Sticking Erie/Honeywell zone valve

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Old 05-18-12, 07:56 PM
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Sticking Erie/Honeywell zone valve

I have a 16 year old Infloor radiant heating / DHW system that uses an Erie/Honeywell three way motorized 24 VAC valve to swap the boiler output between the radiant loops and the DHW heat exchanger.

Several times in the past 5 months, the valve has become stuck in its normal (unpowered) (house heating) position. I can take the valve cover off, and dislodge the valve stem with a screwdriver. I can't dislodge the manual actuator with my hand pressure alone. It makes a snapping sound, almost like breaking glass, and then the motor turns the the valve over to the proper position and the hot water cycle starts. That makes me think that the motor is still OK. After I unstick it, it works for another month or so, but the failures are becoming more frequent. I've tried oiling the valve stem with any perceptible benefits.

Of course, this particular valve is no longer made. It's on the back of the furnace, behind the exhaust stack, where it's particularly hard to access. Replacing it will require some serious replumbing.

Anyone know of a fix other than a complete replacement of the entire valve and actuator?

Thanks,

Dave
 
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Old 05-19-12, 06:58 AM
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Hi Dave, is there any model number information on the valve ?

Does it actually say " Erie / Honeywell " on the valve ?

Being as 'tight' as you say, I wonder if it's possible to get a photo of the valve?
 
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Old 05-20-12, 02:57 PM
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Sticking Erie Controls Valve

The Erie Controls part number of the valve is 0747C0338GA01. The HVAC dealer where I went to for a replacement part said that Erie Controls were bought out by Honeywell, but this part was discontinued.

I can dislodge the shaft by levering the brown Bakelite protrusion at the lower left against the case with a blunt screwdriver. Once it snaps free, the valve turns over at the normal speed. The red and yellow motor power wires do not impede the motion of the valve.

The valve has been problematic since the day it was installed. The little tab that actuates the end switch was made of dead soft aluminum more suitable to wrapping a stick of gum than its current application. Every few months, it deforms so much under the tiny operating force of the microswitch that it can no longer depress the switch. I have to bend it back to get the DHW cycle to start up again.

Photos are attached.

Thanks for your help.

Dave

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Old 05-21-12, 06:48 AM
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Not knowing all the particulars of how your system is plumbed I can't speculate as to why the installers chose to use a 3 way valve for the water heating, why they would not just use a pair of 2 way valves, or why anyone would install a zone valve in an inaccessible location such as you describe. I do wonder though... have you any clues as to why it was done that way?

It might be wise to re-think the setup and go ahead and make some changes if it will help reliability and serviceability of your system.

Erie valves are still being made. Perhaps not this particular model, haven't looked into that yet. I don't know about the Honeywell connection. AFAIK they are now owned by INVENSYS, a large international corporation that has their hands in many pockets.

I'll be back after I try to locate that valve...
 
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Old 05-21-12, 07:31 AM
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Yeah... no luck really...

0747 = 1" inverted flare pipe connections. Unusual sorta... is that what this valve is?

C = ?

03 = standard temperature range

38 = Cv rating of valve, could not find 38 in chart so Cv rating is unknown

G = 18" leadwires

A = 24 VAC

01 = options code, 01 not listed in chart.

What would I do with this valve? Probably locate a suitable replacement from a company that doesn't change hands as often as Erie seems to have done, and provides proper customer support in being able to locate information about the products. i.e. Honeywell, Taco, and others.
 
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Old 05-23-12, 10:03 PM
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You are correct -- it uses 1" inverted threads for connection. Not entirely a bad idea, if an exact replacement was available. Just unscrew the three fittings, and drop in a new valve unit. The installer just didn't think very far ahead as to how the thing would be accessed when it eventually failed.

The system is plumbed to accommodate an early design Infloor radiant heating system controller. This black box combines the outputs of all the heat zone thermostats plus the DHW signal from the water heater heat exchanger. The DHW system gets priority. Even if heat zones are calling for heat, a call for DHW overrides the heat request(s), and rotates the three way valve to divert the boiler output from the home heating loop toward the hot water heat exchanger. As soon as the DHW tank is back up to temp, the 3 way valve returns to its de-energized position, and boiler output returns to supplying the house heat.

A big quibble with this design is that the controller shuts off the boiler during the changeovers, resulting in many short cycles. I don't see any reason that the boiler couldn't supply both the heat and DHW loops at the same time. It would take longer to heat up a tank of hot water, but I'm not sure that would be a huge problem.

Thinking out loud, so to speak: My plan was to replace the single 3 way valve with a pair of two way valves mounted in more accessible locations. I figured that energizing a N.O. and N.C. valve simultaneously would emulate the function of the 3 way valve. However, finding a normally open valve has not been easy.

The Grundfos circulator pump on the boiler loop is not a positive displacement pump. I saw a warning that you should not try to run the pump into a blocked system for fear of damaging the pump. I think I can series connect the end switches of both valves so that the circulator runs and the boiler fires only when both valves are fully moved to their energized position.

I was looking at the Taco Z075C2 valves, which are advertised as being configurable as N.O or N.C.. Reading over the spec sheets, I couldn't determine how you would set one of them to N.O. operation. Have you had any experience with this valve, good or otherwise?

Thanks for your help.

Dave
 
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Old 05-24-12, 03:40 PM
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Rather than try to find a zone valve made of unobtainium ( i.e. a normally open one ) (which are available, just not as readily in a pinch), why not set it up with two NC ones?

Might have to do some fiddling with the controls... when neither heat nor HW are calling, both closed. When either one calls, respective valve opens. If you wanted to retain the priority, this could be done with a relay probably. Wire the relay to disconnect the power to the heating valve when the HW calls.

This black box
Is there a manufacturer on the box? or was it custom, site built ?

Is there a schematic available for the system?

not a positive displacement pump
Correct... none of the pumps for heating circulation are. They are all centrifugals.

I believe that the 'dead heading' of the pump won't cause actual mechanical damage as it would were it a PD pump, but rather the water flow through the pump also serves to cool the pump. Run a dead headed centrifugal long enough and it would overheat. A PD pump will throw a rod through the crankcase (like when the unloader on a pressure valve doesn't go into bypass) (or stall the motor and burn it up).

not a positive displacement pump
The docs for that valve are confusing... they allude to a NO and NC version, but one valve can't do both. They are different models. The part numbering of the different models isn't real clear... at least that's how I remember it... Taco has been through a couple re-designs on that valve. I don't know for a fact that they had trouble with the original designs, but if they didn't, why would they re-design and keep changing the name of it? This is just presumption on my part, so do the research. I don't have any 'hands on' experience with them, just what I've run into here on the forum helping others. (one guy was sent a NO model in a box for a NC model... took a while to get to the bottom of that one!)

By the way, Taco claims that valve to be available in a 3-way !

This Taco catalog sheet doesn't seem to mention the NO version... at least I didn't spot it in a quick look, but it does have the part numbers for the 3-way version (both available in NPT and sweat connections)

http://www.taco-hvac.com/uploads/FileLibrary/100-82.pdf

P.S. looks like you can actually order this valve on Amazon.com ...
 
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Old 05-24-12, 09:43 PM
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I can certainly insert an industrial 8 pin ice cube relay into the system to make it work with two N.C. valves. I wired the original system when it was installed, (got a discount on the installation costs) and I've been doing electronics for 50+ years. I've drawn out a complete schematic for the system, so that's not a problem.

The zone controller is made by the Infloor Radiant Heating system Co. The mixing is managed by a Tekmar 353 controller. The installation manual shows only the external terminal connections, but not its internal circuitry. It's just a bunch of mechanical relays on a PCB. I could probably reverse engineer it in an hour or so.

I've scored a couple Honeywell motorized N.C. valves, so I'll probably make that sort of modification to the system.

I was just hoping that there was something I could do to the existing valve in terms of a rebuilt kit, or targeted lubrication to avoid some very inconvenient pipe cutting and soldering.

If you are not familiar with the Taco valves previously mentioned, can you recommend some equivalent valves with a good track record?

Thanks,

Dave
 
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Old 05-26-12, 08:25 AM
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been doing electronics for 50+ years
That helps for sure! Not quite as long, 40+, but me too...

Is it possible to upload the schematic for viewing?

Wouldn't need internal schematics of anything, just a system diagram.

hoping that there was something I could do to the existing valve
There might be... but I can't find any data on that valve that might help you... for example, if the operator can be removed without draining the system. If it could, you might be able to get it on the bench and do a close inspection to reveal the problem. If that valve is anything like the Honeywell, you may be able to simply remove a couple screws and detach the actuator.

The 'binding' that you have could even be caused by the gear reduction in the motor assembly, and if that's the case you may be able to find a suitable replacement for it.

equivalent valves with a good track record?
They all seem to be equally unreliable. I would pick one that replacement parts are readily available for. The Honeywell V8043 are very common, Taco too. Both of these are serviceable without draining the system. It's rarely the valve itself that goes bad, usually the actuator. It's about a ten minute job to change the actuator on either of those.
 
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Old 05-26-12, 08:33 AM
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Is one of these your control panel?

Controls and Thermostats- Infloor Sales Catalog

A couple of these are obviously re-branded Taco controls. One may be a Honeywell. Not sure about the others.
 
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Old 05-26-12, 08:40 AM
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insert an industrial 8 pin ice cube relay into the system to make it work with two N.C. valves.
As long as that design does not allow a valve to be energized continuously in any case... zone valves are absolutely NOT designed for continuous operation. The motors will melt down in short order. In other words, you can't hold a NC valve open in attempt to emulate a NO valve.

My mention of the relay was to provide priority to the DHW calls, you could wire NC-SPST relay contacts in series with the motor wiring to the radiant system. Wire the relay coil to the DHW demand so that even if there is a heat call in progress when the DHW calls, the relay would open and the space heating valve would close, regardless of whether or not there was a heat call.
 
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Old 05-30-12, 07:28 AM
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They all seem to be equally unreliable. I would pick one that replacement parts are readily available for. The Honeywell V8043 are very common, Taco too. Both of these are serviceable without draining the system. It's rarely the valve itself that goes bad, usually the actuator. It's about a ten minute job to change the actuator on either of those.
Hello NJT,
I dunno', must be lucky. I have 30 year old green Taco's and newer gold ones. Never a failure.

I've taken the gamble with the newest Taco ball valves for the re-plumbing.
Something about changing horses in the middle of a race.. but i'm hoping for the best.
The old zone valves are soon to be in a pile.. crap shoot i guess.

Peter
 
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Old 05-30-12, 03:28 PM
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The older ones were built better... seems that's the case with everything.

"Cost Reduction" and "Offshore Manufacturing" are key words today.
 
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Old 06-03-12, 10:10 AM
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Thanks for your help

I now have a multitude of choices to work with. eBay came to the rescue, and I found an exact drop in replacement for the original now-obsolete Erie 3 way valve. It was listed incorrectly, which made it hard to find.

I've also bought a pair of Taco Z100C2-1 rotary ball valves, which are set up as normally closed. I dismantled one of them, hoping that flipping a gear inside might change their behavior from NC to NO. Note for future reference: you can take the Taco actuators apart, but the 4 snap lugs on the case break off. There are also two screws that hold the case together pretty well, but I will probably add some fiberglass packing tape to keep the shell together where the lugs broke off. Also, two nylon gears and a spring inside fall out when you take the case apart, so it takes some head scratching to figure out how to reassemble the actuator.

Turns out that the internal components of the Taco valves are designed to make them pretty much idiot-proof. There's no easy way to swap a a component inside to change the operating mode.

OK, I just had a brainstorm! (always a dangerous thing!). Unlike the Erie valves that use a continuously powered AC synchronous motor to turn the shaft, with a coil spring to return the valve, the Taco Z100 valves use a DC motor with a computer control circuit. The DC motor drives a quadrant gear through 90 degrees to rotate the ball. When the valve is powered down, the computer chip feeds stored energy from on-board capacitors with reverse polarity to drive the DC motor in the opposite direction to close the valve again.

I can reassemble the valve with the quadrant gear in the fully open position, and cut and exchange the polarity of the leads on the DC control motor. Now, when the valve is energized, the motor will turn in the direction opposite to its original design, and close the valve. Its internal control computer should be none the wiser.

Only thing is, I can't see any mechanism by which the controller knows that the actuator shaft has reached the final operating position. The quadrant gear does hit the case, so the system may rely on the motor stalling as an "end of travel" indicator. I don't see any magnetic or mechanical limit switches that would otherwise limit the travel.

I'll give this a try, and post the results.

An entirely different approach would be to rotate the actuator head 90 degrees. The actuator drives the valve stem via a flatted shaft. It turns out that the valve shaft is pretty long, and you can pull the actuator 1/2" away from the valve body and still have it turn the valve. I could drive out the two press fit studs that hold the actuator out of the valve body, and make a plate of 1/16" glass epoxy circuit board material that bolts to the original stud holes, holds the mounting studs, and rotates the actuator body 90 degrees. lt would have the advantage that the actuator would be unmodified, a definite plus when the system fails the next time at 20 degrees blow zero.

Thanks again,

Dave
 
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