Hydronic Garage Heater/Boiler Controls

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Old 11-20-12, 07:27 AM
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Hydronic Garage Heater/Boiler Controls

I have just recently plumbed a hydronic heater in my garage, replacing a older heater that died. The old heater fan was simply plugged in to the wall and manually switched on and off. The thermostat in the garage (White Rogers 1F86-344) only activated the zone valve at the boiler. I'm beyond a rookie at this, but I'm hoping there is a simple way to control the zone valve and the heater fan motor with the thermostat. The hydronic heater (Modine HSB47), shows a line voltage thermostat to control the motor...but the zone valve (Honeywell F2-9906) for the boiler take a 24v signal from a thermostat. So I'm not sure what my best (easiest) move would be with a 110v motor and a 24v zone valve.

Any suggestions? Do I need two devices, or different thermostat? I've also seen some thermostats they have a "tickle the pump" feature, would this be a good idea in a garage application to periodically circle the water despite the air temp?

Here's the cast of characters:

Heater - Modine HSB47
Thermostat - White Rogers 1F86-344
Zone Valve - F2-9906


Here's a series of photos if it is helpful.

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Old 11-20-12, 03:30 PM
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the zone valve (Honeywell F2-9906)
I believe that number is the date code. The valve is a V8043F.

There are two approaches I would consider with this.

First would be to check with Modine to see if they have an accessory kit that turns the fan on automatically when it senses hot water in the pipes.

I believe this would be one that would work for you:

A19DAC-1C - Johnson Controls A19DAC-1C - Remote Bulb Temperature Control (100-240F)

This would mount on the piping and when the pipe got hot would turn the fan on for you. Wire as a 'normal open' switch that closes when pipes are hot.

It would be wired as shown in your diagram "Line Voltage Thermostat".

Advantage to this is that the unit would not blow cold air while waiting for the heat to come.

The other choice would be any one of the variety of 'relay boxes', such as the Taco SR-501, Honeywell R8845U, etc...

These would be double pole relays, the thermostat would wire to this relay, one set of contacts of the relay would wire to and open the zone valve, the other set of relay contacts would wire to and turn on the fan.

SR501-4 - Taco SR501-4 - 1 Zone Switching Relay

You would get cold air for a period of time while the water was heating.

My preference would be the strap on aquastat.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 03:33 PM
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Isn't there something missing on the zone valve wiring?

Or is this part of the question on wiring?

Typically, the therostat would switch the 24VAC signal from a transformer to open the valve. Then, the ENDSWITCH of the valve would trigger the boiler to fire.

I hope that drain valve is high enough off the ground so that nobody ends up with stitches in their scalp! OUCH! Hey, it happens (to ME!)
 
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Old 11-20-12, 04:16 PM
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NJ Trooper,

Thank you for the replies, I will look in to both of the options that you listed when I have a little more time on my hands. Any benefit to using an immersion aquastat over the strap-on version? I'm sure I'll have more questions as I get myself in trouble.

With that drain valve, it is a good thing I'm only 5'7"! Unfortunately I relied on a plumbing store to give me what I needed in terms of fittings and got to this after the return period. If I had to do it over, I would have a arranged this differently and got the plumbing tighter to the heater unit. Oh well, live and learn.

I'm sure you are right about the wiring...and this may open another can of worms, but the photo below shows the wiring prior to me getting involved in anything to do with this heater/boiler. (the quality is poor, bad cell phone picture). The two wire lead on the right is from the T-stat in the garage.

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Old 11-20-12, 05:12 PM
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Any benefit to using an immersion aquastat over the strap-on version?
In this app, I don't think so. You don't really need tight control, all you need is for the fan to come on when the piping gets to like say 110-120F.

With that drain valve, it is a good thing I'm only 5'7"
I think I might still wrap something around it... just in case! Scalp wounds bleed... heavily!

The two wire lead on the right is from the T-stat in the garage.
And the 4 wire to the left runs back to the boiler?

With the old setup, did the boiler fire up when the garage thermostat called for heat? (I do see that the endswitch terminals are wired, so I presume so).

If the thermostat wiring is all that's removed, I don't see a problem, you know where to hook it back to.

If you do go with the second option, using the relay box, the points where the thermostat USED TO BE will now be wired to one pole of the new relay.

Let me know when you decide what you will do and I might be able to bang out a simple diagram if needed.

By the way, NICE JOB! I don't think I coulda done better myself!
 
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Old 11-27-12, 08:44 PM
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Okay, in looking at your responses, I agree that incorporating an aquastat would make the most sense. I wanted to run something by you, and hear me out before you call me crazy. I was looking at the Ranco temperature controllers, specifically the ETC-211000, which is a 120v - 2 stage controller. So here is what I was thinking. Could I used one stage to turn on the fan during normal heating operation, then use the other stage as an anti-freezing safeguard, but also to minimize the fan operation when a warm garage is not really required?

So for example if I want to heat the garage, turn the thermostat to 60 and have the ETC stage 1 set to turn on the fan when the water hits 110 degrees. The thermostat hits 60, the fan turns on, the thermostat is satisfied, water cools, then fan shuts off.

The other example would be to keep water at an above freezing temperature, circle the water, but eliminate the fan. The garage heater/fan is just on the other side of a bedroom so I would also like to reduce the unnecessary noise. Here I was thinking I could turn the thermostat to 0 (or very low to eliminate it basically) then set the ETC stage 2 to 40 degrees. In this case the water cools to 40 and the ETC calls the boiler for hot water, I'm assuming through the zone valve somehow. I would set the ETC with a set degree difference to stop the call for hot water. I also had my last heater crack during a cold snap when I first moved to this house, of course when I was not at home, so I don't want to repeat this if let's say there was a T-stat failure.

This is where I would need some help, I'm not sure how I could wire the 120v output from the ETC to the zone valve that also has the garage T-stat wired to it.

I've attempted to put this idea on the attachment if this helps. Again, I am far from an expert, but not totally incompetent. Most of my component specifics are earlier in this thread.

Any suggestions? Thanks again for the help.
 
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Old 11-27-12, 08:53 PM
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No... I'm not gonna call ya crazy at all! I think the freeze protection is a great idea.

I need to look at the specs for the Ranco 2 stage. I'm not sure that they will work 'independently' as you wish.

I'll research it a bit more tomorrow when I should be sleeping at my desk on my day job...

Would save me some time if you can link to a web location for the Ranco controller save me the time to find it.

Cool! I didn't know we could attach PDF files! Learn something every day!
 
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Old 11-27-12, 09:14 PM
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Here is a website with links to specs and install. It also explains the 2 stage settings. There was also a version with a 0-10v output but I didn't see how that could apply only being 10v max.

link:
ETC Supply
 
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Old 11-28-12, 04:34 PM
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Yes, I believe that control will work, but you don't need any magic boxes to make it do so.

I use the single stage one of those on my 'oil preheater' for my new system. Nice control...



The stage that you will use for running the fan will need to be set for COOLING mode. I know it sounds contrary, but it's true. Since you want the fan to come ON when the pipe gets hot and off when it cools down, just like an A/C system, that's what you need.

(see figure 3 in the Ranco manual)

not sure how I could wire the 120v output from the ETC
The outputs are NOT 120V. They are DRY RELAY CONTACTS. Simply switches, a COMMON and a NORMALLY OPEN and NORMALLY CLOSED contact.

Stage 1 COMMON and NORMALLY OPEN contacts will be wired where the 'thermostat' is shown in the MODINE install diagram.

Stage 2 COMMON and NORMALLY OPEN contacts will be wired IN PARALLEL with the thermostat that runs the zone valve. This way, EITHER the thermostat, OR the ETC can call for heat.

You don't need the 0-10VDC output, that's for a remote temperature readout and/or for controlling 'modulating' equipment (such as 'floating' valves and the like).

Let me see if I can whip up some kind of diagram for you.
 

Last edited by NJT; 11-28-12 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 11-28-12, 04:44 PM
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By the way, I don't think that thermostat will go as low as you want it to. You may have to turn it OFF when not using the heat in the garage and trust the Ranco to keep the pipe from freezing up.

Also, keep in mind that if the boiler is already hot from servicing a heat call in another part of the home, you may get fan operation even with the Ranco set at 45 or so... because the hot water will trigger stage 1 ...

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Old 11-28-12, 05:06 PM
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I hope this comes out clear enough to see:

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I believe I see the colors properly in your photos and have added those to the drawing. Make sure that what I've drawn matches what you have there before wiring!

Basically you simply wire the stage 2 in parallel with the thermostat wires from the W-R.

That 24V transformer is already there somewhere... probably by the boiler.

When wiring the Ranco, be careful to keep the 120V wiring away from the 24V wiring. There's not a whole lot of room inside the wiring compartment so be careful to separate them as much as possible.
 
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Old 11-28-12, 05:20 PM
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Thank you for the quick reply. Let me digest this a little. In the race between the tortoise and the hare...I'm the snail. Although I feel a lot more confident in ordering the components and knowing I can make it work somehow. I can always work on digesting this during the shipping downtime.
 
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Old 11-28-12, 06:21 PM
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NJ Trooper,

A few more simple questions, in this setup with the Ranco ETC:

Is it right that there would be no jumpers between stage 1 & 2?

Stage 1 would be wired with 16Ga or 14Ga wire to the garage heater fan?

Stage 2 would be wired with 18Ga T-stat wire in parallel with the T-stat?
 
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Old 11-28-12, 06:25 PM
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Is it right that there would be no jumpers between stage 1 & 2?
OMG YES! That is correct. You want to keep the 120VAC as far from the 24VAC as possible!
Stage 1 would be wired with 16Ga or 14Ga wire to the garage heater fan?
Use 14ga minimum for that circuit.

Stage 2 would be wired with 18Ga T-stat wire in parallel with the T-stat?
Yes, you can use thermostat wire for that.
 
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Old 11-28-12, 07:30 PM
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Hi NJ and Chacho

I am also in the learning stages of the hydronic world and NJ has ben a great resorce for me. I am a Controls engineer in the industrial world working on machinery, from what i see here your tStat is putting out 24vdc to control your boiler, but your fan is 120vac. In my world i would just use a 24vdc relay to switch on the fan, your would hook the 24vdc + and - from the tstat to the A1 and A2 side of the coil to switch the relay, then you would run one of the legs from the fan through the NO (normaly open) contacts on the relay. this is a very inexpensive way to control the fan but as you said it would switch on with the boiler and may blow cold air till temp comes up. You will need to make sure you size the relay to handle the amperage that the fan motor draws. Again as i am learning here and would turn to NJ and ask if this would work in the HVAC world? (just thinking about saving a little money)
 
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Old 11-28-12, 07:57 PM
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tStat is putting out 24vdc to control your boiler
T'stats in our world are simply dry contacts. The 'standard' control voltage for the low voltage controls is 24 Volts AC (nominal).

So, simply think of the t'stat as the 'switch' that completes the circuit for the 24VAC to power the synchronous motor in the zone valve.

The ENDSWITCH in the zone valve 'makes' when the valve opens, and is also a dry contact. (think 'limit switch')

The boiler control (the aquastat) has it's own internal 24VAC transformer and a DPST relay. When the endswitch on the zone valve closes (that's the green and white wires on the top terminals of the zone valve) it completes the circuit for the relay in the aquastat which then closes.

One pole of the aquastat relay runs the circulator pump, the other controls the burner (with a high limit, and other safety controls) in series.

The relay contacts in the Ranco controller are up to the task of running the fan. ( 9.8 A )

That control is about a hundred bucks... not too bad really!
 
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Old 11-28-12, 08:10 PM
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One more quick diagram to clarify:

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Old 11-28-12, 08:20 PM
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Thanks for the additional diagram NJ Trooper. I figured this is how it would work on the Ranco...I must have scared ya with my last round of questions. Better safe than sorry though. I think I'm going to order the components tomorrow, I'll make sure to keep you updated.
 
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Old 11-29-12, 03:29 PM
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I must have scared ya with my last round of questions
Naahh, actually that final drawing was more for Gpeterson as a part of the explanation in the post previous to that.

But yeah, better safe than sorry for sure!

Good Luck!
 
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Old 12-08-12, 04:15 PM
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Finished the electrical...now the water

Well, I received my ETC on Friday, so I got to work last night and today. I got all the electrical components hooked up and everything seems to be working okay. Big thanks to NJ Trooper. This is something I have very little experience with, and with the help from the guys here, just about anything is workable. So with the Ranco ETC, I decided to use a bulb. Maybe I overkill things, but it seemed more "permanent" than just fastening it to the outside of the pipe. I used a WEL11A-601R and despite what this website says, it is not designed for the Ranco.

Bulb well link:
ETC Supply

It took some minor modifications to make the bushing fit around the wire and the spring had to be wound around the wire since the Ranco sensor is soldered on to the board.

I also thought a 3 speed fan control would be a "nice to have". I think this is only designed for ceiling fans I take it. It will only turn the fan on high or off. Anyone have any ideas on a cheap speed controller that could be used in this application?

Again, being somewhat a rookie, can someone help me with the next step. How do I refill this portion of the boiler circuit? Do I bleed it out? How does the system backfill for the additional water? I have a little bit of an idea, but I just don't want things to go wrong.

I took some accompanying photos if anyone wanted to see the final install and/or help with filling this circuit, to call out valves and steps to the process. Note the repurposed beer koozie anti-head bonker, that was just for NJ Trooper. No beers were harmed in the making of this product. Thanks again.

With a little help, here's hoping that this SOB doesn't leak!!











 

Last edited by Chacho; 12-08-12 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 12-08-12, 05:28 PM
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Return is piped out the top of the unit heater, yes?

I might have opted for the well myself, but I think strapped to the pipe with a chunk of insulation around it would have worked well also. I wish I knew that you would be cutting into that pipe up top because I would have recommended that you place an air bleeder up high.

You know what's conspicuously absent on your system? I don't see any kind of "air scoop" or "automatic air vent" anywhere. OH WAIT... I SEE AN AIR VENT! On top of the boiler, that brass can with the small cap on top. Make sure that small cap is loose about 1 turn to allow air to escape. Keep an eye on it, if it leaks water it needs to be replaced.

Do your baseboards / radiators have manual air bleeders on them? You might have to peer inside the cabinets at the ends with a flashlight to see them.

The first fill of the unit heater loop can be done right at the boiler. Leave that yellow handle ball valve CLOSED and turn off the boiler and allow it to cool to 100F or less.

Connect a hose to the drain valve to the right of the ball valve on the garage return pipe.

Direct the hose to a floor drain, laundry tub, out a window...

Take a look at the "Pressure reducing valve", that bell shaped one on the pipe feeding the domestic water to the boiler on the small 1/2" pipe. See that rectangular handle? That's a 'fast fill' handle. When you lift that, the regulator portion of the valve is bypassed and water can be fed into the system rapido.

Open the drain valve with the hose on it, and slowly lift that fast fill handle.

Water will flow through the boiler, up through the unit heater, and out the drain.

Hold the handle up until no more bubbles are observed... usually just a minute or two.

Release the fast fill lever, close the drain, open the yellow ball valve, turn boiler back on and prepare to have heat in the garage.
 
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Old 12-08-12, 05:36 PM
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By the way, your installer put the expansion tank in upside down. Those should be installed HANGING from a pipe. It will still work like that, but might not live as long before needing replacement.

I would like to know what the readings on the pressure/temperature gauge are.

You may not need this information at present, but it is good information to know when you DO need it:

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...ure-gauge.html

Also, I would like you to read this 'sticky' post if you haven't already. You WILL need this information at some point in the future!

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...sion-tank.html

Even though your relief valve (that's the OTHER bell shaped valve on the left side of the boiler) is not dripping now, it would be a good idea to follow the step by step and check the air charge on your tank. Since your boiler is in a nicely finished area you do NOT want that relief valve to spew! Being proactive can prevent that.

I would recommend finding a container that will fit under the end of the relief valve pipe.

Also, on your water line feeding the boiler, next to the pressure reducing valve, there is a 'backflow preventer'. Those can and do discharge water from that 'vent' on the bottom. It would be wise to pipe that toward the floor and place a container under that pipe as well.

Glance in the containers on occasion for evidence of leakage.
 
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Old 12-09-12, 08:23 AM
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NJ Trooper,

I thought I would go though the pressure gauge test and testing the expansion tank. I thought I would start with the expansion tank, then do the pressure tests while the boiler is actually operating. I shut the boiler off, let the temp drop below 100 F. I shut off all valves going in to or coming out of the boiler. I then drained the boiler to 0 PSI. I checked the air pressure on the tank. It was at 7 PSI. I pumped it up to 12 PSI. The pressure on the boiler gauge went up as well. So I repeated the steps. I went through this cycle three time. Each time draining probably 1-2 quarts from the boiler. Each time with the boiler reading 0 PSI, the expansion tank read 7 PSI, which was then pumped to 12 PSI. How many times would be normal to repeat this process? I concerned about draining too much from the boiler.
 
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Old 12-09-12, 09:19 AM
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How many times would be normal to repeat this process?
As many as needed to get all the water out of the tank.

What would you estimate to be the tank's age?

The fact that you had to repeat the procedure so many times would lead me to believe that the tank itself is (was) holding a lot of water. This may mean that the bladder has ruptured or that the air in the tank was just so low that all the water that was in the tank hasn't been pushed out into the system yet.

Remember that with the proper air charge in the tank, when the boiler is cool and the air pressure in the tank is set to match the cool fill pressure of the boiler, that there will be NO water retained in the tank. Only when the boiler begins to heat and the water expands does water flow in.

If the air in the tank was very low, it would retain some water in the tank at all times. When you pressurize the air side, some of this water is pushing out into the boiler and this is the reason for the pressure increase you see in the boiler.

Each time you repeat, you push a little more of that water out, until at some point all the water is out and the tank is at correct charge.

In your case, with the tank mounted 'upside down', a bad tank might not be as readily apparent because if the bladder is ruptured, the air in the tank won't be as readily replaced by water, and the air won't end up in the system. Any air still in the tank will stay at the top. BUT, if the bladder HAS ruptured, there may be water ON TOP of the bladder which would decrease the capacity of the tank. It may still be enough to control the pressure rise in the boiler though, depending on the water volume in your system.

Try the process a few more times... at some point you should be able to pump all the water out and the two pressures will remain, 12 in the tank, and 0 in the boiler.

Still, the tank may be bad, but 'masked' because of it's mounting position. You can't test for water out the air valve...

Because of the way your tank is mounted and no valve between the boiler and the tank, removing the tank for testing will be difficult. That might be what you end up doing though. Depending on the age of the tank, it might be proper to suggest replacing it, they are fairly inexpensive... about $40 or so. If you do replace, get one for a HEATING system, not the type used for POTABLE water systems.

[edit: not EVEN $40... under $30

102-1 - Amtrol 102-1 - #30 Extrol Expansion Tank (4.4 Gallon Volume) ]
 
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Old 12-09-12, 02:50 PM
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Trooper,

Thanks for your patience, and answering all these rudimentary questions. I went through the cycle of draining, pumping, checking pressure, etc. about 6 times. My tank is labeled 09/07, so it just passed the 5 year mark. I did notice that doing a spit test on the air valve, it will slowly blow a bubble til it bursts.

If the tank needs to be replaced, is it worth just making a U-turn with pipes to flip it the right side up, or should I look at redesigning this whole thing so it looks more "normal", piped in with an air scoop and bleeder?

Also, in reference to an earlier post. Yes, the return on my garage unit is on the top. That is how it shows on the manual (...for steam, but their rep said it can go either way for water). If I were to put a bleeder on the garage unit heater, would just an elbow with fitting to accept a bleeder suffice? I wouldn't need a scoop or anything like that there, would I?

Again, seriously, thanks for helping. I don't want to wear out my welcome or waste your time.
 
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Old 12-09-12, 04:11 PM
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Chaco, you must have noticed that I don't need my arm twisted to coerce me into writing novels! You won't wear out your welcome or waste my time, trust me!

doing a spit test on the air valve, it will slowly blow a bubble til it bursts
Quite common actually and something nobody seems to check! Kudos for that.

That valve is a standard automotive 'Schrader' valve. You may have the 'wrench' for that already? (I saw a bicycle helmet in one photo!). If not, any auto part store will have cheap... you probably just need to tighten it up a bit. If not, easy to replace, but you will of course lose all that air you just put in. This is assuming that the tank is otherwise in good shape.

If the tank needs to be replaced, is it worth just making a U-turn with pipes to flip it the right side up, or should I look at redesigning this whole thing so it looks more "normal", piped in with an air scoop and bleeder?
If it needs replaced, since we are well into the heating season, I wouldn't recommend doing any repiping at this time. Just replace as is. You might consider adding the valves mentioned in the sticky note, even if upside down. They will still help for servicing.

I believe that your boiler is designed such that the air vent on top will handle the air removal. Some boilers are designed in such a way that the boiler itself will collect the air and pass to the vent. The supply pipe to the side of that air vent may actually 'dip' into the water in the boiler which would allow the air to collect up top. IMHO, all boilers should have that feature. I don't know for sure that yours DOES, but I'm thinking yes.

I always use the old adage that if it ain't broke, don't fix it... so if you have a history with this system and have found it to be relatively trouble-free in terms of hearing air in the pipes and what not, then I would say to leave it be all together. Even to the tank being upside down... if you do due diligence and keep the air charge up, it will still last many years that way, and performance wise I doubt that you would ever notice.

If you DID go to the trouble of re-piping anything, I would have quite a few more suggestions regarding the more modern technique of 'pumping away'... but as has been said, if it ain't broke...

If I were to put a bleeder on the garage unit heater, would just an elbow with fitting to accept a bleeder suffice? I wouldn't need a scoop or anything like that there, would I?
Probably just a TEE pointing up with a manual bleeder on top would work fine. No need for a scoop at that location. I think the best location for the vent would be the elbow closest to the wall, and use a 'baseboard tee' :


image courtesy pexsupply.com

CPCBT-120212 - Cello CPCBT-120212 - 3/4" x 1/8" x 3/4" CxFxC Baseboard Tee

Top it with one of these:


image courtesy pexsupply.com

113055 - Bell Gossett 113055 - Model No. 4V, 1/8" Coin Operated Air Vent (Male Threaded)

One other thing to mention... when making changes or repairs to plumbing, a "REPAIR COUPLING" comes in very handy. These are pipe couplings that have no internal 'stop' in them, they will slide right over the pipe. These make it possible to cut out sections and replace without having to flex the poop out of the pipes to get stuff back together. You slide the coupling over the pipe, put repair section in place and slide the coupling back over the junction of the two pipes.

WP0-NSTOP-12 - Cello WP0-NSTOP-12 - 3/4" Copper Coupling Less Stop
 
  #27  
Old 12-20-12, 04:59 PM
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Just wanted to give an update here. I got all the electrical components hooked up on this project. Everything works great. I basically have a high temp limit control triggered by the ETC and the thermostat and a low temp limit when the thermostat is off to safeguard against freezing. I took NJ Troopers advice and installed an air bleeder on the garage heater on the return coming out of the top of the heater. I do have one concern. I tried to flush the air out of this circuit using the instructions in the earlier post. I ran the fill valve open for well over 1-2 minutes, probably filled half a garbage can with water. The air coming out of the drain valve definitely slowed, but never fully stopped. When the air seemed minimal, almost non-existent, I closed the fill valve and the drain thinking the bleeders could handle what air was in the system. Well, when the circuit opens to the garage I can definitely hear water glugging through the system. I'm not sure with there being so many turns in the piping of the garage heater if this would cause it be more difficult to flush the air out. Should the auto-bleeders be able to handle this? Is there a better method to flush the air out...allow the fill valve to run fast...run slow? Any help would be appreciated.

Also to follow up on some of the recommendations NJ Trooper made. I completed the pressure check on my expansion tank. Prior to this I was getting rushing water noise in my house. Now that this process is complete, that is gone. I also did the pressure gauge check and observed the following:

After boiler (shut off) cool down:
Boiler gauge - 12.5 psi
Test gauge - 12.0 psi

After boiler startup (145 degrees):
Boiler gauge - 20 psi
Test gauge - 17 psi

After boiler startup (175 degrees):
Boiler gauge - 21 psi
Test gauge - 18 psi

Lastly, NJ Trooper mentioned bleeders on my system. One is right above the boiler by the supply line. That can be seen (barely) in earlier photos. There is also a bleeder shown in the picture on this post. By the way, anyone seen a valve like this?? It is a Sear Roebuck valve (probably original to the house, '57) and I'm scared to even turn this thing, not sure what it is. I also have bleeders on the radiators...I'm assuming those are manual bleeders? Not all look as clean as this, some look like they are growing barnacles.





 
  #28  
Old 12-20-12, 05:34 PM
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I'm not sure with there being so many turns in the piping of the garage heater if this would cause it be more difficult to flush the air out.
It certainly could.

Should the auto-bleeders be able to handle this?
Well... yes they should but they don't always play by the rules.

Is there a better method to flush the air out...allow the fill valve to run fast...run slow?
The faster the flow, the more air will be moved. So the fastest flow you can get that doesn't push the boiler pressure up and open the relief valve.

Here's the thing though... flushing in this fashion is a "Catch 22" because all that dissovled air in the fresh water is going to come back out when you heat the water. Then, you are right back where you started.

So, yes, the auto bleeders SHOULD be what you rely on to remove the bulk of the air in the system, but the fact is that in most systems some air might never be removed. As long as it doesn't make a lot of annoying noise, it won't hurt anything to stay right were it is.

Let the system run for a couple weeks. Even push the thermostats way up a few times so that the boiler gets good and hot and drives the air out of the fresh water. Check both those autovents to make sure the caps are loose and they don't leak water, replace if the leak or are plugged up.

Let them do their job. What you should notice over time is that you hear less and less air in the system.

That Sears valve is a 'Flo-Check' valve that only allows flow in one direction. I'm not familiar with that one though, and don't understand the 'Winter' position of the handle. If you've never moved it, and the heating has been fine, just leave it alone.

Those small bleeders appear to be auto bleeders to me... with a manual opening on them. Inside the valve are 'hygroscopic' discs of some fiber material. When they get wet, they grow and when they dry out they shrink. If air gets up under them, they dry out and let the air out, then they get wet and grow and close the bleeder.

If you put a wrench on the hex part you can open them manually and they will pee out that little lower port.

Over time, the discs get covered in dried up 'lime' from the water and they stop working automatically... sometimes they just sit there and weep... and barnacles grow on them. I would replace them with the manual ones myself... but wait if they aren't leaking now... I had one of those in my sun porch that was weeping for a while and glad I noticed it before it rotted the floor and carpeting.
 
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