Cold House - HELP!

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Old 01-27-07, 06:14 AM
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Cold House - HELP!

I have a problem with my heating system. I have a Laars "Newport" high efficiency direct vent oil boiler that is fairly new, installed when the house was built in 2003. The whole house has hydronic baseboard heat.

The house has two zones - Zone A feeds bedrooms & bathroom. Zone B feeds dining room, living room, kitchen. Both zones are on one floor, boiler is downstairs in finished but unheated basement. Zone A has a standard dial thermostat. Zone B has a new RiteTemp digital/programmable thermostat.

Zone A is up to temp and very comfortable. Zone B wont get above 50F (Brrr!). Hot water is from a storage tank that feeds off the boiler, and I have plenty of hot water. Hydronic baseboard pipes in Zone B are stone cold. Outdoor temps last couple of days ~30F high/10F low

The Zone B thermostat is about 1 year old - it's battery operated and the batteries in it are fresh. I usually program it so that the heat goes down to 50F during the day when I'm gone, and then comes back up to 68F when I'm home in the evening, and then goes down to 60F overnight.

I started having problems about a week ago when I would come home from work. The thermostat would be set at 68F but the temp would be cold - 50's. I would override the program temp and crank the digital thermostat up, and after a few minutes the boiler would come on and that zone would be comfortable until the next night when I'd have to do the same thing. Now that thermostat won't trigger heat at all, and I'm guessing the only heat in that area is what radiates up off the boiler itself, which is directly below.

Zone A has had no trouble maintaining a comfortable temp. I usually keep it set at 60F all the time, but since Zone B crapped out, I've been keeping it at 68F (and camping out in here to keep warm)

I'm guessing either the thermostat is faulty or the circulator pump has gone bad. I haven't done any work anywhere that might have pierced the wires, and I've recently bled the fuel line to the burner make sure there's no air pockets.

It's worth noting that my problems roughly coincide with a switch to burning dyed diesel, which in my part of the country is significantly cheaper than fuel oil right now, and it's also available in a quantity I can afford. I am told that it's interchangeable with #2 fuel oil (please tell me I didn't destroy my boiler!) I thought part of my problem might be the diesel starting to gel out in the fuel tank, which is in the unheated garage. I put an electric heater next to the filter at the outlet end of the tank, but that hasn't seemed to help.

This could be minor or nothing, but I figured I'd throw it in the mix. Even though Zone A is comfortable, when I set the working thermostat in Zone A to a higher temp, it doesn't automatically trigger the boiler to come on. And when I set it all the way up, the boiler doesn't run continuously to get up to temp. It comes on, runs for 15-20 mins, shuts off, and maintains a lower but comfortable temp in Zone A.

It's also worth noting that when I looked at the boiler last night, the flue pipe coming out of the boiler had somehow come unlodged at the elbow to the pipe leading outside. Whoever installed it (not me) didn't actually use screws to tie it into place, they just shoved the pipe into the elbow and left it. I'm grateful that downstairs isn't habitable space, because anyone down there would have probably been overcome by CO. It looks like there are some sensors going into that pipe. I don't know what they do but I wonder if that could be part of my issue.
 

Last edited by smartbomb; 01-27-07 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 01-27-07, 06:39 AM
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Don't assume for a second that the CO is going to remain in that room! That's a very dangerous assumption, meaning life/death!

Do you have CO detectors in the home ? If not, install them now.

Call a service guy. You seem to have multiple problems.
 
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Old 01-27-07, 07:05 AM
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Yes, I have CO detectors and I tested them. Neither of them went off.

"Calling a service tech" is unfortunately not an option, at least until Monday.
 
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Old 01-27-07, 07:20 AM
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Open the digital thermostat and "jumper" (connect together) the R (or Rh) and W terminals. If this causes the circulator pump to run then the problem is with the thermostat.

What are the temperature and pressure readings at the boiler and what are the control point settings on the boiler-mounted controls?
 
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Old 01-27-07, 08:15 AM
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The boiler reads about 170F and 25 PSI. I cannot find any controls mounted on the unit.

I will check the thermostat. I actually have a new digital thermostat that I got for the bedroom that I can use as a test. But closing the circuit should trip the circulator pump if it's working.
 
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Old 01-27-07, 08:32 AM
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I both tested the new thermostat and jumped the circuit and the pump didn't come on, so unless there's an issue with the temp/pressure, I probably have a faulty pump.
 
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Old 01-27-07, 08:40 AM
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I found the website for Newport boilers, I need the model name and model number to further research this.

http://www.laars.com/oilfired.htm

The temperature seems (more or less) normal although the pressure may be a bit on the high side. How many stories is your home? Do you have multiple circulator pumps or zone valves?
 
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Old 01-27-07, 08:46 AM
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Thanks. I found that site too and downloaded the manuals. Unfortunately, there's not much information in these manuals.

The house is two stories, and there are basically three zones (two upstairs plus the hot water storage tank, which is a wired to work independently as a separate zone. I believe each zone has a circulator pump.

I found the manual for the boiler itself and it is the Newport (residential) boiler with a Beckett AFG burner. The manual I found is identical to the one on the website under the "Newport" section of that web page.
 
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Old 01-27-07, 09:14 AM
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Here are the instructions for the Honeywell L8124 aquastat that MAY be fitted to your boiler. I cannot access the instructions for the L7224 for some unknown reason.

http://customer.honeywell.com/techlit/PDF/95-0000s/95-6571.pdf

The pressure is a bit high, normally for a two-story home you only need 18 to 22 psi. I wouldn't be too concerned about the pressure until you get the rest of the system working.

I did find this about the L7224 control:

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/hvac/msg1207431512701.html?7
 
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Old 01-27-07, 12:50 PM
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Well, it appears that I have some frozen pipes. I tried everything short of buying a new zone valve and circulator pump to no avail. I called the heating guy and he said he could diagnose it in 10 mins and was available to do it this afternoon. He left a little while ago, and said the only thing it could be is a frozen pipe. He had 4 other calls today with exactly the same issue.

I have an overhang/bay window behind a sofa that has a length of baseboard across it. His bet is that the air and water wasn't moving during the day cycle, and in all the cold and wind, the pipes froze up.

I moved all the furniture away from the window and took down the curtains. Lo and behold one of the windows was stuck open just a crack from some debris from the cats.

Now I've got some space heaters on in the room and a fan gently blowing on the pipes trying to slowly thaw them out without causing a burst. I hate owning a house!!
 
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Old 01-27-07, 06:05 PM
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Smile

just a note about frozen pipes.

First, the heating guy doesn't thaw pipes?

I carry a pipe thawing machine on my truch from october-april. It's a great tool. It looks like a small welder. One clamp goes on each side of the freeze and it sends a small voltage (3 volts) through the pipes ate 100-300 amps this excites and melts the ice molecules. No open flames and no hot surfaces if done correctly.
You can usually get one at tool rental stores.

Read an article a while back & confirmed it with a professor I know since:
Thawing pipes doesn't break them. Freezing them does, but often the split area of the pipe is frozen shut. Once they thaw, then the already split area leaks. If it's gonna break, it already did, unless it freezes more.
So I guess that's good news?

PS Did 5 frozen heat zones between yesterday & today. No breaks yet...YAY!
 
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