Northern MN heating issue approaching critical!!


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Old 12-08-06, 02:19 AM
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Angry Northern MN heating issue approaching critical!!

Hello,

I live in Duluth MN, and have a heating problem that has been ongoing for a week. It has been looked at by both a plumber and the Water and Gas service department with only partial results. We just had our first night below zero, so I must get this fixed asap. I am a complete novice here, so I will do my best to describe everything.

We have a 120 year old, two story farmhouse with a full basement. The heating system is a Wells Mclein natural gas hotwater boiler with Cast iron radiators split into three zones. The zones are controlled by Honeywell Valves. Our first floor kitchen, and a bedroom directly above it is zone 3. Zone 2 is the remainder of the second floor. Zone one is the remainder of the first floor. All of the radiator supply pipes that run to the second floor are inside and exposed in the living spaces. The house is poorly insulated, and in need of new windows.

The system was inspected last year with no problems, and generally worked well last year. Before the conclusion of winter last year, I removed the old mercury thermostats and replaced them with new square non digital Honeywell thermostats, and had no problems for the remainder of the season.


Anyway, I resisted turning on the furnace for as long as I could, using some nice space heaters that seemed to work pretty well, which is why it is just in the last couple of weeks that I discovered the problem.

I finally turned it all on about a couple of weeks ago, and everything seemed ok, but the heat was real weak upstairs, even after bleeding the radiators. After a few days I came home from work and there was no heat at all upstairs, and downstairs was like chernobyl. It was about 110 degrees even though the thermostats were all set at 60.

The local Water and Gas service came out and replaced the pump motor. I told them that the upstairs had been very weak, and they told me that I would probably have to bleed more air out of the second floor radiators, but should have heat within a few hours. This was last Friday.

I am still not getting any heat at all to my second floor. I bleed the radiators 5-6 time a day and still get air out, but no water. The radiators are stone cold, top to bottom. Everything seems ok on the first floor. I contacted the Water and Gas service again, and asked about the likelyhood of the valve controlling the second floor being faulty. He told me to manually adjust the slide lever at the bottom of the box hard right to see if it helped, and then call back in a couple of hours. I noticed that there was zero resistance to the slide lever on that zone valve, and that the others were very tight. After a couple of hours and still no heat I called back and asked if I could run a multimeter to the valve to see if it is functioning and he mentioned 24 volts. By the way, the other valves are warm/hot to the touch. This valve is BURNING HOT to the touch. I was unable to get a reading for the valve and they agreed to come out the next day.

When they came in the next day the repairman spent all of two minutes looking at the valve and told me that because the pipes above and below the valve were hot, that it was functioning correctly. I asked about the tank or anything else that could be the problem, and he said they could do nothing more and that I should call a plumber, because maybe the pipes are frozen? The pipes are all inside the living space, so I highly doubted that. The pressure dial on the boiler looks sort of like a clock. One hand showed 50+ Psi, and the larger hand is on 10. I am not sure exactly what that means. Also, while standing in the basement with only the 2nd floor zone turned on, I could hear and feel a slight vibration in the zone valve.

I called a Plumber in, and he told me that because the pipes that supply the water to the second floor radiators were cold on the first floor, that it was most likely not a plumbing problem and it was the mechanical system.


I am going freaking CRAZY here. I am getting very concerned because I can not with a good conscience allow my wife and daughter to sleep upstairs with the use of space heaters alone. I am getting desperate because no one seems to know what to do, and I have to get this fixed fast. I don't have a ton of money, and I have already paid out twice and still don't have a solution.

Any help or information that anyone could provide would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 12-09-06, 06:42 AM
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please help

I am really getting desperate here.
Has anybody dealt with anything like this before. I will provide any more info if needed. I dont have a digital camera, otherwise I would have posted pictures.
 
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Old 12-09-06, 08:52 AM
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I don't know what to tellya... I think yer gonna have to hit the phone book and find someone that knows heating systems. Not your gas company that probably replaced a good circulator, or the plumber that doesn't seem to know heating systems.

The fact that you seem to be in a crisis situation is not a time for homeowner repair.

Good Luck!
 
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Old 12-09-06, 09:36 AM
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I will as well offer the suggestion that you call someone who is competent at repairing boilers.
I take it that when your plumber says it is a mechanical problem he is saying that he knows nothing about boilers beyond the water supply connection.
Your utility as well appears to just throw parts at a problem without a proper diagnosis.
Any suggestions that can be given here without seeing your system will be guesses, much like what the two that have tried to fix your problem did.

You would do well to find someone that knows boilers and learn from them.
 

Last edited by GregH; 12-09-06 at 09:47 AM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 12-09-06, 12:19 PM
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Agree with the assessments that you need someone other than the gas co or the plumber, but, we might be able to offer some insight, if not a solution.

What model of Honeywell zone valves do you have.

Can you post some pictures to photobucket or similar hosting service.

The hot zone valve with no lever tension may be stuck open.

Also sounds like you need to do a good purge if you are still getting air.
 
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Old 12-12-06, 01:03 AM
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Unhappy update

Hi Again,

I am currently working nights this month (7pm-7am) and just worked all weekend, so I didn't have a lot of time. I want you all to know that I really appreciate your attempts up to know to help. I realize fully that the best solution is for me to call in a 'good' HVAC guy, and believe me, I agree. Unfortunately, until Friday, I do not have the funds available.

As I have mentioned, I know very little about heating when it comes to vocabulary. I was a architectural drafter for 10 years, so I am very good at tracing pipes, and seeing systems in 3D, if that makes sense. I did some checking around town about the W&G service dept. I learned that there are approximately SIX W&G companies in the entire country that are owned and operated by the city. In this case, their reputation is stellar, and A few HVAC people I did call told me they were the best kept secret in town when it comes to repairs. I know for a fact that the pump motor was definitely dead, and it did need to be replaced. For some reason, I cant get the valve out of my head as being the culprit. If, however that is the case, it wouldn't explain why the bedroom directly about the kitchen (zone 3) is not receiving heat.

As I understand it, there will be some air in the radiators every year. The first floor radiators all spray water as soon as the bleeder valve is opened. When I first turned the system on, I had to bleed them a few times to get them to this point. On the second floor, I get air every few hours, but have never received water, and there is NO heat in them at all. After tracing pipes, I know that there is not one seperate feeder that goes up and splits to the individual radiators. There are pipes running in the basement to the location of all the second floor radiators that go up. If it were a corrosion issue, I could see it affecting one of the radiators, but not all of them. The pipes in the basement are all HOT at the point they begin to go up. The pipes continuing up on the first floor are luke warm, or cold. The pipes on the second floor are cold. This makes me think there is either a ton of air upstairs, or there isn't enough PSI to push the water that high up the pipes.

The pressure dial on the boiler has two hands similar to the hour and minute hands on the clock. The longer 'minute' hand reads a PSI of about 55. The shorter 'hour' hand reads about 21 feet. I am not sure if this helps, but from other posts, I got the impression that 21 feet should be more like 30 feet. I am now wondering if the tank is the culprit, or is it waterlogged? I was told it was a diaphram tank, and because the first floor is heating correctly that it is not damaged.

I know someone else mentioned purging the system. Can you provide a little more information about this?

Unfortunately I dont have access to a digital camera at this time, but I might be able to take regular photos and scan them. I am willing to try tracking down any info that may be needed to help you guys get an idea of what my problem is. Ideally, I would love to nail down the problem if at all possible so I can call an HVAC guy and hopefully know exactly what needs to be done.


By the way, I did grab the only numbers I could see on the zone Valve. This is what was stamped on top of the casing.

V8043F 1051
24V 50/60cy
32 Amp@60cy

ANY help or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Brandon
 
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Old 12-12-06, 07:02 PM
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Zone problems

The zone valve is a 1" sweat with a flow capacity of 3.5 gpm. I presume this is the valve which is very hot & goes to the second floor, right?
One of the two gauge needles is wrong & since the relief valve is not opening, I am going to say it is the gauge calibrated in psi. Is that needle by any chance red & the other black?
I think in order to get heat to the second floor, we are going to have to get more pressure on the system. Look for something on the water inlet piping that looks like this:
http://taco-hvac.com/en/products/Boiler+Feed+Valves/products.html?current_category=115
or this:
http://www.bellgossett.com/homeowners/HT-Pressure-Reducing-Valves.asp
or maybe this: http://www.amtrol.com/filltrol.htm

If you find one of these, make sure any valves between the house water supply & the device are open as well as any valves between the device & the boiler. Post back with results.
 
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Old 12-12-06, 07:25 PM
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Read pressure gauge carefully

srvnut-

55 psi is way too high. I really doubt the relief valve can handle pressures that high. Are you sure you are not reading the the kPa scale? It is along side the psi scale on most gauges.

From what you describe it seems that the most likely problem is that the system does not have enough pressure. If you are reading Kilopascals(kPa), 55 is equivalent to 8 psi. You said you live in a 2-story farmhouse? Do you have an unusually high first floor? If the 2nd floor of your house is higher than most it may be that the pressure reducing valve is set too low and can't push the hot water up to the second floor.

Do these 4 things:
1)Double check your psi reading.
2)Find the relief valve on your boiler and read what it is set at. The relief valve is usually on top of boiler and has a small handle and a tag with the pressure rating on it.
3)Find the pressure reducing valve and read what it is set at. The PRV will be on the water feed line(not part of the heating loop) to the boiler.
4)Make a rough estimate of the height between your boiler and the radiators on the 2nd floor.

Tell us what you find.
 
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Old 12-13-06, 12:52 AM
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updated information as requested....

Once again I have to apologize in advance for my inablilty to post pictures, and my lack of knowledge in terms of vocabulary of heating components.

As requested, I did go down with a good halogen light and tried to find all the components mentioned. I will do my best to describe what I found.

The lowest pipe coming out of the furnace is connected to a central pipe that goes up about two feet. There are three branches of piping on this single pipe. At the bottom of this pipe is a spigot and drain. just above this by an inch or two, the pipe continues back to the expansion tank. As you follow the original pipe up about a foot, it again branches backwords to the circulator pump. Between these two pipes is another smaller pipe that comes out 4" inches and then up about a foot before continuing towards the zone valves. Before the pipes reach the Zone valves, it passes through a larger cast iron body w/ AMERICAN AIR PURGER stamped on it. On top of this is a circular body with a cap on top labeled FLOAT TYPE AIR VENT. There is a note on this which says max 45 psi. Directly below this American Air Purger is a very small (1/4"-3/8" diameter pipe) which comes out of the bottom of the cast iron body, goes down an inch and elbows right for 2" before elbowing back up and runs into the bottom of a big blue tank approximately 15" in diameter. At the other end of the tank is a drain and spigot. On the end of the tank, it is labeled 24 GAL 75 LBS W.P. D-3/81.

Above the pipe coming out of the furnace as I have just described, is another pipe which has a relieve valve just like on a water heater, and a pipe that runs backwords about 18" and elbows down to an open spout, without a valve.The gauge is right next to this pipe. I am assuming this is an emergency drain. I can not see any numbers listed on this valve. I took a closer look ar the gauge. There is definitely a black needle that I could not see before now, which is pointing directly at zero feet. The two red hands that I have described previously are in the same 55 psi, and 21 feet readings.The Black needle is no more than a half inch long, and as I said, without the halogen light could not be seen.


I hope some of this information helps. I will be working Wed and Thursday nights from 7PM-7AM and will enquire about borrowing a digital Camera.


Thanks Again,

Brandon
 
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Old 12-15-06, 10:29 PM
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Red face still no luck w/ a digital camera

But I may have access on one I can use this weekend. I am sure hoping so, because I am assuming it would help you guys immensely.
 
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Old 12-18-06, 03:48 AM
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more info

Floor to floor heights:

Basement - First 8'-6"
First - Second 9'-6"

Still no luck w/ a camera.

I think the two things mentioned might be my best starting points:

1. Someone mentioned a purge of the system.

2. Either increasing PSI, or determining why PSI is low.

Can anyone give me the basics on these topics?

Thanks,
Bart
 
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Old 12-20-06, 04:27 AM
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OK, the two dials on the gauge are the pressure on the boiler, and the max pressure allowable. Depending on the gauge, there is either a red knob in the middle that will move the red needle, or the clear cover will turn, moving the needle. It is supposed to be at 30 PSI. The other needle is supposed to be between 12 and 20 PSI. What I think is going on, is that your circulator fried, so it was replaced. In doing so, some air got into the system. The water feeder is probbably not feeding or not feeding enough pressure into the boiler. Let me explain how water pressure works in a collumn. The pressure at the surface of a collumn of water is at 0 PSI. Every foot you go down, the pressure increases by roughly 0.45 PSI. SO, if the pressure at the boiler is at 10 PSI, the pressure at 22' 3" will be 0 PSI. Gauges are often inaccurate, and the pressure very well could be low enough that on the second floor, the radiators could be in a vacuum. You bleed them and hear the hissing noise associated with bleeding radiators, but you may actually be letting air into the system. The pressure on the first floor has pressure because it is much lower in the collumn of water. What you need to do is increase the pressure in the boiler. The water feeder is a brass or brass colored device that connects the domestic water to the boiler. It is on a 1/2" pipe that connects to the boiler or the near boiler piping. It might be a Watts T1156F or S1156F which has a little brass colored lever on top. If it is lifted to a vertical position, it will "fast fill" the boiler above what it is set at (10-25 PSI). Do that while watching the gauge. Make sure it doesn't go beyond 25 PSI (the relief valve will blow hot water all over the floor at 30 PSI). Once you reach 20 PSI, lower the lever and go bleed the radiators upstairs. You may need to repeat this a couple times. The feeder is adjustable, but I reccomend having a contractor do that when you have the $$. If you don't hear water feeding when you lift the lever, check for closed valves. Sometimes the feeders will get plugged, especially if you are on a well with high mineral or sediment content, or if you have steel pipes, in which it would need to be replaced. Good luck! NOTE: be aware of where your relief valve is pointing. Don't stand in front of it while filling the boiler incase it blows off unexpectedly!!!
 
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Old 12-21-06, 10:42 PM
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still no luck, and unfortunately, no money until the next check..

I was supposed to be able to afford bringing in a 'good' guy this week, but unfortunately that didn't happen . It now has to wait until next Friday. Another lesson learned..Dont expect a GOOD bonus at Christmas time. Two years ago we got a HUGE bonus. Last year it was a VERY NICE bonus. Unfortunately, this year, it was just a BONUS.

I traced my main water line into the house to the furnace, and It wasn't quite as I imagined it would be. It is a much smaller line that basically connects right into the 'collar' of the expansion tank. Is this right? Also there is no 'water feeder valve' of any type that I could see. Just a simple 'hose faucet' style handle on the line.

This was probably stupid of me, but I am getting so sick of this situation that I just started screwing around with things a little bit. First I turned the power off to the furnace. I then purposely lifted the Relief valve with an old coffee can underneath it. It did indeed dump hot water into it. I only did this for maybe two coffee cans full. I could indeed hear water trying to circulate, and could hear the radiators making all sorts of noise. The I went to all the lines with spigots on them, and after putting the can underneath it would open them about 1/4-1/2 way. In a couple I would get water very quickly. In some I got a LOT of air. Eventually I got water out of everything. I didn't drain much water out of any individual line. By the way, the gauge needles definitely dropped after this.

I ran upstairs and tried to bleed all of the radiators again, and got a TON of air in the 2nd floor radiators, and quite a bit on the first floor. I then went back upstairs and tuned the second floor thermostat to its' max setting. I set the first floor thermostats to about 80.

I then crossed my fingers, sayed a Hail Mary and turned the power back on. It all seemed to fire up and I could definitely hear water moving around, and the radiators were all making gurgling noises. I waited about 20 minutes and started at the top and started bleeding radiators again. Once again, I got a lot of air on second floor and a nice bit on the first floor. I repeated this a few more times over the next few hours. On a couple of the first floor radiators i got water very quickly. On another, I get a little bit each time, and about 2/3rds of that radiator is hot. In the Kitchen, about 1/2 of the radiator is hot, and the rest is luke warm. I can still hear it gurgling. On the second floor, I can still not get water, and I can not get much of any air any more either. I still have no heat though.

I can not figure out how to get more pressure to the boiler. Like I said, I just have the standard hose spigot on that line. I assume that has to be the line we are looking for, it's the only inlet line I can find.

Does any of this help???? As soon as I can pay for someone to come in I will, but until them I am still on my own. I still don't have a camera to use, but I came up with a solution that I hope will help. I still have the latest copy of Autocad , I will draw a scaled picture of the entire system and create a pdf file of it. I can't believe I didn't think of that before. Would this suffice?

Any more info needed will as always be provided to the best of my ability.
 
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Old 12-21-06, 10:46 PM
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oops, one more note

The furnace gauge is back to it's original settings.
 
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Old 12-22-06, 06:31 AM
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Sorry you are having so much trouble with this.

It really sounds like you still have air in the system and your pressure could be too low but it is very hard for even an expert to diagnose under these circumstances.
Maybe it is even something goofy like a bacwards installed pump which is not unheard of!
A picture would likely tell the whole story but if you want to draw it I would suggest you save it as a JPEG.
You can then get some free space at a site like photo bucket, post it there and provide a link.
I know money is an issue but even in the small town we live in you can buy a 1/3 mp digital camera for $20.00 in a department store.
If you are able to find something like this it could be a good investment for you.
A line drawing would not help identify specific components.
 
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Old 12-22-06, 07:22 AM
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Major caveat here: I'm no pro! At best, I'd describe myself as a "hydronic hobbyist." I will ask the pros looking at this thread this question: From these descriptions (esp. the 12/13/06 03:52am post), it sounds like there is no fast-fill/PRV and no backflow preventer on this system. Just a gate valve. Do you agree? It also sounds like this system is piped reasonably well, maybe even 'pumping away' etc., which makes the possible absence of a fast-fill/PRV and backflow preventer somewhat puzzling.

SRV: beg or borrow a digital camera, camera phone, whatever. In this case, a picture is probably worth 10,000 words. There could be a very simple solution but it's difficult and possibly damaging or hazardous to try and fly blind here.

If there is a 1/2" water line coming into the "collar" of the expansion tank, it is possible that the gate valve ("hose faucet style") on that line serves as the means to add water to the system, thereby increasing the pressure to what it should be and achieving the proper amount of water in the system. But if you have a broken gauge or are not reading it correctly, then it's difficult to advise you on how to proceed. Simply opening that valve up to city pressure would blow the boiler relief (city pressure is much greater than what the boiler wants to see) and possibly have other bad effects. Think Texas Flood....

Proceed with this in mind: "First, do no harm."

Diagrammatically, your city water connection to the boiler sounds like it is arranged like this:

http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j50/xiphias1758/system.jpg

except you may not have the backflow preventer and the pressure reducing valve. Maybe just a gate valve where "shut-off valve" is located. (If so, this should be corrected when you get the pro in there.)

In a real system, it looks like the yellow outline area in this:

http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j50/xiphias1758/system2.jpg

I agree with HVAC-EMT that you probably have a pressure problem and the system may actually not have enough water in it with one of more zones being airbound. But without knowing whether either the gauge is broken or you're not reading it correctly, it is difficult to suggest a remedy.
 
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Old 12-22-06, 08:37 AM
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1"=1'-0" drawing

Hi everybody,

I will do everything I can to find a digital camera over the weekend. I am working 7pm-7am the next three days, but I will see what I can do.

In the meantime, the following image was created on AutoCad's Architectural Desktop. The .Jpg will be tough to see unless you print it. The colors are weird because they all have a line weight assigned to them for printing purposes. I labeled everything I could, and It is to scale. The only thing that is not drawn (mostly) accurate is the steel body that the circulator motor is attached to. I just couldn't draw it to look like it actually does, so I sort of just 'blocked' it in. I can add more info to it if necessary.

hopefully this helps.

http://s128.photobucket.com/albums/p176/srvnut/?action=view&current=heat-001.jpg
 
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Old 12-22-06, 09:36 AM
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Hrmmm...

Do you have an older style expansion tank or a moderm compression tank?

What is the normal system pressure?

Has the PRV been discharging on its own?


(that drawing makes my eyes feel old and useless despite your obvious excellent efforts in doing it)
 
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Old 12-22-06, 09:52 AM
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Wow nice drawing. I will admit to now being quite confused. It would appear there is a diaphragm expansion tank that is somehow piped into the boiler return, and an old captive style tank piped off the air purger. Weird!

It also looks like there is a bypass loop piped off the supply (tees to the left where the tee to the right goes to the air purger) that is cut into the return after the circ.

I'm guessing that the original install was done by someone who largely knew what they were doing (i.e., at least the zones appear to be piped with a manifold setup on supply and return with drains and valves on each, and maybe he did the bypass, too). But subsequent to that somebody who didn't really get it added the diaphragm tank.

I know what I'd suggest to repipe (plug the base of the purger and get rid of the captive tank, and install a proper feed/backflow/PRV/ET connection just upstream from the circ so although it's pumped on the return, it would at least be pumping away -- did that with my old system last year). But in terms of how to solve the immediate problem, I'm at something of a loss.

Is that "expansion tank" on the bottom left really 8 inches in diameter? Is it not really an expansion tank? Any markings/ID on it?
 
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Old 12-24-06, 07:59 AM
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more info.....

Hi eveybody,

I thought I had posted this yesterday. I never checked to make sure it went through. I was tired after a 12 hour shift and was only interested in drinking a couple of beers and going to bed if you know what I mean. I still have one more to go tonight....Luckily it's all double time, so it makes up for having to work Christmas Eve.

Like I have said previously, I am not good with the heating system terminology. My using the term 'expansion tank' may have been inaccurate. The tank is DEFINITELY 8" in diameter, +or- 1/2". The brand name is 'Fill-Trol' and it says Diaphram on the label.

The only relief style valve on the system is the one next to the gauge, with the pipe that drains to the floor. Other than that pressure relief valve, everything else has just spigot style valves like on an exterior hose bib. I did crack all of the drains on the system this morning, and I get nothing but water, and no audible air. The only thing I haven't screwed with at all is the big tank on the right.

I know when I drained a couple of coffee cans of water out of the pressure relief valve, I could definitely hear water coming through the inlet and going throughout the house to the radiators. I can not, however, figure out how to force more water into the system to raise the PSI.

I hope this helps, and I wan't you all to know that I really appreciate all the info you have provided to this point. Have a nice Christmas everybody.

Thanks again,
Bart


PS - A digital camera would have helped me so much. It took about two hours to sketch the system and get the dimensions, and about 1/2 hour to draw it. Thank GOD I didn't say I'd draw it in 3D or It would have taken forever. Although I used Autocad for a living for over eight years, it has been about a year since I last opened it.
 
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Old 12-24-06, 09:27 AM
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Google can be your friend!

http://www.amtrol.com/filltrol.htm

You adjust the system pressure by adjusting the pre-charge pressure in the tank.
 
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Old 12-24-06, 10:06 AM
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system pressure

Originally Posted by NJ Trooper
http://www.amtrol.com/filltrol.htm

You adjust the system pressure by adjusting the pre-charge pressure in the tank.
If the bladder determines the system pressure and controls the fill valve, I'd have to wonder if the bladder is failing causing the precharge to lower to 8 psi instead of 12? Why is an old pressure tank shown above the boiler in the joists? Two expansion tanks???

Pete
 
  #23  
Old 12-24-06, 12:33 PM
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My guess is that at some point the reducing valve failed, and someone installed the fill-trol as a replacement. No harm in leaving the old tank in place, as long as it's not leaking. In fact, the diaphragm tank may not be big enough for his system by itself, so removing the old one could be a bad thing.

Bart, if you have a tire pressure gauge, there is a tire valve (schrader) on the small expansion tank. Take a reading there and tell us what it says. Try to do this carefully so as not to let any air out when you read it.
 
  #24  
Old 12-24-06, 01:17 PM
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air scoop

If he has an automatic air vent, won't the pressure tank eventually water log?

Pete
 
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Old 12-24-06, 02:44 PM
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Yeah, could happen... makes me wonder why the old tank is not piped to the top of the air purger, instead of the auto vent ? Maybe there's an "air-trol" fitting on the old tank ?
 
  #26  
Old 12-24-06, 09:19 PM
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Not good...

*edited for readability*

What and of approximately what vintage are the materials holding up that waterlogged extra heavy tank? Mine was held by old strapping when I moved here. That tank was taken out beacause of the silliness of having to bleed upstairs vents twice a year vs spending $45. An Airtrol might have cured that but the newer compression tanks work very well by not allowing air and water to come in contact with one another. Air can go into solution and end up in the upstairs' rads far too easily. I should have kept the tank for buffer service. They are extremely strong... it's the stuff holding it I worry about. And if there is air in it, well... that's not anything to feel good about, air has no business being anywhere in your piping system other than behind a diaphram.

As DIYers working on our heating systems we need to do it right - we should be doing it better than the hacks out there (just remember that fuel fittings and combustion should be done by trained people).

That tank should be taken out of there and a properly sized compression tank should be installed on a scoop or sprirovent air separator (with attached feed and anti-backflow valve) somewhere before the circulator. Just like xiph's attachment back there shows. If you aren't pumping away, then you should try to accomplish this with this change.

Happy Holidays
 

Last edited by Who; 12-25-06 at 11:42 AM.
  #27  
Old 12-24-06, 11:42 PM
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What am I doing here ? Christmas Eve, 3 AM ?

Who, I'm havin' a lil trouble understandin' you this morning, maybe me and Santa had a few too many ?

I think: Old tank could be waterlogged, and very heavy, and a possible safety issue due to the condition of the strapping holding it up there. I agree, should be checked.

If there is room, and the piping is up to the task of supporting it, I should think the easiest thing would be to remove the pipe from the bottom of the air purger to the old tank, and install a new diaphragm tank right there, on the bottom fitting of the existing air purger.

[edit: OR... _IF_ the tank on the fill-trol is big enough for the system (I suspect it's not), it could be moved to this location, and the water feed line re-piped with a shut-off and back-flow... ]

Another issue is the back-flow preventer... if there isn't one (I don't think there is) then one should be added in the supply line ahead of the fill-trol. Srvnut, the back-flow preventer keeps boiler water out of your potable water in the event that water system pressure drops below the boiler pressure. You don't want to drink boiler water! (and it's code in most jurisdictions) If there is no positive shut-off valve in that line, you need that too.

But, this all still doesn't directly address the original problem. Probably contributing factors though.

Who, pass me that bottle of cheer, wouldya?

Happy Holidays!

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Last edited by NJT; 12-24-06 at 11:53 PM.
  #28  
Old 12-25-06, 11:34 AM
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NJ Trooper

That wasn't exactly well-written, was it? Hopefully this makes more sense.

I hope Santa was good to everyone.
 
  #29  
Old 12-25-06, 02:48 PM
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A work of literary art Who! Good job!

That's what I _thought_ you said.
 
  #30  
Old 12-25-06, 03:43 PM
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Thumbs up Heating system photos

Originally Posted by srvnut
Hi eveybody,PS - A digital camera would have helped me so much.

srvnut, you can take photos of your system using any camera ( a 35mm SLR would be preferred ) have the photos developed at a store and ask them to make a photo cd. Download the photos from the cd into your computer, then download them to photobucket.
I have been following this thread and wish I would have thought of this sooner.
 
  #31  
Old 12-29-06, 08:04 AM
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'nother update

Ok, I finally got some time on my hands now. HURRAY!!!
I am off until 7AM Monday morning so I can finally work on some things.

I think we have a couple of exposures left on a roll of film that need to be developed. If so, I will take pics.

The 'Big old' tank is supported by some heavy duty metal strapping.

I finally go behind the furnace. (I am short, short arms, long reach etc.) I was reaching for what I thought was an air pressure valve to check the pressure. It is not a air valve, it is a approx. 1/4-3/8" nut.?????????? Not sure what to make of that, is that what I open up to increase pressure?????

Am going to try to get someone out here today to look at system.

Will update as soon as possible.

Thanks again, as always.

Bart
 
  #32  
Old 12-29-06, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by srvnut
I finally go behind the furnace. (I am short, short arms, long reach etc.) I was reaching for what I thought was an air pressure valve to check the pressure. It is not a air valve, it is a approx. 1/4-3/8" nut.?????????? Not sure what to make of that, is that what I open up to increase pressure?????

Am going to try to get someone out here today to look at system.
No, on the Fill-trol tank, the end opposite where it's connected to the system, there should be a schrader (tire) valve. It might have a plastic cap screwed onto it. Check the pressure there, with the tire gauge. This should give you the actual system pressure. Again, be careful not to let any air OUT when you check the pressure.

The Fill-trol works by adjusting your system pressure to whatever air pressure is in that tank.

You can use a bicycle pump if you need to increase it (or a compressor if you have one, if you do use a compressor, BE CAREFUL! not to add much more than say 15 PSI.).

Be aware that if the diaphragm inside that fill-trol tank is defective, that you may get water out of that valve. (though being on it's side like that, it's unlikely that you will get water, even if it's defective...)
 
  #33  
Old 12-30-06, 06:18 AM
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Cool Expansion tank

Sounds like you don't have a fill-trol tank. The 'big old' tank is probbably an old fasioned expansion tank that doesn't have a schrader valve on it. It does not have a bladder in it either. It just holds air in it to help keep the pressure steady.
 
  #34  
Old 12-30-06, 08:44 AM
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HVAC, he's got _both_ ! There's a standard compression tank improperly piped to the bottom of an air scoop, with an auto-vent on top, and then over on the supply side he's got the fill-trol.... weird...
 
  #35  
Old 01-02-07, 01:18 AM
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Red face Hope all is well!

Originally Posted by NJ Trooper
HVAC, he's got _both_ ! There's a standard compression tank improperly piped to the bottom of an air scoop, with an auto-vent on top, and then over on the supply side he's got the fill-trol.... weird...
That's what I get for not reading the whole thing. Hopefully he got a competent technician out there this time.
 
  #36  
Old 01-10-07, 01:57 PM
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Northern MN heathing issue

I, too am in Northern Minnesota...little over an hour north of srvnut. I'm just logging in and reading all the posts and thinking....Hmm...that's my age house, that's my same heating system....I have pictures! I also have a guy that knows these systems inside and out. He doesn't have his own business anymore...but I'm sure if the need be...I can bug him for a referral.

If anyone is still interested. I have pictures as well as a little drawing my guy did for me to do a little self checking. ONly...now, he has to run me through this stuff again or just come over after work as I still have air in the pipes and now the furnace clunks more than ever.

Fortunately I haven't started working on the basement just yet...the furnace and all it's glorious components are sitting right out in the open.
 
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Old 01-10-07, 02:24 PM
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northern minnesota

Here.....this really sounds like the same system I have..except I have baseboard radiators that my pipes run through. And, yes, there are some very high ceilings in these old houses.

http://s120.photobucket.com/albums/o197/neciekins/
 
  #38  
Old 01-25-07, 03:18 PM
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Lightbulb Northern MN heating issue approaching critical!!

Hi Fellows,
Just signed up to help out if I can. I skimmed my way through and there is a lot being covered here, some of which I have waded through myself. My experience is 32 years of landlording and DIYing everything I can.
The air bleeding in radiators that you hear the air pressure sound stop is caused by a drop in pressure that you can no longer hear the water entering, though it may still be doing so, just not fast enough to create an audible sound. I have good water pressure but after the initial 20-30 seconds or so of bleeding, I hear no air sound emitting and there is very little pressure to be felt by holding your finger over the bleed nipple. If water is comming in, you must be patient and give the level chance to rise [5 - 10 minutes would not be too much to expect from a larger rad and slow feeding]. This can take considerable time if the inlet pressure limiter is old and reacts slowly, like mine does. I get impatient with it and bang on it sharply to snap it free with a small metal item [screwdriver - pliers] to ensure it is letting water pass. Of course the valve MUST be turned on and water must be supplied to the incoming line, or you'll get no water fill ever. :-)> Perhaps a balloon wired to complete a seal onto the bleeder would show that water is entering the system? Hmmm? Why didn't I think of that before?
I had the same problem of the expansion tank bleeding all the AIR out of it within a week of the yearly cleaning and ALL the air going up to my Daughter's bedroom, negating her having ANY heat every year and my Wife all over my back about it [I don't blame her, but I have guilt enough]. My Daughter's rad is on 2nd floor and the FIRST pipe from furnace! I reckoned that putting the expansion tank in the attic, 1/4" copper piping from 'T' on the nipple on her rad, would KEEP the air in the attic and never have to have water bled from the tank anymore. The copper line was run up next to window in groove chisled into plaster! :-)> [again, Happy Wife! 8-o> ] When asking the old fart, brain trust of retired geezers at the local plumbing house, my idea brought an angry, riotous, loud round of critcism! "It is unheard of and you'll blow your furnace up!" Also, keep in mind, you MUST have air in the system to allow for expansion of heated water, you can't have the expansion tank full of water and bleed all the air out of the radiators or you'll pop your pressure relief valve everytime the furnace heats up and then you'll have another problem! So I put the expansion tank in the attic after using an air compressor to pump the "dead" water in the filled tank, while still in system, to the empty 2nd floor rad. "Dead" water has the advantage of having all the air boiled off already so no new air is introduced to the system. I wanted to save and re-use my dead water. OK, so I am an extremist fanatic! :-)> Then after I installed the expansion tank in the attic, I used the compressor to recharge the needed air pressure in my system! I have 20 #s at the meter [a smidge high 8-o>] and everything is working JUST FAB! Just goes to show you some young snot [I'm 55, but look only 40+ish!] , whipersnappers can have a NEW idea! My thinking is the expansion tank BELONGS in the attic! Enough of this prehistoric plumbing + heating!
Glad if I could help at all.
I have a problem! That is why I am here in 1rst place! I am putting an oil tank in cellar [an oil tank outside causes too many headaches] and a new homeowner said he thought the tank MUST be at least 5 feet from the furnace. I live under Pennsy regulations out in the country and I have almost no room in the cellar except next to furnace with about 2 feet of clearance, after installation. Can I create a 'wall' by putting 2 layers fire resistant sheetrock next to tank, between it + furnace? I tried researching on Net and there is so much OFFICIAL gobbledygook [I just HATE redtape! 8-(> ] to ramble through a lawyer couldn't figure it out! This is the closest I've come to reasoning humanity and finding a real answer. I don't expect much help from professionals that want $$s for answers. They don't like DIYers, I've experienced!
Chainman - not prison [yet] - ex Beth Steel CHAINMAN :-)>
 
 

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