Air in Radiators


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Old 01-15-07, 12:22 PM
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Air in Radiators

I have searched this site and have found lots of great info on hot water radiator systems, but still have not been able to solve my issue. I just moved into this 2 story row home in August, and noticed that the radiators were not heating all the way to the top. I bled all the radiators, and could tell this had not been done in a long time - lots of air built up. I was able to get the air out of the 3 rad on 1st floor, and water. Those 3 are working fine.
Only 1 out of 4 of the rads on 2nd floor are even heatingup now - and that one is only at the very bottom. I continue to attempt to bleed them, but only get little bits of air, no water and still no heat.

I did notice that the PSIs on the boiler/furnace are less than 10. The temp seems to be running around 160.

Here is the info on my system:
Burnham V-13 (oil), Circulator (pump?) Bell& Gosset Booster series 100

Postings on this site lead me to believe that there is a connection between the low psi and the lack of water filling/ability to successfully bleed the 2nd floor rads. I also am wondering if there is a problem with the pump. Could water circulate to the 1st floor without it?7

I have an infant and am worried about getting this house warm enough for him...but feel like I am close to figuring out the issue and am trying to avoid the $$ of a professional repair.
Hope I included all the important info needed...I am a newbie to this site!
 
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Old 01-15-07, 12:27 PM
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You're on track...

You need to increase the pressure. What kind of expansion tank do you have? A big horizontal cyclinder between the joists, something looking like a small propane tank with a bicycle valve?
 
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Old 01-15-07, 12:30 PM
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Wink

You need about a psi of 18 to get the water up to the 2nd floor. If the auto fill dont get it to that then you have to set it so it does,
 
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Old 01-15-07, 12:59 PM
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How do I set the auto fill? Where would I find it?
 
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Old 01-15-07, 01:15 PM
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Before you start filling...

That air had to come from somewhere. If you have a conventional tank, then that is probably where it came from. If that much air came out of your tank and you just start adding more water to your system, your next question will be about a leaky PRV.
 
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Old 01-15-07, 01:45 PM
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Conventional Tank

Okay... so by the message you sent me, it appears that you have a conventional tank. You really should consider replacing it with a modern compression tank with a bladder in it at some point. It keeps the air and water better separated. Air can go into solution and that's how it leaves that tank and ends up traveling upstairs.

I would drain your expansion tank before adding any make-up water. Follow the piping from that tank back to your boiler. At the first valve close it off.

Once you're sure the tank is isolated then hook a hose to it, a bucket... whatever and start draining it. You really should drain it completely so that it doesn't have a partial vacuum - you want air in it. Sometimes I have found that blowing into the hose (through my hand covering the end of the hose) helps break up the vacuum lock (like when your finger's on top of a straw). Just don't get boiler water in your mouth!

Once the expansion tank is fully drained, then close the drain and open the valve back up that isolated it from the system.

Now try and find a connection between you home domestic water system and the boiler. When you find it, you'll find your feed valve. If you don't then you'll need to do the fill using a garden hose connected to a boiler drain. Tap water has lots of air in it so you may need to do another small bleed after restoring the system pressure of 15psi or whatever you need.
 
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Old 01-17-07, 05:31 PM
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Air in Radiators

I think I am about ready to try out the above steps, but need clarification on a couple of things...
1) Is the valve that I need to close labeled as "Thrush Flow"? That is the 1st valve that I come to when following the piping from the tank as listed above. It has an "open" and "normal" setting. The piping then leads into the boiler, so there are no other visable valves.

2) Feed valve - is this bell shaped with a thumbscrew on top?

Just wanted to double check before I end up in trouble!!
Thanks for your patient help!
 
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Old 01-17-07, 05:43 PM
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Can you take pictures, load them somewhere like photobucket and then give us the web address?

Many different feed valves, etc. out there...
 
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Old 01-18-07, 06:29 PM
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photos

I took pictures of the "Thrush Flow" valve and the valve I am supposing is my feed valve.

I posted them on photobucket as you suggested. Here are the links:
URL=http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o204/mellio7/boiler004.jpg][/URL]




...those didn't paste into this message as I had thought that they would. Hopefully you can make sense of something and find the pictures...if not, let me know.
Thanks!
 
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Old 01-18-07, 07:25 PM
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The first two pictures are of your make-up water pressure reducing valve, often called an "automatic make-up valve". This needs to be adjusted to hold about 12 to 15 psi (as read on the boiler pressure gauge) when the system is cold. To raise the pressure you need to first loosen the locknut that is on the threaded portion coming out of the top of the valve assembly. Then turn the hexagon portion of this threaded portion clockwise one-half turn. Continue turning in one-half increments until you hear the water flowing through the valve. Wait for a bit and see where the pressure stops. If you do this when the system is hot the pressure will be considerably higher than it would when cold. When hot the pressure should be about 18 to 22 psi on the boiler guage.

After obtaining the correct pressure re-tighten the locknut while holding the hexagon portion with a second wrench to keep it from moving.
 
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Old 01-18-07, 07:34 PM
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I think that Thrush valve is a "flo-control" device to prevent gravity flow when the system circulator isn't running... it should be in the "normal" position, and only turned to "open" if your circulator pump were to fail and you wanted to get some heat into the house by gravity flow.

I assume that the smaller of the copper lines coming off that valve leads to your expansion tank ? Is there no shut off valve in that line ?

That thumbscrew on the top of the water feed valve is where you would adjust the system pressure. You would loosen that locknut, and turn the thumbscrew to increase the system pressure. But, before you do that, are you sure there is no shut-off valve in the water feed line, ahead of the feed valve ? If there is, check to see if it's open or closed.

We really need more pics... take some wide shots and post em up on photobucket. You can't post the pics here, only the links to the pics which we would cut and paste.

I'd be a bit concerned about those orange streaks on the flue pipe. Could indicate that you have some flue gas condensation going on in the chimney, and perhaps in the boiler as well... not a good thing. Is there a liner in the chimney ?
 
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Old 01-18-07, 08:36 PM
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Additional pictures

I took some wide shots as suggested. As far as the streaks/lining in the chimney, I don't know...how would I check for that?

The photos I took give side views - the left of the thrush flow valve and pipes leading to the expansion tank. The right views include the pressure valve. I also included pictures of the expansion tank and the drain and turn handle for that. Other than that, there are no other valves from the thrush flow valve that I see. Maybe you will see something I am missing.

THe only shut off I see for the water line is at the hot water heater, and that just feeds the heater. The other is at the entrance of the pipes into the basement from the street., located nowhere near the boiler. As the base of the pipe leading from the water feed valve to the boiler,there is another drain and handle combo....I assumed that was to drain the boiler, not a valve to control the water flow into the boiler.

Hope I am still making sense.
Here are the links for the photos. Thanks all for your patience with a persistent newbie who has more determination than know-how!!
http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o204/mellio7/boiler014.jpg
http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o204/mellio7/boiler013.jpg
http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o204/mellio7/boiler010.jpg
http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o204/mellio7/boiler009.jpg
 
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Old 01-19-07, 03:06 PM
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Njtrooper I Think Is Rigrt, Thrush Is A Flow Valve Do You Have An Older System ??
 
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Old 01-19-07, 06:52 PM
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>>As far as the streaks/lining in the chimney, I don't know...how would I check for that?

When was the last time the system was serviced by a competent pro ?
He should be able to recognize and suggest remedies if you do have condensation issues.

There should never be liquid running down your chimney. You could possibly have a problem up top, it might be rainwater. Think about having the chimney inspected, and if necessary, re-pointed, and a rain cap installed. Another possibility is having a chimney liner installed ($$$). Inside the boiler should also be inspected for signs of condensation. The condensate from flue gases is very corrosive (acidic) and can damage the chimney, flue pipe, and boiler.

If you don't have CO detectors, especially with an infant in the house, now is the best time to install them!

If you don't have or can't find a shut-off valve on the feedwater to the boiler, what happens if you spring a leak somewhere ? Consider having one installed if there is not one, and also a back-flow preventer. (keeps boiler water out of your domestic supply)

>>the base of the pipe leading from the water feed valve to the boiler,there is another drain and handle combo....I assumed that was to drain the boiler, not a valve to control the water flow into the boiler.

Can you post a pic of that ?

If you do have only ten PSI of pressure (assuming the gauge is accurate) that is most likely the reason for no heat on the upper floors. Try adjusting if you dare, or ask the tech to do so when he is there. (you shouldn't have to ask him, he should know enough to just do it...)
 
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Old 01-19-07, 07:01 PM
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Grady, in pic "expansion tank 2" is that drain valve combined with a shutoff valve? Looks like it might be ???

mellio, can you get an in focus shot of that valve ? Is there a screwdriver slot on that part that's sticking out to the right ? or is that just a "cap" ?
 
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Old 01-20-07, 05:36 AM
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Unhappy No isolation valves????

Wow, whoever installed this boiler apparently didn't expect to be servicing it. I usually put isolation valves before and after the water feeder/backflow preventer comb., both sides of the circulator (flange type), on the boiler supply before the spirovent/air eliminator and expansion tank, and one on the return of each loop with a purge tee. Sometimes I will even put one under the air vent. Quick and easy I say. I don't want to be draining down the whole system just to change a part at 2 am or on Christmas day.
 
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Old 01-20-07, 09:57 AM
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Drain photo

Here is the link to the additonal photo of the drain.
http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o204/mellio7/boiler020.jpg

As far the boiler issues...I had it serviced in October - tune up, etc. They discovered that I needed a new chamber,l which we had done in November. Neither tech said anything about the streaks. Possilbe they occurred after? Could that signal something faulty with the repair, or just a coincidence?

We do have CO detector in the basement...I was always worried about that even prior to the baby.

The system is ancient...for sure...not sure just how old...but is a granddaddy by any measure! Will look into the upgrades that you spoke of with the system as soon as we are able...right now I just need heat!

Headed out...just saw that you requested a pictue of the drain below the feed valve...will need to do that later.
Thanks for all the input.
FYI--- I continue to try to bleed the upstairs radiators, and am getting air. The radiator in the baby's room is now 1/3 warm (at the bottom).
 
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Old 01-20-07, 12:12 PM
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If your pressure is that low, it's quite possible that you are actually sucking air INTO the pipes rather than OUT of them. Depending on the height of the piping... As you go UP, the pressure goes DOWN, like a half pound per foot. Then, you want about 4-5 PSI "left over" when you get to the highest point for two reasons. 1. To keep the air IN the water, 2. to prevent the hot water from flashing to steam inside the pipes.

So, 10 - 4 = 6 ... 6 / .5 = 12 FEET . If your highest point is higher than that above the gauge, then you don't have enough pressure. Raise the pressure first, bleed second.
 
 

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