ June 15, 2012 11:52 AM in Replacing oil heater - sanity check

Do you realize that your existing furnace was probably much too large to start with?  Typically, home furnances are twice as large as what the structure needs.  Now that you are adding insulation, you may find that the existing furnance may be way oversized.   

Find a HEATING PROFESSIONAL that will perform the heatloss calculations and determine an appropriate size furnance.  Don't be surprised if the replacement furnance is a third of the size of the existing system.

The heatloss calculations will need to measure each room, the type and amount of insulation in the walls and ceilings, window sizes, locations, and construction.  A proper heatloss calculation is not performed by reading the nameplate on the existing furnace and replacing it with the same size or next size larger.  It is also not done by walking the perimeter and multiply by some sort of BTU/square foot value.

Nothing against the plumber, but not all plumbers are heating pros just like not all heating pros are plumbers.  They both work with pipes and their fields overlap.  If your plumber does not design, install, and maintain heating systems as a major part of his business, I am suggesting to find a heating contractor for this part of your renovation.

I would recommend that you click on the find a contractor link at the top of the page to find a heating pro near you.

Good Luck.


@ June 14, 2012 4:26 PM in Steam Heat Not Reaching certain areas in old building


Any luck on getting a steam trap survey done?

Larry C

Any guesstimates on how long it takes to rust?

@ June 12, 2012 10:53 AM in Can a oil burner pump be used for water?

Any guesstimates on how long it will take for the oil burner gear pump to rust after using it for water?

Do all Becket and Riello residential burners use gear pumps?


Beautiful pumps but a bit overkill for my application

@ June 11, 2012 4:37 PM in Can a oil burner pump be used for water?


The Fluid-O-Tech units are beautiful units but they are overkill for my application.  I am looking only for 2 gallons an HOUR and price is a significant issue.  That is why I am looking at salvaging oil burner pumps.

What other equipment uses low flow with moderate pressure, pumps?
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