Hot Water Boiler Heat System Help


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Old 10-09-06, 06:28 PM
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Hot Water Boiler Heat System Help

Greetings,
I'm looking for some info about a heating system that exists in the house I moved into. It's a hot water radiant floor system, copper tubed in the concrete floor, (no basement) with;
Slant/fin Boiler Model GG-175
Sunstrand Circulator Model LA 4302

It has been out of operation for ??. I did flush system with clean water and it all holds pressure well. Circulator does not work, so I would need to replace this. Any suggestions?

Any experts out there who can help me get it operational again?
What should I look for? How is the system bled, etc.

Thanks in advance for any help, I am totally new to radiant heat systems!!

Todd
 
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Old 10-09-06, 06:57 PM
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Copper in concrete

Yikes. I thought all of those systems were gone by now. Do you have power to the circulator? If so, can you hear it try to start? Honestly, I've never seen nor heard of a Sunstrand circulator. If the motor is bad, it may or may not be worth having an electric motor shop repair it if you can't find a replacement. Some photos of the boiler & near boiler piping would be a big help.
 
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Old 10-09-06, 07:17 PM
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I do have some pix, how can I get them up?
 
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Old 10-09-06, 07:29 PM
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Pics

Sorry, I forgot that part. You can post them on photobucket or similar photo hosting web site & provide a link here.
 
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Old 10-12-06, 03:54 PM
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OK, here's the update. I was able to get the circulator to work after taking in apart and unseizing it. Pulled the burners and cleaned all of them, then tested the gas valve etc. and all works. So now my question is this, how do I fill the system and bleed it of air? I should have never drained it in the first place, I should have known better but I figured after sitting that long, it needed it but it really didn't look bad at all other than the usual bad smell and a light rust tint. Oh well. Here is a link to some pix. www.thresheree.org/heating_boiler.htm
They aren't that great. The boiler room is small!
Thanks again for any input. If I can get everything operational again, I might start looking at a new boiler.

Todd
 
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Old 10-12-06, 07:12 PM
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Filling system

I don't know how many pics you posted but I got nothing beyond the one with the snow shovel which may be enough. At the top center in the snow shovel pic, there is something red & bell shaped. This looks like a reducing (feed) valve. Open any valves between it & the water source as well as any between the reducing valve & the boiler. Also open the DARK green valve at the upper left of the pic & the dark green valve in the previous photo. Water should flow into the system provided any zone or manual valves are open. Make sure the valve on the left end of the tank in the first picture is also open. While filling, since I don't see any kind of purge valve, you might want to remove the automatic air vent (brass thing in last photo). Just be ready to put it back in real quickly if water starts to spout out of there.
 
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Old 10-12-06, 07:24 PM
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Thanks Grady, When filling system, should the circulator be on or off and should the boiler be cold? How can I be sure all the air is out of each zone since there are no purge valves in the floor piping?

Todd
 

Last edited by Triumph; 10-12-06 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 10-12-06, 08:28 PM
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Filling system

When filling, the circulator should be off & the boiler cold.
Got the rest of the pics this time???
Before you start to fill the system, you should replace that auto vent (brass colored thing). I like the heavy cast brass ones better than that type you have on there.
Once the system is "full", turn on the circulator. In theory, the air should rise to the auto vent & be released. The fact you have a conventional expansion tank also helps in that it gives air a place to go, though it would work far better if there was a steady upslope to the tank. Air does not like to move horizontally. Once you are reasonably sure the system is wet, fire the boiler & let's see what happens.
 
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Old 10-12-06, 08:31 PM
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I've been working on it tonight as we have posted back and forth. I have had the boiler fired for about 2 hours. I have three zones open now and they are getting warm. I can hear what sounds like air intermittenly in the piping at the manifold and the circulator, is this normal?

So the auto vent is suppose to release any air in the system automatically? What is the cap with the hole in it on the schrader valve for?

I also see on the expansion tank a vent with a stand tube, what is this used for?
 
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Old 10-12-06, 08:47 PM
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Air

The hole in the cap is to release air. Make sure the cap is loosened at least one full turn. The auto-vent is supposed to automaticly vent the air.

You should not hear air but it might work it's way out via the auto-vent &/or tank.

On the expansion tank, if you are refering to the valve on the opposite end from the piping, that is a drain for when the tank becomes water loggged & needs to be emptied.
 
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Old 10-12-06, 08:50 PM
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What brand auto vent do you recommend?
 
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Old 10-12-06, 09:04 PM
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Auto vent

I've had good sucess with the Taco 400-3 or Amtrol 700-3.
 
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Old 10-12-06, 09:07 PM
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So it this the only way to purge the air?

I've seen posts with some saying to shut the auto fill off, what are your thoughts on this?
 
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Old 10-12-06, 09:26 PM
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Purging/auto fill

The way your system is configured, unless I didn't see the purge valve, it would appear the auto vent is the only way to purge.

Auto-fills are a double edged sword. Leaving them on can allow a leak to go undetected until it gets really bad. On the other hand, unless you have a low water cut-off, there is the potential for dry firing & destroying the boiler. I urge people to install a low water cut-off & shut off the auto-fill.
 
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Old 10-12-06, 09:35 PM
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Gotcha, that makes sense for sure.

I replaced the auto fill regulator (wow, that thing was shot), relief valve and auto vent. Seems to be working good so far. Thanks for your help Grady.

On your first post, you said Yikes like it was a bad thing. Have you had some past experience with the copper in concrete systems? Good or bad? What are some things to watch for with this setup?
 

Last edited by Triumph; 10-13-06 at 02:39 PM.
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Old 10-13-06, 06:47 PM
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Re: Yikes

Copper & concrete are not a good mix. The concrete tends to attack the copper & eat thru it. There were gobs of these systems installed in and around Johnstown, PA. Most have developed leaks & have been replaced with other types of systems. My best advice to you on that subject is to install that low water cut off, keep the fill valve closed, & keep an eye on the pressure. Persistant pressure drop is a relatively sure sign of a leak somewhere.
 
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Old 10-13-06, 06:53 PM
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It did hold constant pressure for quite some time before I actually started to use it.

That's interesting to note about the concrete and copper. I've done some reading on this and there seems to be mixed opinions as to the attacking you mention. By all means I'm no expert and I'm sure you've seen many systems in your day. (Sorry, I'm not trying to imply you are old or anything!!!)

Where does the low water cutoff mount on the boiler?

Curious on the warm up time. I have all zones open right now and the temp is hovering around 100 degrees. Does it typically take a fair amount of time to get the entire house up to the usual operating temp?


Todd
 

Last edited by Triumph; 10-13-06 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 10-13-06, 07:35 PM
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Grady is correct about the copper lines in concrete. Back in the early 'fifties there were many houses in the greater Seattle area that had radiant slabs...almost all of them have had to abandon their radiant systems.

As for warm-up time...that is one of the down sides to radiant, it takes a long time to warm up. Of course it also takes a long time to cool off so it works both ways. Because of the slow response set-back thermostats are often not used with radiant systems and when they are the set-back is usually only five degrees.

The low-water cut-off needs to be mounted so that the water level will not drop below the minimum safe firing level. That probably means nothing to you (nor should it if you are not familiar with steam boilers) but in most hot-water systems the low-water cut-off is connected via external (to the boiler) piping in a manner that will stop the burner operation if the water level drops to the top of the boiler.
 
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Old 10-15-06, 09:58 AM
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It seems as though the expansion tank is water logged. How do I go about properly draining it without getting it filled back up with water again? Ideally, how much water should actually be in the tank?

As far as the circulator is concerned, is it suppose to run all the time or only when the heat is called for?

It sounds like there is still some air in the system. I can hear it occasionally when standing by the boiler, is this normal??
 

Last edited by Triumph; 10-15-06 at 11:58 AM.
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Old 10-15-06, 12:33 PM
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Exp. Tank/ Circulator

Originally Posted by Triumph
By all means I'm no expert and I'm sure you've seen many systems in your day. (Sorry, I'm not trying to imply you are old or anything!!!)
Todd
Todd,
No offense taken. I am old.

To drain the tank close the valve between the boiler & the tank.
Attach a hose to the drain valve on the tank & open the vavle. Allow the tank to drain as much as it will. If you get lucky there might be a hex or screw head plug on the side of the drain valve. This is an air intake to aid in draining. Remove it after you have drained as much as will drain naturally. If there is no plug, you will have to force air into the tank to drain it all the way. I usually use a washing machine hose & blow into the end of the hose to force air into the tank. Be careful as you might get a face full of nasty tasting water.

Unless your system is set up for constant circulation, as is sometimes done with in-floor radiant, the circulator should only run during a call for heat.
 
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Old 10-15-06, 12:38 PM
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Thanks Grady,

Does the system need to be cold when draining the tank?

Is there anything else that I should do after draining the tank or just open up the valve again?
 
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Old 10-15-06, 03:25 PM
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Draining

As long as you can isolate the tank from the system, there is no need for the boiler to be cold, just not running.

Make sure the pressure comes back up to operating pressure. The reason for opening the isolation valve slowly is to maintain as close to normal operating pressure as possible. If the pressure starts to drop too fast, open the make up water valve in an attempt to maintain pressure.
 
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Old 10-15-06, 07:22 PM
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So should I leave the fill line off even if the pressure drops a little? You say drop to fast. How much is to fast?

I closed the isolation valve, drained the tank, then opened the valve back up. I had the fill line on as well and it seemed to fill up the tank quite a bit again.

It still sounds like there is air in the system too, although I don't know what "normal" sounds like either. Should there be any noise in the piping?
 
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Old 10-16-06, 05:01 PM
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Draining

Are you sure you drained the tank all the way? "Too fast", I'm sorry thinking one thing & typing something else. Too far should have been what I typed. By that, generally I like to keep the pressure up to at least 10-12# on the system. This prevents air from going into the system. In theory, at about 14 psig, the tank will be 1/2 full. How much pressure is there on the system?

There really should not be any sound in the system. If it sounds like running water, you do have air. With luck after heating & running a while the air will work it's way out.
 
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Old 10-16-06, 07:29 PM
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Running right around 15 psi, so I guess the level in the tank is normal.

It does sound like running water but not all the time. So the air will work it's way out eventually?
 
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Old 10-16-06, 07:37 PM
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Air

It should work it's way out but sometimes it takes as much as a week to do so. If it is not out in that amount of time, you may have to purge it out. Let's give it some time to see if it will come out naturally.
 
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Old 10-16-06, 07:47 PM
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Excellent, thanks much for all your help. Sure is nice having warm floors!!! Do you know if parts are still available for this boiler such as burners?
 
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Old 10-16-06, 08:15 PM
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Parts

To be totally honest with you, that old Slant Fin isn't worth putting much money into. Emergency repairs to get you thru the winter, OK but beyond that, not if it were mine. Come spring it would have found a new home in the local salvage yard & a new, more efficient boiler would have taken it's place.
 
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Old 10-16-06, 09:38 PM
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Yea, that's kinda what I thought. I did repair 3 of the burners for now and it might have to do until next season.
 
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Old 11-05-06, 06:15 AM
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Air in system

I believe there is still air in the system. I can hear it sounding like trickling water sometimes in the piping. So, since water does not compress and with air in the system, how would the auto vent actually rid the system of air completely without replacing the air with water? How would I go about purging/filling? All zones are heating but I assume with air in the lines, you lose some efficiency?

Another point, when I flushed the system and filled it again, I used well water. I suppose it would be best to use soft water, correct? Should I drain it and refill with the soft water?

Grady you touched on the circulator running before. Since this system has been out of service for awhile, some of the wiring has been removed. What are your thoughts on the circulator running constantly versus only when heat is called for? What difference does it make either way?
 
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Old 11-05-06, 09:23 AM
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Air etc.

As far as the circulator running all the time, unless you have outdoor reset, which I doubt you do, there is not any advantage to running the circulator constantly.

Don't worry about well vs. soft water.

In your second & next to last pictures, there is a green handled valve in front of the old light fixtures. There appears to be another valve to the left of the green one. If this has a hose bib on it, you can purge thru it by closing off the green valve.
 
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Old 11-05-06, 09:39 AM
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Yes there is a bib on that valve. So just close the larger inline valve and open the valve with the bib? How much do I open it and for how long?
 
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Old 11-05-06, 09:47 AM
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Purging

Purge until you no longer get air bubbles. Open the valve only as much as will allow you to keep pressure on the system (only purge as fast as water will come in).
 
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Old 11-05-06, 03:44 PM
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Thanks Grady,

What is an outdoor reset?
 
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Old 11-05-06, 03:50 PM
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Outdoor reset

It's a control which adjusts the boiler temperature in relation to the outdoor temperature. The colder it is outside, the hotter it allows the boiler to get.
 
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Old 11-05-06, 04:32 PM
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And as the owner of a new outdoor reset system, I think they are an amazing thing. Can't believe they are not more widespread.
 
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Old 11-06-06, 07:20 AM
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Face Full of Water...

[QUOTE=Grady] If there is no plug, you will have to force air into the tank to drain it all the way. I usually use a washing machine hose & blow into the end of the hose to force air into the tank. Be careful as you might get a face full of nasty tasting water.[QUOTE=Grady]

If I may jump in here...Grady, This is a dumb question but I believe I need to drain my expansion tank as well because of recent work that I did. I refilled the system with the line open to the tank and I know it filled up. I don't believe that there is a plug of any sort to help drain the tank. So my question is how do I blow air in and drain at the same time? Just blow and let a little water bubble out? Blow, drain & repeat until empty?

PS-Do I see you fishing at the IR inlet or 3R's Road ever???

Thanks, Pete
 
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Old 11-06-06, 11:06 AM
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Draining tank

First, if the boiler pressure is not too high (20#+), when hot, don't worry with it.
If you are having pressure problems, here's how to do it:
(1) Turn off power to the boiler.
(2) Close valve between boiler & tank.
(3) Attach hose to tank & open drain valve.
(4) Allow as much water to drain as will.
(5) Take a deep breath & blow back thru the hose & into the tank.
(6) Repeat step 5 until tank is empty.
(7) Close drain, open isolation valve slowly so as not to drop boiler pressure below 10#, & restore power.

You might once in a while see me going thru the inlet but not fishing in the inlet.
 
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Old 11-06-06, 01:07 PM
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Thanks Grady, No pressure problems so I'll leave it alone and go mess with something else.
 
 

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