Apartment ceiling radiator wont' heat?


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Old 02-05-09, 08:50 AM
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Apartment ceiling radiator wont' heat?

have a apartment complex that has a huge boiler on outside and runs hotwater through the plumbing lines for heat. I'm guessing that the water goes through radiator(in my ceiling) then the blower forces the heat through the ducts, after a while the water recirculates to bring in new hot water?. Well there is no heat, I got the thermostat to work and now the blower works but there is no heat. there are 2 pipes both with shutoffs and they feel warm(update got them to get really hot), not hot. When I turn on the thermostat and blower kicks on one pipe is hot(see pics) and one gets cold(see pics). I dont' feel no heat, am I being impatient and should just leave the blower on and wait for it to circulate? I was told by someone that if one of the pipes is cold that is normal? If I shut off the blower the pipe gets hot again, but no heat, if there is heat its not much(I dont' know how hot these things are supposed to get). It has 2 shutoffs and both shutoffs when turned on circulates water through the lower bleeder valve at the same flow rate so I know it isn't clogged, yes it was dirty/rusted water alot of debris but now the water is clear. The whole radiator looks rusted,, and assume that normal considering the age, everyone else has heat and was wondering what I can do to troubleshoot it. These electric outragious.
I know they have bleeder valves and could be caused by air in system. I bled the lower one, but the top one is damaged, I guess the guy before me messed it up but chipped the tooth off. I'm not sure how to get it off so I can replace it, maybe drill it out and use screw extractor. But since they both run water out the lower one would i really necessary have to bleed that top one couldnt' I just bleed it through the bottom? The radiator and pipes are in ceiling and I am a handyman by trade so I know my way around plumbing and such just never dealt with this type of thing(boilers/radiators). If I didn't have to take down the ceiling that woudl be great as the access panel sucks, but I think i'm going to have to take down the ceiling just to get a good look at it. Why they limited decent access is beyond me. One last thing would the condo association be responsible for the radiator? or is that a homeowner thing? I live in Olney Maryland, Thanks for all who reply with help
guy before me had to replace the blower and the handymen here are not..hmm whats the word/words? dont' want to say incompetent because i'm sure they could fix it, but unwilling I guess. The guy I bought it from told me that the maintainance men came in to look at it, saw it was in "ceiling" didn't want to mess with it, said they would let them know and decided to never get back with him. It was an old couple, and they never did anything because they wasnt' sure what to do. As you can imagine with any condo complex getting someone to even come out is a nuisance. If its the condo's problem, i'll make them pay for it for replacement but if its just matter of little maintainance/bleeding I can do that myself.


Pictures by handbuilt1020 - Photobucket
 
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Old 02-05-09, 04:15 PM
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Hey Mr. Hand! I think yer gonna get pretty much the same answers as you got the last time, but the pictures are WAY better this time! Still difficult to get any 'perspective' on them though...

Couple questions... I'm assuming that this air handler is also providing A/C in the summer, based on the condensate lines? and the rusty drain pan...?

What's with the aluminum foil?

I do believe that you need to open that other bleeder... but I don't know how yer gonna do that without shutting down and draining the whole system, unless those ball valves in a couple of the pics will allow you to isolate the air handler from the system... I'm guessing that they will.

Yes, the RETURN pipe will be noticeably cooler than the supply pipe. It shouldn't be COLD though... maybe 20 or 30 or even 40 degrees cooler... That's from the heat being sucked out of the water as it passes through the coil...

If you've got air trapped in the tubes, it will limit the FLOW through the coil, and if the flow is limited enough, you won't get any heat... the air will start warm and rapidly cool off...

Can't say who is responsible for repairs... check your contract.
 
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Old 02-05-09, 04:27 PM
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From what I can see, you are saying that the 'top' bleeder has one half of the screw slot broken away, so you can't get the screwdriver on there to open it?

I don't think you need an ez-out or anything, that whole bleeder probably unscrews from the pipe... I think you are thinking that you need to drill out the screw part? no... the whole bleeder should come out... as long as it's not brazed onto the copper pipe... hopefully it's threaded.

Yes, you need to get that open... the one on the bottom isn't going to get any of the air that's trapped in the top tubes out... air won't go down, only up!

The bottom one is a drain, the top one is the air bleeder.

Am I reading the pics right?
 
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Old 02-08-09, 07:19 AM
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hi trooper---UPDATE

HERES UPDATED INFO some things may be repeated

When starting to bleed noticed that the top bleeder was broken(tooth chipped) I had to drill out and replace with new bleeder valves(BOY WAS THAT FUN ) I finally got it completed and started draining the system, got all air out as I can tell. Only thing I wish I would have done is since it was tight space(trying to avoid tearing drywall if don't have to) is I had to cut copper pipe to stop flow of water because water/evaporation kept interfering with soldering process. I Wish I would have while it was cut to purged the main water supply, attaching compression coupling attached to garden hose and clearing pipes(just because). Before all the process of soldering the bleeders alot of debris had been cleaned out(black-about (5) 5 gallon buckets of muck water).
After soldering the bleeders on and just like purging the main valves I wish I could also have purged the radiator to by the same process except instead of draining, connecting to water supply and flushing it out. I was in hurry and it was getting late and well most of you can understand being rushed. I totally forgot, and when bleeding I noticed more gunk was coming out, not sure if it was much but it was black as I decidedly(after fact) to lightly tap the supply valves and that loosened more . doh!!!
both water supplys are hot UNTIL I turn on the blower, then one pipe stays hot(assuming this is the supply-pipe to lower bleeder) and the other pipe cools of rather quickly(assuming return-pipe to upper bleeder) I know enough to figure it out EVENTUALLY but dont' do it everyday so I'm not efficient at it. Never messed with hydronic system mostly just forced air, but assuming how it works is hot water is introduced, blower blows hot water, then the cooled pipe is the return that connects back to the boiler then gets reheated???? . Does this work by constantly moving hot water? if it does you would think that the pipe wouldnt' get so cool, but then again I dont' know how long of coil it is. I know a car radiator works by a thermostat, would this system have a thermostat or guess called a zone valve? mind you its about 30 years old, rusted and more likely original. I been reading about trv valves and such but doubt this has anything like that. Other than what I mentioned already it came to mind maybe when bleeding the system I had to much pressure going through?? Had valves all the way open, would this cause issues allowing air to escape?
Again its a ceiling radiator with huge central boiler feeding MANY condos, cant see coils or feel them to see if has cold spots. I am trying to save work if I dont' have to remove the drywall, but will If I have to. Looking for ideas before I start doing something that I really dont' need to. I'm thinking of unsoldering the system and starting over purging it, If I do any ideas on a flush chemical? I heard that acids will breakdown pipes-possibly cause leaking in other areas and could cause clogging faster in future. If theres a safer alternative/or homemade brew? maybe baking soda? I dont' know but If I don't have to I really REALLY dont' want to have to unsolder let alone remove the ceiling. Any Ideas or advice would be GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!!!!
 
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Old 02-08-09, 02:29 PM
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but assuming how it works is hot water is introduced, blower blows hot water[edit:air], then the cooled pipe is the return that connects back to the boiler then gets reheated???? . Does this work by constantly moving hot water?
Yes... when there is a call for heat, the hot water flows through the coil and extracts heat from the water into the air, the water returning to the boiler is much cooler... as much as 40-50 cooler.

would this system have a thermostat or guess called a zone valve?
There could well be a zone valve down at the boiler, or it could be just about anywhere on the piping loop... most air handlers have an AQUASTAT measuring the water temp returning to the boiler and will use this to turn on and off the blower. If the water is too cool to get any heat out of it, the blower won't run and won't blow cold air.

maybe when bleeding the system I had to much pressure going through?? Had valves all the way open, would this cause issues allowing air to escape?
If you got water out of the top bleeder, then there was no air there to bleed... if you had enough pressure, the air would get pushed through the coil and back to the boiler where hopefully there is some devices to remove air at that point...

With all that gunk coming out, it's possible that the whole coil is partially plugged up ... without being able to know how the system is piped, it's hard to give much more info... there may be a way back at the boiler to purge the lines...

If this is a large building, they surely must have a licensed boiler operator on staff keeping an eye on things... why not try to find out who that is and talk to him? Have you looked at the fine print yet to see who should be responsible?
 
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Old 02-08-09, 02:32 PM
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Oh, and I would definitely NOT introduce any chemicals into the system... could cause way more problems than you have now.
 
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Old 02-08-09, 03:56 PM
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I'm going to talk to the site mangager tommorrow to see what can be done. I am usually able to troubleshoot things but this is being stubborn. So since i'm not able to figure this out i'm looking into getting certified and taking classes.
I just hate not being able to fix this
 
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Old 02-10-09, 08:30 AM
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faulty thermostat??? WHAT THE HE...??

oK
the person I changed out valve out for called me yesterday.. seems to be heat is working fine now...the problem
GET THIS!
THE THERMOSTAT!! what? no way in hell is the thermostat the problem, I am not a professional by any means in the HVAC trade but i'm also not stupid. The thermostat in this situation turns on and off the fan..thats it.. I mean there is 2 wires, just like a switch, when connected the blower comes on. Right??? I mean thats what happened when I connected the two together.

Please all professionals write me back and let me know if this was incompetence on my part. I did change bleeders, I bled system, I found out they use black dye in system, which comes clear after while from what the maintainance guy said.
I also found out they had the maintainance of complex come over checked over everything, had company called Oasis come out and they was going to bleed system with a "special pump" but coudn't because of bleeders? You would think that if it was the "thermostat" that these people would have pointed that out....correct.

My guess is this, when pumping out and bleeding the system, I left the blower on all night, over time it must have loosened up the system. Before leaving I also lightly tapped the supply valves and piping, including the radiator of what I could access.. So this seem logical or am I kidding myself?

I"m just
1. trying to convince myself that it wasnt' that simple
2. was to show them that my work was justified, I am getting paid for my time, but I have to know it was well deserved.

Handy
ps the homeowner is responsible for replacement, condo association is responsible for boiler.
 

Last edited by handbuilt; 02-10-09 at 08:32 AM. Reason: forgot to answer previous question
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Old 02-10-09, 04:15 PM
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I dunno Mr. Hand! (I call you that because of your hand in the pictures! )

Sounds pretty odd to me... maybe what happened is that you loosened up the 'gunk' in a plugged up coil, and when the water started flowing in the system it took more of the gunk out and it's now sitting in the bottom of the boiler...

But, it's also somewhat likely that the blower isn't the only thing controlled by the thermostat... maybe there's a relay somewhere that also opens a zone valve... and that part of the relay was crapped up ... can't know, won't know ... just guesses...

Don't feel bad about it though... mysteries abound!
 
 

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