Hot water baseboard heat noise, 1 zone doesn't work

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Old 12-11-10, 03:53 PM
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Hot water baseboard heat noise, 1 zone doesn't work

I'm hoping someone can help me out here. Here is what I have. Hot water baseboard heat, 3 zone, 1 pump, 1 furnace - see pictures...

IMG_0629 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

IMG_0627 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

IMG_0628 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

One of my zones does not work. I think the controlling unit, first picture above is bad but I can trouble shoot this, it may be air as well.

My question is, how do I get rid of air in the system? I can drain the system by opening the valves in the second/third picture and then the system refills. However, if you look at the second and third picture, the valves are kinda double, the knob and just below there is a slit for a screw driver that is a quarter turn. When I drain the system, should this second valve be open or closed?

Any direction on how to do this would be great. There are no bleeder valves by the individual radiators.

I tried bleeding the air today by draining all the water form the 3 zones then refilling each zone at a time until water flowed freely out the discharge, still no go, still knocking.
 
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Old 12-11-10, 04:13 PM
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To follow up with what I did today and what didn't work:

1) I shut of a water supply

2) I closed the bottom of the dual purge value, picture 2/3 and hooked up a hose and drained each zone one by one while moving the thermostat actuators, picture 1, to manual, thermostats were off so I assumed manual is open, auto closed

3) Once everything was drained - at the end I had all the actuators on manual and all the purge valves open, bottom of purge valves closed - I moved all actuators into auto position, then one into manual/open position, opened the water supply on and let it fill the loop. Once the water started flowing freely from the purge hose, I closed the purge valve, moved actuator to auto and moved onto the next zone repeating these steps.

One thing I found weird, when I started filling up the 1 zone, I still had the purge valves in the open position while the actuators in the auto except the 1 I was filling. Out of the 3 zones, the zone that I was filling up (actuator in manual/open position) water started flowing out of the purge valve, this was expected. However water also started flowing out of the second zone not third, even though both of these actuators were in the auto position (which I thought auto = closed). Does this mean that this actuator is bad? Reading over this by actuator I mean the thing in picture 1, just realized it may not be the proper term.

Thanks in advance
 
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Old 12-11-10, 04:19 PM
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Kenny, are you a renter, or do you own the home? If you are a renter, you need to call the landlord... renters have no 'ownership' of the heating systems, you break it, you bought it. I'm just taking a guess, you may have moved since the other pics in your album?

Presuming this is YOUR OWNED system, you need to show us more... I would like to see where the water enters the system from the domestic side, and also the expansion tank connection.

Also, tell us the TEMPERATURE AND PRESSURE reading on the boiler gauge. There could well be other reasons for the air in the system that you would need to address first.

"My machine she's a dud, all stuck in the mud, somewhere in the swamps of Jersey"
 
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Old 12-11-10, 08:22 PM
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NJTrooper,

Thanks for the reply. Take a look at this pictures:

Flickr: Kenny657's Photostream

This is my set up.

I bought the house in early march and I have done work, moved radiators so air should be in the system. I have tried to bleed the air but still knocking around. I'm going to trouble shoot the bad zone actuator tomorrow but that probably will not fix the knocking in the pipes. Any ideas?

pressure is ~18
water temp is ~210
 
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Old 12-11-10, 08:51 PM
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heat | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Detailed photo of system and whats going on
 
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Old 12-11-10, 09:17 PM
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Great!

Your temperature definitely does not need to be that high. There are no shots of the boiler itself that show the aquastat, but I'm guessing that there is a Honeywell aquastat installed (gray box, about 4x6"). Slide the cover off that box and tell us what the temp setting is.

18 PSI HOT is fine... if you happen to notice at some point what the pressure is when the boiler is cool, let us know that also. (temperature AND pressure) I want this info so I'm sure your expansion tank is OK (not waterlogged).

I would like to see the how the pipe leading to the expansion tank is connected at the boiler, and also where the water fill pipe connects at the boiler.

Perhaps you have seen in some of my other posts... I have ZERO TRUST of boiler pressure gauges, so don't be surprised if you are asked to verify that with another gauge at some point.

Those screwdriver slot valves and the drain valve above them are known collectively as 'purge stations'.

BEFORE DOING THIS, ALWAYS LET THE BOILER COOL TO 100 OR LESS! You don't want a cracked boiler, right?

You do have to close the screw slot valve (slot perpendicular to the pipe) because you need to 'detour' the water through the boiler, up through the zone and out the drain. If you leave that screw valve open, the water will go through the boiler and right up and out the drain without going through the zone.

Lock the associated zone valve open, hook a hose to the drain above the closed screw valve... and here's the trick... I don't think you've done this:

On the pressure reducing valve, the gold bell shaped one with the handle that feeds water to the boiler... after opening the drain valve with the hose on it, PULL THAT HANDLE UP to force feed the water through the zone. Do this until no more air comes out and release the handle and close the drain.

Return the zone valve to AUTO, open the screw valve, and do the same thing for the next.
 
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Old 12-11-10, 09:19 PM
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I'm going back reading your previous posts... you definitely did NOT want to DRAIN any zones. Why let all that air back in the piping when you are trying to accomplish exactly the opposite?
 
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Old 12-11-10, 09:23 PM
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ACTUATOR is an OK term to use for ZONE VALVE POWER HEAD... I think most ppl would understand that.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
Great!

Your temperature definitely does not need to be that high. There are no shots of the boiler itself that show the aquastat, but I'm guessing that there is a Honeywell aquastat installed (gray box, about 4x6"). Slide the cover off that box and tell us what the temp setting is.

Temp seems to be this high all the time, this is the furnace temp gauge, not boiler....se below about water going to furnace not boiler.

18 PSI HOT is fine... if you happen to notice at some point what the pressure is when the boiler is cool, let us know that also. (temperature AND pressure) I want this info so I'm sure your expansion tank is OK (not waterlogged).

I did hear bubbling of water in expansion tank while trying to purge on several occasions

I would like to see the how the pipe leading to the expansion tank is connected at the boiler, and also where the water fill pipe connects at the boiler.

Added to flickr

The water isn't going through the boiler as far as I can tell. The water supply (from the meter) is split with a T to the boiler and to the furnace, there is definitely cold water coming into the furnace because when I drained it, temp went to 0 and when I filled it back up, pipe feeding furnace was ice cold.


Perhaps you have seen in some of my other posts... I have ZERO TRUST of boiler pressure gauges, so don't be surprised if you are asked to verify that with another gauge at some point.

Those screwdriver slot valves and the drain valve above them are known collectively as 'purge stations'.

BEFORE DOING THIS, ALWAYS LET THE BOILER COOL TO 100 OR LESS! You don't want a cracked boiler, right?

Oops hopefully I didn't damage it but if it doesn't go through the boiler should be ok?

You do have to close the screw slot valve (slot perpendicular to the pipe) because you need to 'detour' the water through the boiler, up through the zone and out the drain. If you leave that screw valve open, the water will go through the boiler and right up and out the drain without going through the zone.

Lock the associated zone valve open, hook a hose to the drain above the closed screw valve... and here's the trick... I don't think you've done this:

On the pressure reducing valve, the gold bell shaped one with the handle that feeds water to the boiler... after opening the drain valve with the hose on it, PULL THAT HANDLE UP to force feed the water through the zone. Do this until no more air comes out and release the handle and close the drain.

I did this when filling up.

Return the zone valve to AUTO, open the screw valve, and do the same thing for the next.
This is pretty much what I did.


Maybe I am misunderstanding your terminology thinking over this again, boiler to me is the water tank for house water, hot water heater. Furnace is what heats the water for the baseboards. This is how I understand it but I am thinking your reference to boiler = my reference to furnace.

This is my last attempt at it, but it has become a mission more than anything at this point.

Thank you for your help.

One last thing, when I drained the system completely zone by zone, the zone that is currently not working had barely any water in it - strange - when compared to the other zones. Somehow the air must be getting directed there from the other zones.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 06:28 AM
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A furnace heats air, a boiler heats water. Both are used to provide heat to a structure. Boilers can be set up to also heat domestic hot water.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 10:39 AM
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Some definitions I guess...

First off, the term 'boiler' is a misnomer from the git-go, but is generally applied to hot water type heating appliances. There is no 'boiling' going on, the water never gets hot enough. Even in a STEAM boiler, the water doesn't actually BOIL...

In Europe, water heaters are often referred to as 'boilers'.

FURNACE is a term that is generally applied to hot AIR heating appliances.

TECHNICALLY SPEAKING: a hot water boiler DOES have a furnace in it... the combustion chamber that the fuel is burned can be considered a furnace.

Yeah, it's all messed up... but these terms have come to be generally accepted usage.

In USA:

BOILER = hot WATER or STEAM heating appliance.
FURNACE = hot AIR heating appliance
 
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Old 12-12-10, 11:03 AM
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Short physics lesson, or, why I would like you to verify your pressure gauge:

The static fill pressure of a boiler system is required to get water to the top of the heating system.

Physics dictates that to raise water ONE FOOT, the pressure required is 0.432 PSI.

If a heating system is say 20' from the bottom of the boiler to the highest elevation point of the system, the static fill pressure is 20 X 0.432 = 8.64 PSI. We always add 3-4 PSI to this number in order to provide some 'headroom' and guarantee that the highest point will always be under pressure. This is the reason for the 'standard' of 12 PSI MINIMUM on a COLD hot water system. Most homes are not taller than this. SOME homes do require increased pressure in order to fill the system. If we didn't add this little bit of extra, the top of the system would be under atmospheric pressure... i.e. no pressure.

If your gauge is inaccurate (and they VERY OFTEN ARE), you may be chasing ghosts. You THINK there is 18 PSI in your system, but reality is that you may not even have TEN.

If you find that an upper zone has little or no water in it, it is because there is not enough static pressure in your system. It's the ONLY way this can occur. (except for the very unlikely potato chip bag stuck in the piping).

The easiest way to verify the boiler pressure gauge is to attach a pressure gauge with suitable adapters to any boiler drain valve and open the valve to read the pressure.

You can buy adapters that go from th 3/4" GH Thread to 1/4" FPT. Into this adapter you install a 0-30 or 0-50 PSI gauge.

HD and Lowes carry a tool that is used by lawn sprinkler dudes to measure pressures, but the gauge is usually a 0-300 PSI job that is NOT suitable for use at under 30 PSI. Simply not enough resolution... and inherently inaccurate at the bottom end of scale. But, for $10 the fitting alone may be worth the price. The gauge can be removed and substituted with a proper range unit that you can get at plumbing or pool supply houses.


photo courtesy plumbersurplus.com

I strongly recommend you do this FIRST. In order to troubleshoot this, there has to be no doubt about the actual pressure in the system.
 
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Old 12-29-10, 07:01 PM
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Ok here is an update. I got the zone that didn't work to work. Basically the orange valve in my pics which I thought was a quarter turn was not and needed to be "forced" open.

Now that the whole house is heating I have another issue. The heat is loud, it is like someone is playing drums. Not only that, I hear water as if it was boiling in the pipes. I assume this is caused by air in the system. I tried bleeding by draining and refilling many times but its still happening. It is so bad I wake up at night.

I tried calling a pro but with the holidays no one is answering or returning my call. Any ideas? Should I drain again? UGHHHHHH
 
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Old 12-29-10, 08:07 PM
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Kenny, please STOP draining and refilling the system. That will get you absolutely nowhere. It is COUNTER PRODUCTIVE!

Did you verify that your pressure gauge is accurate?
 
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Old 12-30-10, 11:40 AM
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Yes I did. I got exactly what you recommended. Home Depot sprinkler reader and a new face from plumbing supply. Pressure reads ~18. I just checked one zone but will get exacts on all 3 tonight. Pressure tank had reading of 12.

Also, when the pipes were banging around I went down and boiler pressure gauge was close to 30 which is almost red danger zone.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 03:56 PM
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OK, good... now you know that you won't be chasing your tail around and around by not knowing the pressure!

You never did answer the question about the setting on the aquastat.

tell us what the temp setting is.
You said at one point that the temp gauge was reading 210, and that is too hot... turn the dial in the aquastat down to 180, if it is not already.

You seem to have a few things going on, and in order to get to the root cause of the various problems, we need to focus on ONE THING AT A TIME... and you need to follow through...

Here's what we need to know now. You said that the pressure slowly climbs and the relief valve opens, right? This is USUALLY because the PRESSURE REDUCING VALVE (yours is a Bell & Gossett FB-38) is slowly leaking through. It's very easy to diagnose this.

TURN THE BOILER OFF and let it get COLD! the lower the better, but under 100 is OK.

Look at the pressure at this point. Is it above 12-15 PSI?

IF SO, drain some water until the pressure is 12-15 PSI, and CLOSE THE BLUE VALVE next to your Reducing valve to prevent any more water from feeding in.

Turn on the boiler and kick a thermostat all the way up to force the boiler to fire through a FULL BURNER CYCLE.

You will be looking for TWO THINGS:

1. That the burner cuts off NEAR the high limit setting of 180 - (you turned it down to this, above)

2. That the system pressure doesn't go over 20 PSI (approximately). This will verify that your expansion tank is not waterlogged still.

Then, come back and TELL US what BOTH the pressure AND the temperature when the burner cuts off on high limit.

KEEP THE BLUE VALVE CLOSED FOR NOW. Closing that valve and running the boiler for a few days while MONITORING THE PRESSURE FOR STABILITY is how we will diagnose the REDUCING VALVE ... if the pressure remains stable and repeatable with that blue valve closed, then you need to replace the reducing valve.

I know the water bubbling sounds are bugging you, but IGNORE THAT FOR NOW. You can't fix that until the pressure is under control. You must do this part FIRST.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 04:01 PM
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I want you to remain focused on the previous post, but also tell us a little bit more about this part...

The heat is loud, it is like someone is playing drums.
DRUMS? a rhytmic sound?

WHEN?


Is this a sound coming from the COMBUSTION? Does it only happen when the burner is actually FIRING?

OR, is it coming from the water circulating in the system?
 
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Old 12-30-10, 05:52 PM
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Boiler temp shows 230-240 range, aquastat is set to 180.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 06:11 PM
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No 5h1t... that ain't right. If the water is really that hot, you got some kinda problem there. It could be that the thermometer is bad though.

But that ain't good at all.

Is this after a heat call, after the burner and pump have shut off? or is it WHILE the burner is still cooking?
 
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Old 12-30-10, 06:13 PM
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Oh, by the way, please tell me that you have repaired that awful mess of wiring on that circulator pump.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 06:13 PM
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It was after the burner shut off. I turned it off and I'm waiting for temp to get to 100 so I can do what you suggested.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 06:15 PM
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OK, keep doing it... you might have seen 'heat soak'... make a note as previous post at what temp the burner actually shuts off then... and we'll go from there.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 06:16 PM
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Not yet, I'm waiting for get this fixed and then I will fix the wiring.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
OK, good... now you know that you won't be chasing your tail around and around by not knowing the pressure!

You never did answer the question about the setting on the aquastat.



You said at one point that the temp gauge was reading 210, and that is too hot... turn the dial in the aquastat down to 180, if it is not already.

You seem to have a few things going on, and in order to get to the root cause of the various problems, we need to focus on ONE THING AT A TIME... and you need to follow through...

Here's what we need to know now. You said that the pressure slowly climbs and the relief valve opens, right? This is USUALLY because the PRESSURE REDUCING VALVE (yours is a Bell & Gossett FB-38) is slowly leaking through. It's very easy to diagnose this.

TURN THE BOILER OFF and let it get COLD! the lower the better, but under 100 is OK.

Look at the pressure at this point. Is it above 12-15 PSI? About 13 all the way down to 90 degrees

IF SO, drain some water until the pressure is 12-15 PSI, and CLOSE THE BLUE VALVE next to your Reducing valve to prevent any more water from feeding in. Closed blue valve to cut off water supply, remains closed

Turn on the boiler and kick a thermostat all the way up to force the boiler to fire through a FULL BURNER CYCLE.

You will be looking for TWO THINGS:

1. That the burner cuts off NEAR the high limit setting of 180 - (you turned it down to this, above) Started at 13psi and climbed to about 18 at 190 degrees. At 190 I turned the aquastat down a bit to turn the burner off. A couple notes, at 140 degrees the boiler started making muffled corn popping noise. Imagine corn popping but at a distance. Pressure rose from about 13-14 all the way up to 18psi.

2. That the system pressure doesn't go over 20 PSI (approximately). This will verify that your expansion tank is not waterlogged still.

Then, come back and TELL US what BOTH the pressure AND the temperature when the burner cuts off on high limit.

KEEP THE BLUE VALVE CLOSED FOR NOW. Closing that valve and running the boiler for a few days while MONITORING THE PRESSURE FOR STABILITY is how we will diagnose the REDUCING VALVE ... if the pressure remains stable and repeatable with that blue valve closed, then you need to replace the reducing valve.

I know the water bubbling sounds are bugging you, but IGNORE THAT FOR NOW. You can't fix that until the pressure is under control. You must do this part FIRST.
Please see replies above in bold.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 07:37 PM
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As I wrote the first message, the boiler kicked on again and temp went to 200 at about 19psi. I turned the aquastat further down, to 160, boiler kicked off. It appears that either the thermostat [do you mean THERMOMETER on the boiler? - NJT edit] or aquastat are broken.
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-31-10 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 12-31-10, 07:36 AM
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I checked the temp/pressure this morning before leaving for work. 220 temp at 18-19psi with aquastat set to 160.
 
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Old 12-31-10, 09:27 AM
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OK... this is with the BLUE VALVE closed?

I think the problem might just be that the boiler is getting too hot, and that's why the pressure is rising too far. The hotter the water gets, the more expansion you have, the more expansion, the higher the pressure...

But let's not get off track yet... NEXT STEP: OPEN THE BLUE VALVE and see if the pressure slowly starts climbing. If the FB-38 is OK, it should keep doing what it's doing... pressure should not rise up and open the relief valve... You should see the SAME PRESSURE at the SAME TEMPERATURE... if you start to see HIGHER pressure at the same temp, it's a good bet the 38 is leaking through...

Let's talk about the aquastat:

There is a 'bulb' on the end of a 'capillary tube' coming out the back of the aquastat. If that bulb is not inserted fully into the 'immersion well' (a closed piece of copper pipe inserted into the boiler) it will not sense the temperature inside the boiler properly. This needs to be checked. It could be the reason for the over temperature condition you are seeing. (of course, it could also be a defective aquastat)

About the popping corn sound:

You may have 'sludge' buildup in the bottom of the boiler. This sludge causes hot spots and those hot spots will 'bubble'... like a pot of New Year's Eve CHILI on the stove... we'll get back to this later.
 
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Old 12-31-10, 10:44 AM
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Thank you sir, I will check the pressure tonight. I gave myself all weekend to fix this starting tomorrow, hopefully I can get somewhere. One last thing, I turned the temp on the aquastat down to 150 to get lower temps at the boiler (still around 200), should I turn it back up to 180 before opening the blue valve and testing pressure? Or leave it as is and just compare pressure before opening valve to after its been opened?
 
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Old 12-31-10, 01:44 PM
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Leave it where it is... you don't want the boiler that hot anyway in any case... you want to establish a 'baseline' reference... only change one thing at a time otherwise the test is inconclusive.

At this point, I'm thinking that the reason you are seeing the high pressure is because the boiler is getting too hot, but we do need to rule out the fill valve. If it turns out that the fill valve is leaking, there's no harm in leaving the blue valve closed until spring... AS LONG AS YOU MONITOR THE PRESSURE in the interim and don't let it get low. It SHOULDN'T get low though, if it does, it means there's leaks somewhere...
 
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Old 01-01-11, 02:26 PM
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After opening the blue valve nothing changed. I did not hear water enter the system as I did when I flushed it in the past. As such, pressure stayed the same at about 17 with 170 temp. - this was last night

This mornig I went down to check on it again. Temp was 170, pressure down to 10. Seems low.
 
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Old 01-01-11, 09:28 PM
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Well... I guess we still got us a mystery...

I would say based on this that the reducing valve is probably NOT leaking through, and the reason for the overpressure you were seeing is 'most likely' due to the fact that it was gettin' so durn hot...

But now, you seem to be LOSING pressure somewhere... and I don't see anything in the pics that would indicate a slow leak...
 
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Old 01-02-11, 08:52 AM
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I think i'm going to need a pro to look at this, too bad none of the 3 I called returned my phone call.

One last question, is it possible that this is happening because I don't have a backflow preventer on the water supply?
 
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Old 01-02-11, 09:01 AM
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One last question, is it possible that this is happening because I don't have a backflow preventer on the water supply?
No, not likely. The backflow preventer comes into play when the water pressure on the domestic side drops below the pressure in the boiler. 99.99% of the time it just sits there doing nothing.
 
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