No Pressure and Too Much Pressure at the Same Time


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Old 12-01-11, 11:38 AM
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No Pressure and Too Much Pressure at the Same Time

Hello, I purchased a 2 story foreclosed house equipped with Weil-McLain cg-5-spdn boiler. The system was drained and sat empty for at least 2 years. The boiler has Taco pump 007bf4jw, an Amtrol bladder style expansion tank, and a B&G pressure reducing valve.

Here is the problem I am having...I turned on the supply line which runs through the pressure reducing valve to fill the system. Then I opened the drain until only water came out, no air. Then starting on the 1st floor I bled each radiator. When I finished, the pressure gauge on the boiler still read 0. While I was standing there the pressure release valve burst open and drained about a gallon to a gallon and a half of water. I turned off the valve which leads to the pressure tank and drained the tank and checked the pressure with a tire gauge which was 0. I charged the tank to 12psi and checked the valve for leaks. I found the air was leaking out so I changed the core and now it no longer leaks. I bled the system again and the pressure still does not show anything on the boiler, but when I check the pressure at the expansion tank it has gone from 12psi up to 25psi and the pressure relief still opens up on occasion. The pressure reducing valve is not in fast fill mode either.

Where do I go from here? Shouldn't the pressure reducing valve quit putting water into the system when it is full? I haven't even turned the heat on yet, so where is the pressure coming from?
 
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Old 12-01-11, 12:19 PM
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Sounds like you may have a combination of issues.

When I finished, the pressure gauge on the boiler still read 0.
1. The pressure gauge most likely is not working. Replace.

I turned off the valve which leads to the pressure tank and drained the tank and checked the pressure with a tire gauge which was 0.
2. If its a tank with a bladder what did you drain? The air? You dont drain water from the bladder type tanks so I figure you just let all the air out. And you charged it when the boiler pressure was release right?

But how would you know? Get the gauge replaced first. If any water came out of the exp. tank schrader valve replace the tank. I would probably replace anyway.

Shouldn't the pressure reducing valve quit putting water into the system when it is full?
3. The fill valve should stop filling at 12-15psi. If its faulty, which it sounds like it is, it will continue to add water until the relief valve trips. I would replace the fill valve.

You can verify this when you change the gauge. That should be your first step.

Mike NJ.
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-01-11 at 04:57 PM. Reason: fixed quotes
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Old 12-01-11, 12:46 PM
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2. If its a tank with a bladder what did you drain? The air? You dont drain water from the bladder type tanks so I figure you just let all the air out. And you charged it when the boiler pressure was release right?
The shut off to isolate the expansion tank from the system has a drain on it to relieve the pressure and empty the water out of the line and the tank. No water came out of the Schrader valve and I charged it before I opened the isolation valve.
 
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Old 12-01-11, 04:56 PM
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The shut off to isolate the expansion tank from the system has a drain on it to relieve the pressure and empty the water out of the line and the tank.
Like this? or equivalent? Amazing... it's rare to see that in real life! Kudos to the installer.

 
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Old 12-01-11, 05:02 PM
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Agree 100% that the pressure gauge on the boiler ist kaput!

You need to fix that first...

Also 100% with Mike on the 'pressure reducing valve' aka 'fill valve' being defective. It's leaking through... and over-pressurizing the boiler.

If there's no "BACKFLOW PREVENTER" on the system, might as well add one now and bring the system up to what is likely code now a days...

Tip for diagnosing relief valve opening:

If it goes over pressure and the valve opens when the boiler is not being heated, the fill valve is the most likely cause.

If it only leaks when the boiler is heated, then the most likely cause is a problem with the expansion tank.

There are other causes, but these are the main ones.
 
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Old 12-02-11, 10:56 AM
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Some images of what I am dealing with. In the pic of the expansion tank you can see the shut off with the drain underneath it.









Would it hurt anything to manually fill the system and then close the fill valve and just keep the pressure up manually?
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-03-11 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 12-02-11, 03:46 PM
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I need a new monitor I think... looking at these at the day job, and now on my home system... what a difference! This monitor is headed for the bin.

the expansion tank you can see the shut off with the drain underneath it.
Although they will work that way, manufacturer recommends hanging the tank rather than standing it up... a number of reasons which we can talk about later...

One of the reasons though is being able to detect when the bladder is bad by checking for presence of water at the Schrader valve... you probably won't get any cuz it's down side up.

I see the valve (but not on this monitor!) ... that's not exactly what I was talking about, but it's better than nothing! You need to hold a bucket under that one... no big deal I guess, but being able to hook a hose up is nice.

When you add air to the tank, LEAVE THAT DRAIN VALVE OPEN so the bladder can move fully to it's resting position. Don't be surprised if more water comes out when you add air, so have the bucket ready.

Would it hurt anything to manually fill the system and then close the fill valve and just keep the pressure up manually?
Nope... not at all... but it's important to routinely check the gauge... DAILY at FIRST... then less often the more confident you become.

You say 'close the fill valve' ... and by that I think you mean the MANUAL water shutoff to the boiler, right? Hopefully that shut-off valve won't leak through! If yer lucky it will be a ball valve. If yer not... well...


About the Gauge


You don't need to drain the system right off and change the gauge. You can make one that will screw onto any boiler drain with an adapter fitting. I made mine out of an old washing machine house, a gauge from a welder, and a few bits...



You can buy one of these:

Watts 3/4 In. Plastic Water Pressure Test Gauge (106033) from The Home Depot

and take that 300 PSI gauge off and substitute a 0-30 or 0-50 so you can get resolution... check swimming pool supply or a real supply house for a decent range gauge.
 
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Old 12-02-11, 06:55 PM
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I changed the combination gauge and that works now. My next question is what is a normal operating temperature? It's set to 240 on a dial inside...when I started the boiler the temp started rising and pipes were banging everywhere and I shut it down. So is 240 correct and is that what it will read on the new gauge I installed?
 
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Old 12-02-11, 07:53 PM
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WHOA! No more than 180 should be adequate.

What was the temp when you shut it down?
 
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Old 12-02-11, 08:10 PM
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Roughly 220 its running at 240 right now. I'll go turn it down.
 
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Old 12-02-11, 08:18 PM
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Yeah, turn it down... let us know how that works...

What kind of 'pipes banging everywhere' do you mean?
Describe what you were hearing a little more.
 
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Old 12-02-11, 08:34 PM
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It's on 180 now. The pipes banging started somewhere around boiling point. I could hear them on the second floor first, then the first floor, and then the basement where I was. I'm not sure how to describe it, other than they shook and made a banging noise. After a second they quit. I looked some stuff up online that said high limit was around 240 so I turned it back on. It went through a couple cycles up to 245 then down to 200 and back up to 245...each time it started the cycle, the pipes would make noise.

Now that the system is running, how long will it take to feel some heat in the radiators? And how long does it take to feel heat in the copper pipes farthest from the boiler in the basement?(Where the boiler is located)
 
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Old 12-02-11, 08:47 PM
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I looked some stuff up online that said high limit was around 240 so I turned it back on.
I don't know what you found, but that's just not right...

180 is the 'normal' setting for hot water boilers.

What you probably heard was the boiling water under pressure 'flashing' to steam... just like when you take the cap off a hot radiator... you do NOT want that!

Just cuz it's called a 'boiler' doesn't mean we really wanna boil!

Now that the system is running, how long will it take to feel some heat in the radiators? And how long does it take to feel heat in the copper pipes farthest from the boiler in the basement?(Where the boiler is located)
Not more than 15 minutes... if the boiler is getting to 180 and the pumps are running, you should have heat in the building. If not, either the pump isn't running or you've got air blocks in the piping.
 
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Old 12-02-11, 08:49 PM
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Is the little cap on the top of this device LOOSE to let the air out?
 
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Old 12-02-11, 09:29 PM
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Is the little cap on the top of this device LOOSE to let the air out?
Yep, it's open. I'm guessing there is an air block. I took the pump apart a few days ago and it's working. I shut it off and it's cooling so I can bleed it some more. I bled the system when I changed the gauge, but I must not have got all of the air out...how can you tell? The pressure is holding at 15.
 
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Old 12-02-11, 09:33 PM
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Lower the temp at the aquastat so the boiler turns off at 180F. You dont want the boiler hotter then that. It may not be accurate. An example is you may have to set aquastat at say 160F for the boiler to turn off at 180F.

You have radiators? Did You bleed the air out at each radiator with the bleeders?

Otherwise how are you bleeding the system?


It looks like you have a mono flo tee system with the way the branches are angled up going toward the rads.
Mike NJ
 
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Old 12-02-11, 09:51 PM
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Yes, and I'm going through than again right now, but there is only a quick spurt of air and the solid water. Do I need to leave the bleeder on the radiator open longer?

EDIT: When the temp was set at 180 the burner shut off at 175 but the temp rose to 220. The pump is running, but the pipe leading from the pump is hot closest to the pump and it's cold up where the tee is. Maybe the pump is just weak? Is there anything else that could cause this?
 

Last edited by CJRacer19; 12-02-11 at 11:25 PM. Reason: More Info
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Old 12-03-11, 06:19 AM
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Is your pump pumping water toward the boiler or away? Those valves with the big red handles, are they open?
 
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Old 12-03-11, 09:03 AM
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EDIT: When the temp was set at 180 the burner shut off at 175 but the temp rose to 220. The pump is running, but the pipe leading from the pump is hot closest to the pump and it's cold up where the tee is. Maybe the pump is just weak? Is there anything else that could cause this?
OK, the aquastat seems to be doing it's 'high limit' thing and shutting off the burner as it should.

The temp rising to 220 after the burner shuts off is 'heat soak'... just like happens on cars (sprint cars too!) when you shut them off. You often notice the electric cooling fan coming on minutes after the car shuts off. That's the heat contained in the 'block' (boiler or car) transferring to the water.

BUT, for this to happen, it means you have little or no circulation, and this could very well (and given the circumstances, most likely) be due to an air blockage.

This diagram will sorta explain how air can stop the flow. It's as good as a cork, or a potato chip bag stuck in the pipe.



Ever try to sink a beach ball in a swimming pool?
 
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Old 12-03-11, 09:13 AM
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CJ, let's get some more pics... 99% of all troubleshooting is VISUAL!

try to get all the piping shown... get a little more light too if you can...

What we're looking for is a place to hook up a hose and 'purge' the system of the air. Pay particular attention to valves and such... take pics from different angles so we can 'be there' to put the various pics together as a system.

Also, take a look at the piping and try to describe how the various radiators are connected... are they in 'series' ? are both ends of the radiators 'teed' off of one pipe ? Are they 'regular' tees? or do they have flow arrows, or red rings on one end? Pictures of these would help identify.

Where exactly are the bleeders located on the piping? again, pics would help.

I'm pretty sure you've still got air, in spite of getting water out of the bleeders... because remember that this water under pressure can feed from BOTH ENDS of the circuit. If there's a blockage in the supply line, the water can still come up the return side and out the bleeder.
 
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Old 12-03-11, 09:44 AM
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The pump flows toward the boiler...and the pipe that comes out of the boiler was cooler than the one flowing into it through the pump. The red valves were both open, although when I filled the system I kept both off and opened up the drain until no air came out and then I opened each valve until solid water came out. After that is when I bled each radiator. The only bleeder valves are on the radiators, everything else is soldered together. The lines going to each radiator tie in off of a 1" pipe with regular copper tees, no direction of flow markings or other indicators, although it is fairly easy to see all of the piping and figure out what goes where. The 1" pipes form a "U" shaped loop along both sides of the basement with the radiator supply lines coming off of one side of the "U" and the returns connecting to the other side of the loop. I will get pics up in a bit, but first a little more info...

Before I stopped working on it last night, I closed the 2 red valves and opened the drain so I could pull the pump off in the morning. When I cracked the bolts loose on the pump, air started coming out. When I fully disconnected the pump, A LOT of air came out followed by a bunch of water. I have the pump apart and there is a little bit of rust/corrosion on the inside so I'm in the process of cleaning that up now.
 
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Old 12-03-11, 10:25 AM
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The 1" pipes form a "U" shaped loop along both sides of the basement with the radiator supply lines coming off of one side of the "U" and the returns connecting to the other side of the loop.
Doesn't sound like monoflo... sounds like 2-pipe, direct return.

This "U" shape... the boiler is in the middle of that "U", correct?

So you have a supply pipe going off the boiler and all the rads are fed from that, and the returns from the rads dump into a separate pipe and feed back to the boiler. yes?


image courtesy tpub.com

Figure A is 2 pipe, reverse return.
Figure B is 2 pipe, direct return.

Direct return has a disadvantage over reverse return in that the first rads on the lines are able to have more flow to/from them. They sometimes 'hog' the flow, leaving not enough for the rest of the rads. They usually need 'balancing valves' to drop the flow to the first rads... the last rads on the line would usually be full open, with progressively more closed balancing valves as one moves toward the boiler.

Reverse return it can be seen that the distance to/from the boiler is the same for all rads so there is no such extreme balancing issues. The first rad to get supply is the last rad on the return side. Equal length piping means closer to equal flow through each.

The website that diagram came from has them described wrongly and no usable contact information to suggest a correction!
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-03-11 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 12-03-11, 10:37 AM
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Do I need to leave the bleeder on the radiator open longer?
If all you get is water, there's no point in leaving the bleeder open longer.

For a bleeder to remove the air, the air has to collect underneath it.

This is usually accomplished by what is called an 'air scoop', other varieties are called 'micro-bubble scrubbers' or similar names. What these devices do is actually collect air that is in the water flow and pass it to an automatic air vent (like the one on top of the boiler).

I don't see any type of air scoop in your system at all.
 
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Old 12-04-11, 12:28 PM
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Another Update:

I changed the circulation pump and still no change. The pipe that comes out of the top of the boiler gets hot up to where the tee is. I took the pipe off of the bottom of the tee to see if it was clogged with junk and it was cleaned.

The boiler temp is set at 160 and takes about 3 minutes to heat up to 140 where the burner shuts off. From that point it takes another 3 minutes to reach it peak temperature of 195.

I have a pipe upstairs next to one of the radiators that I'm not sure what it is...I opened it and nothing came out - no air, no water.

[IMG] IMG_2086 by sprintcar190, on Flickr[/IMG]

There are no vents anywhere in the system. Anymore suggestions?


IMG_2085 by sprintcar190, on Flickr


IMG_2084 by sprintcar190, on Flickr


IMG_2082 by sprintcar190, on Flickr


IMG_2078 by sprintcar190, on Flickr


IMG_2075 by sprintcar190, on Flickr


IMG_2073 by sprintcar190, on Flickr
 
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Old 12-04-11, 01:17 PM
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Maybe when you went to open your valves the stem broke off inside and the plug is still blocking water flow.
 
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Old 12-04-11, 01:44 PM
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In the second pic there's a leak where all that green stuff is.

Fourth pic, what is that yellow handle valve for, and is it supposed to be closed?

In the same pic, it appears as if the flue pipe can fall right out of the chimney thimble at any moment. It's barely pushed in there it seems... and I don't see any screws holding it? Bad news if that falls out!

Have you got functioning CO DETECTORS in the home?
 
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Old 12-04-11, 03:46 PM
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there are screws in that flue pipe, well at least 1 that I can see. If we are looking for what is wrong in these pictures lets add the wrong straps and not enough of them for the copper pipe. Also that 1 tar based white wire is actually ugly and that valve... is it actually touching the other pipe because it sure looks corroded..

But I too wonder what that yellow handle actually shuts off...because it is in the close position and looks part of the heating system...

I have a question does code allow the outlet box on the side of the boiler like that, the reason I asked is I like the idea.
 
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Old 12-04-11, 04:02 PM
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there are screws in that flue pipe, well at least 1 that I can see.
I wasn't sure that was even a screw... if you are looking at the same thing I am... look how close they had to get to the end of the thimble pipe to get that screw to grab the connector pipe!

I sure would not trust that...

But I too wonder what that yellow handle actually shuts off...because it is in the close position and looks part of the heating system...
With the angle of the pic it's hard to tell... but it sure looks as though it's coming off the same pipe as that red handled valve on the left, doesn't it?
 
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Old 12-05-11, 07:19 AM
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Maybe when you went to open your valves the stem broke off inside and the plug is still blocking water flow.
Bingo...it's always the simple things. Anyway it's working now. This spring I plan on upgrading and getting rid of the radiators and switching to the in floor system. I also plan on putting in zone control valves because the upstairs is about 10 degrees warmer than downstairs.

Fourth pic, what is that yellow handle valve for, and is it supposed to be closed?
The yellow valve goes to a radiator located in an addition that the previous owner had disconnected.

If we are looking for what is wrong in these pictures lets add the wrong straps and not enough of them for the copper pipe. Also that 1 tar based white wire is actually ugly and that valve... is it actually touching the other pipe because it sure looks corroded.
The fill valve is actually touching the other pipe. When I redo things this spring that will be new along with a new pressure reducer and back flow preventer. What kind of straps do I need to hold the copper pipe?

I have a question does code allow the outlet box on the side of the boiler like that, the reason I asked is I like the idea.
I don't know if it's code or not, but the switch turns the entire system on and off.

Thanks for everyone's help with this. Even though it was something simple, I have learned a ton so I guess it was all worth it.
 
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Old 12-05-11, 05:05 PM
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it's always the simple things.
So that was it? The gate valve busted shut? And how did you fix? Replace with full port ball valve like the yellow one?

upgrading and getting rid of the radiators and switching to the in floor system.
Upgrading? Getting rid of beautiful old cast-iron comfortable heating radiators is upgrading? Since when? I don't think I would do it.

If you do go ahead with your plan, make sure you design carefully and that the radiant floors have enough output to heat the home! You wouldn't wanna make a big expensive mistake and only find out about it in mid-winter would ya?

because the upstairs is about 10 degrees warmer
It's also possible that there are insulation deficiencies in the home... is it completely insulated and weather-sealed?

Zoning is fine as long as it makes sense... 'micro' zoning does not make sense.
 
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Old 12-05-11, 05:45 PM
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So that was it? The gate valve busted shut? And how did you fix?
Yep, simple as that. I think the previous owner broke them, because I never applied enough force to snap them, unless they are just that fragile. 2 new 1/4 turn valves similar to the yellow ones in the pic.

I want to do the in floor heat because I think it is a "cleaner" look & I didn't really think there would be much difference between radiators & having pex in the floor.
 
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Old 12-05-11, 06:03 PM
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Any time a valve is opened it should be closed 1/4 turn from full open as it in time will seize open. It may snap the stem,not sure about that.
 
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Old 12-05-11, 06:11 PM
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The gate valves break as a shortcoming of the design.

The 'gate' is slightly wedge shaped and slides down into a 'slot' on either side. After years of flow, 'crud' builds up in the slot and when the valve is tightly closed (which always happens because you crank them down tight to get them to stop leaking, which they never will) the gate gets stuck in them slots.

The 'stem' just kinda slides into a slot on the side of the wedge and if the wedge is stuck, when you open the valve the 'head' of the stem breaks out of the gate.

I didn't really think there would be much difference between radiators & having pex in the floor.
The important thing to know is the HEAT LOSS of the home.

Radiant floors realistically can provide about 25 BTU per SQ FT of floor area.

If you've got a room that requires say 10K BTU to heat it, and you've only got say 200 square feet of floor area, you would only be able to provide about 5000 BTU to heat the room... and that ain't gonna cut it!

That's what I mean about understanding the design process.

You have to know how many BTU you need, and how many BTU the chosen heat emitters can provide.
 
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Old 12-05-11, 07:41 PM
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I dont think they where gate valves. Looks like an old globe style from the pics.
Plus there are two on different parts of the return...Hmmm. Ok then.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 12-05-11, 08:29 PM
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In floor heat has a lot of benefits, but it can be messed up very easily. I have seen new houses where the owners said they could not afford the oil ,so be careful of how the system is installed.
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-05-11 at 08:55 PM. Reason: removed pointless dialog
 

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