Need Help! - 1950's Radiant Floor Heating - Starting/Fixing


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Old 10-15-06, 10:11 AM
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Unhappy Need Help! - 1950's Radiant Floor Heating - Starting/Fixing

Hi guys,

This blog is great. You guys really know your stuff.

I recently bought a 1950's home and it came with a 1950's radiant floor heating system. There are copper pipes that run into the basement floor (concrete) of this bungalow and copper pipes that are imbedded into the plaster ceiling of the mainfloor. That's right, the copper pipes are in the ceiling and you can't see them from either the room or the attic, so I've had to convince my wife to give up the dream of potlights

It's heated by an oil-burning Weil-McLain Boiler Model QB180. (see links to pics below) The boiler seems to be in good shape with some new parts including a Watts low-water cutoff. But it seems that the pipes in the basement floor might have problems.

My first problem is that I don't know what steps I need to take before I can safely start the system. There's an on/off switch, but someone suggested that I need to bleed the system first, bleed it of air, bleed it of water, and drain the cushion tank before I can start it.

Does anyone have experience with these systems and can help with what steps I need to take to start it. I'm in Toronto, it's starting to get really cold, and the service guys who should know this system are booked for a couple of weeks. Any advice would be appreciated.

Also, the floor in one of the basement rooms settled many years ago and cracked the concrete floor resulting in a slope in half the room. The previous owner installed an electric baseboard heater to supplement. We suspected problems with the pipes, and when we broke some of the concrete in a couple of spots to expose the pipe, we found a couple of crimps in the copper.

Our thought is to remove the concrete floor in this room only, tear out the old copper pipe, and replace with either in-ground plastic tubing or above grade baseboard radiant units. To do this we thought we should run a new line from the boiler.

We also have a two-floor extension that is currenty heated with electric baseboard heaters. Since we are contemplating a new line for that one room, we thought now is the time to run new lines for radiant baseboard heates to the extension rooms.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Thanks in advance for the benefit of your experience.

Cheers,
Green

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/Valves.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_Valves.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/Boiler-CutOff-1.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_Boiler-CutOff-1.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/UpIntoFromCeiling.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_UpIntoFromCeiling.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/RoomControls.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_RoomControls.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/Upstairs-DownstairsManifold.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_Upstairs-DownstairsManifold.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/Weil-McLain.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_Weil-McLain.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/PressureTempGauge.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_PressureTempGauge.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/DrainValve.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_DrainValve.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/CushionTank.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_CushionTank.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/Boiler-CutOff.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_Boiler-CutOff.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/Boiler4.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_Boiler4.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/Boiler.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_Boiler.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/BleedValve2.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_BleedValve2.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/6.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/th_6.jpg
 

Last edited by DIYaddict; 10-15-06 at 11:31 AM. Reason: Deleted tags for easier copying and pasting
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Old 10-15-06, 05:54 PM
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http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/BleedValve2.jpg

That the valve(small valve on top of the larger pipe) you can open up and run it for a few sec or till no more air is coming out.



http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/6.jpg

The line between the supply and return i question, I don't know if this is the "Mixing" set up to keep the water temp lower? I see the red handle is open.. I'll let the wet heads answer that if it suppse to be open or closed.
 
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Old 10-16-06, 06:31 PM
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Pipe

The pipe Jay mentioned is a by-pass. The intent is to dump some hot water into the cold return to increase the water temperature going into the boiler. The reduces condensation in the boiler. The red handle should be open.

Before starting up the system, pressurize it to 25 psig with water. Shut off any incoming water & allow it to sit with the pressure for at least 24 hrs. If it holds, the system probably does not leak. Drop the pressure to around 15 psig & fire it up. This is not the time of year to be starting major heating system renovations if you can help it.
 
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Old 10-17-06, 12:31 PM
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Pressure?

Thanks for the quick response. Much appreciated.

What do I need equipment-wise in order to increase the water pressure?
 
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Old 10-17-06, 12:55 PM
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rbogie

Sorry, I can't get your pictures to come up, so I'll just shoot this out blind. I had a house in Dayton, OH with underfloor heating, and I believe a boiler from the same company. The system should have a circulation pump with an on/off switch which gets turned off in the warm months. The system is nearly a closed circuit, in that the water only gets added to occaisionally (I don't know, there must be a tiny amount of evaporation somehow). There is some kind of a surge suppressor (a small tank shaped about like a 1 gallon jug) and above that should be the bleeder valve. The one I had unfortunately was facing upward, which meant that if there was pressure in the system, when I bled it, it would shoot steamy water up to the ceiling. I had to suspend a large bowl under the valve and use a plastic cup over it so when I used the wrench to open it the stream would hit the cup and dribble down into the bowl. Anyway, you should have a special wrench to open the valve. Turn on the pump, if it doesn't make sounds like it is pumping, then turn it off, it is cavitated with gas. These systems get full of hydrogen sulfide gas (what a wonderful smell/stink). There is a bleeder on the pump, use that a few times to get the gas out. Oh and there is a small port on the bearing end of the pump. Put severel drops of oil in that port. With the boiler and the pump on, you can feel the pipe near the boiler and tell how far the water has gone. Now go ahead and bleed the main valve in the pipe. At first, all you will get is gas, then you will get a mixture of spurting water with gas, then all water. Feeling the pipes going into the floor, if they are getting hot uniformly then you're done for now.
24 hours later, bleed the pipes again, you will find more gas in the system. It should be good for a while then, but you will probably have to bleed the pipes (I call it burping the system) once more during the heating season.
 
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Old 10-17-06, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by green
Thanks for the quick response. Much appreciated.

What do I need equipment-wise in order to increase the water pressure?

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n79/adiluciano/6.jpg

You got an auto fill valve to keep your pressure up. Follow the 1/2" copper from top of the boiler over to the left, you will see a brass/brown unit about 5", that auto fill, I can't see in the pictures. but there might be a valve to turn off the water to this line.. Make sure that valve is on all times.
 
 

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