Two rooms not getting heat

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Old 01-23-10, 04:43 AM
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Two rooms not getting heat

Hello - I recently bought a house with hot water heat and I'm just starting to learn about how these systems work. I'm having a problem with a couple of the rooms not getting heat. I have a Utica MGB200 boiler, a Extrol Model 60 tank, natural gas fed. The house is 90 year old two story, about 2400 sq. feet. Main line appears to be 3 inch cast iron and lines to the radiators appears to be 3/4" copper. All radiators are copper and fin baseboard except one old fashioned cast iron radiator in the upstairs bathroom.

Boiler temp reads 160 degrees and pressure gauge at 20 PSI when running.

I noticed that the cast iron radiator in the bathroom was getting noisier (gurgling) over time so the other day, I bled it and there was a lot of air; it took at least two minutes to get water to flow. Now, that radiator is very quiet. However, since bleeding that radiator, I now have two rooms that no longer get warm. The copper feed line feels cold to the touch. Both rooms are on the same side of the house, one on the second floor and one on the first. They don't seem to be on the same water line.

While the circulator was running, I opened the bleed valves in each of the two rooms, and there was no air, and I got water flow immediately, but it was cool. Letting it flow for a few minutes resulted in slightly warm water, but certainly not hot.

One other note. Prior to bleeding out all of the air in the upstairs bathroom, the pressure gauge consistently read about 27 psi while the system was running, and after bleeding it, it now reads 20. From everything I read, 27 seems high and even 20 might be a little high. However, with the higher pressure reading, it seems I was getting heat in all rooms. Now, for whatever reason, I have these two rooms with no heat.

Any thought on what might be causing this to happen?

Thank you in advance for any help you might be able to give!

-Gary
 
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Old 01-23-10, 04:52 AM
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system is definetly low on water!
find main water feed and start dumping in water!
watch out for the relief valve it may want to spit out hot water.
run boiler and bleed sytem as you fill sytem. try to maintain 18psi after all rad. are hot
 
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Old 01-23-10, 05:08 AM
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OK, this may be a stupid question, but how do you add more water to the system? The valve on the main water feed is wide open and it appears that it should just automatically keep full.

Like I said, I'm new to hot water heat, so I apologize for what are probably obvious questions.

By the way, thank you for your quick response!!
 
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Old 01-23-10, 05:30 AM
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You can ignore the last question. I figured out how to add water.
 
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Old 01-23-10, 07:03 AM
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OK, I went around one more time and bled all the radiators. The cast iron one had a bit more air and now seems to be empty. Also, I found some air in the upstairs bedroom that wasn't producing heat, and I seem to have gotten all that air out. Then, I added more water and at the same time, bled at the boiler. Only water drained out at the boiler... I didn't detect any air.

I closed up the bib and reopened the gate valve between the bib and the boilder, and then refired the boiler and turned up the thermostat and once water started flowing, things seem very quiet (no gurgles) and the upstairs bedroom started heating again. One success. However, still no heat in the kitchen downstairs.

Should I continue to add more water? Pressure while running is still at 20, which I assume is still a bit high. It seems like if I add more water, the pressure will increase, or is that just my inexperience talking?

One other thing that is maybe related, maybe not. I have a Grundfos UP 26-64 F circulator. I believe specs say it's 1/15 HP. It produces what I would call a 60 Hz hum that can be heard throughout the house. It's quieter now that I've bled the lines, but still produces the hum. Is the pump on the way out or is this typically just a noisy pump.

Thank you!
 

Last edited by ggraeff; 01-23-10 at 08:26 AM.
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Old 01-23-10, 09:36 AM
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I think the initial declaration that you are low on water was a bit premature...

If there's 20 PSI in your system, you are definitely NOT low on water! You might have a bit of air around the system though...

The fact that you mentioned that the pressure was up as high as 27 PSI tells us that your expansion tank may have a problem. You should first verify that your expansion tank has the correct air charge in it.

Gary, is there a shutoff valve between the system and the expansion tank?

The reason certain rads are not heating is because there is air blocking the flow... but first things first...

It would be easier to tell you how to do stuff if we could see your system... you can set up a free account at Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket and upload the pics there, drop a link here to your album and we'll advise.
 
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Old 01-23-10, 11:27 AM
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Hi NJ Trooper, thanks for the note! First of all, here's a link to the photos of my boiler:

Picasa Web Albums - gary.graeff

There's a boiler album you can click into.

To answer your first question, there doesn't seem to be a shutoff valve between the system and the expansion tank. Picture # 6 shows the best view of the tank and the connection to the system.

If there's more air in the system, I'm certainly willing to do what I need to, in order to bleed it. Up until a few days ago, the kitchen was heating just fine, so I feel like it was something I did when I bled the large bathroom radiator the first time around, because that's when I first noticed the kitchen was no longer heating.

Please let me know if you have anymore questions, or need another picture of something!

Thank you!!
 

Last edited by ggraeff; 01-23-10 at 11:28 AM. Reason: referenced wrong picture number
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Old 01-23-10, 12:34 PM
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Wow... they really 'shoe horned' that stuff in there!

Are you able to get to the bottom of the expansion tank? There is a 'schrader' (tire) valve on the bottom. You will need an accurate tire pressure gauge and a bicycle pump or a small air compressor.

Inside that tank, there is a rubber membrane separating the water on one side and the air charge on the other. The membranes can fail, so if in the following process you get WATER out of the air valve, consider the tank toast, and it will need to be replaced.

In order to accurately check and charge the air side of the tank, there has to be ZERO pressure on the water side. This means that you will need to depressurize the system. You do NOT have to drain it... only let enough water out that the gauge on the boiler goes to zero.

Shut the boiler off and let it cool to 100 or less.

Then shut off the water supply to the boiler using one of the valves on that line. Also, so that you don't drain the system itself, close the valves by the zone valves, and any other valves that will allow you to isolate the boiler from the radiator system... I think there's a valve on the main line also... make notes as to which ones you close so you can be sure to get them all open again!

Next, open the drain on the boiler and let the gauge go to zero and close the valve again.

Take your accurate tire pressure gauge and measure the air charge at the valve on the bottom of the tank.

(If you get water, stop, and replace the tank)

Using a bicycle pump or a small air compressor, add air to the tank until you have 15 PSI on the tire gauge.

Check the boiler gauge again... if it has come up from zero, let a little more water out and repeat the process... check the air charge and add if necessary to get the air charge at 15 ... and check the boiler gauge again... and again repeating if there is any change...

Sounds complicated, but it's really not... at some point the boiler will stay at zero, and the tank should stay at 15.

OK, that's done... re-open the valves you closed, saving the water supply valve for last. Open the water supply valve and let the automatic pressure regulator (the gold bell shaped thingy) pressurize the boiler while watching the boiler gauge... the pressure should increase to 12-15 PSI and level off... if it continues to increase above that point, the pressure regulator is either out of adjustment, or leaking through.

more...
 
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Old 01-23-10, 12:50 PM
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If the regulator doesn't stop at 12-15 PSI, close the manual valve... you can run the system with that valve closed, you will need to keep an eye on the pressure gauge...

=========================

This picture shows optional 'stuff' you can add that would eliminate the need to depressurize the boiler in order to maintain the expansion tank.



With the extra drain and shutoff valve, you can isolate the tank from the system, use a hose to drain pressure from the tank, and check and adjust the air charge very easily.

=======================

OK, that takes care of the tank...

On top of the hunk of metal that the tank is hanging from is an automatic air vent. That hunk of metal is an 'air scoop' and it is supposed to 'catch' the air flowing through the system. The air vent has a float in it. When the vent fills with air, the float falls, the little valve on top opens, lets the air out and the float comes back up and closes the valve again.

The cap on top is supposed to be left loose so that the air can escape. So check that... see that it's loose. If it's closed, and it leaks water when you open it, you will need to replace that air vent... check this before you mess with the tank, because with the pressure off the system, that's the time to change that out. I believe yours can be opened and cleaned if you wanted to try that... the top should unscrew... but you might want to pick one up at home depot and have on hand just in case...

===========================

So now, the boiler is cold, pressure is at 12-15 PSI, you know the tank charge is correct, and the air vent is working...

Make sure all the valves you closed are open again, and fire up the boiler. Let it get good and hot... push the thermostat way up ... watch the boiler gauge... it should go to like 180 or so, and maybe around 20 PSI if all is right with the system. So push the thermostat back to normal...

NOW, you can go around and bleed the radiators.

If you have kept the water supply valve closed, you need to keep an eye on the pressure as you bleed, and add water as necessary to maintain the pressure in the system.

more...
 
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Old 01-23-10, 12:52 PM
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In your pics, I noticed that you said one of the zone valves doesn't trigger the boiler... after you get all this other stuff out of the way, we can talk about that.
 
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Old 01-23-10, 01:20 PM
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Wow.. Thank you for all this info. I'm going to need a good stretch of time when I can allow the boiler to be shut down, so I'll probably send my wife and daughter off someplace tomorrow so they don't have to deal with a cold house... it's cold in Michigan this time of year!!

I went down and looked at the bottom of the tank and found the "tire" valve. It still had a blue plastic protective cover on it, so nobody has done this test before, it appears. One thing I did notice is that the top of the tank is hot and the bottom is cold, so hopefully that means the bladder isn't allowing water into the bottom of the tank. I guess I will know when I check tomorrow. I'm going to need to run out and get a tire pressure gauge because I don't have one.

OK, I will post my results here as soon as I have them, and thank you again NJ Trooper for all your help!!
 
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