Boiler System, Cold radiators on second floor, bleeding air only


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Old 01-08-10, 01:30 PM
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Boiler System, Cold radiators on second floor, bleeding air only

Hi there,


I have been doing a little research online about boiler systems and radiators and such and find myself with questions. yay. lol. Anyway, here I go!

First let me give a quick background on myself. i am a new home owner, 23 years old, computer technician, home repair n00b. I have completed a few tasks around my home such as installing a new toilet in the half bath, painting, installing garbage disposal; simple tasks.

So the issue I am faced with is as follows:

In my home i have a hot water heating system. the radiators on the main level do get quite warm and they seem very efficient at keeping the lower level warm. the issue however is that on my second level, 2 of the 3 radiators no not become very hot at all. I read about bleeding them so i used the key to turn the bleeder valve and only air came out. I let it open until nothing would come out. and that was the end.

i am not sure if i am going about this process wrong? or if there is another place i should be investigating.

Thanks for the information everyone, I will give details when i can.
 
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Old 01-08-10, 01:42 PM
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Sounds like you are low on water pressure. The water pressure gage should read about 12 - 15 psi. You may have an automatic water feeder that is not working or the valve may be closed as some manufacturers request. You may only have a manual feed as some companies are starting to do. Kindly check your pressure and see what the gage reads and get back to us.
 
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Old 01-08-10, 01:44 PM
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How many circulator pumps are there? If there are more than one, are they both running?
 

Last edited by NJT; 01-08-10 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 01-08-10, 01:46 PM
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Try bleeding the air with the circulator running. If the system is not filling with water after you bleed the air out, there may be a closed valve on your fresh water make up for the system. Typically there is also an auto fill valve that will add water to the system to the desired pressure. If there is no auto fill valve, you will have to watch the pressure in your system so you don't add too much. Your system should be between 12-15 psi when cold. Do not add cold water to the boiler when the boiler is more than 100 degrees.
 
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Old 01-08-10, 02:36 PM
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Stick with rbeck on this one... your pressure is low, and you may in fact have been sucking air IN those bleeders.

For us to best help you, set up a free account at Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket and upload pics of the boiler and all the near piping. Take a bunch of close shots, and then several from a distance back so that we can relate them all together... look for a small-ish pipe, probably 1/2" coming from the domestic house water leading to the boiler, and show us all the valves and devices on that line. Come back here and drop a link to your album and we'll look and advise.
 
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Old 01-08-10, 07:19 PM
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thanks

hey everyone,

thanks for the replies! i will get those photos ASAP and get a link posted on here to check out. Just as a side note my furnace/boiler is from the 50's i believe so it's a bit aged, lol.


I will get those photos soon,

Thanks again!
 
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Old 01-13-10, 08:55 AM
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sorry for delay

Hi everyone!

just wanted to drop an update and apologize for the delay. I'm having some issues with the camera not charging so i havn't been able to get the photos requested yet.

However, i did inspect the pressure gauge and it is reading at right at 10 psi. Unsure if this is low or not.


Thanks!

T
 
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Old 01-13-10, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by ds ds View Post
However, i did inspect the pressure gauge and it is reading at right at 10 psi. Unsure if this is low or not.
To evaluate the 10 psi, need to know what the boiler temp was at the same time. But hot or cold, 10 psi is too low.
 
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Old 01-14-10, 06:20 AM
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temp

Originally Posted by Mike Speed 30 View Post
To evaluate the 10 psi, need to know what the boiler temp was at the same time. But hot or cold, 10 psi is too low.
Hi mike,

Sorry, the boiler temp at the time i inspected it was around 80 degrees from what i observed.

so 10PSI seems low then?
 
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Old 01-14-10, 07:27 AM
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Raise your pressure to about 25 lbs. and bleed your radiators. By raising the pressure that much it should assure that no water will feed back in when your bleeding which is what you want. If you do not get the pressure high enough as you bleed the air out it will lower the pressure below what the feed valve is set for and automatically feed water back in, which brings air with it which is what you don't want. Depending on the size of the rads and the air removed it should bring your pressure to about 15lbs which is fine. If you think the pressure is high you can always drain some from the boiler when your through. You get about 2ft. of lift for every lb. of pressure. You want the water to get to the top of the rads. and you'll be fine.
 
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Old 01-14-10, 10:35 AM
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n00b alert

Originally Posted by spot8 View Post
Raise your pressure to about 25 lbs. and bleed your radiators. By raising the pressure that much it should assure that no water will feed back in when your bleeding which is what you want. If you do not get the pressure high enough as you bleed the air out it will lower the pressure below what the feed valve is set for and automatically feed water back in, which brings air with it which is what you don't want. Depending on the size of the rads and the air removed it should bring your pressure to about 15lbs which is fine. If you think the pressure is high you can always drain some from the boiler when your through. You get about 2ft. of lift for every lb. of pressure. You want the water to get to the top of the rads. and you'll be fine.

what should i look for to raise the pressure? i assume i should shut the system off at the thermostat before performing this?

Thank you very much!
 
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Old 01-14-10, 12:24 PM
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hydronic systems need pressure in them at all times, and without pressure in a radiator,the air will not be pushed out.
opening a bleeder on a higher floor might actually admit air,if pressure is below zero at that height.

the pressure that you read on the gauge applies only at that elevation, go up 2 stories, the pressure drops.

you will need at least 20 psi at basement level to get adequate pressure at higher radiators, only then you can bleed the upstairs air out
 
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Old 01-14-10, 01:09 PM
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verify

I found a fill line that looks to be a fill line for water. I assume this will raise pressure. just to verify, i assume i want to turn the boiler unit off at the thermostat and let it cool before performing this maintenance.


Thanks
 
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Old 01-14-10, 01:43 PM
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That's correct. Cooling down the boiler will prevent thermal shock.

Likely, if you follow the pipe from the city water toward the boiler, there will be a manual shutoff valve followed by the automatic fill valve (a.k.a., pressure reducing valve). Open the shutoff valve - if the auto fill valve is working, it should start adding water to the system. There may be a fast-fill lever on the auto fill valve - by lifting that lever, the system will fill more quickly.

If you post pix, we can verify the valving.
 
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Old 01-15-10, 06:08 AM
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finally i have photos

Hey everyone,

sorry again for the delay in photos. these are not the best as i had to use my phone but we can get the general idea i think.

The item i would like to bring everyones attention to is the valve in pics 130 and 131. this is what i believe to be a fill valve as it seems to be attached to the main supply lines. however the valve itself will not turn. upon inspection i noted the valve appears to be covered in a whiteish/blueish build up as to what i would describe as appearing like calcium deposit.

also, i believe the red valve, which is towards the bottom of the supply line is of interest. perhaps an auto fill? it does have a lever on top of it.

I wanted to note that i added descriptions to the photos to try and help explain everything. you can view the descriptions by clicking the photo.

Thanks for checking this out!
 

Last edited by ds ds; 01-15-10 at 06:20 AM. Reason: adding information
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Old 01-15-10, 07:31 AM
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Did you post a link for the pix? I don't see one.
 
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Old 01-15-10, 02:35 PM
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link

sorry, thought it made it in.


the link is Pictures by aplusprotjm87 - Photobucket

thanks
 
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Old 01-15-10, 03:00 PM
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OK, the manual valve that you say you can't open. Make sure it's not already fully open against the back seat - you can try to close it.

If you're convinced the manual valve is stuck shut, try loosening the packing nut a quarter turn or so. (That nut surrounds the shaft and screws onto the valve body.) That might allow you to then open the valve handwheel.

If that valve is shut, it will prevent filling the boiler through the automatic fill valve.

Ultimately, that manual valve has got to get opened. If all else fails, you'd have to shut off the main water supply to the house, remove the manual valve, and replace it. That isn't a real big job. If you do that, you could add a Watts No. 9 backflow preventer in the fill line between the auto fill valve and the manual shut-off valve. (I didn't see one in the photos - in times past, they weren't often installed, but are now required in most places.)
 
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Old 01-21-10, 06:23 AM
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Not Forgotten

Hi Everyone,


Just wanted to drop a quick note. I havn't forgotten to post any updates or anything, its just been a hectic week! lol. I am planning to try resolving the valve issue hopefully today if possible.

Thanks for all the advice, i will post back as soon as i have a change in status.



thanks!
 
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Old 11-02-10, 08:41 PM
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Hi....

So I know this is an ancient thread but I wanted to resurrect it. I AM THE ORIGINAL POSTER of this thread and it is that time again for cold weather. I never actually fixed this issue and I am now determined to figure it out before the weather gets real cold. I come armed with observations and information.

First let me preface this by saying when I started this post last year I had ZERO experience doing any form of maintenance and repair. While my skill level is still fairly low, I am more confident now that I have done some repairs (vehicles and basic house things) and have a touch of wrenching under my belt.

So today I attempted to bleed air from the second story radiators. first level all bled great, instant water (that smelled kinda gassy/funky) but second story is........well............another story...
3 Total radiators. 1 in each bedroom and one in a bathroom. The bathroom radiator heats fairly well, bedrooms not so much. Bled air from bathroom, air comes out, eventually stops and no water. both bedrooms are indeed TAKING AIR IN. I found this by using a small tear of paper over the bleeder valve. It would hold up to the valve.

When i started up the furnace 2 days ago the pressure was only about 8psi if i recall and the temp looked like it was around 100*. Not sure how that works since the thermostat was turned all the way down/off.

The manual fill valve that was discussed last season, I did break that free (Pb blaster for the win) and discovered it is open. This brings me to the red valve with the lever on top. Should I turn off the system and give that lever a pull? Clearly the system has negative pressure in 2 of the radiators on the second level. Logic tells me that if those 2 have more piping to follow than the 3rd radiator (bathroom) it is not impossible for those to have negative pressure and the bathroom to have positive.

Thanks for the advice everyone. I appreciate it and apologize for the dead time/going MIA.

Cheers!
 
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Old 11-02-10, 10:02 PM
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Yes, raise the lever to add water to the system until you have about 12 psi. You may have several other problems so please take some pictures of the boiler and near piping.

To post pictures you need to first upload the pictures to a photo hosting site such as photobucket.com or villagephotos.com. and then post the public URLs for the pictures (or album) here. More pictures are always better than fewer. Please have CLEAR pictures and have both close up pictures and ones from a far enough distance that we can see how the various parts are interconnected.
 
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Old 11-03-10, 07:27 PM
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here are the photos I have available at the moment. I have time tomorrow so hopefully I can get better photos.







 
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Old 11-03-10, 07:35 PM
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Hey! welcome back!

As everyone else has said, you do need to get the pressure up in the system.

While doing your bleeding, you can raise it above 12-15 PSI as others have previously suggested. This should save you some running up and down the stairs.

If that red fill valve is working properly, it should MAINTAIN 12-15 PSI when the boiler is cold, IF the manual fill valve is open.

You may find that valve needs replaced...
 
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Old 11-03-10, 08:45 PM
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Thanks for the welcome back! lol.

I will shut down the system tomorrow and fill it up to the 12-15 mark then bleed the radiators. I will post back results from there, yay! lol

thanks
 
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Old 11-04-10, 10:18 AM
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Late Start

Late start to the day everyone. I just shut the heat down though so I'm going to give it an hour and see where it's at. will go from there!
 
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Old 11-04-10, 11:37 AM
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done.......for now

Alrighty everyone. It took 3 trips up and down but i think we are done......for now.

I brought the pressure up from 8 to about 12 the first trip. I should have known better and wasn't thinking. I was able to bleed one radiator before pressure was gone. Oh well that was a test. Now with more confidence i brought the pressure up to 20 PSI and was able t o bleed 2 radiators. i had to make a 3rd trip, 20psi and up to finalize the bleeding. when i checked the boiler after that it was still at about 18psi so i pulled the pressure release valve and brought it down to about 16psi. I just turned the heat on so we will wait and see what happens now that there is better pressure and POSITIVE pressure on the top floor. lol

Will be back later with results!
 
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Old 11-04-10, 01:03 PM
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update

Alright I have had the heat going for however long now. The radiator in the bathroom is nice and toasty, but the other 2 rooms not so much. the bedroom closest to the bathroom is warm but not as hot as the bathroom, and the one in the next room is actually still cold and when opening the bleeder valve i get cold water. I'm off to check the furnace pr3essure now that it is clearly up to temp

thanks all!


edit: oh snap! 35psi at 220 degrees! is this bad?
 
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Old 11-04-10, 01:23 PM
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At the least, it's not good...

35 on the gauge and the pressure relief not opening tells us that the gauge is not accurate.

When you started the boiler back up after bleeding, when it was cool, did you drop the pressure back down to 12-15 PSI?

You should verify the pressure gauge before puzzling any more about this.
 
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Old 11-04-10, 01:29 PM
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Hi NJ,

I dropped it down to about 16psi before turning the system back on. what is a good way to test the pressure gauge for accuracy? Do you think i should hold off on running the furnace for now?

thank you much!
 

Last edited by tducketts; 11-04-10 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 11-04-10, 02:57 PM
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Hit up local HD or Lowes (or Scotty's or whatever you have) and pick up a brass adapter that will go from a hose bib (any boiler drain) to a 1/4" female thread. They probably won't have the gauge you need, so on the way home swing by the local pool or plumbing supply and pick up a 0-30 PSI gauge with 1/4" thread. Screw gauge assembly onto boiler drain, open drain, read pressure!

Chances are pretty good that the old gauge isn't accurate, so before going nutz trying to troubleshoot, this should be the first step.
 
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Old 11-04-10, 02:59 PM
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By the way, that 220 is also troubling me... why is that so high? What is the setting on your aquastat?
 
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Old 11-04-10, 04:25 PM
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where would i find the aquastat and settings for it? sorry, n00b moment.
 
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Old 11-04-10, 05:56 PM
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Tellya the truth, I don't know... what is the make/model of your boiler?

Is it behind the front panel? Is it that box that we can see in profile on the right side?

Need better pics...
 
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Old 11-04-10, 06:48 PM
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this thing is an OOOOLLLLLDDDD Crane co 200series gas fired boiler. OOOOOLLLLLLLLLDDDDD. like 1975ish i think? I have the unit turned off right now. Is it decided i should refrain from using it until i get everything figured out? I'm just wondering becaues it's going to be cold tonight. I work til 6 tomorrow so i will try and snap some new photos tomorrow late afternoon/evening.

Thanks again for all the help and support.
 
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Old 11-04-10, 06:57 PM
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I don't know that you need to shut it down... I mean, what's the worst that can happen? the relief valve opens and dumps some hot water... maybe keep the doggie away from it... is there a pipe from the relief valve to the floor? can you get a bucket under it?
 
  #36  
Old 11-04-10, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
I don't know that you need to shut it down... I mean, what's the worst that can happen? the relief valve opens and dumps some hot water... maybe keep the doggie away from it... is there a pipe from the relief valve to the floor? can you get a bucket under it?
Lol. I just don't want to blow anything up! I'm still learning here and there :-D. As far as a pip,e, it runs right down into a drain tile. I used it earlier to drain water off after brining the pressure up to bleed the radiators. As long as I'm not going to explode anything, I wont worry about it thru the night. :-D.

thanks!
 
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Old 11-26-10, 07:08 PM
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update

Hi all,

I just wanted to give an update. The pressure seems to have evened out. I checked it today and it was reading 10(ish) psi at 140 degrees. The thermostat is set to 60 degrees. I am having an issue with a couple radiators on the second floor not heating well. One is in my bedroom and the other is in a second bedroom. The 4rd radiator on the same floor in the bathroom heats fine.

My room stays warm enough so I am not as concerned about that. However the second bedroom my room mate is waiting to fix this issue before moving into it. I need to try and get this fixed because he is kinda staying in two rooms right now and I'm sure he would like to have just one, lol.
One thing that is unique to this radiator is the handle is broken. I of course wonder if perhaps the handle is broken and the radiator itself is closed off. However I did get pressure and such when i bled it previously. Is curious.

So question one I have is how difficult is it to replace the stem on the valve and reinstall a handle. and two if that does not solve the issue what would be the next thing to inspect?

Thanks everyone! I will try and snap a pic later to show you what I mean about the valve although I'm sure it's easy enough to imagine :-D

Later!
 

Last edited by tducketts; 11-26-10 at 07:09 PM. Reason: grammar fail
  #38  
Old 11-26-10, 08:28 PM
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10(ish) at 140 is probably low again. You need to find why the pressure keeps dropping out, that's why you don't have the heat on the upper floors.

If you leave things to MY imagination, you are in trouble! I'll wait for the pics.
 
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Old 11-26-10, 10:30 PM
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Here are the pics. I don't know that these will help much but it's the valve with the broken handle.




 
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Old 11-27-10, 06:24 AM
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Did you ever verify that the gauge was accurate? and also there was question as to why the thing was so hot... ever find the aquastat and check it's setting?

I think you need to take care of this stuff first, because if you don't figure out what's up with the pressure you will still have problems... if 10(ish) is accurate, then of course you won't have any (or little) heat on the upper floors. Fixing the valve is secondary.
 
 

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