Repair Flo Control Valve?

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Old 10-19-11, 08:24 AM
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Repair Flo Control Valve?

I have a 50 year old hot water baseboard heating system, fuel oil boiler. It's a three zone system, and one of my B & G Flo Control Valves has failed. Can you repair these things, or do you have to replace them? I'm reluctant to get in there with a three foot long pipe wrench -- I'm sure to break something, given my history.
 
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Old 10-19-11, 10:16 AM
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Hi,

How do you know the flo control failed?

Have you tried opening and closing it several times to see if its internals can be losened?

You could tap it lightly with a small hammer.

I am not sure if there vare replacement parts for them. I would have to check the B&G website.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 10-19-11, 02:15 PM
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I replaced two 50+ year-old B&G, 1-1/4" flo control a year or so ago. At that time, I seem to recall that B&G had repair parts available, but I elected to replace with new valves. If you use two 18-24" pipe wrenches, shouldn't be a huge job - I don't think there is anything to break.

There are two prime failure modes. First, the packing can leak around the stem. The older valves didn't have an adjustable packing nut, so you would have to disassemble the valve, which might mean removing the valve anyway.

The other problem is that the valve internals can get crudded up, so the valve doesn't reseat when the pump is off, causing the house to get too warm due to gravity flow. That also would require valve diassemby to repair.
 
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Old 10-20-11, 09:24 AM
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Thanks for the info. I apparently have both failure modes. The house doesnt really get too warm, but the pipe gets warm even when the thermostat isn't calling for heat. The pipes on the other two zones stay cold. I did crank on the little handle some , but that just made it leak. My system doesn't have any isolation valves, so I have to drain everything to do anything. I did just replace one of the three b & g circulators with a Taco, and it seems to be working... Here's another question: I did not bleed the system after refilling. All the pipes get hot, and there isn't any noise. Should I bleed it anyway?
 
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Old 10-20-11, 09:29 AM
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Here's another question: I did not bleed the system after refilling. All the pipes get hot, and there isn't any noise. Should I bleed it anyway?
No if your getting heat its circulating. If you hear noise the auto air purgers should take care of the rest.

If that flo control leaks when you turn the stem, there should be a packing nut that you can tighten. Just give it a snug.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 10-20-11, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by bobkirby View Post
I did crank on the little handle some , but that just made it leak. Here's another question: I did not bleed the system after refilling. All the pipes get hot, and there isn't any noise. Should I bleed it anyway?
The operating handle is for jacking the flo-control valve open to get some heat during a power failure (no pump).

If all the radiators are getting heat, then bleeding might not be necessary. What type of expansion tank do you have, bladder or conventional steel(usually hanging up between the floor joists)?

Unless you want to live with the flo-control valve problems, I think you'll have to bite the bullet and replace them. (Older B&G flo control valves didn't have an external packing nut.) Install isolation valves on either side of the pumps while your are at it.
 
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Old 10-21-11, 12:21 AM
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I have a conventional tank, which has been there for 50 years, I guess. I don't know about heating systems, but from my experience with captive air well tanks, I don't think they would last that long. I also have a Taco air scoop, and unless I'm really confused, the direction of flow is opposite to the arrow on the thing. Seems to be working, though.
 
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Old 10-21-11, 03:24 PM
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Does the air scoop connect to the bottom of the expansion tank, with the piping sloped upward from the scoop? If you can post some photos, we could weigh in on your setup and the direction of flow.

With a conventional tank, you should not have an air elimator installed - about the size of a tomato paste can with a schraeder-looking valve on top.
 
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Old 10-21-11, 08:12 PM
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That's right -- no schrader valve, and piping is as you described. I'll work on getting some pictures.
 
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Old 10-21-11, 09:30 PM
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Not sure about the Taco scoop, but those cast iron scoops, most of them will only work properly with the flow in the correct direction. Be sure of the flow direction before you change it!

Gilmorrie said:

Does the air scoop connect to the bottom of the expansion tank,
and I want to add to this question:

Does the piping to the tank come off the TOP of the air scoop?

Waiting to see pics...
 
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Old 10-22-11, 10:06 PM
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I couldn't figure out how to insert the pics in my post, but here is a link to my picasaweb. You should be able to see some pictures of my setup. Thanks for looking.

https://picasaweb.google.com/1005156...eat=directlink
 
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Old 10-22-11, 10:21 PM
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You have issues. I am 99% sure. ( Just incase I am wrong I left 1%)

The proper flow of the air scoop is the direction the factory arrow is pointing. And that arrow is correct. Erase that arrow that was marked with marker ASAP. That is wrong.

Next, and I am pretty sure those pumps are upside down. They should be pumping towards the boiler.

Check the arrows on the pump impeller housing. The should all be pointing UP!!!

The "flow controls" are backwards also. Should be pointing toward the wall.

This is your whole issue why the house is not getting warm. The feed is at the top of the boiler and the return at the bottom and someone reversed the flow.

Check all arrows and let us know.

If I am correct:

Turn the flanges ( Impeller housing) around on all pumps if this is the case. Then the motors will need to be rotated 180 degrees so they are oriented as they are know.

Turn all flow controls around. The arrows should be pointing to the wall.

After further looks at the pics I would say I am 100% sure. I retract my 99% statement from my first sentence.

Also "dont " call the company who is listed on all those tags hanging from the expansion tank......


Mike NJ
 

Last edited by lawrosa; 10-22-11 at 11:01 PM.
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Old 10-23-11, 06:45 AM
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It appears that the flow is reversed through the boiler. The supply water should come out of the top tapping and return into the bottom tapping. I find it a bit odd the way they piped those flow control valves. They could have just entered the bottom tapping instead of using in elbow into the back.

I installed a B&G flow control valve just like yours on my system. I put it on the return side of the boiler. I had to remove it from that location because there wasn't enough pressure on the return to lift the check. It greatly reduced the flow in my system. I wonder if that is the problem you are having with your house not getting very warm.
 
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Old 10-23-11, 08:04 AM
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Hey, guys, sorry if I implied the house wasn't getting warm. I should have said not "excessively" warm -- I was responding to a question about the failed flo-valve causing excessive heat in the house.
The system seems to be working fine. I wouldn't have worried about the flo-valve if it hadn't started leaking. (ok, it wasn't leaking before I messed with it.) I see what you are saying, and I believe the arrow I drew on the air scoop does indicate the current direction of flow. The circulators are pumping down. So, given that, should I consider reversing the flow to make it right? Against all odds, apparently, the house stays toasty even on the coldest nights, and the air scoop must be working, since I have drained the system twice and never bled the lines. My fuel oil bill is astronomical, but I don't think that's unusual these days. Would there be a big improvement in efficiency if I turned the circulators around? Actually, if I did that, I would probably put in two new Tacos and get rid of the B & G's altogether. Thanks again for all your help.
 
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Old 10-23-11, 08:07 AM
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If you reverse the flow, you wold need to reverse the flow controls as well. I don't know how this would affect efficiency.
 
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Old 10-23-11, 08:25 AM
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It looks to me like the pumps are pumping in the correct direction, toward the bottom of the boiler. The discharge comes out the side of the volute of a centrifugal pump - the suction goes to the center of the volute.
 
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Old 10-23-11, 08:31 AM
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Bob, how long has this been running like this?

The circulators are pumping down.
How do you know? Let's see a pic of the other end of the pumps.

In this picture, the pumps are pictured with the flow DOWN, you can tell by looking at the volute... the water enters the center of the impeller and is centrifugally thrown outward to the outside of the pump housing.


image couretsy deppmann.com

I find it incomprehensible how this could have been installed and run in this fashion since it was installed back in the mid-late 50's... and not one person ever noticed it. That's why I'm questioning this assumption.

I have no doubt that if the flow were made proper, IF it is in fact reversed, your heating costs would be less. The boiler simply isn't designed for reverse flow. Pumping cool water in the top ... it just is not thermodynamically designed for that! I think you would hear all kinds of ugly noises coming out of that boiler as the water 'percolated' inside... the fire at the bottom of the boiler is designed to get progressively hotter as it is pumped in cooler at the bottom and hot out the top.

I'll tell ya though... that boiler itself is pretty long in the tooth... ya know I'm thinking that given what you have to do to reverse the flow, IF you have to do so, and the age of the boiler, your best advice at this point might be to replace the whole mess.

That blocking plate on the boiler has been leaking for a LONG time!
 
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Old 10-23-11, 08:52 AM
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Bob, is your oil tank underground? Is it as old as the system? I have some advice for you if so...

Are those copper pipes coming through the concrete to the oil supply and return?

How about the heating pipes? Copper into the concrete?
 
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Old 10-23-11, 10:16 AM
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https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink

This is an older photo -- it's hard to see, but the arrow does point down. Yes, my tank is underground, and those are copper pipes going into the concrete. The system has been running for 50+ years, I guess. We bought the house 2 years ago, so that's the only history I know for sure. It doesn't make a lot of noise. I've had several people out, to do cleaning and inspections, etc. and I even had one company out to give me an estimate on a new boiler, and nobody ever told me it was set up wrong. Maybe they just didn't have the heart to tell me, or maybe there's something I'm not telling you that would clear things up. The reason I came to the forum is that the last guy estimated over $700 to change the B & G to a Taco (using my Taco) and replace the Flo-Valve. I decided to put in the Taco myself and live with the Flo-valve until and if I could do it myself.
 
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Old 10-23-11, 10:24 AM
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Bob, link didn't work:

Sorry, that page was not found.
Maybe they just didn't have the heart to tell me, or maybe there's something I'm not telling you that would clear things up.
Or maybe they simply didn't know enough, or care enough?
 
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Old 10-23-11, 10:29 AM
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The advice I promised is here:

Oil Tank Remediation pictures by JeffPicks - Photobucket

You can infer the advice after viewing these pics... but bottom line is :

GET THAT TANK OUT OF THE GROUND NOW! HOPEFULLY BEFORE IT LEAKS!
 
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Old 10-23-11, 12:07 PM
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NJ you could try that link again. I forgot to set permissions.
 
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Old 10-23-11, 09:24 PM
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https://picasaweb.google.com/1005156...eat=directlink

Try this link to the folder of pics. If you still are interested.
 
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Old 10-23-11, 09:31 PM
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Bob, you want to save money for now, turn the circs and flow controls around. Get that boiler running with the proper flow direction.

Cost ? = Elbow grease!!!

Then I guess as I read you need to work on removing the oil tank? Did the oil company offer insurance? I would take out what ever insurance you can.

You have gas where you live?

Mike NJ
 
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Old 10-24-11, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by bobkirby View Post
https://picasaweb.google.com/1005156...eat=directlink

Try this link to the folder of pics.
The pumps are definitely discharging downward and into the bottom of the boiler, which is correct.
 
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Old 10-24-11, 09:16 AM
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The pumps are definitely discharging downward and into the bottom of the boiler, which is correct.
No they are not. They are pointing down and flowing into the circuit and pumping toward the feed.

To pump toward the boiler they need to point up.

Look at the pics again. That header above the pumps goes to the boiler. So the pumps need to pump towards that header an to the boiler.

https://picasaweb.google.com/1005156...eat=directlink#

Mike NJ
 
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Old 10-24-11, 10:23 AM
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Mike, I see now - you are right and I was wrong. That magic marker arrow on the air scoop does, indeed, show the actual direction of flow. The whole system is back-asswards. Unbelievable.
 
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Old 10-24-11, 01:04 PM
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Well, ok, guys, thanks a lot. I ask for help with a flo valve and you tell me to tear up my whole system and dig up my back yard. Actually, I guess I did ask about that taco air scoop. Anyway, I think I'll just cruise along for one more winter at least. after thinking about it, I'm really not enthusiastic about disrupting a heating system that's been working effectively for over 50 years, even though you all seemed to be dismayed by its design. I don't doubt that there are some theoretical efficiency gains to be had by reversing the flow, but they are theoretical -- I doubt you have any real world experience with a system before and after such an operation. And let's not forget who would be doing the work -- me. A completely uninformed, inexperienced, and accident prone retired geek. The only real asset I have is a lot of time on my hands.

The tank is a concern. I asked a rep for one of the big outfits in town about that shortly after we moved in, and he said "we just don't see any problems with underground tanks in this area." FWIW. I have no evidence of a leak, and while I know that doesn't mean there isn't one, I'm willing to risk it for now. I'm down in the sunny south of Virginia, so perhaps the lack of major frost heave helps us a bit. At any rate, you guys probably would agree that I have a new heating system in my not too distant future, so all this may be moot next year.

Thanks for your attention and all the good information.
 
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Old 10-24-11, 01:58 PM
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Hey your welcome.

Just a note:

That system has not been running like that for too long. Those flow controls were recently refitted. You can tell by all the teflon around the joints. Fingerprints and smear marks on the pipe.

Also the impeller housings look newer and probably were replaced at the same time.

I think its all related to when someone installed that air seperator.

Now why in the work did they do this??? The world may never know.....

You are wasting fuel keeping it this way. Some of the others can chime in and let you know more about the pyshics, but it seems you have your mind set on leaving it.

IMO if I had to pay your oil bill for the winter, those parts would have been turned around already. It would probably take a half day to complete.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 10-24-11, 04:51 PM
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Also the impeller housings look newer and probably were replaced at the same time.
Thing is though... I don't believe you can turn the impeller housings over. The oil would all leak out!

I'm not sure all that white stuff is teflon tape... maybe on the center one that appears to have been replaced... it looks much newer. But wait... you aren't talking about teflon TAPE, are you? Maybe teflon DOPE is what yer thinking?

This entire system seems to me to be original 50's vintage.

Yep, it's a mystery that will never be solved.
 
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Old 10-24-11, 05:50 PM
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Yeah... Lo0k at those nice new tees and nipples. Fresh paste IMO. Looks repiped to me when the seperator went in.





As far as the pumps, he has one taco that he replaced, so I would just replace the other two.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 10-24-11, 05:50 PM
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Thing is though... I don't believe you can turn the impeller housings over.
Of course you can! You remove the "bearing bracket" by removing the four capscrews holding it to the pump body and then you may insert the pump body in the piping any way you desire. Re-install the bearing bracket with the oiling holes on top. That means you have four positions to mount the pump.

While there is no doubt that the system is running backwards as far as flow is concerned I seriously doubt that making it "right" would change any of the dynamics of the system except possibly making air elimination slightly easier. Increased fuel efficiency from changing the flow is doubtful. Since it works at least in an okay manner I see no reason to change it. As for the Teflon (or whatever) on some of the fittings...just because some fittings have been changed since originally built does NOT mean that these new fittings were not installed in the same manner as the original.

I do strongly suggest that bobkirby get some water detection paste from his oil supplier and test for water in the bottom of his tank. If there is any water then I can almost guarantee that corrosion is taking place and if not leaking now it will soon. Unless you have been tracking the fuel consumption vs. degree days for years you simply cannot know if the tank is leaking or not.
 
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Old 10-24-11, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Furd View Post
While there is no doubt that the system is running backwards as far as flow is concerned I seriously doubt that making it "right" would change any of the dynamics of the system except possibly making air elimination slightly easier. Increased fuel efficiency from changing the flow is doubtful.
Wouldn't it make a difference? Cool water coming into the top of the boiler, and hot water coming out the bottom? Heat transfer from the burner to the water would be less, right? Stand-alone hot water heaters aren't ever designed that way. Why?
 
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Old 10-24-11, 06:33 PM
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First of all, a domestic water heater is not a boiler BUT if used as one it really would make little difference which direction the flow was through the unit.

Secondly, while a modern boiler may be designed for a particular direction of flow that wasn't true fifty years ago. Those old boilers are basically a tank with a few tubes for heat transfer. Except for an area very near the inlet nozzle (fitting) the temperature throughout the boiler is going to be within a few degrees at most.
 
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Old 10-25-11, 09:43 AM
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Well, I don't know what to tell you. I haven't seen enough plumbing to tell the difference between 20 year old work and 50 year old work. But just looking at it, my gut feeling is that it's been that way since the beginning. I can tell you the only teflon tape I can find is on the obviously new flow control valve -- the one in the middle. The B & G circulators are all over the map. Some motors look original, some newer, and it looks like all the bearing brackets have been replaced at some point. My father and I replaced one of them shortly after I moved in to the house. I have drained and refilled the system twice without ever bleeding the air out, so there's no advantage to be gained there.
Depends on your perspective, but I guess I'd have to say I do have my mind set on not messing with it, particularly after Furd's comment. I will follow up on the tank. Seems to me like the thing to do is stick it in the summer over a few months and see if it goes down. I do track consumption against heating degree days, but my new woodstove sorta messed up my calculations.
 
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