balancing heat output in different rooms (somewhat long)


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Old 12-21-11, 06:18 AM
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Question balancing heat output in different rooms (somewhat long)

I have a hot water baseboard heating in my colonial 2 story house build in 1984. Boiler is natural gas cast iron Repco LA100C circe 1984. I have a zone for each floor.

The second floor has a master bedroom as a first room in the zone loop and our daughterís bedroom as the last one with some rooms in between. The master bedroom also happen to be on south side of the house and it has a garage on the other side of the wall and the kidís bedroom happens to be a corner room facing north east. The thermostat is in the master bedroom. The attic is adequately air-sealed and it has enough insulation. I suspect walls donít have much or enough insulation. Adding insulation to the walls would be great but itís not in the plans right now.

As a result our master bedroom is warmer than the other bedroom even with the baseboard covers shut everywhere on the second floor except the kidís bedroom. The temperature of the baseboards are noticeable higher at the beginning of the loop in our bedroom and colder at the end in the other room. The temperature difference is about 2 degrees at the end of the heat cycle and about 3-4 degrees before the heat kicks in.

I plan to try to balance it a little bit by opening the baseboard in the master bedroom and removing the fins from the section of pipe and insulating that section of the pipe with a foam sleeve. This should reduced the heat output of that room and hopefully carry hot water further down the loop and giving more heat out there. I believe this might reduce the overall efficiency of the zone a bit, but since the zone is pretty long, it shouldnít be significant since there still will be enough surface to radiate the heat. There is also a bare pipe in the wall closet in the kidís bedroom and I might put the fins that I remove from our bedroom there.

So, does my plan have any merit? I think it should make our bedroom a bit cooler, resulting in a boiler firing a bit more often (thermostat is in this room) and keeping the other room warmer. The alternative would be to either move thermostat in the other room or simply setting it higher, but that would result in our room getting much warmer, which I want to avoid.

Please tell me if Iím missing something before I commence to work 
 
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Old 12-21-11, 06:48 AM
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You can reduce the temperature of the boiler water say in 10f increments to see if the comfort level improves.
 
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Old 12-21-11, 06:55 AM
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saves, i don't think i have an adjustment for the water temperature on my boiler (is it possible?). i have manual in front of me and there is no mentioning of it and it's not mentioned on the part list.

i will take a look when i'm at home, but in general i would rather not change the temperature. i keep the first floor cold at night and it takes good amount of time to bring the temperature back. lowering the water temp would make it worse. i could adjust the timing of course...

i might consider wrapping the element in the foil first and see if that makes the difference before i remove the fins.
 
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Old 12-21-11, 07:05 AM
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If I understand correctly; the temperature where the loop returns to the boiler in your daughter's room is two degrees cooler than the start point in the master bedroom? That does does not seem like much heat is being removed from the water. How many linear feet of fins are on the upstairs loop total (estimated)? Do you know how fast the water is moving, either in GPM or FPS? What is the water temperature now?

Moving fins from the master bedroom to your daughter's room would be a safe place to start. Since it wouldn't really change anything in the overall design of the system, just where the heat is radiated within the zone. Makes sense to me. Let us know how it works.

Chuck
 
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Old 12-21-11, 07:09 AM
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Chuck, sorry if i confused you with the temperatures. 2-4 degrees differences were the air temperatures in the rooms, not the temperatures of the heating elements. The later difference is a lot more pronounced, i could try to check tonight the exact numbers.

And you're right about my approach - i don't really want to do anything more radical like introducing valves, reversing the flow and such.

The water temp in the boiler is about 190F
 
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Old 12-21-11, 07:24 AM
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I think you are on the right track. Balancing works best when small steps are taken slowly to allow for the whole system to adjust and equalize to the changes. Moving fins within a loop should be thermally effective and just as important, cost effective.

Have you thought about getting a non-contact infra-red thermometer gun or pen? Pros use expensive models to measure the water temperature along an operating loop to gauge heat transfer, but homeowners can benefit from a simple model from Harbor Freight or Northern Tool (around $20 to$30) to judge the effectiveness of this type of tinkering. I found that a simple model was a big help in balancing the five loops of my radiant system.

Good luck.

Chuck
 
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Old 12-21-11, 07:31 AM
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Chuck,

I have a Black & Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector which i could use as a thermometer. I will take the measurement tonight. Now I need to figure out if I could remove the fins without snipping them
 
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Old 12-21-11, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by _Diver View Post
i might consider wrapping the element in the foil first and see if that makes the difference before i remove the fins.
I vote you try this first.

from prior:
So, does my plan have any merit?
Yes for sure.


Peter
 
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Old 12-21-11, 07:52 AM
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ok, thank you guys for your input. i will try with the least invasive steps. if the fins are easily removed then i will take them off. if they are not, then foil and some insulation first.
 
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Old 12-21-11, 10:36 AM
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What is the possibility of moving the thermostat to the cooler room?
Then covering fins with foil where it's too warm...

I don't think you will have any success removing the fins... they are not 'seamed'... they are slid over the end of the tube during manufacture. Even if you can take them off, you almost certainly won't be able to put them back on.
 
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Old 12-21-11, 10:39 AM
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NJ Trooper,

Moving the thermostat to another room would be pretty close to adding couple of degrees to the target temperature on the thermostat in the initial room, wouldn't it? Since the other room is colder it would bring the overall temperature on the second floor higher.

I will try to cover the fins if they are not removable. Adding the fins to another room is not very important, so if i could just remove them and not use them again, it would be ok.
 
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Old 12-21-11, 02:48 PM
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Yeah, I guess ya got a good point there... and I must confess that I didn't notice that you proposed that as a possible solution in the first post...

What I didn't notice anyone questioning is whether or not you have adequate FLOW in that loop.

You say the loop is 'long'... how long? Not the pipe, just the finned parts of the baseboards.

It could be possible that you have some air in that piping loop and this is impeding the flow. When the flow is too lazy through the loop, the water is cooler by the time it gets to the end of the loop and can't heat the room properly. By ensuring that you have proper flow, you get hotter water to the end of the loop.

A couple things to look at before you start your campaign... let's just be sure you have to go to the trouble of removing covers, etc...

Take a look at the boiler gauge. Tell us the PRESSURE and TEMPERATURE on the gauge. Perhaps even force a heat call by pushing the stat way up and get the boiler good and hot ... and report the pressure and temp when it's real hot.

Tell us about how the system is zoned also... one pump and zone valves? or a pump for each zone...
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-21-11 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 12-21-11, 03:12 PM
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A couple other thoughts...

Presumably there is wtw carpeting in the rooms. Is there enough of an air channel at the bottom of the baseboards to allow proper airflow? or is the carpeting blocking the air entry.

Have the covers been removed and the fins carefully vacuumed out? You would be surprised at how much just a small bit of dust can impede the heat output of a baseboard unit.

Does your B&D thermo read in degress? or only colors?

If you measure copper pipe temps, put a piece of black electrical tape on all the spots you wish to measure. You will get a truer reading. Measure the pipe going in, and the pipe coming out and tell us the difference.
 
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Old 12-21-11, 05:39 PM
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Don't remove the fins. First try wrapping in heavy aluminum foil. If that doesn't work well enough, get a sheet or two of 1/8" armaflex. It comes in 3x4 ft sheets. Use that like the Al foil.
 
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Old 12-22-11, 05:38 AM
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NJ Trooper,

B&D termo does give me a digital read out, but it's distance to spot ratio is not very good - 1:6. I did a quick reading and got some conflicting results, so i will try again when i remove the front panel to get closer to the pipe.

carpet is not obstructing the air inlet, but overall the baseboard are not as free as they could be.

i'm going to vacuum the colder room and leave the rest of them as is - i could use some insulation in other rooms
 
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Old 12-22-11, 05:41 AM
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xiphias,

i was thinking that there should be something better than aluminum foil. while the latter will reduce the effective surface of the heating element, it's also a great conductor.

i found the insulation sheet that you mentioned:

1/8" Armaflex Sheet

it seems that it's only available online. do you know of any substitute products that places like HomeDepo might carry?
 
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Old 12-22-11, 06:22 AM
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i wonder if something like this would be even better (it's thinner so it would be easier to put in place):

Amazon.com: SPONGE NEOPRENE W/ADHESIVE 1/16" THICK X 54" WIDE X 1' LONG: Home Improvement

 
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Old 12-22-11, 06:36 AM
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Hello Diver,
I'd try the aluminum foil first, less costly, less mess, that sticky stuff might drive you crazy.
Especiallly if it turrns out to give off a smell you don't care for and want want to remove it.
One other thought, in the cold room, comletely remove the adjustable dampers from the baseboard, should impprove the heat flow a little bit.
Also, please answer NJTroopers questions about water pressure and temoerature on the boiler.
As he said, ther very well might be some air trapped up there, limiting the water flow.
I've hqd the problem on the third floor of my house off and on over the years. Some heat comes out but it never really gets hot enough..


Peter
 
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Old 12-22-11, 06:50 AM
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Peter,

Good point about the mess and smell. I will try with the foil first. Good call on removing the damper completely!

NJTrooper,

I missed your post and questions, sorry about that.

There is one pump and 2 valves for each zone. The highest temperature I saw on the gauge was 190, I assume it's high limit. I believe i don't have ability to adjust the high limit - there is no control for it and manual has nothing mentioned as well. I don't recall the exact pressure, but I think it's 25psi working and 19psi when boiler is not firing, but the water might still be hot. I will double check tonight.

I examined the individual baseboard and i do not have air bleed valves on any of them, so it looks like i have a centralized air removal contraption close to the boiler.

I think the flow is adequate, the problem that I have it's just a combination of multiple factors: the coldest room is at the coldest corner of the house, the last in the zone loop and the baseboards are more obstructed than others.

I think it would still make sense to try to tip the balance of heating from one room to another, i will make sure that the system works with best efficiency.

I will do more measurement and temp reading and report back!
 
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Old 12-22-11, 03:15 PM
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NJTrooper,

Here are some numbers:

15psi @ 140F
20psi @ 200F

These are with the boiler not firing, I believe 200F is high limit, but i will try to verify later. By the way, is it too high? Should see if I can lower it (I don't think my boiler has it adjustable though).

I measure the temp of the pipe coming to the second floor and leaving and it was around 160F. It was actually few degrees higher on exist. I couldn't get a good reading of the temp where the pipe comes to the second floor, so it most likely off. But even if exit temp is 160F and the boiler temp is 200F it should provide enough heat. I believe the design drop is 20F, but I also think that the pipe is bare in the wall and it loses good amount of heat before it gets to the second floor. I insulated the hell out of it in the basement where i could, but good chunks are still bare where I don't have access.

Well, at least I got good reading of the temp in the cold room, so I could compare it with a temp after i do some "improvements" this weekend I will report back.

I will also measure the length of the all heating elements...
 
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Old 12-22-11, 03:39 PM
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how much fin tube is in the colder rooms compared to the bedroom and i mean pulling the covers and measure fin to fin not copper or covers...and was carpeting installed after the baseboard was in with the colder rooms 160F-170F pipe temps should heat up any size roomyou might be short on fins in the colder rooms.removing the fins...take a needle nose and grab one at a time twist it of...and trash them unusable...tin foil.armaflex tubing on theraw copper lines in and out of the fin area would help....are the wall tempertures real cold or pretty consistance with the nights.if the supply heated water rises to the second floor is it one straight run then back to the boiler or balanced off a header with valves to each baseboard section..
 
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Old 12-22-11, 03:46 PM
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jeeze... punctuate much?

The pressures look good... IF and only IF the pressure gauge is accurate... yes, there I go again... my mantra.

200 may be a bit on the high side... was that temperature taken just at the exact moment the burner shut down? or some minutes afterward?

There must be a high limit control on your boiler! and it's probably adjustable.
What controls do you see mounted? gray boxes, etc?

I think I mentioned the black electrical tape trick... those infrared thermometers do suffer from inaccuracy due to the 'emissivity' of different materials. If you compare readings from two different materials, or maybe one shiny and one dull of the same material, you will not get true differential readings.

That's the reason for the electrical tape. It lets you compare apples to apples.

coming to the second floor and leaving and it was around 160F. It was actually few degrees higher on exit
Impossible... try the tape trick. Does your gun have an laser spotter?
 
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Old 12-22-11, 04:16 PM
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water boils at 212F he's too high on his temperature setting ....180F tops to make a 70F stat set point waiting on the lenght of actual fins in the cold rooms along those perimeter walls....200F is the hi end stop on the controller anything below it is the water running limit...wondering if it is series or parallel piping
 
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Old 12-22-11, 04:41 PM
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Yeah, but that's IF the gauge is accurate, and IF the gauge is placed in the boiler at a spot which represents the actual water temp out the pipe, and IF that reading was taken within seconds of the boiler shutting off... we know that the temp will rise if the heat call ends and leaves heat in the cast iron or steel...
 
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Old 12-22-11, 04:42 PM
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sminker,

i should get the length of the fin tubes for different rooms tomorrow when i have a chance to work on them.

160F-170F pipe temps should heat up any size roomyou might be short on fins in the colder room
it should provided it stays at that temp long enough. if the other room with a tstat gets warmer much sooner and cuts off the heat, the colder room won't have enought time.

if the supply heated water rises to the second floor is it one straight run then back to the boiler or balanced off a header with valves to each baseboard section
one continious loop from the boiler and back. all baseboard and sequential.
 
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Old 12-22-11, 04:46 PM
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NJTrooper,

200 may be a bit on the high side... was that temperature taken just at the exact moment the burner shut down? or some minutes afterward?
some minutes after, but not sure how many. i will try to catch it when it cycles off...

There must be a high limit control on your boiler! and it's probably adjustable. What controls do you see mounted? gray boxes, etc?
i will follow up with some pics ...


coming to the second floor and leaving and it was around 160F. It was actually few degrees higher on exit
Impossible... try the tape trick. Does your gun have an laser spotter?
i agree that it's impossible - nobody cancelled the second law of thermodynamics i was alluding in my previous posts that the reading i took at the beginning of the loop were wrong. the gun doesn't have a laser point, it's akward and has 1:6 distance to spot ratio. with exit pipe i was able to get pretty close to the pipe, so i trust 160f reading. with the entrance pipe i think i grabbed to much ambient temp and the gun averaged it out.
 
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Old 12-22-11, 04:59 PM
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pics














 
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Old 12-22-11, 06:03 PM
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That gray 4x6 -ish box on the front is the aquastat... cover slides straight off, might have to loosen one screw on the side to release cover... temp dial inside.

I think one of the kids got their cotton candy stuck to the front of your boiler!
 
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Old 12-23-11, 04:51 AM
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NJTrooper,

So if I can adjust the aquastat, should I ? Should I set it at 180F? What will it do to to efficiency, boiler life span, etc?

Also I caught the boiler at the end of the firing cycle and the temp was 195. I assume it climbs to 200 after fire is out due to cast iron exchanger being hotter then 195.

And I have cotton candy all over my basement. I plan on putting a suspended ceiling there and then clean up the rest. The pump and the expansion tank are wrapped - don't know if that does much, but i don't think it hurts ...

update:

the low temp for aquastat seems to be around 170F.

I took under the cover of the grey box and there is a dial on a bottom as you said. it's set somewhere between 195 and 200, so it seems that the temp gauge is accurate at least.

please let me know if i should adjust it. i assume high temp gets adjusted and the low one is high minus some predetermined value?
 

Last edited by _Diver; 12-23-11 at 05:14 AM.
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Old 12-23-11, 08:31 AM
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Since you are dealing with cold rooms, those rooms will probably only get colder if you reduce the setting. So, no, I wouldn't decrease it... nor would I increase it because you are about at the highest point that you want to be.

What model is the aquastat? L8148E ?

the low temp for aquastat seems to be around 170F.
You mean that if the heat call continues and the burner goes off on high limit, it will come back on around 170 ? ( i.e. the 'differential' is about 25į ? ) that may be a little high, I think the 8148 is usually around 10-15 fixed diff... but as long as it's REPEATABLE and consistent, it's not a problem, maybe even a benefit...
 
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Old 12-23-11, 11:18 AM
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i might be mistaken about 170F - the boiler might've fired when tstat asked for heat and not while still being in the cycle of providing heat. as for aquastat is L8148A.

i would think lower water temp would even out the room temperatures a bit - the higher the difference between the water and the room temp the more efficient would be the heat transfer. so hotter water would give away the heat better and it would satisfy the tstat in the hottest room faster, leave the colder room colder.

if the temp diff is low, the water would retain its own temp better and carry more heat to other rooms. i think.

so it sounds like i should leave the temp along, right?

 
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Old 12-23-11, 12:01 PM
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L8148A
So you've either got a LINE VOLTAGE gas valve, or the B1 B2 terminals of the aquastat are connected to the primary side of a 24VAC transformer, then on to the valve.

so hotter water would give away the heat better and it would satisfy the tstat in the hottest room faster, leave the colder room colder.
I'd have to think about that for a long time! Good question... my initial gut feeling answer is that the change would be proportional to both rooms.

But what's the harm in trying it? Go all the way down to the 'standard' of 180 for a while and see what happens! Let us know. You might find very little difference, if any, and would almost certainly save some fuel in the process.

USUALLY, the only reason to have to raise the a'stat above 180 would be for an entire home that is PROPORTIONALLY 'under' radiated.
 
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Old 12-23-11, 12:26 PM
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If baseboard radiation is correct for each zone the only time 180f would be needed is on the coldest day of the year or to recover from a set back temperature.
 
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Old 12-23-11, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
But what's the harm in trying it? Go all the way down to the 'standard' of 180 for a while and see what happens! Let us know. You might find very little difference, if any, and would almost certainly save some fuel in the process.
so having the water temp lower results in savings? is this very well know fact? not questioning your post, just curious.
 
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Old 12-23-11, 01:46 PM
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having the water temp lower results in savings?
Sure it does! It's that much less fuel that needs to be burned to get the water to that temperature. If the house can be satisfied with 180 water, even if the zones call a bit longer, and the pump runs longer, it will most certainly save fuel.

That's part of the whole mystique behind the theory of modulating boilers and OutDoor Reset... the cooler the water you heat the home with, the less fuel you burn.
 
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Old 12-23-11, 01:55 PM
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If baseboard radiation is correct for each zone the only time 180f would be needed is on the coldest day of the year or to recover from a set back temperature.
But an oversized boiler can easily heat the water faster than the BTUs can be taken out of the water and the heat call satisfied. This will result in the boiler heating the water hotter than needed, and bouncing off the High Limit until the heat call is satisfied.

I know you are going to jump on the ODR bandwagon again, so I'll save ya the trouble...

ODR would prevent this from happening. It would calculate the required water temp and cut the burner off before the water overshot the calculated target temp... saving fuel. Additionally, since the boiler is not left with a pant load of heat in it after a heat call, the standby losses between heat calls will be less.
 
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Old 12-23-11, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
Sure it does! It's that much less fuel that needs to be burned to get the water to that temperature. If the house can be satisfied with 180 water, even if the zones call a bit longer, and the pump runs longer, it will most certainly save fuel.
i'm missing something here... it will take less energy to heat it the water to lower temp, but the zones will work longer to output the same btus, calling for more firing cycles.. there is something else that makes it work. like it takes less energy to heat twice the amount of water to 10 degrees vs one amount of water to 20. or something like that ...
 
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Old 12-23-11, 03:05 PM
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the numbers for fins are in.

rooms in the order how the hot water enters the zone:

master bedroom: 216" of fins, 146 sq inch of room per 1 inch of heating element
small office: 68" 169.5 sq in. per 1"
guest bedroom: 132" 144 sq in. per 1"
cold bedroom: 140" 160 sq in. per 1"
bathroom: 44" 218 sq in. per 1"
master bdrm closet: 24" 292.5 sq in. per 1"

overall fins: 624" or 52'. all dampers are closed, except the cold bedroom.

removing small office, bathroom and closet from the list, here is the same list:

master bedroom: 216" of fins, 146 sq inch of room per 1 inch of heating element
guest bedroom: 132" 144 sq in. per 1"
cold bedroom: 140" 160 sq in. per 1"

both bedrooms are cold, but i don't care much for guest one since it's not occupied. master bedroom has the highest temp water and a lot of fins. coldest room has the least amount.

there is a nice section where i could fit a 30" of fins in the cold bedroom. that would make it look like this:

master bedroom: 216" of fins, 146 sq inch of room per 1 inch of heating element
guest bedroom: 132" 144 sq in. per 1"
cold bedroom: 170" 132 sq in. per 1"

there are a few pretty long sections of the pipe with no fins in the master bedroom (the hottest room). i wonder if insulating those sections would make any difference?

i discovered that the carpet in the cold room (probably in all of them) was tucked inside of the baseboard. so i cut it and tucked it under. i also vacuumed the fins and clear the airspace from furniture a bit. let's see if it makes the difference for now.
 
  #39  
Old 12-23-11, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by _Diver View Post
there are a few pretty long sections of the pipe with no fins in the master bedroom (the hottest room). i wonder if insulating those sections would make any difference?
Yes it will
3/4 copper flowing 2 gal a minute of 170* in 68* air gives off 475 btu's for 10 feet. With 1/2" of foan insulation it drops to 150. Put insulation on every inch of non finned copper in the Master room.

Did you put any aluminum foil on the Master bedroom fins yet?
You'll be amazed at the difference that will make

Peter
 
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Old 12-23-11, 06:25 PM
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if the carpet was tucked between the fins and the face cover you had no air circuation there and insulating the raw piping will dedicate it towards the convection fins and using the same idea that blocked the cold room s with strips of capet will dampen the over heated but try the insualting first....do you know if it is a straight series of baseborad out of the boiler thru the house thru first run then others out the last piece back to the boiler.if the water temperature is dropping as it runs the house your probably in series if you see different temps on the romms might have a balancing valve on the loop to each room...
 
 

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