Air in baseoards? Rushing water sound...

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Old 01-04-12, 06:39 PM
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Air in baseoards? Rushing water sound...

Hi all... please bear with me as i know next to nothing about HVAC (but am willing to learn)... I have lived in my house for approx 31 yrs, all my life actually, and i don't ever remember the baseboards making the noises that they have been for the last month or so... We just had the burner guy in to do the yearly cleaning, and all is well with the burner/boiler itself, but there is a sound like rushing water when the boiler first starts it's cycle... I am thinking that it is air in the system? So I spent a few hours today browsing the board to see if i could figure out how to bleed my baseboards (which hasn't been done since the burner/boiler was installed in 1999) which is what i believe i need to do... or purge the system (?)... I read many responses to similar threads and didn't find an exact answer, so I decided to post myself...

As for what I know about my system: It's an oil burner/boiler (no separate hot water heater) installed in 1999... 1 zone... serviced yearly since installed... and that's about it... I took pictures so you can see what the setup is...

Boiler 2012 pictures by GntlStone

I hope you might be able to give me some direction in this...

PLEASE!!!
~Kris
 
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Old 01-04-12, 07:59 PM
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Kris, I haven't looked at the pics yet, maybe there is a shot of the gauge... but in case not, please tell us what the pressure / temperature gauge on the boiler reads.
 
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Old 01-04-12, 08:02 PM
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Check your pressure. You should have a minimum of 12 psi when the boiler is cold. I suspect your pressure is low and raising it will help. You won't have to purge your baseboards unless the air in them prevents water from flowing. In picture 13, make sure that little red cap is slightly loose on the vent to let air out.
 
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Old 01-04-12, 08:11 PM
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Picture 20 shows it's 16-18 pounds at 140
 
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Old 01-04-12, 08:17 PM
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Is there a PRV on that puppy?
 
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Old 01-04-12, 08:20 PM
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I see that there is a shot of the gauge, and as near as I can tell, it looks like the pressure is OK... BUT, I don't trust gauges at all... with good reason... they are all evil, lying things. We'll get back to that in a minute...

Is this boiler installed in an attic space? ABOVE the radiators? The installers must have been GIANTS!

You see those two small round brass 'cans' with small caps on them? One is on top of the boiler itself, and the other is up in the stratosphere to the left of the expansion tank.

Are the caps on top of those LOOSE so that air can escape? If they are tight, and loosening them causes them to leak, they must be replaced. Those are there to get the air out of the system.

Also to the left, there are two blue handle valves and two yellow handle valves below them... NORMALLY, those could be used to rid the system of air, but in this case they can not... they are installed in the reverse order to do any good at all in getting air out of the baseboards. Had the blue drain valves been installed BELOW the yellow handle valves, this is where you would 'purge' the air... but don't bother... won't work.

When was the last time the expansion tank was checked for a proper air charge?
 
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Old 01-04-12, 08:28 PM
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Is there a PRV on that puppy?
Excellent catch Rock!

Kris, I do not see one either...

We are talking about a PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE which is an EXTREMELY IMPORTANT SAFETY DEVICE! Without this relief valve, something goes wrong with that boiler and it WILL EXPLODE! IT CAN KILL YOU AND BURN DOWN THE HOUSE!

Not that I'm trying to scare you or anything... but YES, I AM! THIS IS VERY SERIOUS!

I hope that there is one on the sides or back of the boiler. Please look and if you find one, post a picture!

If there is not a relief valve installed, HAVE ONE INSTALLED IMMEDIATELY! and SHAME ON THE SERVICE TECHS who either never noticed, or didn't care if you and your family died and a fiery boiler explosion and house burning down!


Is that floor PLYWOOD? Is this boiler rated for installation on combustible surfaces? I doubt it...
 
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Old 01-04-12, 09:00 PM
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Thanks everyone for their quick reply's... I will answer the questions to the best of my ability...

Is this boiler installed in an attic space? ABOVE the radiators? The installers must have been GIANTS!
LOLOL No, it is a (very) small utility/storage/tool room on the one (and only) floor. It replaced a unit 3 times the size in 1999...

You see those two small round brass 'cans' with small caps on them? One is on top of the boiler itself, and the other is up in the stratosphere to the left of the expansion tank.

Are the caps on top of those LOOSE so that air can escape? If they are tight, and loosening them causes them to leak, they must be replaced. Those are there to get the air out of the system.
I read alot of your replys to others, so i knew to check to make sure that they were loose, and they were and are loose... not falling off loose, but far from tight...

Also to the left, there are two blue handle valves and two yellow handle valves below them... NORMALLY, those could be used to rid the system of air, but in this case they can not... they are installed in the reverse order to do any good at all in getting air out of the baseboards. Had the blue drain valves been installed BELOW the yellow handle valves, this is where you would 'purge' the air... but don't bother... won't work.
LOL again... somehow that doesn't surprise me, but you might be surprised just how much in this house is backwards... my grandfather and great grandfather built this house, and did most of it all themselves, luckily my grandfather was a licensed electrician and buildings inspector, so none of it is wrong, per se, just "ingeniously" put together... I don't know that it matters, but where those pipes (w/ the shutoff valves and drains) come out from is the crawlspace...

When was the last time the expansion tank was checked for a proper air charge?
probably 1999 when the new boiler & expansion tank were installed... I wasn't exactly sure how to do so, on my unit specifically...

Rock & NJ Trooper: there is a PRV (Taco 329-T3) just in front of the main unit to the right of the red handled shutoff valve... but I really do appreciate the warning, and i can chuckle about it because it is there...



NJ Trooper: The boiler is actually sitting on a concrete pad, off to the left where the pipes come up from the crawlspace is plywood...

As I'm sitting here typing this reply, the heat just kicked on and it sounds like water rushing (sometimes) and a "glub glub.... glub glub" noise periodically... don't know if that helps, but i figured the more info you have, the better..


Thanks aging for your timely replies...

~Kris

 
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Old 01-04-12, 09:10 PM
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Rock & NJ Trooper: there is a PRV (Taco 329-T3) just in front of the main unit to the right of the red handled shutoff valve... but I really do appreciate the warning, and i can chuckle about it because it is there...
Kris, no... that is a PRESSURE REDUCING VALVE, not a PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE. They share the same acronym but are totally different beasts... don't chuckle yet, please.

It should look something like this:


image courtesy masterplumber.net

PLEASE look and tell me you have one of these!
 
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Old 01-04-12, 09:14 PM
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You might have a bubble of air in that pipe that comes off the pump, up and over to the left where those two drain valves are.

I said that they aren't good for anything, but you might try putting a hose on one of them, closing both of the ball valves below, open the drain with the hose, and operate the 'fast fill ' lever on the PRESSURE REDUCING VALVE for a few seconds to push water at a fast rate up over and down that section of pipe.

We might have to figure out how to do a purge of the zones, but I just don't see the valves to do so.
 
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Old 01-04-12, 09:18 PM
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NJ Trooper: I do have one, I just didn't know better... I just went and checked... the Pressure RELIEF Valve is on the backside of the boiler, much like the pic you posted... and thank you, it really isn't a laughing matter...

~Kris
 
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Old 01-04-12, 09:20 PM
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By the way, a typical spot for a relief valve on that boiler would be on the short pipe at the left rear of the boiler where the one air vent is now located.

If you do not have a relief valve on that system, this would be the eaisest place to install one.
 
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Old 01-04-12, 09:22 PM
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the Pressure RELIEF Valve is on the backside of the boiler, much like the pic you posted... and thank you, it really isn't a laughing matter...
No, thank you! At least I can sleep tonight!
 
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Old 01-04-12, 10:14 PM
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Troop, I'm not sure how it works in NJ, but here in CT, an Inspector from the Bureau of Boilers comes around every two years to both inspect and "enlighten" commercial boiler owners like myself on recent safety regs. and updated code(s) currently applicable to the unit. It is his job to issue (or deny) the necessary Boiler Operating Certificate, so he has some fairly serious clout.

I've had the same inspector for the past decade+ and he's a good man. He knows how to take his job seriously without breaking too many balls at the same time. He often brings with him pics of the latest and greatest boiler explosions that he comes across in his trade, and he shows them to me in order to better make his point. Sometimes he'll show me historical pics of old steam boiler explosions that happened right here in CT (back before PRVs existed). I'm sure he does that with all the other commercial boiler owners he deals with, as well. Because those pics are very effective in helping to get his message across.

:camera:
 
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