Oil Hot Water Boiler adjustment and/or modifications suggestions

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Old 01-17-12, 06:41 AM
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Oil Hot Water Boiler adjustment and/or modifications suggestions

Less then a month ago I took ownership of a new to me house, which is heated with an oil hot water boiler.
I am pretty sure the system has not seen any preventive maintanance and has been run as is at least for the past four years (the owners I bought the house from owned the house for that long). I can comfortably say this as within the first two days of being in the house, I had to replace both pumps (one died completely, and the other was making some brutal noise like it was going). While the pumps where being replaced, I took the opertunity to check the inside of the pipes, which had some settlement and a good coating of light rust when swipped with my finger.

Anyway, about the system (I don't know a lot about it, so feel free to ask any questions you want and I'll answer what I can).

The unit is a hot water oil boiler, heating a 3 story (2900sqft), 75yrs old house. It was originally setup back in the day to be controlled at each rad, later modified to run on a single thermistat. The previous owners (which I purchased the house from), had a second thermistat added (replacing the one large pump with two smaller units).
The water system has two circuit loops, one feeding the main floor and one feeding the second and third floor. The basement is technically not heated, although it is comfortable with the heat from the boiler and hot water pipes.
The loops are 2" copper piping, with 1" pipe going from the loop to each rad, then back to the loop (rads in parallel to the loop). If I get air in a rad, I have the bleed that rad or there is no heat.
The system is running at 220'F(?) and ~20PSI.

The water feeding the system is hard water from a well, which runs through a 5N filter and a water softner (that system is on my list to modify as well). There is no inline filter within the hot water circuit from what I can tell.

One of the suggestions the guy I had install the pumps made was to consider replacing the copper pipe look with a plastic pipe run. Instead of keeping the loops with the rads in parallel to the loop, run the rads in series, so the water will force the air out of each rad. When I asked about sizing (the loops are 2" but the rads are only 1"), he suggested 1" all around.
I don't know if I like the idea of 1" all around. First off, it reduces the amount of water in the system (meaning less hot water going around), and all my equipment (pumps, valves, etc) are 2" (pumps are not cheap as I now know).
What would you guys suggest with regards to pipe sizing?

Also, I don't see any filter system within the hotwater circuits. With the amount of settlement I found in the pipe while the pumps where being replaced, this concerns me. Is this something I should be concerned about if I go with new piping?
What should I consider for a filter system?

The local outdoor tempuratures can go from +35'C to -35'C.
Now that I have been in the house through a couple nights of colder then -30'C, I do have to say that I am impressed at how well this system keeps the house warm. I am however scared to see how much oil I have consumed because of those nights.
 
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Old 01-17-12, 07:32 AM
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Boiler Questions

Can you provide the maker and model number of your equipment as well as a few pictures...the oil fired boiler, the 5N filter, the water softener, the pumps ( I guess these are the circulation pumps). If the system has not been serviced for 4 years, it has been sorely neglected. It should be serviced annually. It is not too difficult and you can probably do it yourself. If you go from two zone back to one zone, you will be heating the entire house all the time and this will probably consume more heating oil. With the two zone heat, you can keep a lesser used portion of the house at a lower temperature than the primary living area and save some fuel.
 

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Old 01-17-12, 08:42 AM
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I'm not real keen on the proposed piping changes, and certainly not in the middle of the winter.

In-line filtration isn't normally provided or necessary - it is good to have it in the make-up water line supplying the boiler.

If you have effective air removal devices, there should be little or not rust on the inside of the circulating pipes. Post some good photos of your system.
 
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Old 01-17-12, 09:53 AM
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(Sorry, can't figure out how to multi-quote on this board)

Irig0550;
I would say yes, it was neglected. I will be doing a lot of reading as to how to service and clean the system myself.

As for the two zones.... I would not want to go back to the 1 zone only. In the first week of being in the house, I replaced the two (old) manualt t-stats with programable units. I had one for my forced air gas unit in the other house and have a hard time living without it. Currently I'm dropping the main floor to 60'F when we are in bed (68'F during the day) and drop the second and third floor from 67'F to 65'F during the day when the family is all on the main floor. If my wife wasn't a stay at home mom with two young kids, I would love to drop the temp during the day, but unfortunately there isn't a consistant time when no one is home.

As for the pictures, I will post them as soon as I get home and can take them (will be after 6PM EST). Once I get some time, I will draw out the P&IDs of the system which will give exactly how everything is setup.

gilmorrie:
I wouldn't dream of redoing the pipes during the winter. It would be a summer project for sure.
Is there a reason you would not consider redoing the pipe work?
Access to the main floor loop is really easy thanks to the 100% unfinished basement. The second loop for the second and third floor will be a bit tougher, but not too much as there is a 2 foot crawl space between the first floor ceiling and second floor.
The reason I was thinking of doing it was because of the air locks I am getting in the rads with the current configuration. The guy that the previous owner had me use to learn how the system works suggested putting in a valve between the rad intake and return line, which would basically put the rad in series in the loop, instead of parallel. This would really force any air in the rads out the end of the system (and help with my third floor circulation issues). The down side to that is those valves are still pretty expensive, and could almost be more cost effective to replace the piping completely instead of installing 20+ valves (at ~$25CND a pop).
I'm also looking for a long term solution as this will be the last place I move myself into. After this, my kids are going to have to drag me kicking and screaming to the old folks home.

So... Hopefully tonight, I'll have pictures of my well filter system, of my boiler, circulation motors and the basic lay out of the system.

On the note about the hot water filter not normally being used... Good to know. As I have mentioned, I am really new to this system and have had very little time to review what I have and what should be there.
I would like to mention that I notice the boiler fires up often and only runs for a short time. I haven't been watching the guage when it does this to see what the temp is at. I was told that 220' was where it should be. I am wondering if the unit installed is a bit too big for the house.
 
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Old 01-17-12, 10:37 AM
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The only reason in changing out the piping is the salvage value of the existing copper, don't do it. The air problem is treatable.
 
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Old 01-17-12, 11:50 AM
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Furd:
Any reason why you say 'Don't do it", other then the effort required if the pipe wasn't easily accessable?

I do plan to really inspect the pipe work this summer when I can shut down the system. Copper pipe has a life expectancy and who knows how old this stuff is.
I was thinking that pending the quality/age of the existing pipe, if I wanted to change the layout to run the rads in series instead of parrallel to a loop, it may be cheaper to replace the pipe then to add knife gate valves on the loop between the rad intakes and return lines.
 
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Old 01-17-12, 12:04 PM
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Assuming it really IS copper that piping will last for hundreds of years. Also assuming that your heating units (radiators) really are piped in parallel with the loop it means you have a "Monoflo" system and converting to a series system will create as many problems as it resolves, maybe MORE problems. Monoflo systems are sometimes a bit difficult to bleed the air from but once the air IS removed they give excellent performance. You do NOT need any valves between the inlet and return connections from the heaters.

On another note, 220 degrees F. is probably forty degrees hotter than necessary. Lowering the water temperature will be more economical and will likely give you better comfort.
 
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Old 01-17-12, 12:20 PM
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I agree with Furd.
Scrap 2" m copper can be worth 8-10 dollars a foot.

If there is a hundrred feet or more on the 1st floor loop, that is a good pile of cash.

Beware,
Peter
 
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Old 01-17-12, 01:01 PM
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Furd:
Thanks for that info, particulary the temp being a bit high. Although I haven't been in this house long enough to feel the pain of the fuel cost, I have been warned that I'm looking at a lot during the next couple months. Any penny I can save by adjusting things correctly is great.

I can see how the "Monoflo" system would be better for even performance once all the air is out. With a series arrangement, the rads at the beginning of the run would be throwing off more heat then the rads at the end.

As mentioned earlier, I will grab the make and models of everything in the system as well as tons of photos.

PeterNH;
At $8-$10 a foot for scrap copper pipe... I could almost stand to make money by switching out all the copper lines to plastic.
 
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Old 01-17-12, 01:13 PM
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Hey N. Mike,
Go for it.
We just want to make sure the benifits accrue to you.
Not the plumber.

Peter
 
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Old 01-17-12, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by PeterNH View Post
Hey N. Mike,
Go for it.
We just want to make sure the benifits accrue to you.
Not the plumber.

Peter
I'm handy enough I can do my own plumbing.
When it comes to the inner workings of the boiler (fuel nozle,etc) I will bring in the pro as I won't mess with that stuff.
That being said, the small town I moved into has reasonably cheap labor for this stuff (going hourly rate is $30/hour). It's almost cheap enough for me not to learn how to work on these systems. I am just one of those people that can't live in a house without knowing exactly how it works.
 
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Old 01-17-12, 05:16 PM
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What type of radiators do you have?

If you have a monoflo system, adding valves to the copper pipe would be easy to do. Use ball valves, not gate valves for this.
 
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Old 01-17-12, 05:55 PM
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If you have a monoflo system, adding valves to the copper pipe would be easy to do. Use ball valves, not gate valves for this.
I can't see the point in adding any valves.

You definitely do NOT want to go to a series arrangement, for the reasons you stated... I'm sure that in your climate, you will be VERY unhappy with the heat in the rooms at the 'end of the line'.

... waiting for pics... love pics...
 
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Old 01-17-12, 06:01 PM
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he suggested 1" all around.
I don't know if I like the idea of 1" all around.
No, I don't know that I do either... how many BTU is the heat loss ? what is the heating BTU of all the rads in one loop? Your 2" pipe can carry a boatload of heat... 1" pipe will limit you to around 80K BTU on the loop. You may find that the heat loss on that loop is greater than 80K ... (I doubt it, but it is something to consider when thinking about changing pipe sizes).

We always talk about INSULATION... and INSULATION... and then more INSULATION as being the best bang for the buck in fuel savings.
 
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Old 01-17-12, 06:03 PM
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By the way... I believe in supporting the local economy, and farming work out if you are able... but never forget that these guys are in the business to make money... and probably actively looking for work... so understand the motives, and spend wisely!
 
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Old 01-17-12, 06:30 PM
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If you have a monoflo system, adding valves to the copper pipe would be easy to do. Use ball valves, not gate valves for this.
While ball valves are better than gate valves in this instance the PROPER valve would be a Bell & Gossett "Circuit Setter" and those babies are not the least bit inexpensive.

I repeat, do NOT consider ANY piping changes. As you state, it works well in keeping the house warm. The only problem is the air issue and THAT is definitely something that can be fixed and probably quite easily.
 
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Old 01-18-12, 08:38 AM
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Sorry guys for the delay on these. We got hit with a pretty good storm last night which had me plowing throw snow drifts with my grand caravan (80km worth).

Anyway, here are the pics.

This is the over all boiler arrangement. What is not shown in there is the second circulation pump, which is in line with the tank.


Here is the info plate on the side of the boiler unit. I didn't have too much time to flip through the papers which are with the boiler. I will try to go through them today.


A quick shot of the heat/preasure gauge (the preasure is a bit low, but that appears to be where it settles too. I do bring it up to 20PSI manually, but it eventually drops back down to this.) The boiler was running when I took the photo.


I have two of these circulation pumps. One runs the first floor zone, and the other runs the second and third floor. These where just replaced a few weeks ago.


This is the preasure tanks which is in line right after the boiler, but before the pumps.


The fresh water that is added to the system is well water, which is currently only being filtered by a 5 Micron filter and water softner.
The previous owners had wrapped all the piping with this light (thin) crap, ducktape holding it together. I'll be looking a getting this stuff off as it is melting in some areas to the pipe.
 
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Old 01-18-12, 10:12 AM
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Mike, we were mostly interested in how your radiators are connected to the main piping... to try and determine if you have a Monoflow system or not...

Take some pictures of the TEE fittings that the radiators are connected to.
 
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Old 01-18-12, 08:03 PM
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I will be doing a lot of reading as to how to service and clean the system myself.
A couple of very good resources I have come across:

http://www.beckettcorp.com/protect/t...heat_Guide.pdf

Guide to oil burner inspection, visual examination for signs of trouble
 
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Old 01-20-12, 05:55 AM
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NJ Trooper;
I have a pic for you, but will need to find a way to post it. I used facebook's image server previous but can't access failbook from work.
From what i can see, the T is a standard 2" straight through with a 1" outlet (nothing special from what I can tell).
 

Last edited by Northern Mike; 01-20-12 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 01-20-12, 08:41 AM
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Here is a quick shot of one of the "T" going into a rad. It's not a great shot as it also happens to be the location where the second zone goes up to the second floor. (I really need to re-run the pipe for the second floor as it hangs low and cuts across the ceiling instead of running nice and tucked away like the main floor loop.)



Note: The pink warp was from the previous owner. It's ok to keep someone from burning themself on the pipe, but otherwise, I highly doubt the effort was worth the gain of doing this.
I may replace some of this with actual pipe insolation tubes (super cheap at the local hardware store). I am not sure if I will leave some pipe exposed as these pipes are keeping the basement comfortable.
 
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Old 01-20-12, 11:56 AM
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Looks like one side of a monoflo branch to me. Do you have a pic of the piping for the other side of the rad?

FWIW, I have a similar "diverter tee" system in my home (if that is indeed what you have), and the only way to get all the air out of the system is to go around and bleed each baseboard individually. And then I go back and bleed them again after a few days. I can try purging at the boiler all day long, doesn't matter. Yea, bleeding all the emitters is a PITA, but necessary. On the other hand, once all the air is out, the system performs nicely. Just my own personal experience.
 
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Old 01-20-12, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Rockledge

Looks like one side of a monoflo branch to me. Do you have a pic of the piping for the other side of the rad?

FWIW, I have a similar "diverter tee" system in my home (if that is indeed what you have), and the only way to get all the air out of the system is to go around and bleed each baseboard individually. And then I go back and bleed them again after a few days. I can try purging at the boiler all day long, doesn't matter. Yea, bleeding all the emitters is a PITA, but necessary. On the other hand, once all the air is out, the system performs nicely. Just my own personal experience.
I didn't think to get a photo of the other return tee (it was taken at ~5:30AM this morning before work). I'll grab a photo of the return tee tonight.
As for the system you describe.... That is exactly like mine except the third floor rad I have had to bleed about a half dozen times or so. The rad on the third floor is the only one up there (there is only one room up in the attic) and I believe the 1" pipe goes straight up from the loop in the second floor (floor), into the rad, and straight down to the loop. The feed and return pipe to the third floor rad run through my office on the second floor.

Long story short, main floor loop is in the ceiling of the basement, and the second floor loop is in the ceiling of the main floor.
I hope this all makes sense.
 
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Old 01-20-12, 12:36 PM
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A few more questions.

Does the pressure gauge work properly and what is the range of pressures you see from cold to hot? What is the highest temperature achieved? How high (in feet) is the highest radiator in the house above the boiler?

Please show the ENTIRE tee on both the supply and return from a single radiator.

That picture shows a vent elbow with a pipe plug installed. The vents NEED to be at the highest point in each heat emitter and just before the pipe turns downward. Ideally you would have a tee instead of an elbow to allow a collecting space for the air.

Monoflo (also known as one-pipe) systems have several advantages but they can be difficult to bleed the air. Having a tight system (no leaks) is very important for their operation as air enters the system with any addition of water.
 
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Old 01-20-12, 12:36 PM
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Your description makes sense to me.

When you bleed the 3rd floor rad, do you get any air? Or is it just cool water followed by hot water? If the latter case, then you might have a flow problem on that branch. A good primer on "diverter tee" piping systems can be found HERE.
 
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Old 01-20-12, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Rockledge

Your description makes sense to me.

When you bleed the 3rd floor rad, do you get any air? Or is it just cool water followed by hot water? If the latter case, then you might have a flow problem on that branch. A good primer on "diverter tee" piping systems can be found HERE.

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...#ixzz1k1sQQzz0
Generally I'll get air for a bit, then it stops. I have to run down, manually bring the presure back up to 20PSI, and do it again. Takes a couple runs like this before I get a little bit of cold water followed by hot. You can hear the water entering the rad before it starts making an appearance from the bleed screw.
 
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Old 01-23-12, 06:27 AM
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Just a quick follow up on this thread;

After some continuous tweaking, I managed to get the boiler down to ~180-185'F from ~220'F. The controls on the side of the boiler had the high temp set to ~180'F, but I am thinking those markings are only guides and not very accurate.

I re-bleed the rads and removed the little bit of air that was in some of the rads. The second floor had more then the first floor.

Also replaced the two manual t-stats with some new Honeywell 1-Day digital units (local hardware store had a half off sale). These will help a lot as with this house being as big as it is, I can turn down the main level a lot when we are sleeping, and the reverse during the day when we are not in the second or third floor.

Hopefully I'll have some time to look into bringing up the PSI presure a bit. Currently it holds at about 12PSI which sounds a bit low. It's been hard to find time to play with this while still unpacking and installing/setting up everything else.

I also still owe some pics of the intake and return tees for the rads.
 
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Old 01-23-12, 05:00 PM
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I'm with furd: don't change the piping. This appears to be a totally acceptably piped system. A few more pictures, including one that shows all of the near-boiler piping, tanks, pumps in one shot, would be helpful. It might even be excellently-piped. In which case, save yourself some money and totally unnecessary aggravation and don't touch it.

Instead, spend your money on insulation and air sealing, and first getting a blower door test and thermal IR imagery to identify the needs. Best money you can spend on an older house. In an old house like that, it is quite simple to reduce the heating load by half (or more). And insulation and air sealing works forever. It's fuel you buy only once....

Sounds like this is a true 3-story house (three living floors, plus a basement). If so, you want about 18 psi in the system.
 
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Old 01-24-12, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by xiphias

I'm with furd: don't change the piping. This appears to be a totally acceptably piped system. A few more pictures, including one that shows all of the near-boiler piping, tanks, pumps in one shot, would be helpful. It might even be excellently-piped. In which case, save yourself some money and totally unnecessary aggravation and don't touch it.

Instead, spend your money on insulation and air sealing, and first getting a blower door test and thermal IR imagery to identify the needs. Best money you can spend on an older house. In an old house like that, it is quite simple to reduce the heating load by half (or more). And insulation and air sealing works forever. It's fuel you buy only once....

Sounds like this is a true 3-story house (three living floors, plus a basement). If so, you want about 18 psi in the system.

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...#ixzz1kNTnYoGA
I am thinking the guy that the local boiler guy may be a bit out to lunch now that I am learning so much about these units. Keep in mind that I have owned this house/boiler less then a month now.

As for the insulation in the house.... After running struggling to run the network cables last night, I can say that someone has done a lot of insulation in the past. Any area of the house that has been modified since it was built, as fiberglass bat (the pink stuff), and any area that looks original, has been spray bat insulated (from what I have seen so far).
I had been concerned about the insulation in the attic as it only looked like ~2" of spray bat, but while trying to find places to run the cables last night, I noticed that under the floor boards in the attic is ~8-10" of sprayed in bat. I need to add some insulation to the room up on the third floor/attic still as the stuff that is there isn't doing a good enough job.

On a bit of a side note, I discovered that the entire first floor use to be ~12' ceilings. While exploring the crawl space between my first and second floor (above the kitchen), I found the upper part of what looks like a door frame. Odd enough though, if it was a door that was part of the original room, that door was 11+ foot tall.
I couldn't get close to it, as I was crawling across a 2x4 frame that was spaced 24" center to center.
 
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Old 01-24-12, 07:53 PM
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crawling across a 2x4 frame that was spaced 24" center to center.
Sounds dang scary to me! Yer saying that the ceilings in your home are all built like that? And your sheetrock don't look like the whoop-dee-doos at the local dirt bike track?

What's holding that stuff up?

Take a close look at the tee fittings... if they are 'diverter' tees, they will have a flow direction arrow cast in, or some kind of indication that is what they are.

You might not have diverter tees on BOTH sides... most often only ONE of the tees is a diverter.
 
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Old 01-25-12, 05:32 AM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper

Sounds dang scary to me! Yer saying that the ceilings in your home are all built like that? And your sheetrock don't look like the whoop-dee-doos at the local dirt bike track?

What's holding that stuff up?

Take a close look at the tee fittings... if they are 'diverter' tees, they will have a flow direction arrow cast in, or some kind of indication that is what they are.

You might not have diverter tees on BOTH sides... most often only ONE of the tees is a diverter.

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...#ixzz1kTJoVbqa
I believe you are correct about the diverter tees. with the weather, super early mornings (5AM is super early for me anyway) and the continued up packing with two young boys wanting daddy time, I have not had any time to look any closer at the tees. I will for sure look closely tonight when I get a second to see if there are one or two per rad and look for the indicators.

Below are two pictures I took with my phone the other night while trying to find a way to run network cables from the basement to my office on the second floor. These are from above the kitchen.
The kitchen, living room and dining room all have some sort of lowered ceiling from the original construction. The original plaster ceiling is still partly there in areas. The original ceiling was ~12' high, and now is ~10'.




Notice the partly framed opening in the second picture? That is not visable from the below kitchen as there is wall there with a bathroom on the other side of it. In chatting about it with a co-worker, he figures it might be an old window that might have been above the original door. This sounds very possible as this was originally built as a convent.
I was unable to get over to it to inspect as I was getting tired and it is pretty warm in there.
 
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Old 01-25-12, 12:10 PM
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Looks like you have some potentially decent storage space up there. For starters, some wood planks laid down across the upper joists would help you get around better.

As for your heat issue, in re-reading your OP I see you mentioned that you replaced the circulators. Did you replace them with the same brand/model/setting? If not, what kind of pumps were on there before?

Also, going back to what Furd mentioned about "new" water entering the system, does the system hold steady pressure? If not, the auto-feed valve will just keep adding water (and with it, air) into the system to keep it at a min. 12ps1. Have you tried raising the pressure like Furd suggested?
 
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Old 01-25-12, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Rockledge
Looks like you have some potentially decent storage space up there. For starters, some wood planks laid down across the upper joists would help you get around better.

As for your heat issue, in re-reading your OP I see you mentioned that you replaced the circulators. Did you replace them with the same brand/model/setting? If not, what kind of pumps were on there before?

Also, going back to what Furd mentioned about "new" water entering the system, does the system hold steady pressure? If not, the auto-feed valve will just keep adding water (and with it, air) into the system to keep it at a min. 12ps1. Have you tried raising the pressure like Furd suggested?

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...#ixzz1kV7MGDfu
Access to that area in the photos is pretty tight, and was just big enough to allow me through. As for storage... For right now, I don't think I need it. We just moved into this house (2860sqft + ~1345sqft unfinished basement) from a smaller house (900sqft + 900sqft basement).
The next time I go up, I will at least go up with two decent planks. One to lay on, and one to move ahead of me. This first trip up, I didn't know what I was going to see/need, so it was really an exploritory visit. With the interesting history of this house (started as a nun convent, was a Bed & Breakfast), I am finding all sorts of odd and interesting things.

Back on topic... The pumps (replaced both) were replaced with the same make/model (as shown below in the pics). From talking with the water/boiler guy that set me up with the new pumps, the originals where a couple years old (~3 years old).

As for the system preasure and new water... The system preasure slowly drops down to the ~12PSI from the ~20PSI I manually set it to. The rate of drop is not constant and may be affected with the system usage (we've had some -30'C days and this week, +3'C days). The weather has been pretty random, so I would imagine this has some negative impact on the system. When time permits I am going to look into how to adjust the PSI settings so I don't have to manually bring it up. I check the system every time I am in the basement, which is often right now with all our still packed moving boxes down there.
I also should mention that I have been checking the rads when I remember to. So far I have had very little, if any air in the system each time I check them. The trouble-child third floor rad has been hard to check without cranking the heat. The bleed valve on it is a tire valve type with a small canister on it. Unlike my other rads, it does not just spit water if I open it. I need to turn the pump speed up from low to high for that zone and make sure I'm at 20PSI on the system to see any water. The rad however does have hot water in it.
The new water is fed from a well, and is put through a single stage filter and a water softener as previously mentioned.


I have dropped the boiler 'high' temp down from the ~220'F to ~180'F, but have not touched the boiler 'low' temp settings. The low temp might be tough to adjust as I noticed the 'high' temp adjustment markers was off what the gauge was reading (the gauge was reading 220'F, but the dial was set to ~180'F).
 
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Old 01-25-12, 04:28 PM
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That's reassuring to see that they appear to NOT be 2x4s up there! and that they have those 'nailers' installed perpendicular to the joists. They still appear to be spaced sorta wide though... There probably should have been some cross bracing installed too. I wonder if this reno was 'engineered' or 'ahhh, that oughta do it' design? I bet Mike Holmes would cringe if he saw that! Be careful crawling around up there! I would NOT consider using that space for any storage... I think what's there is barely enough to support the drywall!

I know we're way off topic here... I hate to break this to ya, but that construction is substandard, sorry to say. There should have been joist hangers used where they terminate to the sidewall, and those so-called 'braces' down the middle of the room? I'm sure all they did was pound a few nails into the joists above, and the same on the joists on the bottom... so, what you basically have is what is called 'nails in shear', and those nails are all that is holding all that massive weight up there. What happens when those nails start pulling out... and bending... ok, enough.

The bleed valve on it is a tire valve type with a small canister on it.
Sounds like a 'float type auto air vent'. When the system is in use, you keep that cap screwed tight? I think you should. Whenever that system pressure drops to 12 PSI, you are probably sucking air in through that vent if it's loose.

What was your estimate of height from the boiler up to the highest point in the piping?

I need to turn the pump speed up from low to high for that zone and make sure I'm at 20PSI on the system to see any water.
This is certain evidence that you don't have enough pressure in your system. When that system is COLD, you should be able to open that bleeder with no pumps running and get a decent stream of water out.
 
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Old 01-26-12, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper
That's reassuring to see that they appear to NOT be 2x4s up there! and that they have those 'nailers' installed perpendicular to the joists. They still appear to be spaced sorta wide though... There probably should have been some cross bracing installed too. I wonder if this reno was 'engineered' or 'ahhh, that oughta do it' design? I bet Mike Holmes would cringe if he saw that! Be careful crawling around up there! I would NOT consider using that space for any storage... I think what's there is barely enough to support the drywall!

I know we're way off topic here... I hate to break this to ya, but that construction is substandard, sorry to say. There should have been joist hangers used where they terminate to the sidewall, and those so-called 'braces' down the middle of the room? I'm sure all they did was pound a few nails into the joists above, and the same on the joists on the bottom... so, what you basically have is what is called 'nails in shear', and those nails are all that is holding all that massive weight up there. What happens when those nails start pulling out... and bending... ok, enough.


The bleed valve on it is a tire valve type with a small canister on it.
Sounds like a 'float type auto air vent'. When the system is in use, you keep that cap screwed tight? I think you should. Whenever that system pressure drops to 12 PSI, you are probably sucking air in through that vent if it's loose.

What was your estimate of height from the boiler up to the highest point in the piping?


I need to turn the pump speed up from low to high for that zone and make sure I'm at 20PSI on the system to see any water.
This is certain evidence that you don't have enough pressure in your system. When that system is COLD, you should be able to open that bleeder with no pumps running and get a decent stream of water out.

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...#ixzz1kZ562JCx
I am not too worried about the construction of the ceiling in the kitchen. It's holding up a ceiling that is similar to the drop (t-bar) ceiling you find in offices, except it comes in sheets and was popular way back when (guessing 80's maybe). The stuff is super light and comes in 4x8(?) sheets. As for my traveling around up there, I stayed right tight against the wall and made sure to only put my weight on the 2x4s (2 of them at any given time).

Back on topic...
That tire valve is kept tight when I am not bleeding the rad. I will be replacing a number of bleed screws (maybe all at the same time if they are not too expensive) as I have a couple rads that have broken bleed screws (heads broken off by someone over tightening). My the sounds of it, I should add this rad to the list of rads getting their bleed screws replaced?

As for pipe hight from boiler to the top rad... I am taking a guess here (exits boiler at ~3' above basement floor, basement ceiling is ~7', floor joices and flooring ~1', main floor is 12' totally ingnoring the dropped ceiling discussed above), floor joices and flooring ~1', second floor ~10' ceilings, floor joices and floor ~1', hight from floor to rad bleeder ~4") ~ 29ft, 4"

Based on all the information you guys have given me, and from what I know of the previous owners (that I bought the place from), I think the setup I have is reasonably good, but definately is in need of some maintainance and/or tune up. Based on the answers I got from my questions before we bought the house, I truely don't think they knew a whole lot about how their house worked, and depended on hiring someone to make it work.
Once the warmer weather comes, and I can shut it down for the summer, I will definately be looking at flushing all the pipes and get someone in to clean and review the boiler's internals. I will for sure be looking for tips on cleaning/over hauling my system.
 
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Old 01-26-12, 12:43 PM
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I should add this rad to the list of rads getting their bleed screws replaced?
As long as the cap seals tight, no, there's no reason to change it... and it would come in very handy when refilling a system after service.

So let's say 30' then...

With that height, you want your system pressure to be 17 PSI when the system is COLD.

That's 13 PSI just to get the water up that high, and another 4 PSI as 'headroom'.

Anytime the pressure drops below 13 PSI, there is a VACUUM created on the top floor. That's where the air problem is coming from.
 
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