balancing heat output in different rooms (somewhat long)

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  #41  
Old 12-23-11, 07:54 PM
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sminker, the carpet was between the fins and the back cover, not the face cover, so there was some circulation. the baseboards are in straight series.

PeterNH, no aluminum foil yet, i guess i will try the insulation first.

my wife mentioned that the cold bedroom was "hot", so maybe there is already some balance restored. i'm pretty sure with some insulation in the master bedroom it will turn out good!
 
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  #42  
Old 12-23-11, 08:04 PM
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It does look as if things are 'disproportionate'. I'm really kinda surprised that you aren't also complaining about the bathroom, but it's probably got only one small exposed wall.

Let's do a bit of massaging of the numbers. I'm using 550 BTU/FT of fin-tube (conservative number, Slant Fin 30 is rated at 610 at 180 water, and 480 at 160 water).

Room --------area---radiation--BTU out---BTU/SQ FT

Master BR:--220 sq ft--18 FT---9900 BTU----45

Cold BR:----155 sq ft--11.6 FT--6416 BTU----41.4

The difference doesn't look that great. BUT the cold room is a corner, on the northeast, at the end of the loop. So it's all adding up to a cold room.

Has it got anything else going wrong for it? above an unheated garage or anything?

Rerun with 160 water for the cold room, because we know it has cooled some, using a very conservative number of 400 BTU/FT this time...

Cold BR:----155 sq ft--11.6 FT--4640 BTU----30

so there ya go... sure it's gonna be cooler!

Now, in general terms, 45 BTU per SQ FT is a LOT of heat. Most reasonably well constructed homes are under 30 BTU / SQ FT, and modern construction can be as low as 15-20 , my home uses about 25 (50s construction, lots of improvements).

So, it's doubtful that the overall problem is a lack of radiation, rather an imbalance of same. So it would seem that if you can easily add some element to the cold room, it would probably solve the problem. The designers failed at this installation to consider the heat loss of the rooms and the fact that the water would be cooler when it got to the end of the loop.
 
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Old 12-23-11, 08:08 PM
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I believe we need to pay attention to an accurate to the system delta-T since this room is at the end of the loop. We already know the heat loss is greater propionate to the other rooms. Maybe the water is flowing too slow. If the delta-T is too great and we speed the water to reduce the delta-T we will get more heat out of the radiation even at the end of the loop where this room is. Increase flow get more heat, decrease flow get less heat.
water boils at 212F he's too high on his temperature setting
This is only correct if it is a pot on the stove at sea level. A heating system at 12 psi the boiling point of water is 236f. Raise the pressure raise the boiling point. Any cast iron boiler can operate to 210f safely. I am not saying to do this but I know there are systems that need to run there in extreme cold temps. I also have some systems at 240f but at higher water pressure due to under-radiated buildings. This 240f is not safe without the proper calculations. Cast iron boilers according to ASME code are rated at a max operating temp of 250f, again this is for information purposes, I am not saying to do this.
 
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Old 12-23-11, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by rbeck View Post
Maybe the water is flowing too slow. If the delta-T is too great and we speed the water to reduce the delta-T we will get more heat out of the radiation even at the end of the loop where this room is. Increase flow get more heat, decrease flow get less heat.
Way back early in this thread, the issue was raised, by NJT, about the possiblility of there being some air in the pipes upstairs.
I don't believe this has had a definitive answer, although it seems not to be a problem.


Peter
 
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Old 12-23-11, 08:37 PM
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I'm still kinda hoping that Diver is going to get some reasonably accurate measurements of the supply and return temps from the loop... it's a very real possibility.
 
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Old 12-24-11, 07:38 AM
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Has it got anything else going wrong for it? above an unheated garage or anything?
master bedroom has only one wall facing the outside, 2 others are inside walls and the last one is facing unheated garage, but garage is first floor with a gable roof so there is only partial overlap. the master bedroom is facing directly south. there is also brick chimney between garage and the master bedroom. conditions above and below are the same for both rooms.

So it would seem that if you can easily add some element to the cold room, it would probably solve the problem
is there such a thing as a snap on fin element? i wouldn't want to cut the pipe and install a new one. but it also seems that i might not need it after all.

Way back early in this thread, the issue was raised, by NJT, about the possiblility of there being some air in the pipes upstairs.
I don't believe this has had a definitive answer, although it seems not to be a problem.
how would i check for air? i don't have an individual air bleed valves, it's all one continuous loop per zone. there must be some device that removes the air near the boiler. without a flowmeter, i can't really know the flow rate. it's possbile to calculate it using the pressure numbres, but i only have a number at the boiler. is there anything i can do to check for lazy flow, air traps, etc?

I'm still kinda hoping that Diver is going to get some reasonably accurate measurements of the supply and return temps from the loop... it's a very real possibility.
NJTrooper, I haven't ignored your request, i just don't have the means at this point.

well, at least i can say that i'm already seeing some improvment - when heat is on, it seems that the cold room temp now overshoots a bit a temp in the warm room. i will add some pipe insulation to the warmer room for more pronounced effect and adjust the tstat and i think i might be done. these are the things that were done in the cold room:

carpet tucked behind the back section of the baseboard instead of in front of the back
damper removed
fins vacuumed
furniture moved a way a bit

i think the main remaining issue is that cold room does not retain heat as good as the master bedroom. besides adding/improving wall insulation, everything else was already done.

i'm still not sure if i should lower the boiler temp. it's a cast iron boiler and i would guess it was running as is for all its life, which is almost 30 year now
 
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Old 12-24-11, 07:50 AM
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even that would cut some of the BTUs into the room on the back fin section getting the convection up thru the baeboard.suggestion which is a pain in the A** cut all the carpet so it hits the wall and lays flat doesn't curl up..do a room a weekend and it will make a difference.so your in series on the supply from the boiler as you go along the temps should drop on the line as it passes thru the rooms as the room pulls on the heat should never rise.how is the height on the space from the floor to the bottom of the kick panel that snaps on same all around....
 
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Old 12-24-11, 08:06 AM
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something stupid to check but have to ask check this Slant-Fin video,and see how the flat parts of the fin and tube is slid in so the open fins are top and bottom and the flat bend is front and back you shouldn't be looking at straight fins when the kicker is removed Slant/Fin Baseboard Installation - YouTube
 
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Old 12-24-11, 09:24 AM
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sminker, i already cut the carpet (pain) and tucked it behind. the fins are oriented vertically so the air passes thru.

the biggest problem is the retention of the heat it seems, even though it gets warmer when the heat is on, it cools a lot faster in that room.
 
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Old 12-24-11, 10:31 AM
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is there anything i can do to check for lazy flow, air traps, etc?
By knowing the entering and exit temps of the loop, and the total amount of fin-tube installed on that loop, one can come to a fairly close approximation of the flow.

Other than that, the only thing you could really do is to 'purge' the zone and see if things improve, but I don't advocate doing that just yet without knowing if it needs to be done. Your system may not be set up with appropriate valving to do this easily anyhow.

Since you've seen a marked improvement already, one would have to assume that the airflow through the baseboards was a big part of the issue. There's nothing that any further changes to the heating system can do to remedy the heat loss in the room... so you may be about as good as you can get at this point.

still not sure if i should lower the boiler temp.
Lower it and see! It's a simple matter to turn the dial on the a'stat? You won't break anything... it won't hurt the boiler. If it doesn't make the matter worse... if you don't notice any difference, then leave it at 180... and save a little fuel.

is there such a thing as a snap on fin element?
I've never seen anything like that... but wouldn't be surprised if somewhere someone is cutting up aluminum pop cans in the garage and selling kits on the internet!
 
  #51  
Old 12-24-11, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
By knowing the entering and exit temps of the loop, and the total amount of fin-tube installed on that loop, one can come to a fairly close approximation of the flow.
i will try to get some numbers today. however the system is already altered, the airflow in the cold room is improved, some section of the bare pipe in the warm room is covered. the reading would be after the insulated part of the pipe in the first room and at the end of the loop in the cold room. even though i won't be able to quantify the improvements since i don't have reliable numbers for "before" picture, maybe current numbers will show some potential problems i might still have.


Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
Lower it and see! It's a simple matter to turn the dial on the a'stat? You won't break anything... it won't hurt the boiler. If it doesn't make the matter worse... if you don't notice any difference, then leave it at 180... and save a little fuel.
i will try it, but a bit later. i want to have things stabilized first so not introduce too many variables.

NJTrooper, the original house owner has the pilot on all summer long. i turned it off last summer and plan on doing it again from now on. i read somewhere on this forum that having the pilot on all the time makes sure that the heat exchanger is always hot and that prevents the condensation. the boiler is in the unfinished part of the basement and it's humid there (i do run the dehumidifer on and off in the summer but not all the time), usually about 70% rh. so things get rusty there. i wonder if the fact that the pilot was on contributed to the long life of the boiler? it's going to be 30 years next year. am i making a mistake by turning the pilot off? the boiler is cast iron.

thank you for all you help.
 
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Old 12-24-11, 11:54 AM
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residential companies always say that about a pilot running in the summer keeps the boiler from condensating...they just don't want to go around lighting 5000 pilots in the fall.unless your feeding cold water in your not going to condensate the last heating cyce of th eyear will temper it right into the summer ambient temps...on the colder rooms heating up but not holding it might check all the walls just above the baseboard next windy cold night even with the BB running might see drafting or missing insulation with the hotter rooms something is pulling on that baseboard temp 180F supplied..I gOT IT move the stat into the colder rooms and adjust the warmer ones what the hell it's worth the mention...kidding have a good X-MASS
 
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Old 12-24-11, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by sminker View Post
residential companies always say that about a pilot running in the summer keeps the boiler from condensating...they just don't want to go around lighting 5000 pilots in the fall
why not? it's easy money...
 
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Old 12-24-11, 04:36 PM
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It definitely IS possible for dew to form in and on a boiler in the summer. When the temp and humidity increase faster than the water that is in the system can warm up, and the water in the system is below the dew point, of course dew will form.

I do think that the pilot burning will help to keep the boiler guts dry in the summertime... but will it actually do anything to promote longevity of the unit? maybe... or maybe not...

If I had a pilot light, I would keep it on... but that's just me, and I've been known to keep a 25 watt lamp inside my oil burner combustion chamber during the summer, on a dimmer... way down low... but again, that's just me... kinda AR about some stuff.
 
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Old 12-24-11, 04:51 PM
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I just googled around some... and the answers on the internet are all over the place... throwing out the ones that have no creds, like any from answers.yahoo.com, and focusing on the ones from people that sell and service gas appliances, the answers are STILL all over the place, and good reasoning on both sides.

The pilot will cost a few bucks a month to keep running.

It MAY actually CONTRIBUTE to condensation in the appliance... one of the byproducts of burning gas is WATER. If the pilot is not big enough to keep the interior warm enough, that water from the combustion will condense inside the boiler.

Which is more harmful for a thermocouple? To keep it hot all the time? or to let it cool in the off months and then reheat in fall? Dunno...

Will not having the pilot lit encourage spiders to nest in the unit and clog up the orifices? Dunno... maybe... happens all the time with my gas grill.

You are never more than 3' from a spider.

Up to you... keep a thermocouple on hand as a spare, and learn how to clean the gas orifices.

Oh by the way... don't ask the gas company, they want to sell gas so they will definitely tell you to leave it on. They want that $5 a month from all the customers.
 
  #56  
Old 12-24-11, 05:03 PM
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One more thought... if the pilot uses 750 BTU/HR... and it ran on fuel oil, it would use about a gallon a week to keep it going. That's almost $20 a month!

I know natgas is cheaper... but still... yikes!

Do you know how much you pay per therm?
 
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Old 12-24-11, 05:10 PM
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I vote for the light bulb.
No water vapors. Hot and Dry.
Even at the full 25 watts,
at 14 cents a KW,
if i did my math right,
comes out about $2.50 month.
15 watts, $1.50

Peter
 
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Old 12-24-11, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
Do you know how much you pay per therm?
i do, but the price is not straightforward. here is the latest with winter rate (this is my actual bill from mid november till mid december):


97therms overall (heat + hot water)

Customer Charge $11.15
Distribution Charge
First 50.00 Therms x $0.3044 $15.22
Next 47.00 Therms x $0.3546 $16.67
Delivery Adjustment Charge
All 97.00 Therms x $0.0945 $9.17
Decoupling Adjustment
All 97.00 Therms x -$0.0147 $1.43
Cost of Gas
All 97.00 Therms x $0.7929 $76.91
Total Charges for Service This Period $127.69

summer charges: (hot water, mid july to mid august)

11 therms overall

First 10.00 Therms x $0.3044 $3.04
Next 1.00 Therms x $0.3546 $0.35
Delivery Adjustment Charge
All 11.00 Therms x $0.0917 $1.01
Decoupling Adjustment
All 11.00 Therms x $0.0270 $0.30
Cost of Gas
All 11.00 Therms x $0.5275 $5.80
Total Charges for Service This Period $21.65
 
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Old 12-24-11, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
Up to you... keep a thermocouple on hand as a spare, and learn how to clean the gas orifices.
i planned on doing it this spring. i looked in the manual and all it said was, remove the top exchanger cover and use wire brush with long handle to clean the flutes. and that's it. would't all the gunk fall down to the gas orifices? should i pull those out first and give them some cleaning?

i might come back here for some directions

as for thermocouple, should i get one to keep on hand right now?
 
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Old 12-24-11, 06:25 PM
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if you want to pack the cold rooms with more fins have santa bring you a 5' lenght of Slant-Fin slip the elements off cut the tin sharp side and pinch them in..on cleaning that rusted cover is the only way in get a long bristle brush from a boiler supply place they have all lenghts.remove the burner run outs push in and pull up over orifice one with the pilot might have to stay then brush away let it all fall down if it is just light rust your good to go.remove that insulation off the circulator they run hot need air around them..can't go in the top of the boiler it is sealed the burner is the only access to brush up..should burn blue and straight...tap jets with screw driver handle after cleaning with heat running.air inlets on the burner tubes should be screwed in...and fixed adjust one you'll see it starve the burner and go yellow which makes black soot....once you add fins and clear the baseboard i would consider dropping that 180F to much for 70F setpoints on stats...160-170 tops...get back on those walls during a cold windy night see that readings...might ask santa for a laser thermometer..SEARS Hardware cheap and convient hang it on a hook
 
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Old 12-24-11, 07:15 PM
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jeeze, punctuate much?

can't go in the top of the boiler
I believe the 'hood' on this boiler lifts off...

slip the elements off cut the tin sharp side and pinch them in
Those fins need a good tight factory contact with the pipe to work as designed and they are very flimsy metal. Once you cut through to bend and slip them on, for all the trouble, you are wasting your time and money. If you are going to do anything, cut the dang pipe and solder in the new piece...

should i pull those out first and give them some cleaning?
Yes.

as for thermocouple, should i get one to keep on hand right now?
Never a bad idea really... they always seem to go bad at the most inconvenient time.
 
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Old 12-24-11, 07:31 PM
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Cold rooms are a hassle.

Get in the attic above the cold room. Pull up the insulation. Air seal all penetrations in the top plates, and even along the top plates themselves. The 2-part foams in the larger canisters are good for this. After reinstalling the insulation, consider adding a few inches of cellulose on top.

Make sure any outlets or other wall penetrations in the cold room are gasketed and/or caulked.

Also feel for drafts around where the baseboard pipes go into the floor. But be careful about sealing these; you don't want to limit expansion and cause rubbing or banging.

The foil around the fins works wonders. Fin-tube works mostly by convection through the fins. The foil not only stops the convection, but also creates dead air space around the pipe.

I like the idea of increasing flow rate in case this is a deltaT problem.
 
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Old 12-25-11, 07:29 AM
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xiphias, all those things were done last year. the only thing left is to do/redo insulation in the walls, but that would require either ripping the walls from inside or cutting holes in them from inside or outside.

NJTrooper,

i got good readings on the temps, black electrical tape does work wonders. the beginning of the loop read 191.5 and the the end of the loop in the cold room was 189.5. suspiciously close. but i guess i don't have a lazy flow problem...
 
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Old 12-25-11, 08:04 AM
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cutting holes in them from inside or outside.
There are insulation contractors that will do just that. Remove a piece of siding on the outside, open a hole in the sheathing and blow in cellulose. Seal the hole, replace the siding, done.

the beginning of the loop read 191.5 and the the end of the loop in the cold room was 189.5. suspiciously close.
Yes... suspiciously close, but presuming that the readings are now reasonable accurate (at least the DIFFERENCE between the readings, if not the magnitude of them) then it would indicate that you have more flow than you need. Can you hear the water flowing in the pipes at night when the house is quiet? You would really need a hella flow to have that small of a differential.

I think we can conclude that you don't have an air (or other, like a potato chip bag) blockage in the loop.
 
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Old 12-25-11, 08:11 AM
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Are you absolutely certain that the system is piped the way you believe it is? Can you actually SEE the pipe the entire way around the loop? It doesn't disappear into the floor and emerge again?

How about down at the boiler? Can you identify the supply and return for that loop? What do the temps measure there?

How about the in and out from each fin-tube element? can you get incremental readings around the loop?

For a 2 delta T across a loop with that much fin-tube installed, it is darn near impossible to have THAT MUCH flow !

Using say 600 BTU/FT of element, you have 52 feet installed, that's about 32K BTU.

If you were flowing 3.2 GPM you would have a 20 delta T on that loop. Since the relationship is relatively proportional, a 2 DT would mean you are flowing something like 30-ish GPM!

No... impossible... 30 GPM in a 3/4" pipe? I have to question that IR temp gun's accuracy.
 
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Old 12-25-11, 10:08 AM
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any recommendation for a good temp gun?
 
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Old 12-25-11, 01:20 PM
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Not without spending a ton of money. The ones that I've used have all been equally 5ucky.

The one I've got now is this Extech model,

42530 - Wide Range IR Thermometer

which is 'ok'... in other words, as bad as any. I think it's about $75 or so. I have no great love of these IR guns, but they do have their place.

If you've got a meat thermometer, slip a piece of insulation around the pipe and put the thermometer inside the insulation. This would be a cheap way to at least somewhat verify the gun.

OH YEAH, I keep forgetting to say this... I think it might have been sminker who wrote to remove the cotton candy from the pump. As he said, those motors run hot and need air around them. You risk burning up the motor with that insulated.

What's inside the big glom of insulation between the water heater and the boiler?
 
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Old 12-25-11, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
OH YEAH, I keep forgetting to say this... I think it might have been sminker who wrote to remove the cotton candy from the pump. As he said, those motors run hot and need air around them. You risk burning up the motor with that insulated.

What's inside the big glom of insulation between the water heater and the boiler?
the pump wouldn't get hotter than the water it pumps and since it's the return, it shouldn't be hotter than 180-190 in my case. would it still be too hot?

the glom is the extension tank - it's also wrapped in insulation... should i remove that too?
 
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Old 12-25-11, 04:10 PM
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Oh that motor will get way hotter than the water! I would definitely remove it from the pump.

I guess the expansion tank is OK, but there won't be any heat loss from it, only the top of the tank will have hot water in it, and only when the pressure is up... but it won't hurt it.
 
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Old 12-25-11, 04:22 PM
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ok, insulation from the pump is removed ...
 
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Old 12-25-11, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by _Diver View Post
i do, but the price is not straightforward. here is the latest with winter rate (this is my actual bill from mid november till mid december):
I would say you pay about $1.25 per therm. The customer charge doesn't figure into it because if you use 0 therms, you still have to pay for it. As far as charges for the first 50 and then anything over, always go with the anything over rate. I am paying about the same as you here in NJ right now.
 
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Old 12-25-11, 05:39 PM
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I did some googling on nat gas prices the other day then forgot to come back here and report...

Looks like national average is a bit over a buck / therm, but let's go with 'worst case' of $1.25 per, and a pilot running at 1000 BTU.

720 hours in a month (30 days)
X 1000 BTU
= 720K BTU
= 7.2 Therms
X 1.25
= $9.00 a month to run the pilot.

If the pilot runs less BTU and your cost per therm is less, of course the bill will be less...

So let's say that a single pilot light would run between 5 and 10 bucks a month.

Makes a pretty good case for shutting 'er down in the summer!

Let's say ya stick a 25 watt bulb in there over the summer if yer worried about condensation:

$0.12 per KW/HR (maybe more, but that's what I'm paying now)

40 hours at 25 watts is a KW/HR

720 hours div by 40
= 18 KW/HR / Month
X 0.12
= $2.16 / month

But then, a 25 W bulb is only 85 BTU... so that small amount of heat may not be enough to make any difference anyway.

To get to 1000 BTU you would need a 293 W bulb!
= 211 KW/HR / Month
X 0.12
= $25.33

Can that be right? I think so... somebody check my brain. Droo, yer good at cipherin'... I'm using 3410 BTU / KW
 
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Old 12-25-11, 11:42 PM
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Ya NJ Trooper, your math is right.
I think there is a but.
The pilot may have many more btu's but i don't understand why the pilot , is not doing a micro job of flue gas condensation.
Matter of fact, it would almost seem the pilot would do significantly more harm than good.
So a 25 watt bulb, while many times less btu's, is totally dry heat, and may be all that's needed.

Peter
 
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Old 12-26-11, 07:23 AM
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My first check on your math is the rate you pay for electricity. It's more like .16 per KWH. You forgot the delivery charge.

I'm not sure I understand why there is such concern about condensation on the boiler during the summer. My basement has a moisture problem. I have never witnessed any of my pipes, domestic supply or hydronic heating, have condensation on them anytime during the year. The only time I saw a problem between metal and water vapor in my basement is when I left a scrap of 2x4 on my table saw for a couple weeks. One day I picked up the scrap and saw the table had rusted underneath. No where else was there rust but under the 2x4. Now, was this because of moisture in the air or in the 2x4? I don't know for sure. But I do know that everywhere air is able to come into contact with the surface, I don't have a problem with rust.

Now lets suppose there is some level of condensation happening inside the heat exchanger despite my observations. Where does the harm come form? The acidic nature of the soot stuck to the inside, right? The condensation alone isn't going to cause flaking rust which is the kind that is harmful. Surface rust will form a layer of protection against further corrosion. So if the acid from the soot is the most dangerous part of the equation, then get your boiler cleaned in the spring every year. I'd say you would get more value for those dollars spent than powering a light bulb of gas pilot.

By the way, I run a dehumidifier now.
 
  #75  
Old 12-26-11, 07:35 AM
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The only time i have seen pilots cause flue gas condensation is larger water volume systems that have no flow checks so the water moves into and out of the boiler. By using multiple zones and zone valves or flow checks this usually is not a problem over the summer.To create condensation you need warm and cold. If there is no flow and the iron is room temp, the water is room temp where does the condensation come from?
All boilers today are built for cold start so this is not normally an issue. Heat is not the only way to keep things dry if you are concerned about this. Just moving air will dry things. If you are concerned with summer condensation on chimney vented products open the peep door and remove the burner access door on gas boilers to allow more airflow through them.
Remember standing pilot goes away on new equipment as of Sept 1 2012 as far as the manufacturing of them.Sales stop when they are gone.
 
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Old 12-26-11, 09:22 AM
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so, do you guys have a bulb in a socket and just shove it somewhere around the gas orifices? or do you have a more elaborate contraption?
 
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Old 12-26-11, 10:01 AM
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I'm probably the only one silly enough to do this... and only did it one summer a few years ago...

Honestly, I don't think I'd worry about it.
 
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