Circulation problem

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Old 12-16-10, 01:33 PM
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Circulation problem

I have a baseboard heating system with a single furnace and a single pump. A new boiler and some new pipes near it were replaced a year and a half ago. The other parts of the system are 55 years old. There are three separate sections to the system. In two of these sections of piping, the radiators are cold, and it seems that there is no circulation of hot water through them. In the areas of the house served by these sections, the air temperature is below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. In the section of the house with the circulating water, the air temperature can be maintained at 72 degrees F. The pressure in the boiler is 20 psi, and the temperature is 175 degrees F.

I opened the air bleeder valve above the furnace and a few drops of water came out. The valve had been closed since the furnace was installed. This was a mistake made by the technician who installed the furnace.

The temperature setting on the thermostat was 68 degrees last winter, and since the winter was relatively mild, I didn't notice anything wrong with the system. However, this winter, with the outdoor temperature in the low 20's in the daytime and below that at night, the house has been significantly colder, and I noticed that there was no heat in two of the three circuits.

Is it possible that the technicians who installed the furnace did not open the valves to two of the three circuits when they completed the installation? How do I test this possibility? The three valves in question are located in close proximity to one another and close to where these pipes join the main pipe returning to the boiler. Two of these pipes are cold, as would be expected if there was no hot water circulating to them. The other pipe is hot. These observations are consistent with the amount of heat given off by the radiators in the areas supplied by the circuits.

If the problem is caused by air within the pipes, how do I test this possibility and remove the air?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Perotin
 
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Old 12-16-10, 01:45 PM
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What make and model heating system?

Sounds like you may have air.

You have cast iron radiators?

Is there any bleeder valves on them?

How many circulators or zone valves?

Pictures are great if you can post them.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 12-16-10, 05:46 PM
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It is a Williamson furnace. I do not know the model number off hand.

There is a baseboard heating system, not cast iron radiators. Unfortunately there are no valves or bleeders on any of the baseboard units.

There are what I assume are three valves in the photo that contains two spigots (picture 5409). I assume these are the zone valves. Are they controlled by the hex nut or the inner screw?

There is a single pump, which I assume is a circulator.

Here are links to some photos that I took of the system.

http://i1230.photobucket.com/albums/...n/IMG_5405.jpg
http://i1230.photobucket.com/albums/...n/IMG_5406.jpg
http://i1230.photobucket.com/albums/...n/IMG_5407.jpg
http://i1230.photobucket.com/albums/...n/IMG_5408.jpg
http://i1230.photobucket.com/albums/...n/IMG_5409.jpg

If it would be useful I could post a drawing of the layout of the system.
 
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Old 12-16-10, 06:11 PM
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Pero, can you post a link to your PUBLIC album so we don't have to bounce back and forth? I'd like to browse the photos more easily...

Never mind... I found ya:

Perotin's album

ALSO, step back with the camera and take a few shots of the whole system from different angles so we can put the pieces together... it's hard to 'relate' the close-ups.

Yes, a diagram would be helpful!
 
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Old 12-16-10, 06:15 PM
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By the way... if you opened the cap on the air bleeder and got only water, then the cap didn't need to be opened anyway... if it was doing anything it would have farted out air... that doesn't mean to close it again, just an observation that if it had caught any air while it was closed, that air would have come out.

On those two valves in picture 1, is there a screwdriver slot on the TOP of those valves ? If so, is it parallel, or perpendicular to the pipe?
 
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Old 12-16-10, 07:12 PM
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Here is a drawing that I made of the system
http://i1230.photobucket.com/albums/...n/IMG_5410.jpg

I can try to make a better one if it would help.

I can also try to take a wider angle shot, but the system is really all over the place and there is a fair amount of water pipes right there as well. The spigots are in a different part of the basement from the furnace.

Unfortunately, the air bleeder released air before it spurted water, so there was some air in the air scoop.

There is not a screw driver slot on the top of the valve, only on the bottom as you see. The slots are in line with the pipe.
 
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Old 12-16-10, 07:48 PM
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Sorry for the double post.Here are two pictures of the lines from further back. As you can see they are a mess. There are quite a few water and gas lines as well. If I download a drawing program I will label the pictures.

http://i1230.photobucket.com/albums/...n/IMG_5411.jpg
http://i1230.photobucket.com/albums/...n/IMG_5412.jpg

I really appreciate the help. It does seem that the valves are open, and thus I suppose that the other zones are clogged with air. However, even if they were not, I do not understand why the water would naturally circulate in all of the zones.

If it turns out that air is the problem, do you have any suggestions on bleeding the system, as the only air valves are the air scoop and on the furnace? Should I open one of the spigots and refill the system with water? If so, which spigot should I open or does it not matter?
 
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Old 12-16-10, 08:41 PM
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Unrelated issue... the expansion tank on the water heater... what were they thinking? Get a roll of that perforated steel banding material and run a loop of it from the floor joist down around the tank and back up again. That needs some extra support.
 
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Old 12-16-10, 08:46 PM
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Ohhhh, OK, I see the screw slots on the bottom now... I'm blind, what can I say?

There are actually THREE of those screw valves... so that means that there must be another drain valve also, correct?



So if I'm reading your diagram right, the valve CLOSEST to the viewer is for the basement loop (cold), the next is for the upstairs (hot), and the screw valve on the right is for the upstairs (cold).

Follow that pipe for the upstairs ... is there another drain valve further down that pipe somewhere?
 
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Old 12-16-10, 09:12 PM
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Here's how to do a 'power purge' on the not working loops:

FIRST, shut the boiler off and allow it to cool to 100F or lower! You do NOT want to do this if the boiler is HOT... Large amounts of cold water hitting a hot boiler is not good! C-R-A-C-K !

Hook a drain hose to one of the cold zone spigots in the picture and direct it to a suitable drain, or out the window. It's going to be a fair amount of water flowing... a small bucket will NOT do.

Turn the screw slot valve next to it 1/4 turn so that the screw slot is perpendicular to the pipe. This will CLOSE that screw valve. Closing this valve will put up a 'roadblock' to the water that we will feed in the next step from taking the shortest route. It will force the water to go around the detour, and through the zone.

Up at the ceiling there is this bell shaped valve:



That bell shaped valve is your 'pressure reducing valve'. It maintains a minimum pressure in the system of 12 PSI, but feeds the water very slowly. We need to feed the water faster.

See that 'handle' on the valve? That is called a 'fast fill' handle. Pullling up on that handle will bypass the internal regulator in that valve and allow a fast flow of water into the system.

OK, all set?

OPEN the drain with the hose on it.

PULL UP on the handle on the pressure reducing valve.

You should get a fast flow of water through the system, and out the hose. Keep the handle up until you see no more air.

Let the handle down on the fill valve, and close the hose drain.

Turn the screw slot parallel to the pipe.

You have just pushed the air in that zone out and filled it with water.

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

Hopefully as I suspect, you have located a third drain valve ... if so, repeat the process on that zone as well.

This should get all the zones flowing.
 
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