Some radiators not heating

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Old 11-17-07, 08:00 AM
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Some radiators not heating

I desperately need help. I'm at the end of my rope with this boiler system.

We drained the system and removed one radiator on the second floor this summer to strip old paint off it. We replaced the radiator and refilled the system.

I have a fairly large house, so on the supply line coming out of the boiler, it splits in two. One pipe goes toward the back of the house, and one pipe towards the front, in addition to the return lines. I have a boiler that is probably 10 years old, and I have the old pipes that are probably 4 inches in diameter. I was always told to bleed radiators starting with the one farthest from the boiler, so I drew a chart and started bleeding them in order. The back of the house is heating fine. The radiators are so hot you can barely touch them. The front of the house is basically not heating at all. I have bled every radiator and I'm getting water from every one. I had a professional tell me that with the large pipes you have to bleed each radiator until you get HOT water. He said you may have a couple radiators that you will bleed 20 or 30 gallons off of. Well I have probably bled 100 gallons or more off a couple of the radiators in the front, and they are still ice cold. I know they're not blocked because I have no trouble getting all that water through them. Two of the five in front are slightly warm, and the other 3 are ice cold.

One more thing...... I have my pressure at about 23 psi and the temp at about 180.

I'm sorry for the long post but wanted to give as much info up front as possible. So many of you sound so knowledgeable that I'm hoping someone will have a solution. Thank you so much!
 
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Old 11-17-07, 08:08 AM
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If you are getting water out of the bleeders and not air, then further bleeding at that point will do no good at all.

Can you take some pics and post on www.photobucket.com (*free*) and provide a link to those pics here ? Perhaps we can see something that might help diagnose ...
 
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Old 11-17-07, 08:37 AM
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Ok, here is a link to the pictures. Please let me know if you'd like any more. And thanks so much for the help!

http://s221.photobucket.com/albums/d...ulet57/Boiler/
 
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Old 11-17-07, 09:29 AM
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One added bit of info...........in the pictures I believe you can see more than one zone. One zone is the main house. Two of the zones are for an addition we put on the house which has baseboard heating, and the fourth zone is for a radiator in a room in the basement. That zone is almost always left off. The two for the addition aren't giving me any problem, and I've even tried turning them off, and also shutting the valves going into the radiators that are working in the back of the house, to try to force hot water into the front radiators. That doesn't work either.
 
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Old 11-17-07, 09:47 AM
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I can't really see what I need to see in those pics... it's gonna be tough with the pipes insulated too, they all seem to blend together.

Can you post a few more ?

One that shows the piping coming off the top of the boiler, all the way to the ceiling.

I'm not sure, but it appears that some of those wires in that ball up at the rafter may just be twisted together and bare ? That's not good... any connections should have 'wire nuts' (those tan things) screwed onto them. You could well have a bad connection there that's causing that zone valve to not open.

What I'm looking for is valves and drains. I do see some in one of the pics, but I'm unsure how that pic relates to the others as far as where those valves are in the piping scheme.

One thing I would like to mention... most codes require an 18" clearance between flue pipe and ANY combustible material. That pipe insulation IS combustible, and should be removed from any pipes within 18" of the flue pipe.

That range appears to be in storage there... how close is it to the boiler ? You should probably maintain at least 12" clearance minimum around the boiler. Same goes for that cabinet behind it.
 
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Old 11-17-07, 10:12 AM
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Ok, I've removed a bunch of insulation to get you some better shots and added a bunch of pictures. If there is anything else specific you need, just let me know. I went back to look at the pic of the wiring and I see what you mean, but there is no bare wire. Also, the main house is all on one zone, and as I said, the back of the house is heating fine, so the zone is definitely opening and closing like it should. Also, the range and cabinet look much closer in the picture than they actually are, but I will move them to be on the safe side. Here is the link again:

http://s221.photobucket.com/albums/d...ulet57/Boiler/
 
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Old 11-17-07, 10:33 AM
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Another added note.............from the main zone valve, the pipe goes up and then splits in two as I mentioned. One goes to the back of the house, and one goes to the front. After taking the insulation off, I ran my hand up the copper piping until it meets the old huge original pipes. It is blazing hot going both ways, so its definitely starting out doing what its supposed to be doing. Also, as I mentioned, two of the front radiators are slightly warm, so hot water is apparently reaching them to some extent.

Also, last year a professional was here to replace the valve that lets water into the system. (Can't remember what its called but it looks like a bell). Everything appeared to be working at that point. It was only after taking off a radiator and putting it back on and trying to get the system running correctly again that the problems began. (By the way, the radiator that was taken off is in the back of the house and is working fine)
 

Last edited by JulietCapulet; 11-17-07 at 10:36 AM. Reason: Additional info
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Old 11-17-07, 10:46 AM
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Yes, much better...

You say the house is on ONE zone ? But there are four zone valves... and the return manifold appears to have FIVE returns piped into it.

I think I see on the zone valves, one say BED... so when you say one zone for the whole house, I assume that means one zone for the main floor of the house ? never mind... I see you posted an explanation of the zones in an earlier message! my bad...

OK, so you know you have hot water starting out to where the pipe splits... do you know which of the return pipes is coming from the section that's not heating ? Hopefully it will be one of the two with the shutoffs and drains on them .

By the way, what is the reading on the boiler pressure gauge ?
 
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Old 11-17-07, 10:51 AM
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Up in the rafters at the top of two pipes, there are automatic air vents. Since you have a conventional expansion tank, those air vents should only be opened for bleeding purposes, and normally left closed. If you leave them open, they will eventually cause your expansion tank to waterlog... then boiler pressure will increase, eventually popping the pressure relief valve.

Are one of those automatic air vents on the line that's not working ?
 
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Old 11-17-07, 11:15 AM
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Ok, about the two automatic air vents. They are on the pipes that lead to the baseboard heat in the addition which is a different zone. I thought they stayed open all the time to bleed the air out of the lines to the baseboard heat.

Its interesting that you say they will waterlog the expansion tank if left open, because this morning I thought the expansion tank was warm all the way to the top (although the pressure relief has never blown). So I turned off the water valve to the expansion tank and completely drained the tank. When I opened up the valve I could hear it filling back up.

I will go down now and close both of those air vents, and re-drain the expansion tank.

Now about the supply and return. If you look at the picture labeled supply and return pipes, those are the two going to the section that's not heating. The one wrapped in duct tape (to cover asbestos insulation) is the supply. The uncovered one is the return. There are no shutoffs or drains to them.

Actually the two pipes that had the auto air vents that go to the addition are all in the back of the house, which is the section that is heating fine!!

Boiler pressure is around 22-23 psi
 
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Old 11-17-07, 12:57 PM
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Well, I've closed the vents, drained the expansion tank, started everything back up, and still no heat to the front of the house. Look at the very first picture entitled "boiler"
(#0034).......if I run my hands up the pipes from the main zone.....if I go to the left, which is to the working back of the house, it is blazing hot all the way to where it meets the big pipe. If I go to the right, it it blazing hot all across the horizontal pipe, but as I go up the vertical pipe, it gets cooler and cooler close to where it meets the old big pipe. That would lead me to believe it is blocked somehow. But if that was the case, I couldn't be getting all the gallons and gallons of water out of the radiators as I was trying to bleed them. So I don't believe the pipe is blocked, but I can't understand why the hot water isn't flowing up there. I've never had this problem until this year, and nothing with the piping has changed.
 
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Old 11-17-07, 01:06 PM
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I rather doubt that the automatic air vents are causing any problem.

I do see what appears to be check valves and perhaps balancing valves (or ball valves with the handles removed) on the copper piping the connects to the original steel piping. This could be the source of your problem.

The piping arrangement of the much smaller copper from the steel piping along with the newer copper loops is not what I would like to see. The pump on the return line with (I assume) the expansion tank on the boiler is also conducive to problems.
 
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Old 11-17-07, 01:55 PM
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Does anyone have any other suggestions? I can't understand why the hot water is going to one side of the house and not the other, especially since I"ve never had trouble with the system before.

Send your suggestions! I'm willing to try anything to get heat!!
 
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Old 11-17-07, 02:26 PM
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Yeah, those auto air vents on your system would take a long time to create a problem, but given enough time, they could. Since you have an air/water interface in the expansion tank, air can enter solution in the water, and could end up coming out of solution and being vented by the auto-vents. But, granted, it would take a long time. If you don't hear air gurgling in the pipes though, leave 'em closed.

Lemmee ponder the pics a bit more ... hopefully we can find a way to power purge the front zone . Or, maybe there is a problem with one of those check valves as furd says.

Those ones furd mentioned... do they have screwdriver slots in the top of them ? Which way is the slot pointed ? Parallel / Perpindicular to the pipe ? or in-between ?

I think I'm beginning to see how this is piped.

The big old pipes on the right side go to and from the 'trouble zone'. The return come back to a check valve (the one with the big cap on top, and the arrow on the front) then a balancing valve (screwdriver adjust), then on to the return...

Try giving that check valve a persuasive 'rap' with a wooden handle or something similar. Maybe it's stuck shut. See above about the slot in the valve stem, fully open is with the screw slot parallel to the pipe. If that's not parallel, make it so. Turn the one on the other end to the back of house perpindicular. Close the two green handle ball valves. Make sure none but the one zone valve is open. Fire it up and see what happens.
 
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Old 11-17-07, 02:44 PM
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You would still get water out the bleeders if that check valve were stuck. It would come in the water fill line, down through the return, through the boiler, up the supply and out the bleeder.

Your pressure may be a tad high, but leave that alone for now because a higher pressure will help to bleed.

How are the rads piped onto that zone ? Supply runs to each and they tee into it, same as the return ? In other words, supply and return running parallel the whole way ?
 
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Old 11-17-07, 03:08 PM
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Ok I gave the valve a rap. The screw on top WAS parallel, so I left it that way. I put the other perpendicular and shut the green valves. When I turn the screw it sounds like its turning some kind of spring. I cranked up the heat and I'm waiting to see what happens now.

Here's the interesting part. If I turn the screw perpendicular instead of parallel, I hear water rushing through the line. Is it possible the valve is messed up somehow? Or is that normal to hear the rushing water with it turned off?

If this doesn't work, I'm going to switch that screw so its perpendicular and see if that changes anything.

Keep coming with the suggestions. Eventually I should have heat!
 
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Old 11-17-07, 03:20 PM
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A spring ? that's odd...

That type of valve has a 'butterfly' or a 'vane' inside of it. Basically a round plate a wee bit smaller than the pipe diameter. When the slot is perpindicular, the plate is turned so it's blocking the flow, parallel and the plate is lengthwise in the pipe, permitting full flow. If you hear water rushing, it's because the water is trying to get past that plate in it's way. That's normal.

Reason I said to close the other one is to force the flow through the front one. One open, one closed. Since the zone valves for the other zones are closed, you don't really need to close the green ones, just an extra measure. Basically we're trying to get all the flow the pump can deliver out through the front of the house to try and move that air.

Do you hear the same rushing noise when you close the balancing valve to the front of the house ?

You might try opening and closing that in an attempt to nudge that air bubble through.

You could also close the radiator valves on the front loop, leaving only one open at a time.

Anything you can think of to try to get that air bubble out.

How are the rads piped onto that zone ? Supply runs to each and they tee into it, same as the return ? In other words, supply and return running parallel the whole way ?
 
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Old 11-17-07, 03:20 PM
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I HAVE HEAT!!!!!!!! It worked INSTANTLY! The valve must have been stuck shut. You guys are great. I'm trading in my husband for one of you.

I'm going to give it a few minutes and then I'll open the other pipes back up just to make sure it will work when everything is open.

I can't thank you enough. I'll post again as soon as I find out if everthing is working right!!!
 
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Old 11-17-07, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by JulietCapulet View Post
I HAVE HEAT!!!!!!!! It worked INSTANTLY! The valve must have been stuck shut. You guys are great. I'm trading in my husband for one of you. !!!
ME! ME! PICK ME!

You may hear some air in the system gurgling around for a few days... hopefully it will find it's way to the expansion tank where it belongs. If not, open up those auto-vents for a while and help get it out.

HURRAY!

By the way, you can use those screw slot valves to 'balance' the system if need be ... if there's too much heat in the front or the back, you can close them down some to adjust.
 
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Old 11-17-07, 05:04 PM
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Ok, I have opened up all the valves now and the whole house seems to be heating fine. (Of course its so hot in here now that I have all the windows open.)

The next thing I need to do is figure out how to reduce the pressure some. I thought I just opened the faucet at the bottom of the boiler and drained some water out.

That drops the pressure, but it seems to build right back up.
The funny thing is, the pressure reducing valve says it is set on 12 psi, but its climbing up past 25 psi.

Am I doing something wrong? Is there another way to reduce the pressure a bit? I don't want the pressure relief to blow!
 
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Old 11-17-07, 06:04 PM
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Ya know that bell shaped thingy that you had replaced ? That's called a 'pressure reducing valve', and that's where the adjustment is. Can you get a closer-up shot of that so we can give proper instruction ?

Yes, the pressure will drop when you drain, but that "Pressure Reducing Valve" will bump it right back to what it was. They call it a reducing valve because it reduces your domestic water pressure (maybe 50 PSI?) down to proper pressure for the boiler.
 
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Old 11-17-07, 06:38 PM
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I'll take a picture of it first thing in the morning. You've worked hard enough for one day.

I know on the old one, there was a little screw that I would turn to adjust pressure. This one doesn't seem to have something like that. But I'll get a close up tomorrow and send it on.

I can't thank you enough NJ. You have been wonderful, helping me out all day!!!
 
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Old 11-18-07, 06:16 AM
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Good morning!

NJ, here are the pics of the pressure reducing valve. As I mentioned, my old one had a little knob on top that I would turn to regulate the pressure. I tried to get a close up of the top of this, but its a little blurry. It looks to be a threaded piece coming out of the top with a nut around it.

Anyway, take a look and see if you can tell on this one how to reduce pressure!

http://s221.photobucket.com/albums/d...ulet57/Boiler/
 
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Old 11-18-07, 07:09 AM
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Good Morning to you too!

That's a pretty standard B&G FB38 reducing valve.

That squarish handle is your 'fast fill' which when you pull up on it bypasses the 'regulator' portion and allows full flow of water so you don't have to wait hours for the system to fill after it's been drained for service.

The black cap on the bottom lets you access the internal 'strainer' for cleaning, should it ever get plugged up.

On top, the nut is to lock the adjustment stem. If you loosen that locknut, you can turn the stem to adjust the pressure. Clockwise increases pressure, and vice-versa.

I'm not sure why your installer set the pressure quite as high as he did. This is a two story home, yes ? You would only need that much pressure in a 4 story building.

Normally a 2 story building should run 12-15 PSI. In your case, lets go with 15 PSI.

Hook up your drain hose to the boiler drain.

Loosen the locknut on the threaded stem.

Turn the stem 1 turn counter-clockwise.

Open the drain for a few seconds and let the pressure down to say 10 PSI and close drain.

Now wait and see what the pressure comes back to. It will take several minutes to 'line out' at the new pressure. If it's still too high, back off a little more, and repeat.

When it lines out at 15, SNUG the locknut, NOT MUSCLE TIGHT! just enough to hold the stem from turning.

Remember that as the boiler is heated, the pressure will normally go up maybe 5 PSI or so. You have a fairly large volume of water in your system so your pressure may increase even more than that. That would be normal.

Also, since the boiler is probably already warm or hot, by setting the valve in this condition, when the boiler cools and the pressure drops, the valve will open to let some water in and maintain the 15 PSI you set. Afterward when the boiler heats, you will see a normal pressure increase.

That oughta do it !
Lemmee know if any problems.
 
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Old 11-18-07, 04:42 PM
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Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I followed the instructions, and everything seems to be working fine!! I had to turn the adjustment screw 3 full turns before I finally got the pressure down where I wanted. Its actually sitting around 18, but for some reason, I remember they always kept the pressure a little higher than normal on this house. Possibly because its a big house?

It is a 2 story, with a full 3rd floor attic (which isn't heated of course), and also a radiator in one side of the basement in what apparently was a family room at one time. I believe the house is somewhere around 3000 square feet for the 1st and 2nd floor.

Anyway, everything seems to be fine. My next step is figuring out how to bleed those baseboard heaters. They don't have bleeders on them, and the furnace guy told me something about hooking up a hose and running water out until it gets cold? If you have any tips, let me know. By now, you're intimately familiar with my boiler system. lol

Thanks again for all your help! You're the best!!!
 
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Old 11-18-07, 09:23 PM
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It's not so much the size of the house that dictates system pressure as the HEIGHT. The taller the building, the higher the pressure needed. Measuring from the boiler to the highest radiator, you need appx 1/2 PSI per foot, then about 4-5 PSI on top of that. i.e. for 20' from the boiler to the top of the highest rad, you would need 10 PSI + 5 PSI = 15 PSI.

Sometimes running a slightly higher pressure helps with air removal in the system. More pressure means the air bubbles will be smaller, and may even stay in solution in the water, rather than even forming into bubbles. Maybe that was the logic...

Do you even need to bleed the baseboard loop ? Do you hear air running through it ? If you don't hear air, and it's heating OK, leave it alone.

The baseboard loop is the one in the addition, and the pipes that come off the supply and return headers with no valves or drains ? and the loop with the two auto-vents on it ? If so, probably the best you can do is occasionally open the caps on the auto-vents and let the air out.

The ideal set-up for purging a loop is what you have on the two loops with the ball valve and a drain above them. Closing the ball valve, manually opening the zone valve for that zone (all others closed), drain hose on the drain... open the drain and pull up on the fast fill will force water through that zone only. But you don't have that on the baseboard loop so yer stuck...

No, YOU'RE the best! Thanks!
 
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