Top Floor Zone Makes Noises


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Old 10-30-09, 05:33 AM
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Exclamation Top Floor Zone Makes Noises

Hello, I have a 3 zone hot water baseboard system. I have moved into a new house, and to my surprise, an ocean lived there! After getting a heating contractor to replace an old, waterlogged, expansion tank and install manual bleed valves on zone 2 (there weren't any), i successfully managed to get the bottom and middle zones quiet as a mouse. My problem is zone three, the upper zone.

When the thermostat is turned up, the upper zone (cold) starts making the loudest sounds imaginable. After 5 minutes, there are no sounds. warm as can be.

I feel like i need to open the air bleed valves every time i operate it.

I initially started at the bottom, closed the middle and upper zones and bled the air out. Then closed the bottom and upper and opened the middle zone. Then the upper. For some reason, i cannot get the upper zone to start without making noises.

Do i need to add water? should i shut the bottom and middle zones off, open the purge valve and manually fill with new water? I'm stuck?

Please help.
Thank you.

3 zone Pennco 1505 HWD
using Honeywell zone valves.
pressure gauge seems broke, the relief valve gets tripped at 40psi, so i think its running at 25psi when the gauge reads 35psi (at 180degrees).
 
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Old 10-30-09, 09:06 AM
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you need to make sure you have enough pressure to get the water to 3rd floor: something like maybe 20 psi .

if your guage is broken, you will need to figure out pressure. Maybe there is only 10 psi, not enough to get water to 3rd floor ( the higher your radiator above the boiler, the more pressure needed in boiler)
 
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Old 10-30-09, 09:11 AM
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Thanks for your reply! should the pressure be high when the system is cold? it seems that after a couple minutes, there are no noises. Do you think i should shut the bottom and middle zones off and add water while the system is cold?

Thank you so much!
 
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Old 10-30-09, 09:14 AM
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P.S. i figured that the pressure when at 180 degrees is 25psi.

when the system is cold, it seems to be at 10psi.
 
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Old 10-30-09, 02:39 PM
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10 psi coold to 25 psi hot seems like a large increase.
Are you sure your expension tank is correct?

you should have thr 20 psi or so at all times,not just when cold.

if your pressure guage is broken, how do you determine psi?
 
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Old 10-30-09, 05:41 PM
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If you wanna know exactamundo how much pressure you need as a MINIMUM (i.e. when the system is COLD) in your system, determine the HEIGHT from the bottom of the boiler, to the tippy top of the highest point.

Multiply that height by 0.43, and ADD 4 .

example: 25' X 0.43 = 10.75 + 4 = 14.75 (round up to 15)

That's the MINIMUM... in this case, anything less than 10.75 and the pressure at the top of the system will be SUB-atmospheric, or LESS than zero PSIG.

Depending on where in the system your circulators sit, they can compound the pressure problem by SUBTRACTING pressure when they are running. (also depending on where they sit, they can add... but that's a whole subject on it's own, we won't go there).

You need to fix the pressure gauge, or have an alternate, ACCURATE way to measure the pressure. You're spittin' in the wind without knowing the pressure.
 
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Old 10-30-09, 05:43 PM
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BTW, I agree with msgale that 10 to 25 is a large change. HALF that amount is more like it. Again though, without a good gauge, how the heck do ya know?
 
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Old 10-30-09, 07:13 PM
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WOW... those are the details i'm looking for!! thank you NJ Trooper!

i was playing around tonight and decided that i will only be operating the top zone and shut the other two off until things start to straighten out.

I did discover that, upon closer look, the upper zone has a different, newer, zone valve. i'm wondering if that could be the problem? can a zone valve cause problems?

thanks for your info everyone!
 
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Old 10-30-09, 09:01 PM
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I use this thing that I knocked together from my junque boxe parts to verify gauges:



A piece of old warshin' machine hose, some odd fittings and a salvaged gauge from a welding setup... if you don't have that kinda stuff laying around, head out to HD, Lowes, Scottys, etc and see if you can find one of these, around $10 or so:


photo courtesy 411plumb.com

These are generally used by lawn sprinkler techs, and notice that the gauge is 300 PSI, and that the resolution down at boiler pressures stinks... but the gauge is removeable. For another $10 or so, you should be able to pick up a 30 or 50 PSI gauge at a plumbing supply and replace it. You can also buy individual brass fittings to roll your own, but I don't think you can buy the fittings for the $10 that the pre-made one goes for.
 
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Old 11-02-09, 11:22 AM
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Question

THANK YOU NJ TROOPER!!!!! installed a pressure gauge on the top floor purge valve and had a measly ~5psi. put water in it until 15psi... bled the valves... put more water in to 15psi etc.

I'm happy to say i do not live with an ocean anymore! quite as can be!.... except....

Now we hear quick, very quick banging noises, almost like there is a tap dancer right before it gets to the first radiator on the top floor ( which is were we sleep so it is very annoying) and at the last radiator on the top floor as the water is heading back to the boiler. We only hear this sound when the boiler starts to heat the water again.

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Thank you.
 
  #11  
Old 11-02-09, 11:34 AM
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Banging pipes

I have the same problem, but it's the first floor and the hot water zones that pound. This only occurres when the first floor or the hot water zone turn on. If they both go on no banging occurres.
 
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Old 11-02-09, 03:49 PM
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JH, when I mentioned that you need "X" PSI in your system, that PSI would only exist at the boiler, or the lowest point in the system. Reason for this is that as you gain altitude, pressure will drop, even in a closed system. That 0.432 number is the amount the pressure will drop per foot of altitude.

If you were reading 5 PSI at the TOP of the system, that would be about right! That's the reason that equation is set up the way it is... why you ADD 4 PSI. The FEET X 0.432 will tell you how much pressure you need at the BOTTOM of the system in order to raise water to the TOP of the system. If you didn't ADD the 4 PSI, you would have ZERO PSI at the top... and we need a little headroom, so we add a few PSI.

If you have 15 PSI at the TOP of your system, it's pretty likely that the pressure is too high at the BOTTOM... so you should check that.

I sed this earlier:

Depending on where in the system your circulators sit, they can compound the pressure problem by SUBTRACTING pressure when they are running. (also depending on where they sit, they can add... but that's a whole subject on it's own, we won't go there).
And now might be a good time to go a bit more into it... if you google the term (with quotes!) "Pumping Away" you will have a lot of reading... but basically, it's a strategy for placing pumps in a system that ensures you always have a positive pressure at the top of the system. Certain placements of pumps, RELATIVE TO THE EXPANSION TANK CONNECTION, can SUBTRACT pressure from the system when the pump runs. This will cause constant problems with air in the system. MOST systems in use today are NOT set up to 'pump away' because the men that installed the systems just didn't know about this (there are other reasons too...)

Here's the bottom line: You MAY need to run a bit higher pressure in your system, and there's nothing wrong with that, as long as the MAXIMUM pressure at the boiler is at or below 25 PSI when the boiler is at it's HOTTEST, otherwise your relief valve will spew. AND, this also requires that your expansion tank is working properly...

So, next check the pressure down at the boiler. Tell us where you are both COLD and HOT, and at what temperature you are taking both those readings.

Regarding the noises... without hearing it, can't be certain, but what it sounds like to me is that now that you have hot water getting up there, you are hearing 'expansion noises'. The pipe is probably rubbing on a floor board, or a framing member, or something... as it expands it's like... tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap... tap...tap.......tap......tap.........tap..............tap......................tap........
gradually slowing down and stopping. Is this what you hear?
 
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Old 11-02-09, 03:55 PM
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Casman, so as not to 'hijack' or 'drift' this thread too far, I have responded to your original post about your problem. Please refer to it... thanks!
 
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Old 11-02-09, 04:06 PM
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that is exactly right... tap tap tap... slowly decreasing. very fast tapping and then slow tapping. i don't know how to fix that?

also, when i was reading your reply, i didn't know if i was taking the right pressure reading? i put the pressure gauge on the return purge valve and opened it up while the system was cool/hot. it is now reading 10psi while cold and 15 while hot. i do not know where else to put the gauge? i'm not sure if that is also the pressure in the boiler?

can i fix the expansion up against the floor by lowering the temperature?

also, when i was bleeding the radiators with the increased pressure, i noticed that the water was rust color. it hasn't been rust color before? just a comment...

thank you!
 
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Old 11-02-09, 04:51 PM
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That's almost certainly expansion noise... you need to start by crawling around on the floor and try to locate the area where the sound is actually being produced. Easier said than done, as it will telegraph through the whole pipe... visually inspect as much of the piping as you can... if you see any areas where the pipe is 'leaning' or 'laying' on a piece of wood, or anything, see if you can cut strips of plastic milk bottles and shimmy them in there.

Did you say it's all 'fin-tube' baseboard? I forget... if so, and it sounds as though the noise is coming from inside the cabinet, remove the cover and look for areas where the pipe and or fins could be rubbing on a mounting bracket or such... again with the plastic strips/shims/etc... while youv'e got the covers off, give the fins a good vacuuming. You will be amazed at how much more heat you can get! Some of the silicone sprays may come in handy, but be very careful using these and they can permanently stain carpeting, walls, furnishings, etc.

can i fix the expansion up against the floor by lowering the temperature?
Depends... what is the temperature settings you have now?

i didn't know if i was taking the right pressure reading? i put the pressure gauge on the return purge valve and opened it up while the system was cool/hot. it is now reading 10psi while cold and 15 while hot. i do not know where else to put the gauge? i'm not sure if that is also the pressure in the boiler?
The 'extra' gauge should be screwed onto a hose drain valve, anywhere in the vicinity of the boiler. Pretty much any drain valve will work, as long as it's roughly the same 'altitude' as the boiler. A few feet either way isn't going to make much difference... we only need to be 'in the park', doesn't need to be exact. Only need to know that there is enough pressure in the system to get the water to the top, and then some...

I understood that you had somehow installed the valve up at the TOP of the system? where you were bleeding the baseboards?

Don't worry about the rusty color... boiler water is nasty... and it's supposed to be. Just the fact that you are now moving water around is probably stirring up the color.
 
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Old 11-02-09, 05:08 PM
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hmmm... there are two problems,

1st. the pressure gauge that is broken (on the original system) has the thermometer on it, so i'm not sure if that is accurate?

2nd. the tapping is under my hardwood flooring... i do not want to tackle that project. maybe i could break through the plaster in the room underneath? might i try a temp decrease first?

thank you
 
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Old 11-02-09, 05:27 PM
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1st. the pressure gauge that is broken (on the original system) has the thermometer on it, so i'm not sure if that is accurate?
On the boiler there must be some sort of temperature control. What is the setting of that control?

2nd. the tapping is under my hardwood flooring... i do not want to tackle that project. maybe i could break through the plaster in the room underneath? might i try a temp decrease first?
Look first at where the pipe comes through the floor... is the hole in the floor tight around the pipe? Slide some plastic shims in there. No, don't bust out the ceiling yet! Look first at all the VISIBLE piping and see what you discover. You might be surprised that the sound you THINK is coming from under the floor is really coming from somewhere else! Sometimes just gently wiggling the pipes around helps...

Sure you could try a temperature decrease, and it might reduce the expansion noises. But you don't wanna go crazy with that... you might not get enough heat when it gets really cold, and if the temps are too low, the boiler can be damaged.
 
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Old 11-02-09, 06:19 PM
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thank you for the advise... i am away from home but will try putting the plastic wedges in where the pipes exit the floors.

i have not explored my boiler for the temperature setting. i will look later tonight and have an update later.

hmmm... it seems like i can exactly locate the sound in the floor, and if i jump on that area, decrease/make the noise.

is is possible that i still have air in the pipes? should i try and bleed again? thanks.

hmmm... once again, thank you for all of your help! i think i would be going crazy with out it!
 
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Old 11-02-09, 08:40 PM
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Noises from piping expanding and contracting against wood are usually creaking and groaning noises. Tic, tic, tic noises are more often caused by piping moving against metal. The finned tube in a baseboard convector should have plastic plates attached to the fins where they are supported by the brackets inside the baseboard housings. Sometimes these plastic plates come detached from the finned tube and this can sometimes result in noise.

Mostly though the tic, tic, tic is inherent in the pipe warming from a cold state. The best way to reduce or eliminate the noise is to keep the pipe at a more-or-less constant temperature and the best way to do this is by constant circulation of water while incorporating an outside temperature reset of the boiler (or loop) temperature.
 
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Old 11-03-09, 11:14 AM
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Well, i have wedged milk carton plastic in all spaces i could find. once again, no change. i'm getting the quick ticking right before the first radiator under the floor and at the last radiator before it heads to the boiler. the sound only occurs when the boiler starts to heat the water. i cannot believe that it is a temp difference because of how fast it starts to tap/tic. it's almost instant?

i am interested it the comment about the constant flow with an outdoor temp monitor, but want to try every "simple" fix first.

i looked around for a temperature setting and could not find anything. can someone instruct me on where that would be located on the boiler. there is a metal box coming off of the supply line out of the boiler? i do not know if i have to remove the cover?

the boiler thermometer reads 180. i do not know if it is accurate or not. i was planning on setting it to 170 high and 150 low. what do you think?
 
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Old 11-03-09, 03:40 PM
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i cannot believe that it is a temp difference because of how fast it starts to tap/tic. it's almost instant?
Without hearing it, we can't be sure either! But from the description, it sure fits... almost instant? maybe... a bit more below on that, because you mentioned a LOW setting...

I don't think anyone has asked this yet... does your boiler also produce the domestic hot water in the home?

IF so, this means that your boiler STAYS hot 24/7, and as soon as the thermostat calls for heat, that already hot water starts zooming through the pipes.

So, if this is the case, then YES, the expansion in the pipes could start almost immediately.

there is a metal box coming off of the supply line out of the boiler? i do not know if i have to remove the cover?
Before you start doing that, I would suggest that you take a bunch of pics of your system. Set up a free account at Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket and upload the pics there. Come back here and place a link for us to view your album.

This way we can SEE the system and much better able to describe what to look at and check...

Make sure to take a few from a distance back so that we can see how it all fits together. A bunch of close-ups won't tell us that, but we do want to see them also...

i was planning on setting it to 170 high and 150 low. what do you think?
If you aren't heating your domestic hot water with the boiler, you may not have a low setting. But let's see the controls and go from there...
 
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Old 11-03-09, 05:52 PM
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here is my gear... the bladder expansion tank was just installed to replace the older type expansion tank.


Pictures by JHboiler - Photobucket
 
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Old 11-03-09, 07:59 PM
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Before taking any covers off, be aware that there is 120VAC power inside the box! Turn the power off to the boiler!

That gray box is your aquastat. I see that you have a separate water heater, so it's likely that there is only one setting in your aquastat. There is a single screw that holds the cover on... it might even be missing... you don't have to take the screw out, just loosen it, and the cover should slide straight off. You should see the temperature setting inside. "normally" they are set to 180. You can try lowering it, but I doubt it will help much. It's probably not adjustable below 160 anyway.

It also appears that you have a pump that has adjustable speed. If so, there is a small lever on the black plastic cover on the pump's electrical box cover. Don't change it just yet, but tell us what speed it's on...

Where you have the pressure gauge connected is just fine... I was under the impression that you somehow had connected it to the radiator upstairs, where it would have read a lot lower pressure. Any one of those valves is fine to use for the gauge, they should all read the same.

Think about changing the gauge to a lower pressure model. Typically, any gauge isn't very accurate down at the bottom of it's range. For another $10 or so, you should be able to get a 0-30 PSI gauge and screw it in place of the 300 that's on there.

You could also use that drain valve on the boiler... but if that hasn't been operated in a long time, be aware that it might not shut off all the way when you close it again. I wonder why that one wasn't changed out when the other three were?

I see that you have a bucket under the relief valve pipe. How come? Is it dripping/leaking/spewing?

That gold colored bell shaped thing is your PRESSURE REDUCING VALVE, and it should automatically feed water into your system and maintain the correct minimum pressure. They are factory preset to 12 PSI, but are adjustable if you need a few more pounds...
 
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Old 11-03-09, 08:08 PM
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The water pipe leading to the boiler runs down the wall, and there is a valve without a handle on it. I assume that valve is OPEN? (it would have to be if you are able to increase the pressure)... why is the handle missing? just curious.

Getting back to the pressure problem, forget the ticking for a moment... if that valve on the wall is OPEN, and the valve after the Pressure REducing Valve is also OPEN, that reducing valve should maintain the pressure in your system.

It may be adjusted wrong... that screw on top is the adjustment. You loosen the 'jam' nut on the screw, and increase the pressure by turning the screw 1/4 turn CLOCKWISE, and then WAITING SEVERAL MINUTES for the pressure to stabilize at the new setting. You should be able to adjust that valve so that you have 15 PSI in the system when it is cold... and that should be enough to keep water in your top zone.

If you actually had 5 PSI in the boiler with both of those valves open, there may also be something wrong with that valve...
 
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Old 11-03-09, 08:40 PM
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just got

wow... great boiler 101 lesson!

i checked and the circulating pump speed is on medium.

the relief valve has a bucket under it because when i was blindly "playing" with the system i shut the valve off going to the newly installed expansion tank because it was leaking.

when they installed it, i guess it wasn't on tight enough? the tank was dripping. the heating guy came back and tightened it.

so, when i was playing, i guess i was upstairs bleeding and the relief valve opened. water had dripped out.

it seems like it drips "a little" every now and then? so i leave the bucket there.

as for the bottom tank purge valve, the heating guys had opened it a couple times when they were playing around. it shut off just fine.

hmmm... i'm not sure why a valve is missing on the pipe heading vertically down the wall?

my wife has the 1st floor and top floor zones on 70 right now so i don't think i'm going to shut the power off to the boiler. when it cools, should i, shut the power off, try and take the gray cover off, and decrease the temp?

also, how should i make sure the pressure regulator is at 15psi? if my pressure, cold, is 15 or higher, then should i purge the system, decrease the pressure, and then increase it with the auto pressure valve (using clockwise .25 turns)?
 
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Old 11-03-09, 09:03 PM
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OK, leave the pump at medium... if it were on HIGH, I would have told you to kick it down a notch. Good to go where it's at.

it seems like it drips "a little" every now and then? so i leave the bucket there.
That shouldn't be... it's a 30 PSI valve, and may start to 'weep' when the pressure approaches 30, and should be full on if it's at 30. This tells me that your pressure may be creeping up at times. It could happen if you put too much pressure in cold, and since you were adding pressure to bleed, maybe you got a bit over zealous when adding water?

When the sytem is COLD, you want say 15 PSI... with a properly functioning expansion tank, that pressure should not increase more than 10 PSI when hot, to say 25 PSI. NEVER should it go over 27 PSI.

Do you know if the techs checked the air charge in the tank when they installed it? That air charge should be set the same as the COLD pressure... say 15 PSI. You can NOT check the pressure in the tank if there is pressure on the system, you will not get an accurate reading. You must have close to ZERO PSI in the system.

You really do need to change out that 300 PSI gauge though... cuz you aren't going to get the resolution that you need...

Back to the tank... on that tank there is a plastic cap on the end. Under that cap is a standard TIRE valve. Drain water from the system until the pressure is zero... drain ONLY ENOUGH to drop the pressure, NO MORE! Then, with an ACCURATE tire pressure gauge, check to see that there is 15 PSI air in the tank. If not, add more with a small compressor, or a bicycle pump if you feel strong. Chances are that it is OK though, hopefully they verified that before they installed it. Check the pressure on that tank like every two years or so, they do slowly lose pressure over time.

should i, shut the power off, try and take the gray cover off, and decrease the temp?
Yes, if you want to try that... if it doesn't help, set it back to 180.

also, how should i make sure the pressure regulator is at 15psi? if my pressure, cold, is 15 or higher, then should i purge the system, decrease the pressure, and then increase it with the auto pressure valve (using clockwise .25 turns)?
Yes, exactly. But I would get a 30 PSI gauge on that fitting first. Did I mention that already? When you do this is the perfect time to check the expansion tank charge, since your pressure will already be zero.

If when you adjust the regulator, and you find you've gone 4 or 5 turns, or more, and nothing happens, it's a good bet that you may have a defective reducing valve. You can get through the winter though, as long as you can add water with that handle on it. (that handle is a 'bypass', or 'fast fill', and bypasses the regulator portion of the valve to allow water in manually). If you do find that the regulator isn't working, keep an eye on the pressure like every week or so.
 
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Old 11-03-09, 09:12 PM
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Thanks NJ Trooper!

i will work on getting an accurate pressure gauge (max 30 psi.). after that, i will forge ahead!

oh, if it means anything, the system is hot and running and the pressure gauge is reading 10psi? lower than when cold.

i think i will make getting another gauge a priority

i'm calling it quits for tonight. thank you for the help, i will give updates tomorrow!

good night
 
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Old 11-05-09, 08:33 AM
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Getting my hands on a 30psi gauge is more difficult than i thought.

i'm going to try the temperature change tonight. when i find the gauge i will work with the pressure regulator.

also, may be a silly question, but isn't the water expansion tank suppose to stop the rattling pipe noises?

thanks
 
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Old 11-05-09, 02:42 PM
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You won't find gauges at HD or Lowe's more than likely... look for a plumbing supply house... or order online... doesn't have to be 30 PSI, a 50 will work fine... even 100 is better than 300! You just need to get enough resolution on the gauge that you can tell the difference between say 5 and 10 PSI.

isn't the water expansion tank suppose to stop the rattling pipe noises?
No, the expansion tank is there to control the pressure rise in the system as the water is heated and expanding in volume. It can't help with pipes expanding when they are heated up. The pipes expanding isn't a function of pressure, it's a function of temperature.
 
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Old 11-05-09, 05:11 PM
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i called every plumbing store around!! they didn't have any left! i put my thinking cap on and called a few swimming pool supply stores. They use 30 and 60psi gauges for pool filters. i will be picking one up tomorrow! hip hip hooray!

going to try to decrease the temp tonight. i'll get back to you later.

thank you.
 
 

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