No flow in radiant floor, no pressure at the boiler, no spring in WI.....

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Old 03-26-11, 10:45 PM
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No flow in radiant floor, no pressure at the boiler, no spring in WI.....

Have radiant floor system with 3 zones controller, 3 thermostats, 4 MVAs on one brass manifold (all Wisbro/Uponor including 2 MVAs replaced earlier this year). Have read elsewhere that switches within MVAs are vulnerable, but everything appears to be working - controller has green lights, thermostats calling for heat, the MVAs appear to be activating/move up to the open position, and close the end switch to trigger the one relay circuit which should activate the pump. Yet, no flow through any of the four zones, and no heat. Would think if MVA switch was failing, the end switch indicator would not go on.

Then had to assume that this system was working and the problem is up stream. Both grundfos pumps "seem to be working" - hot to touch, soft hum. Further back stream at the Slant-fin boiler, the expansion tank seems to be ok (tink on the lower, thunk on the upper, although I don't have an accurate pressure gage at 10 pm on Saturday). Temp at boiler is 160, but pressure is showing close to 0 psi. I suspect this may be more of the problem, but took all the advice from earlier - pump the tank with air, use the fast fill valve (which really didn't feel like it did anything), and still no pressure.

Also have a reliance heatguard100 mixer valve - saw in another stream that a faulty mixer valve would perhaps restrict flow.

At this point I'm throwing up my hands. A good robust troubleshooting/diagnostic procedure for radiant systems is hard to come by, although I have to say the specific advice for any particular problem in this forum is great.

Hoping someone may have some insight or a procedure to troubleshoot and fix this problem. Am about ready to put forced hot air system into the AC ducts and call this radiant system a bust!!!
 
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Old 03-26-11, 10:54 PM
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You have zero pressure in the boiler. Its probably the issue. The fast fill should maintain the 12 psi. If you lift the handle and nothing, then there must be a valve off before or after the fill valve.

Let us know.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 03-26-11, 10:57 PM
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Thanks - will recheck the valves, but thought all were open. Is there a chance that the gauge itself has failed?
 
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Old 03-26-11, 11:04 PM
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Sure could be. But if everything seems to be working but no water movement its lack of pressure. Water will not move. When you trip the fill valve you should hear water filling. If not a valve is probably closed.

Make sure the fill valve pin is bottoming in the actuator.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 03-26-11, 11:07 PM
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The mystery continues - all valves are in the on position, pressure still zero, and the fast fill valve doesn't feel like anything is happening. The only other clue I have is that there is a little moisture on the floor draining from the pressure relief valve (?) out of the cast iron portion over the top of the expansion tank.

What am I missing?
 
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Old 03-26-11, 11:22 PM
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Mike - thanks again - relative novice in the ways of plumbing - "fill valve pin bottoming in the actuator"??
 
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Old 03-26-11, 11:27 PM
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Is that a air vent on top of exp tank? Turn the cap on top and close it.

Does your fill valve look like this?



Or this

[
Let me know
 
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Old 03-26-11, 11:37 PM
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Any way if the handle or lever is not doing anything then:

If you have the first valve, unscrew the lever on top CCW. You will see a threaded piece with a slot on the top. Remove the rod thats in there. Use a screw driver and turn CW. The boiler should start filling. You should hear water running.

Same for valve 2. Loosen the nut on top then then turn the pin with a screw driver. It should fill.

Only fill to you get about 10-12 psi then turn the pins back a couple turns so the boiler does not keep filling. Or shut a valve off if there is one after the fill valve.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 03-26-11, 11:56 PM
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Definitely the lower one. Tried to activate it again and it just flops freely as if it's not triggering something. Am knocking off for the night but will be at it in the morning.
 
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Old 03-27-11, 12:02 AM
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Loosen the nut on top CCW then turn the pin with a screw driver CW. It should fill. Turn it back when the boiler gets to 12 psi so it does not continue to fill. Shut the feed valve before or afterthe fill valve if the boiler keeps feeding.

That will get you by until you change that valve. Heat should start running.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 03-27-11, 05:57 AM
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That screw adjusts the auto fill pressure. If you turn it, make sure after everything is done, it is set for 12 psi. That lever also flips easily when it works, so that is not an indication of a problem. Also check for other valves that may be closed on that line.

Takeing pictures of your system for us to see with help.
 
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Old 03-27-11, 10:52 AM
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Those valves don't just 'go out of adjustment' sporadically... they get plugged, or otherwise just fail. Adjusting it will probably not help.

The plug on the bottom of the B&G valve can be removed to clean the strainer screen. You could try that, but I'm doubtful of success.

If you want to get water into the boiler in an emergency, you could try a 'cross connection' with a washing machine hose ... feed the water into a boiler drain... but BE CAREFUL!!!! you will have no pressure regulation at this point... so you have to be sure that the pressure gauge is in fact functioning, and feed the water VERY SLOWLY!

Not only does it sound like the fill valve may be shot, but the reason for the low pressure in the first place has to be looked into... systems should be PRESSURE TIGHT!
 
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Old 03-27-11, 11:07 AM
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Trooper, can you also give him the 'how to build a pressure gauge' instructions? I can never find that thread....
 
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Old 03-27-11, 11:15 AM
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I never can either Xiph! So, each time I write a new one...

In the meantime, here's the instruction sheet for the pressure reducing valve:

http://www.bellgossett.com/literature/files/610.pdf
 
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Old 03-27-11, 11:19 AM
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OK - back at it here with tool box, bike pump, laptop and camera all ready to go.

Same basic status as of last night. Tried the adjustment of the fill valve, and have gone down half the length of the exposed threads (about 5 full rotations) without even a whiff of reaction to the system. All valves back to known running water are open on the supply side. Tend to agree with NJ Trooper that the likelihood of this all of the sudden coming out of whack seems minimal - my money would be on the pressure gauge itself failing.

Whatever the case, am stumped at this point and a little hesitant to swap a "broken" pressure gauge with the water temp at 185. Thoughts?

Also, I have pics, but haven't been able to figure out how to create an album and get them uploaded...first time using this site.
 
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Old 03-27-11, 11:25 AM
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Here's a pic of a test gauge that I made with chrappe from my junque boxe...



It's the end from a warshin'sheen hose, and a few bits and pieces I had layin' around.

If yer not 'blessed' with being a junque collector like me, you can do this:

Go to HD or Lowes and for about $10 or so, pick up one of these that are used primarily by lawn sprinkler dudes:


image courtesy plumbersurplus.com

Thing is that you can't get the resolution you need from that high pressure gauge so you will need to replace it with a 0-30 or 0-50 PSI job. If your HD or Lowes don't have the gauge, stop at a real plumbing or POOL supply and pick one up with the same thread (probably 1/4" NPT) and swap it out... screw onto a boiler drain, open the valve and read the pressure.

You probably can't buy the brass bits and pieces to make your own from scratch, so buying the premade one is likely more cost effective (plus if you are ever curious how much hose pressure you have on your home, you can always put the original gauge back on)... but if you are as cheap as I am, you might want to compare and see...
 
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Old 03-27-11, 11:33 AM
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Whatever the case, am stumped at this point and a little hesitant to swap a "broken" pressure gauge with the water temp at 185. Thoughts?

Also, I have pics, but haven't been able to figure out how to create an album and get them uploaded...first time using this site.
Yes, absolutely correct... 185 water will send you to the emergency room in a heartbeat!

TURN OFF THE BOILER AND ALLOW TO COOL TO 100F or LESS!

Here's instruction on how to set the expansion tank pressure:

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

1. Shut off boiler and allow to cool to under 100F.

2. Shut off water supply line to boiler.

3. Drain only enough water from the boiler drain to drop the system pressure to ZERO. REPEAT: DO NOT COMPLETELY DRAIN THE BOILER! ONLY ENOUGH TO DROP THE PRESSURE TO ZERO!

4. With an ACCURATE tire pressure gauge, check the air charge in the tank on the air valve opposite the end of the tank that's connected to the system. If ANY water comes out of the air valve, the bladder inside the tank is shot and the tank needs replaced. If no water comes out the air valve, and the pressure is less than 12-15 PSI, continue to step 5. If the pressure is OK, turn the water supply to the boiler back on and repressurize the system, turn the power back on to the boiler, no service is necessary.

5. Using a bicycle pump, or a small air compressor, add air to the tank until you have 15 PSI air charge.

6. Check the boiler pressure gauge again, and if it has risen off ZERO, drain some more water from the boiler drain until it is again at ZERO.

7. Check the air charge on the tank again. If it is below 15 PSI, add air to the tank until it is at 15 PSI.

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until the boiler stays at ZERO and the tank stays at 15 PSI. At this point, the tank is properly recharged and the water supply can be turned on to re-pressurize the system, turn the power on to boiler and return to service.

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

To post pics you need to set up a free account at a photo hosting site... free account at Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket and upload pics there. Come back here and drop a link to your PUBLIC album for us to view.
 
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Old 03-27-11, 11:36 AM
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As a former New-Englander I appreciate the ingenuity and the thriftiness. Unfortunately I don't have the parts in the house, so, before I go on that trip to HD (or harbor freight)...this will give a reading off of either of the drain fittings? and am assuming that there is an expected pressure both "at temp" and "ambient" (different obviously, but not zero). Have shut the boiler down thanks to all those wonderful warnings in the brochure you sent!
 
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Old 03-27-11, 11:43 AM
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OK then...off to HD for pressure gauges while the boiler cools

Pictures in case it helps

Not sure if the img code is working, but it is Pictures by dnspade - Photobucket
 
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Old 03-27-11, 11:58 AM
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Pressure questions, yes...

With the boiler at nominal room temp, you should see close to 12 PSI ... as the boiler heats up to 180 or so, your pressure will rise to as much as 20 PSI or so, typically less. The actual amount of increase depends on the size of the expansion tank relative to the water volume in the system.

reading off of either of the drain fittings?
Yes, just screw onto a drain and open... gauge will read system pressure.
 
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Old 03-27-11, 12:04 PM
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After looking at your system, and thinking, "that's a pretty nice install!", I wanted to offer a suggestion to make servicing your expansion tank a little easier in the future... this 'option' will allow you to check/charge your tank air charge (something that should be done at LEAST every two years because those tanks DO lose 1-2 PSI per year... NORMALLY!) ..

This pic is done in copper, but you would want to use black fittings and nipples...



By closing the valve between the system and the tank, you then drain the tank to atmospheric by opening the drain valve to a bucket/hose and have your way with the tank... no need for the above procedure... no draining the boiler to zero, etc... once the water side of the tank is atmospheric with the drain open, you just pump the tank up and go...
 
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Old 03-27-11, 12:18 PM
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No pressure

Are you shure that any or all valves up stream of your fast fill valve are open. Pop the safety valve to see if you have pressure in your boiler. If your pressure/temp valve is accurate, it's pretty shure the answer is "0'. Is that a Fernco fitting on the pipe at the top of your boiler?
Sid
 
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Old 03-27-11, 02:12 PM
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OK - back from my odyssey of trying to get some things accomplished on a Sunday in Madison (we still ban car sales on Sunday...rumor has it the Puritans left town just before I got here).

Could only find the Watts one you pictured, but for our purposes it verified the pressure was zero on all 3 outlets (two pre-mixer on the boiler side and one on the heater return section). Air pressure on the tank was also nil, but no water was coming out. Repressurized to 15 psi, opened up the supply valve and still bupkiss on the boiler water pressure.

starting to suspect the pressure reducer valve is completely blocked. While I don' quite no how that would be, is the only explaination given the guidance so far.

Thanks for the suggestion on the modification. If I make it through this I will look at doing that add for pressure reading although may not have clearance with the floor joists
 
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Old 03-27-11, 02:38 PM
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Try Trooper's method of using a hose from a water source to the drain valve to get water into the system if you need heat. You can use a garden hose from a laundry connection or even the water heater drain and if you can't find a "double female" garden hose connector in the gardening section at the big box homecenter you will be able to find two female garden hose to iron pipe size adapters in the plumbing section along with a threaded nipple to connect them together and make your own double female.

Once you have the hose connected open the source valve first then slowly open the drain valve while watching the pressure gauge. Close the drain valve first then the source valve and then remove the hose.
 
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Old 03-27-11, 02:38 PM
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Update...took the strainer nut off the pressure reducer, looked squeaky clean. Just for kicks I turned the cold water supply on, and got nothing coming out of the valve, even if I flipped the fastfill lever. Cranked the set screw down as far as it would go and still nothing. I'm assuming I should've seen water at that point. The only things up stream from the pressure reducer is the backflow preventer and the shutoff valve itself. From there it's tied into the cold water that supplies a number of things including my daughter's bedroom, which I would've heard about by now if it wasn't working.

Do check valves malfunction, or is my assumption that I should've gotten flow from the pressure reducer wrong?
 
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Old 03-27-11, 03:17 PM
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The strainer is on the incoming water so if you get no flow there you must have a blockage between the water line that serves several branches and the pressure reducing valve. It is possible that the valve serving just the pressure reducing valve is defective and stuck in a closed position. This especially true if it is a gate valve as they have definitely been known to fail closed.

There is a slight chance that your backflow preventer is totally plugged but that is less likely than a broken gate valve.
 
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Old 03-27-11, 04:09 PM
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If I make it through this I will look at doing that add for pressure reading although may not have clearance with the floor joists
You could also put a gauge there if you want, that's optional ... what you do want is the valve to isolate the tank from the system, and the drain. As you might be able to tell I added that part with the gauge later on... the drain used to screw directly into the tee.

But what clearance problems? Unscrew the tank, add the parts between the existing tee, and the tank... there appears to be plenty of room below the tank?

You can probably easily remove the backflow preventer, those should be union fittings with a washer inside.

I can see a ball valve between the system and the pressure reducing valve... then on the other side of the PR valve is your backflow... but can't see the valve to the right of the backflow... is it a gate valve as Furd suggests?

There may also be a strainer at the inlet of the backflow preventer.

(we still ban car sales on Sunday...
I guess yer lucky they let you drive! There is a community near here that until about 10-15 years ago wouldn't allow ANY wheeled vehicles to operate on Sunday! Even bicycles!
 
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Old 03-27-11, 04:11 PM
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Ok - two more trips to HD...filled boiler to 12 psi using the garden hose method. Turned the boiler back on and have flow throughout the system, so indeed the uponor citcuits/valves are working properly. The boiler situation is still concerning...

- pressure dropped to 8 psi but seems to be stable now while heating - is this perhaps due to pressure in the boiler circuit equalizing with the low pressure in the heating zones?
- some foaming discharge out of the "spirovent" cast iron apparatus above the expansion tank. Normal?
- refilling by hose is not something I care to repeat...is there any verification that can be done on the valves without tearing the pipes apart
- am guessing root cause here is I have a leak somewhere...will go searching other parts of the forum or threads but if anyone knows how best to test, please let me know.
 
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Old 03-27-11, 04:16 PM
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You certainly had a lot of air in the system... and air can and will compress. When you initially filled it with the hose, you did compress that air. When the foamy bubbles came out the spiro, the pressure in the system dropped because of the air leaving. You will probably see it drop even more as the water is heated, driving the dissolved air and gases out of the fresh water.

See above for notes on the backflow preventer...
 
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Old 03-27-11, 04:43 PM
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Trooper, Furd, and all you pro's,

I asume this is a P/S system with close spaced tee's. My question is this .......

1. Is the tee's spaced to far apart, for the size of the pipe ?

2. Will the use of the 90's off of them tee's like in his pictures, interfere with the flow through the tee's.
 
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Old 03-27-11, 04:53 PM
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Leave your hose hooked up andfull of water, until you get your presure set up right.
Because a empty hose has alot of air in it. All air that was in that hose was put in to your piping system.
I hope I said that right, and you can understand. Buzz

p.s. Thats the way I filled my system
 
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Old 03-27-11, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
Y
I guess yer lucky they let you drive! There is a community near here that until about 10-15 years ago wouldn't allow ANY wheeled vehicles to operate on Sunday! Even bicycles!
What community was this? If it was the one I'm thinking of, it was a lot longer than 10-15 years. You also can't buy a car on Sunday here in NJ either.
 
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Old 03-27-11, 05:38 PM
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No motor vehicles sale in minnesota on sundays.
 
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Old 03-27-11, 05:40 PM
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a lot longer than 10-15 years
Yeah, I'm sure it is... OG ... and I'm sure yer right, maybe even 30 years? I do know that when my wife was a kid, she used to get busted for riding her bike in town!

this is a P/S system with close spaced tee's.
Yes, it appears to be so.

1. Is the tee's spaced to far apart, for the size of the pipe ?
Technically, yes, they do appear so.

2. Will the use of the 90's off of them tee's like in his pictures, interfere with the flow through the tee's.
It could I suppose, but let's ask this:

Has it been working OK for a number of years?
 
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Old 03-27-11, 05:55 PM
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The idea of the closely spaced tees is to provide 'hydraulic separation' between two joined loops.

In YOUR system, since the only thing you have hanging off the tees is a single pumped loop running off the mixing valve, I doubt that there is any detrimental effect to having the tees a bit further apart.

If it ain't broke...

But, if you wanted to think about some improvements, you might consider adding a buffer tank to the primary loop. This would provide a place for a larger volume of water to be stored and provide a kind of 'battery' that you could charge and discharge with heat.

Replacing those tees with something like a 'Boiler Buddy' might be a pretty good improvement. There would likely be plenty of heat calls that the boiler wouldn't even fire up. It would simply discharge your 'battery'.

Boiler Buddy - Overview

When your system is running, have you observed the on/off cycling of the boiler? How would you describe it's operation as far as cycling goes? Minutes of burner on versus burner off during a typical heat call?
 
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Old 03-27-11, 06:22 PM
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- am guessing root cause here is I have a leak somewhere...will go searching other parts of the forum or threads but if anyone knows how best to test, please let me k
Everyone here is trying to tell you how to better your system, but the main issue is maintaining pressure in the boiler. It seems yo have a blockage in the feed line or you have a leak somewhere.


Plese let us know what your findings are.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 03-27-11, 06:28 PM
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Testing for a leak is to turn the water off to boiler and look for the pressure to drop.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 03-27-11, 06:30 PM
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We're working on that Mike! I think I'm the only one making suggestions for improvement? And Spade DID ask about the tees, right?

[ooops, no, it wasn't Spade that asked! sorry 'bout dat... but still, we're just bs'ing while waiting for a progress report]

And, we ARE making progress, right? There's pressure in the boiler now, right?

Yes, we're waiting to find out what type of valve precedes the backflow preventer, and he also has information about how to remove the backflow preventer if needed...

First thing is to get water in the boiler... THEN check for leaks.

Here's the thing... there probably is NOT a leak.

The reason the pressure went low is because the expansion tank didn't have an air charge in it. The system heated and dumped some water. Makeup valve wasn't feeding water. When system cooled, the pressure was low.

So, after the makeup water problem is fixed, and the tank is properly charged, then we'll instruct Spade to get the system to 12 PSI cold, and shut the makeup valve and monitor the pressure. My bet is that it's fine.
 
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Old 03-27-11, 07:41 PM
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The only thing wrong with that scenario, Trooper, is that the expansion tank would have had to fail, the system cool, take on make-up and THEN the make-up water supply fail. It could happen that way but I think the two things happening coincidentally in that order is problematic. More likely is that the expansion tank could have failed some time ago and the system had been taking on and dumping water for some time (assuming the safety valve is piped to a drain) OR there is a leak somewhere in the system that has not made itself apparent and something has caused the make-up water to fail.

A water meter on the make-up (take readings during the weekly check of the system) would have discovered a leak and weekly checks on the pressure/temperature would have likely shown the deteriorating system parameters before total failure. This is why hydronic heating systems are not "check once a year or so if you think about it" systems.

Does this make-up water system connect to a galvanized supply pipe?
 
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Old 03-28-11, 07:48 AM
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Guys - thanks for your help so far - had to go catch a flight for business - left the system - it was heating, but think that it indeed was a matter of not monitoring ofr a while. Think the pressures in the 4 zones and boiler need to come to equilibrium before I conclude whether I have a leak or not. Just writing a quick note of thanks and that you probably won't see much more of me until next weekend on this thread due to a business trip.

will ep you posted on what else I find
 
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