Hydrotherm HC-85 boiler - releaase pressure valve leaking water

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Old 12-04-11, 09:22 AM
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Hydrotherm HC-85 boiler - releaase pressure valve leaking water

Hi,

My boiler (very old-not sure how old?).

Anyway i bought the house 2 years ago, with this boiler, and it has worked fine until yesterday, when I saw a few gallons of water on the basement floor which came from the pressure relief valve. The pressurer was over 30 psi.

I did some research...and I removed the expansion tank(1-2 gallons- small tank).

I removed most of the water, and I tested the pressure and it was below 5, so I increased it to 12 psi. I reconnected the tank to the boiler, started it up. The pressure went to zero, and quickly climbed up to about 30-32. It releases a little water(few tablespoons), and its been working fine for the 2-3 hrs since, without releasing any more water. However, the presure is at around 26-27 psi.

My main question is at what psi should the boiler be working at ?


Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Acie
 
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Old 12-04-11, 10:02 AM
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Which side did the water come from that you let out of the tank? You don't need to remove it to check the pressure of the tank. You just need to bring the pressure of the system down to 0. If water comes out of the schrader valve when you do check, it means the bladder is toast and you need to replace the tank.

Most systems require a min of 12 psi when cold. It will be a few psi higher when hot. If your home is more than two floors, then it will need to be a bit higher. You should probably replace your pressure relief valve at this point as well. It is recommended that they are replaced every 5 years. It is not normal operation for these to let water out and the cause needs to be fixed.
 
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Old 12-04-11, 10:26 AM
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I removed most of the water,
What do you mean by this? That there was still water in the tank after you removed it?

And when you charged the air, did the rest of the water come out? Or was there still water in the tank after you charged it?

If so, REPLACE THE TANK. It's shot.

The pressure went to zero
There is also another possible problem... if the pressure went to zero, that means one of two things, or both possibly.

Your PRESSURE REDUCING VALVE is not filling the boiler (defective) or the MANUAL water feed valve is closed.

You should have 12 PSI when the boiler is cold.

If the expansion tank is working correctly this pressure should rise maybe 8 PSI or so +/- when the boiler gets hot.

Oh, by the way, there's a guy here who always says "NEVER TRUST AN OLD BOILER PRESSURE GAUGE!" (hmmmm, wonder who that could be?)

If you don't know that the gauge is good, all bets are off.
 
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Old 12-04-11, 04:47 PM
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First of all, thank you, for answering my question.

Let me try to answer your questions:


1. When I removed the tank there was water in it. When I initially checked for air pressure on the tank I got a very low number 5 or less(actually I got a reading of zero one time). So I started to charge it, and water came out of the other side of the tank. After i checked it agan, I had about 12 psi on it, and probably little to no water at that time.

2. Before removing the tank, I turned off the gas/power/water/ thermostat. After I installed the filled tank, the boiler pressure valve had zero(not the pressure on the tank). After I started the boiler, and the flames came on, the boiler pressure started rising to about 30-32 psi. A few tablespoons of water was released. After 1-2 hours the psi came down to 26-27. After 3-4 hours the pressure was at around 22-23 psi.

I forgot to mention that the boiler is for a second floor apt. The boiler is obviously in the basement. There was no water leakage after the initial few table spoons.

So, would the 22-23 boiler pressure seem to be in a normal range ?

thanks,
Acie
 
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Old 12-04-11, 05:30 PM
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It should be 12 psi when cold. So turn off the boiler. Let it cool. Read the gauge. If it is less than 12 psi, add water to the boiler until it is. Turn the boiler back on. Hopefully it will be ready to heat the space so you can watch the pressure as it does. If the pressure climbs above 20 psi, you probably still have a problem. Keep an eye on it and see if it keeps going higher. If it maxes out at around 18 psi or less, you might be ok. But keep an eye on that pressure over the next few hours and days to see if it slowly climbs again.
 
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Old 12-04-11, 08:20 PM
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Yeah, something sounds wrong... I'm willing to bet that it's time for a new tank for starters...

Your gauge MIGHT be OK... if it was reading 30 when the relief valve opened, that's about right...

After I installed the filled tank, the boiler pressure valve had zero
This is when you should have opened the water feed valve to the boiler and filled it to 12 PSI. As Droo said, that should be the minimum COLD pressure.

WHen the boiler is HOT the pressure could be as much as say 10 PSI higher, but usually not that much.

What you described happening when you turned on the boiler after charging the tank should not have happened...
 
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Old 12-04-11, 08:43 PM
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Just a note I have the same boiler. I had an st 15 tank on mine a few years and had relief valve issues. Normal pressure one day then 30psi another. I could not figure it out.

Apparantly these boilers have the pressure issues with regards to pumping away from the expansion tank. (Or towards it) With the pump on the factory return fitting that looks like an elephant trunk, and the fact that your expansion tank may also be piped on the factory 1/2" built in air scoop like mine you may have the same issue I had some years ago.

Well I fixed it with a st 30 tank. Mathmatically I dont need a big expansion tank but it fixed the negative/positive pressure thing. But my pressures stay constant 12-18 psi. Never higher.


Possibly droo or troop can and some info on this for you if its a plausable cause.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 12-05-11, 05:20 PM
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When the tank goes bad, and water gets on the air side of the bladaphragm it can play all kinda tricks on you... when you took the 15 off did it have a lot of water in it?

I'm quite sure Acie's tank is shot...
 
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Old 12-14-11, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
When the tank goes bad, and water gets on the air side of the bladaphragm it can play all kinda tricks on you... when you took the 15 off did it have a lot of water in it?

I'm quite sure Acie's tank is shot...
thanks for all of your thoughts/responses.

Here is my update... I've been busy with other stuff, but I got around to the boiler issue.

I bought an st-15 expansion tank. I removed my old one and replaced it. I turned the water on, and the psi reading was about 28 psi. After the boiler flames came on, the pressure rose into the mid to upper 30's. The pressure relief valve started leaking water. So, I turned it off after about 5 minutes.

So, any other ideas ? I'm thinking of trying the bigger expansion tank as one guy mentioned.

thanks again
 
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Old 12-14-11, 05:12 PM
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You kinda jumped the gun I'm afraid...

The ST series of tanks are not intended for use with heating systems, they are for POTABLE HOT WATER systems, i.e. water heaters. I don't believe that they are rated for the temperatures they will be subject to in a heating system. They are designed to be mounted on the COLD SIDE of the water heater, and they never see the hot water out...

I am almost 100% certain that the 'pre-charge' on the domestic water tanks is WAY higher than the pre-charge on a heating tank. The one you bought was likely charged to 40 PSI, and connecting that to your system is as good as not having a tank at all. The pre-charge on a heating system tank is to be maintained at 12 PSI +/-

Whether or not there is a 'down side' to using that tank with your heating system, I don't know, not going to research it now... but it's very possible that the hot water will quickly damage the new tank.

Mike did say though that he has used the ST tanks ... or did he mistype? I don't know...

But, I certainly would have taken his advice to put a '30' on your system. The cost difference is negligible. I'm sure you paid way more for that tank than the proper heating tank. You can get the 30 size tanks for around $35 or so.

I turned the water on, and the psi reading was about 28 psi.
And there's another problem...

When the system is COLD, you should only have 12 PSI of pressure. The fact that you had 28 to start with is absolutely the reason (combined with an incorrect pre-charge, on the wrong tank) that your relief valve opened again.

Also, that 28 that you saw when you filled it is probably an indication that you have ANOTHER problem in ADDITION to the tank. There is a valve on the water feed line that is supposed to LIMIT and maintain the water pressure on the cold boiler to 12 PSI, and that is probably leaking through.

more after I re-read the whole thread.
 
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Old 12-14-11, 05:23 PM
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OK, I just re-scanned the whole thread, and my suggestion to you is that you do the same because I don't want to repeat everything I said again.

I do not completely trust your pressure gauge, or your relief valve.

You said:

the pressure rose into the mid to upper 30's. The pressure relief valve started leaking water.
The relief valve should start leaking AT OR SLIGHTLY BELOW 30 PSI.

The fact that your gauge read in the mid to upper 30's indicates that IT or the RELIEF VALVE, or BOTH are defective.

The fact that your pressure went to 28 PSI when you opened the fill valve indicates that your AUTO FILL VALVE ( aka Pressure Reducing Valve ) is ALSO defective.

Here's my advice:

1. REPLACE THE RELIEF VALVE. This should be done in ANY case, if the valve is more than five years old.

2. REPLACE THE PRESSURE GAUGE.

3. REPLACE THE AUTO FILL VALVE.

4. REPLACE THE IMPROPER TANK YOU GOT WITH A PROPER ONE, SIZE 30.
 
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Old 12-14-11, 06:20 PM
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Mike did say though that he has used the ST tanks ... or did he mistype? I don't know...


I mistyped. Had something else on my mind Im sure.

Its the same tank I believe with a different air charge and a 40f difference in temp. St's are 200F max and Amtrol 15 EXTROL is rated 240F max.

I would probably leave it and adjust the psi.

trooper?

Mike NJ
 
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Old 12-14-11, 07:40 PM
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I just scoured the specs, and agree that it's rated at 200... which should be OK... but it may still be too small for the system... or maybe not.

Anyway, everything else still remains the same...

Gauge, Relief Valve, Fill valve are all questionable.
 
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Old 12-15-11, 07:12 AM
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NJ Trooper - First of all thanks.

The tank I replaced is ETX-15 with an initial pressure of 12 psi. I incorrectly typed in the wrong name-sorry.
Everything else I typed is correct. The pressure relief valve started leaking at a psi of about 30, but the psi went up to about 38 or so.

I know which is the pressure valve(elephant trunk). Next to it there is an air vent(cylinder shape), and then a bell-shaped apparatus. Which is the auto fill valve ?

Yesterday, I replaced the water valve, I used it to turn on/off the water to the boiler. When I removed the tank I got lots of water, due to the water shutoff valve not working.

I will go ahead and buy & replace the 15 with a size 30 tank. I will post an update
 
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Old 12-15-11, 07:51 AM
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Hold off on the tank... if the system worked for years with that size tank, there's no reason that it can't work a few more with the same size...

Which is the auto fill valve ?
On the water line that fills the boiler, there may be a valve that is designed to only fill the system to a preset pressure.

How are you adding water to the system now? Is it a manual valve? and you may not have a fill valve ? I think you need to take pictures so we can see what you are working with.

If you are filling manually, then simply don't overfill the system... shut off the manual feed valve when the pressure gets to 12 PSI... don't let it go up to 28 as mentioned earlier.

Again, unless they let you return the 15, and replace with a 30 so you ain't out the bucks, stick with the 15 for the time being.

I just re-read your last post...

Did you replace the shutoff valve AFTER the last 'incident' ? because if that valve was leaking, you will always have a pressure problem because the city water pressure will increase the boiler pressure...
 
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Old 12-15-11, 10:58 AM
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NJ Trooper-

The valve that I replaced yesterday was a open or shut valve type. It is on the main water line that goes to the boiler. I keep this line open, to allow water to go to the boiler.

I'm hoping that the picture below will ad some clarity. The first valve is bell shaped and I hope its a water pressure valve, the other two are air vent and pressure relief valve, followed by expansion tank.

pic of my boiler--up close

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Last edited by Acie66; 12-15-11 at 12:15 PM. Reason: update pic
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Old 12-15-11, 11:17 AM
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Hi Acie,

You should have devices like this on the boiler. The first one being the bell shaped device is what you need to change. This reduces the fill pressure to 12 psi when boiler is cold.

To get by let the boiler cool. Turn off feed valve and drain some water from the boiler to 0psi on the gauge. Then fill the boiler until the gauge reads about 12psi, then turn the water feed off.

This should get you by until you replace the boiler fill valve/reducer.

Hope you understand this.

The other part of the fill valve is a pressure reducing valve. The pic shows a combined unit although many are installed seperately on the feed line.



Mike NJ
 
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Old 12-17-11, 08:33 AM
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I bought & installed the Watts water pressure reducer(looks just like the picture that lawrosa put up. I filled the new 15 size expansion tank to 12 psi and hooked it up. The initial pressure reading on the boiler gauge is about 20.

I opened up the water & started the boiler. When the flames came up, the gauge pressure started rising to about 34-35 max. A little water was leaked through the relief pressure valve.
After about 1/2 hour or so of working...(with no flames on, just the pilot), the gauge had a reading of 20.

I did measure the pressure of the new tank while working, and it was over 20 psi. Is that normal that it fluctuates from the initial setting of 12, or should I let air out of the tank to reduce the pressure ?

Any other ideas ?

FYI- I have two heaters. One for the basemment and first floor, and one for the second floor(where I & family normally sleep-- but we're sleeping in the first floor). The basement & first floor heater-exactly the same as the other one, except that it has one more circulator and an expansion tank of size 30. The reading on this boiler is usually arounf 15-17 with flames or not. I measured the pressure on the expanison tank and it comes in at a reading of zero. Yet it works fine.


So far, I haven't noticed any improvement. I'll keep you posted. I want to let it run for 3-4 hours, and check its pressure readings.
 
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Old 12-17-11, 04:22 PM
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I think your boiler pressure gauge is probably reading about 10 or so PSI on the high side. It probably is not 'linear' either.

I did measure the pressure of the new tank while working, and it was over 20 psi. Is that normal that it fluctuates from the initial setting of 12, or should I let air out of the tank to reduce the pressure ?
No, don't let any air out!

Yes, it is normal that you will see changes in the pressure on the air side when the pressure on the water side increases above the air pre-charge setting. This is because the expanding water is compressing the air in the tank.

With a KNOWN GOOD tank, and the proper air charge in that tank, the air pressure at the valve should be as we know, 12 PSI when cold, and will be CLOSE to the ACTUAL WATER PRESSURE in the boiler when the system is HOT. If the air charge does NOT agree with the boiler gauge when the system is HOT, then something is wrong... bad gauge, bad tank... something.

Again, do NOT let any air out!

and an expansion tank of size 30. The reading on this boiler is usually arounf 15-17 with flames or not. I measured the pressure on the expanison tank and it comes in at a reading of zero. Yet it works fine.
You may end up with a 30 on the other boiler as well...

If that gauge always reads 15-17, my guess is that it's 'stuck'. You may in fact have very low pressure in that boiler and not know it.

If you are reading ZERO on that other tank, then it may mean that the bladder has collapsed and is blocking the air valve. Or that you have no air in the tank at all and the boiler pressure is also very low.

You say it's working fine... now. Mark my words, you WILL have a problem with that one as well, sooner or later!

Expansion tanks do not get the attention they deserve. It's a CRITICAL component to proper operation, yet they almost NEVER get checked for proper air charge. Or they don't get checked until the relief valve spews...

Those tanks, just like a car tire, or a child's toy balloon will lose 1-2 PSI of air charge per year. They absolutely MUST be maintained on a regular basis. My opinion is that they should be checked at the start of every heating season... but techs are driven by time... if the system is working, they're outta there and on to the next call. So, it's up to the HOMEOWNER to perform this task. A later post will show some things that make this a 5-10 minute job.
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-17-11 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 12-17-11, 04:37 PM
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I guess I should repost my pressure gauge verification info... because without knowing that your gauge is actually reading right, you are chasing ghosts of boilers past all over the basement... you MUST know that the gauge is correct!

I made one that looks like this from an old washing machine hose, a gauge from an old welder, and a few bits and pieces.



HD and Lowes usually carry this gadget:


image courtesy homedepot.com

This will set ya back about ten bucks. There is a PROBLEM with this doodad though... it's basically USELESS for measuring low pressures like we get in our boilers.

You can pull the 200 (or 300) PSI gauge from this and stop at a real supply house or swimming pool supply and pick up a 0-30 or a 0-50 PSI gauge and screw it into the fitting... or you can go through the fittings bins and find a 3/4" GHT (Garden Hose Thread) to 1/4" pipe thread adapter and screw a 30 or 50 PSI gauge onto that.

So when you have one of these things... you screw it onto a drain valve, open the valve and read the pressure and VERIFY the boiler gauge.

In any case, one way or the other, you need to verify the gauges on BOTH of your boilers. Without knowing what the pressure is in the boilers, you are going to go around in circles.

OR, REPLACE THE GAUGES.
 
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Old 12-17-11, 04:51 PM
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OK, here's some quick and easy bits you can add to make maintaining your expansion tank an effortless job.



Pick up two pipe nipples, a tee, a ball valve, and a drain valve. Black steel pipe is what ya want.

Assemble this and install between the boiler and the tank.

When you want to service your tank, shut off boiler, close the ball valve, put a bucket under the drain and open it. Any pressure or water on the water side of the tank will come out. Leave the drain valve OPEN. Check the air pressure on the tank and adjust if needed.

When air charge is where ya want it, close the drain valve, open the ball valve and let the pressures equalize.

That's IT... takes no more than ten minutes. Do this YEARLY and you may never have to change a tank again.

For anyone who wants to spend about $50 or so, Watts makes an 'all in one' gadget called the RBFF that has a few more features... but does basically the same thing:


image courtesy watts.com

Website:
Model RBFF Residential Boiler Fill Fitting - New Products - Watts
 
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Old 12-18-11, 01:51 PM
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OK, follow-update.

After the boiler working most of yesterday, and turning it off last night because I didn't want to wake up with any boiler isues.

I started it off this morning. The gauge pressure reading after being turned off for about 8-10 hours, was about 10. When the flames came on, it went to about 20-22. So, I thought that perhaps the pressure was too low, so I started to tinker with the water pressure reducer. It's rather odd to work with, and not really sure how far to go or how to check that I set it up correctly.

After making adjustments, I had the boiler with flames at 20-22 psi, and it would drop down to about 12-14, and then go back up to 20-22 and back-down.

Regarding the other boiler. I will add 12 psi pressure to the 30 expansion tank and see how it goes.

Again, thanks for your help.

I will try to verify the gauge pressure as you stated.
 
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Old 12-18-11, 02:49 PM
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When the flames came on, it went to about 20-22

Trooper, it would seem that the pressure is increasing when the boiler fires/circ starts running. As I stated previously its that push away from the expansion tank issue. I could be wrong but thats what it sounds like here and the OP is trying ton adjust to compansate and making things worse.

Just adding that, and I dont want to confuse a already confusing post. It would be better to start all over from the begining and lay down the facts with pics here. Thats just my opinion though.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 12-18-11, 03:48 PM
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Mike, either that, or when it heats up the pressure rises as it normally should...

big problem is that without knowing the REAL pressure, and it seems obvious that the gauge is pooched, any thing else added is just _______ into the wind.

It's like bringing your car to a dealer and telling him that you have a noise at 60 MPH... but you've ALSO got a FLAT TIRE! How can the guy diagnose the 60 MPH noise without first repairing the tire?
 
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Old 12-19-11, 02:26 PM
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OK, I bought the water pressure checker from home depot. I was not able to find a gauge from 0 to 30 or 50 psi to give me a more accurate reading. I checked 3 plumbing supply stores to no avail.

Anyway, I hooked up the water checker to the drain valve in cold status,and I got a reading of approx 15. on the boiler its about 15-16, so it checked out. I then forced the boiler to turn on by overriding thermostat higher. After the flames went down, both the water pressure checker on the drain valve and the boiler gauge were at 20, maybe 21.

So the range is 15-16 to 20-21. So, the boiler gauge works.

I also checked the presssure on the tank and it is at 12. I checked it with a tire air gauge.

I think the pressure is a little higher than what you guys think it shuld be, 12. I think its directly related to the new Watts water pressure regulator valve that was replaced. It is factory set at 15. I did tinker a little bit with it prior to the gauge check, but I'm not sure I successfully lowered it.

So, I have two questions:
1. Can the settings stay this way ? keep in mind that this boiler heats my second floor only.
2. Is it worthwhile fo rme to tinker with the water pressure regulator to try to lower it closer to 12 ? (On the instructions, it can be set from 10-25). If so, how should I do it and test it right away, so that I know I have achieved the proper setting?

thank you.

P.S On the other boiler.,I charged the tank to 12. I was only able to verify that the initial pressure was at about 11. However, I could not get a reading after the flames went out from teh water pressure gauge I biught. But the boiler gauge is stuck at 19-20. I defintely have to replace the gage in that boiler. This boiler heats the basement & first floor.

Again, thanks guys.
 
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Old 12-19-11, 03:36 PM
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1. Can the settings stay this way ? keep in mind that this boiler heats my second floor only.
2. Is it worthwhile fo rme to tinker with the water pressure regulator to try to lower it closer to 12 ? (On the instructions, it can be set from 10-25). If so, how should I do it and test it right away, so that I know I have achieved the proper setting?
Yes, if it's working, leave it alone. You should not have tinkered with the factory setting.

If you want to verify the setting, turn the boiler off, let it get to under 100F.

CLOSE the manual water fill valve.

DRAIN a bit of water from the boiler until the pressure in the boiler drops to 10 or a bit less.

CLOSE the DRAIN, and OPEN the manual water fill valve.

You will hear water entering the boiler and the pressure will rise. Leave the boiler OFF and wait about a half hour. After that time, read the pressure. If it's within 12-15 PSI, leave it alone, you're done.

P.S On the other boiler.,I charged the tank to 12. I was only able to verify that the initial pressure was at about 11. However, I could not get a reading after the flames went out from teh water pressure gauge I biught. But the boiler gauge is stuck at 19-20. I defintely have to replace the gage in that boiler. This boiler heats the basement & first floor.
When you charged the other tank, did you relieve the pressure in the boiler first? If not, you probably did not get an accurate charge.

Are you saying that the TANK had 11 PSI in it before you charged it? and that the boiler was at zero? If so, that tank is most likely FINE.

But if you had ZERO pressure on the boiler, then there's another problem. You might be replacing the pressure reducing valve for that one also.
 
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Old 12-19-11, 05:15 PM
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When you charged the other tank, did you relieve the pressure in the boiler first? If not, you probably did not get an accurate charge.

Are you saying that the TANK had 11 PSI in it before you charged it? and that the boiler was at zero? If so, that tank is most likely FINE.

But if you had ZERO pressure on the boiler, then there's another problem. You might be replacing the pressure reducing valve for that one also.

The tank had zero or near zero pressure. So, I shut the boiler, released the water pressure via the pressure relief valve. removed the tank, emptied its water..it took a while. Then I reconnected the tank to the boiler and I charged it to 12 psi.
Then I connected the water ressure checker to the drain valve. Opened the water line and I observed thewater check pressure...it was at about 11 psi.
The boiler gauge is stuck at 20-21.


I have one question:

I heard quite a bit of a tapping noise in the pipes that go through the baseboards, and pipes through the house. Would this be potentially reduced/solved if I shut-down the boiler and drain all the water via the drain valve ? I think some of the tapping may also be casued by losoe piping as well. But would draining the water via the drain valve help ?


thanks for the guidance along the way...
Then I opened the water shut-off valve
 
  #28  
Old 12-19-11, 05:50 PM
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NJT
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Oh ... stop draining the water! You don't need to do that. You can check the tank pressure very easily with the tank in place on the system!

If the tank was full of water when you removed it, then throw it away and buy a new one.

And please don't drain any water from the boiler trying to get rid of 'noises', no, it won't help.

Don't EVER drain water from a boiler for any reason other than to service the system.
 
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