Air in upstairs Hot water baseboards

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Old 02-24-08, 09:05 AM
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Air in upstairs Hot water baseboards

I have a 1 zone oil furnace that supplies hot water to my baseboards. Recently I had my furnace services and that is when the trouble started.

The baseboards on the main living area work fine. The baseboards upstairs stop working. I do have bleeder valves located upstairs. When i opened them, air came out but then stopped. After a few minutes water TRICKLED out and that was it. Nothing after that.

Is there a easy way to get the air out? Is there something I am doing worng? How long will this take?
 
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Old 02-24-08, 09:11 AM
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It may be possible that your service 'technician' closed the manual water fill valve and forgot to re-open it ...

Check the PRESSURE GAUGE on the boiler and tell us what it is reading.

While you are there, look for a 'bell-shaped' device on a pipe that connects your boiler to your home water supply.

If there is a manual shut-off valve in this line, see if it's closed.

Don't OPEN it yet! Turn the boiler off and let it cool to under 100 before opening that valve (if it's closed). You don't wanna dump a bunch of cold water into a hot boiler. You can CRACK the boiler!

Let us know what you find.

If you have problems finding stuff on the boiler, open a free account on www.photobucket.com and post a bunch of pics there. Provide us with a link to the album so we can see what we're working on.
 
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Old 02-24-08, 09:37 AM
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It is about 9- 10 psi
 
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Old 02-24-08, 09:48 AM
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Last edited by bailer01; 02-24-08 at 09:50 AM. Reason: Wrong picture added and will not open
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Old 02-24-08, 09:48 AM
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Like Troop said, let your boiler cool and then add some water to get the pressure up to 20 psi. Then get the system heated up, shut it off (you don't want the pump running while bleeding) and start bleeding rads. I tend to bleed them in order of the flow. If you get much air out of a few, you'll have to bump the pressure again. Higher temps, higher pressure and the pump off all help when bleeding.
 
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Old 02-24-08, 09:51 AM
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How do I add water to the system?
 
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Old 02-24-08, 09:55 AM
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Old 02-24-08, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by bailer01 View Post
How do I add water to the system?
Read post #2 above
 
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Old 02-24-08, 09:58 AM
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Here are two views of my furnace.



 
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Old 02-24-08, 10:04 AM
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Can you provide some help to what I need from the picture?

I know how to shut the furnace off, so that is done.

Where is the "bell" thing I need to look for?
 
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Old 02-24-08, 10:16 AM
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Can you get a picture of the right side of the boiler ? It looks like it might be down there between the boiler and the white wall... I'd like to see the piping on that side.
 
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Old 02-24-08, 10:27 AM
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Old 02-24-08, 10:37 AM
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Good... that blue thing with the thumb screw on top of it is the 'pressure reducing valve'. That thing drops the water pressure from the home water supply down to what the boiler needs to operate (12-15 PSI).

Your pressure of 9-10 PSI is a little bit low.

Is your home more than 2 stories tall ? This is what determines how much pressure you need in the system.



In this picture, I said that the red handle valve _might_ be the manual fill valve. I can't tell from the pics if that pipe leads down to the blue pressure reducing valve. DOES IT ?
If so, see if that valve is open or closed.

That little brass can... that is an automatic air vent. It looks like it has been leaking. Is the cap tight ? It needs to be loose to operate properly. It's not supposed to leak water. If it leaks water, it should be replaced. The cap should be loose.
 
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Old 02-24-08, 10:45 AM
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Home is 2 stories

That cap is tight and not leaking (dry)

The manual valve is to tight to tell.
 
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Old 02-24-08, 11:17 AM
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I loosened the cap.
 
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Old 02-24-08, 11:51 AM
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Home is 2 stories
OK, then if the boiler is 12-15 PSI when cold, you should be good to go.

The manual valve is to tight to tell.
You will need to open it to let water into the boiler after it cools off a bit ...

You didn't answer if that pipe is the one that leads to the blue pressure reducing valve ?
 
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Old 02-24-08, 12:43 PM
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Yes, that valve does go to the blue pressure
 
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Old 02-24-08, 01:00 PM
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What if the valve is already open and I am still getting low pressure.
 
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Old 02-24-08, 01:34 PM
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If that valve is already open, and the pressure is low, then there is something going on with the blue pressure reducing valve.

That valve is adjustable.

Try this: See if the thumbscrew turns easily, if so, turn it CLOCKWISE exactly 1/2 turn. Look at the pressure gauge and see if it goes up a little bit. It sometimes takes several minutes for the pressures to equalize, so if you don't see the pressure move immediately, WAIT a few minutes and watch what happens. Don't get impatient.

If after 3 minutes, you see no change, go clockwise another 1/2 turn and wait again.

If you DO see a change, continue clockwise 1/2 turn at a time until your pressure is between 12-15 PSI.

Make a note of how far you turn it in which direction each time so that you can return to the starting point if you have to.

If it does NOT turn easily, don't force it ! Don't use a plier or wrench on the thumbscrew! You should be able to turn it with your fingers.

There is a LOCKNUT on the shaft that you may have to loosen a little bit so you can turn the thumbscrew. I need to look at the picture again, but I believe there are TWO nuts on that shaft. Don't loosen the bottom one, only the top one. If you loosen the top one and the shaft still won't turn, STOP! and let us know...

Can you see a manufacturer on that blue valve ?
 
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Old 02-24-08, 01:45 PM
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I do not know the name of it. I do not see it anywhere
 
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Old 02-24-08, 01:49 PM
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On the red valve, Since it is tight I grabbed a monkey wrench and LIGHTLY moved it clockwise and it does move. Will it stop once it reaches the end?
 
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Old 02-24-08, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bailer01 View Post
On the red valve, Since it is tight I grabbed a monkey wrench and LIGHTLY moved it clockwise and it does move. Will it stop once it reaches the end?
Yes it should stop... clockwise would close the valve though, and you want that one open. It's just like any other valve, remember: RIGHTY TIGHTY, LEFTY LOOSEY ...
 
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Old 02-24-08, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by bailer01 View Post
I do not know the name of it. I do not see it anywhere
Nothing under the dust on the tag on top ?
 
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Old 02-24-08, 02:15 PM
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nameless...the red valve is open all the way.

The pressure reducing thing does have two nuts on the stem. I will losen the top one and move it clockwise 1/2 and see it that changes the pressure.
 
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Old 02-24-08, 03:52 PM
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Adjusted the thumb screw and it is still at 10psi. moved it 1/2 turn and nothing.
 
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Old 02-24-08, 05:10 PM
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Keep going, go as much as 2 or 3 full turns...
see what happens.

Also, I would recommend verifying the pressure gauge on the boiler. You would need to purchase some parts to do so...

Your pressure reducing valve _might_ be hosed, your gauge could be hosed, or maybe both...
 
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Old 02-24-08, 09:29 PM
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Did that and still at 9-10 psi.

What next?

by the way...thank you for all your help.
 
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Old 02-25-08, 03:32 PM
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Have you _ever_ seen the gauge move off 9-10 PSI ?

For example, when the boiler is running, and the temperature goes from say 100 up to 180 or so... does the gauge move ?

I wonder if it's even working at all.

I think next step is to verify the gauge.

You need something like this:



It screws onto a boiler drain (or any hose fitting). Screw it on, open the drain, and read the pressure. Problem is that the resolution down at the pressures in a boiler is pretty poor.

You can buy these at HD or Lowes for around $10 or so.

I use this thing that I made with an old washing machine hose and some parts from my junkbox. Much more accurate:



You could make up your own gauge with fittings from HD or Lowes, and if you were lucky, they might have a 0-50 PSI gauge on the shelf. Otherwise, you might try plumbing supply houses...

Without knowing if the gauge is working, you could be raising the pressure in the boiler and not know it...

Bottom line is that in order to get the radiators to bleed, you need to get the pressure up... and that's why we kinda got 'sidetracked'.

So, I guess this is the next step.
 
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Old 02-25-08, 05:18 PM
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Yes, the gauge does work. I moved from 9-10 psi down to about 5-6 psi and back up again. I would say it just touches 10 psi
 
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Old 02-25-08, 05:24 PM
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And you are sure the red valve is open ?

Try some more turns on the thumbscrew. It's possible that the tech 'adjusted' it improperly ...

I'm beginning to think though that the pressure reducing valve is plugged up and not letting any water through.

This _could_ be the root cause of the problem with air in the system.
 
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Old 02-26-08, 04:13 AM
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I will be home Wednesday to try it. I will also get the new gauge and hook that up.

If the pressure valve is clogged, is there a way to clean it or is it better to just buy a new one. Is it easy to replace or should I have someone do this?

The red valve is turned on all the way
 
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Old 03-01-08, 07:26 AM
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I purchased a test gauge and hooked it up...9-10psi.

Do you think the pressure gauge is clogged?

Can it be cleaned or do I need a new one?
 
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Old 03-01-08, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by bailer01 View Post
Do you think the pressure gauge is clogged?

Can it be cleaned or do I need a new one?
When you said "pressure gauge" I think you meant 'pressure reducing valve', the blue thing, right ?

I'm not sure the manufacturer of that valve, so I don't know if there's a screen that can be cleaned or not.

Since we're still in the heating season, you might not wanna mess with it now. There is a 'work around' if you wish to try it.

Do you have a washing machine in the vicinity ? If so:

You can take a garden hose, connect it to a boiler drain;

Unscrew one of the fill hoses (use the HOT one if the boiler is already HOT) from the back of the washing machine (after turning off the valve to the machine of course), and connect this to the other end of the garden hose.

OPEN the washing machine valve. Don't open the boiler drain valve yet. Instead, slightly loosen the hose connection at the boiler and let the air that's in the hose out. In other words, let the hose end at the boiler leak a bit until you get no more air, just water, then tighten it down. The object is to get the hose full of water first, so you don't push all that air into the boiler.

Now, while watching the pressure gauge on the boiler, SLOWLY! open the boiler drain that the garden hose is connected to. The pressure in the boiler will begin to rise. Let it go up to 15 PSI and close the valve.

Bleed your radiators.

Go back to the boiler and check the pressure, it will probably be lower, open the valve and let it go back to 15 PSI.

Repeat as needed until you get the air out.

When finished, open the valve and bring the pressure back to 15 PSI and see how the house heats.

There will be pressure in the hose when you disconnect it, so be prepared for a little water on the floor...

In the spring time replace the pressure reducing valve...
 

Last edited by NJT; 03-01-08 at 03:41 PM.
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Old 03-01-08, 12:02 PM
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Yes, I have a washing machine. Before I do this, I want to make sure I do this correct. You said to "take a garden hose, connect it to a boiler drain."

Is that the drain located near the bottom of the boiler? Or does it matter? I have two different drains I can connect to.
 
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Old 03-01-08, 03:37 PM
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Any drain on the boiler... if you have a choice, pick the one that seems in the best condition ... sometimes when you open a valve that hasn't been open in a long time, they have a tendency to not wanna shut off 100% again... If this happens, you can pick up a brass hose cap, and screw it on the drain to stop the drip until heating season is over. If you do this, you also might have to snug the packing nut on the valve stem to keep it from leaking.

Basically you are creating a 'cross connection', bypassing the normal route for the fill water to follow, and putting water in an alternate route.

Just be careful and watch the gauge because it will be very easy to add too much water to the system. Your city water might run as high as 80 PSI ... you do NOT wanna pressurize you boiler to 80 PSI ! So go slow...
 
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Old 03-01-08, 04:15 PM
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Something else I would also think about doing ...

Get some protection for that oil line. You wanna get it off the concrete floor. You can pick up foam pipe insulation in 3/8" size, it just slips right over the pipe. Very easy to do.
 
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Old 03-01-08, 04:33 PM
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We do not have city water, but well water. Does that matter?
 
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Old 03-01-08, 04:55 PM
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No, it only means that you may not even have 80 PSI... depending on your well pump, you might have a max of 60 PSI. But it doesn't matter, it's still a higher pressure than the boiler wants to operate at. Pressure relief on the boiler will open up if it hits 30 PSI .
 
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Old 03-01-08, 06:03 PM
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I just wanted to send you a BIG THANKS!!! It is sitting about 18psi and I just bled the lines.

WHAT A RELIEF!

Thanks again and if you have any final words of wisdom, please send them.

I will have the pressure valve fixed this spring.

Now for some late night pizza and beer :-)
 
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Old 03-01-08, 07:19 PM
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Yer welcome...

Replacing that pressure valve shouldn't be too difficult. There are 'unions' before and after it, and also valves on both sides, so it can be easily 'isolated' for replacement. Won't have to drain anything, just close both valves, and change out the valve. Might need to do a little bit of soldering is all...

I wanna talk about that ball valve that's on the pipes between the supply and the return, almost dead center on top of the boiler. That's called a SYSTEM BYPASS, and I wonder if it needs to be open all the way. I actually doubt that it does.

When your boiler fires up and runs, does it seem to take a while before the heat comes up to the house ?

How long on average would you say that the burner cycle lasts ? 3 minutes ? 5 minutes ?

What that bypass is doing is recirculating some of the hot supply water out of the boiler, right back into the boiler. The boiler is happy with this, because it runs at a higher average temperature, and boilers like that. BUT, it also means that the flow through the SYSTEM is not as high as it could/should be.

It could cause somewhat uneven heat distribution in the house.

Cuz I'm too lazy to go back and see if you told us what kind of radiators are in the home, I'm gonna ask, what kind ? standing radiators ? convector cabinets ? fin-tube baseboard ? cast-iron baseboard ?

Depending on the answer, I might just tell ya to close it all the way and see if the home heats better. The only reason you would _want_ to open it is if the water returning from the system were consistently cooler than it should be. But, judging from what I see in the pics, I doubt you need it open at all, and if you did, it would only be a wee bit ...

_MIGHT_ save ya a little on oil $$$ too ...

OH, the other thing I wanted to mention was that big red valve near the ceiling, in front of the electric panel... that's called a "FLOW CHECK" valve, and that pointer on top should be screwed all the way CLOCKWISE for it to operate as designed. If it's turned the other way, it will allow gravity flow in your system, and you don't want that.
 
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