200 degrees, hot supply and return pipes, but cold baseboard pipes

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Old 10-24-11, 02:33 PM
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Unhappy 200 degrees, hot supply and return pipes, but cold baseboard pipes

Hello all,

As a new homeowner of a 2 family house, been inundated with one repair after another.....and now with the cooler weather moving in, the heating system is now under siege.

Both apartments have their own heating systems, fed by the same public water line (apparently they're filled from the water heater).

Apt 1 is doing well. Apt 2 has a 200 to 210 degree temp on the dial when it's on, along with approx 16 psi. The supply line from the house, the outbound pipes from the boiler, and the return pipe to the circulator are all HOT. But, upstairs in the apartment, every single baseboard unit is ice cold. Not even warm.

I've drained the entire unit and performed a few needed repairs (new auto-fill unit, replaced badly leaking gate valve with 1/4 turn ball valve, and a new air eliminator). I must admin I don't know the "proper" method to refill this system and avoid air pockets. My uncle stopped by, showed me what he thought would get all the air out, but the pipes are still cold. When the thermostat is set on high, the burners fire, the pump is humming, the pipes get hot (around the furnace area), but no heat upstairs.

I've posted several pictures of the unit....it's the one on the right side.

I'm at my wit's end ..... and the family with 2 young kids is probably gonna start a lynch mob soon...

I appreciate any help to figure this one out.

PICS:
heating system pictures by stonecoldcurly - Photobucket


Thanks,
Mike
 
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Old 10-24-11, 03:39 PM
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You're the owner and landlord, right? Unless you are more experienced than you seem to be, you and your uncle shouldn't be DIYing a boiler in your rental unit. You need to call in a pro - for liability and safety reasons.

By the way, 200-210 deg F is too high, so you have problems with Apt #1 also.
 
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Old 10-24-11, 03:42 PM
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In the first sentence he states he is the new homeowner.
 
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Old 10-24-11, 03:48 PM
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Ok. I don't know what have already tried, but I see what is called a purge station by your boiler. When refilling the system close the ball valve right above your pump. Then open the hose bib that is above the ball valve. If you have a short piece of hose, attach it and run it to a bucket on the floor. That will help. You then throw the fast fill lever on your pressure reducing valve to fill the system. That should push most of the air through your radiators and out of the purge station. Shut that off when you get mostly water or bucket gets full. Sometimes filling the system to a high pressure helps. Be sure to drain water out to reduce the pressure when you are done filling. You can also look around inside your baseboard cabinets for an air bleeder. Probabvly will find that where the pipe comes up from the basement and/or where it goes back down if you have one.
 
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Old 10-24-11, 03:55 PM
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Whether he owns the home or not, the law says he has to provide heat. I'm with Gil on this one, he should be calling a pro for this to get the heat back on for the tenants, rather than diddling this and that to try to get it working. At some point, a man's gotta know his limitations...

That said:

Are you absolutely certain that the pump is running?

In this picture:



Notice the yellow handle valve above the circ... and then above that the blue handle drain valve.

Also notice the 'fast fill' lever on top of the pressure reducing valve (you called it auto-fill valve).

Put a hose to a drain on the blue handle drain valve.

CLOSE the yellow handle valve.

OPEN the blue handle drain valve.

LIFT the fast fill lever on the pressure reducing valve.

Water will go up through the zone and out the drain valve.

When the water coming out the drain valve is free of air, release the fast fill, close the blue, and open the yellow.

If air in the zone was the problem, this should cure it. If not, the pump may be seized.

PLEASE get some heat for your tenants, even if it means calling a tech!
 
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Old 10-24-11, 07:02 PM
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Thank you all for your fast responses.... just sat back down at the pc.

You'll be happy to know that after I submitted the post and reluctance to have them go thru another brisk night, I did have a tech come over. After some digging and moving quite of bit of stuff, there was a corner in the upstairs bathroom burying a part of the baseboard..... low and behold, there was an air bleeder valve tucked in there (good call drooplug).

So after unscrewing that little guy, letting lots of air and cold water escape, we finally had piping hot water come out as well. Problem solved and lesson learned.

Thank you NJ Trooper and Drooplug for the additional steps on properly refilling via "purge station".... I have made good note of that info. In the event of a similar case in the future, do you think purging with those steps would eliminate the need to use the air bleeder in the tenant's apartment?

You're right Gil....should be more prudent with taking care of the rental unit. Oddly enough, when I was taking the trash out this morning at 6:30am, I noticed two of their windows wide open.... interesting.
The 200-210 degree reading was on apt 2 boiler.... maybe due to the fact the water was never circulating? I'll see how it goes now that the air has been purged and water is cycling. The setting on the autostat was set a bit over 200....I lowered it to 180 today.

Again, I sincerely appreciate the responses, and have found this forum an amazing source of knowledge and information thanks to folks like yourselves.
 
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Old 10-24-11, 09:31 PM
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In the event of a similar case in the future, do you think purging with those steps would eliminate the need to use the air bleeder in the tenant's apartment?
No, always bleed air instead of purging if possible.

The water in the system has over time become starved of oxygen and other gases from being heated and cooled. This is what you want! (although this particular time it's not the case since you had the system open and drained for repairs... but generally speaking...)

Fresh water contains lots of dissolved gases. Don't be surprised in the coming days/weeks if there are complaints of water 'sloshing' in the pipes. That's the gases coming out of solution after heating. Run the bleeder again.

See the tire valve cap on top of that brass can? That can is a 'float type automatic air vent' and it's purpose (along with the 'air scoop' it's screwed into) is to catch and vent air from the water flow. That cap should be left LOOSE so the air can escape. Only close that cap if the device leaks, until you can get a replacement. (Or is that one of the things you said you replaced?)

How tall is the building? From the boiler to the highest piping in the heating system? (not to the roof)... this will determine your minimum pressure to maintain in the boiler. You need 0.431 PSI per foot of system height, PLUS 4 PSI 'headroom'.

When you had the system down to make the repairs, did you check the pressure in the expansion tank? You can only check that when there is zero pressure on the water side... but when you do check it, it should be equal to the COLD pressure of the boiler... usually 12 PSI, but higher if the building is tall enough (two floors is usually not tall enough).

Just some maintenance stuff to chew on...
 
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Old 10-27-11, 01:11 AM
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Thanks NJT.... very interesting, and very good to know.

Yes, I did replace the air eliminator on top of the Taco air scoop on both systems. The old ones would leak as soon as you unscrewed the cap....apparently did so over time, since the scoops had rusty drip lines all over them.

Height from boiler to highest baseboard pipe is approx 20 feet. The pressure has been holding steady in the 15 range.

Unfortunately, I did not check the pressure on expansion tank. I did a quick knock test just to ensure the diaphragm hasn't failed... solid sounding on top, hollow on bottom. I'll have to check it next time...

This type of maintenance info is much appreciated. While I learned alot from my dad, he wasn't the type to really maintain things...but would let things ride and then react when they bust. I'm not a big fan of that style, and especially now that I have tenants to be concerned with.

One other note... while I was working around the Apt 2 boiler, I happened to be standing in front of it when it kicked on and I saw a couple tiny flying embers come flying out the combustion area. When I took a closer look at the 2 Utica units (almost identical), I noticed that Apt 1 has top and bottom plates that close nicely around the burner tubes and close off the combustion area. The Apt 2 unit only seems to have a top plate....bottom is wide open, shown below.

http://i1234.photobucket.com/albums/...-16-16_381.jpg

http://i1234.photobucket.com/albums/...-16-45_581.jpg


What do you think? Is there a bottom section missing in this particular model? If so, are there downsides to not having it there?


Thank you again, very much.
 
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