Pressure Gauge reading 52-54 psi and "water rushing" Sound in the Base Board

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Old 11-23-12, 01:44 PM
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Pressure Gauge reading 52-54 psi and "water rushing" Sound in the Base Board

Hello, I am a newbie in this forum, hope to get some answers to a couple of inquires related to my oil-fuel-boiler w/ fin-tube-water base board system. (attached are the reference shots of the boiler in my basement)
Since losing power due to Sandy, this is the first time I am back to my house. All electrical equipment works fine. The only issue was that I felt no heat on my base board upon start of my thermostat. I'd hear the motor sound but no "water-rushing" sound which I usually hear when my heat works. I still get hot water through the kitchen and bath faucets... Via web search, I figured it was the air trap'd in the pipe so I purged it from the pipe, which solved the heat problem. (Bottom-boiler picture attached is where I hooked the hose and removed the air by draining it with a hose.) Now, here are my 2 main questions below:
Q.1) Pressure gauge showed 54 before I purged air then went down to 52 - see picture "Pressure Gauge". This seems WAY too high than normal, which should be 12 psi? I am not sure it's always been that way since it's first time I carefully read the number. Is this a critical concern?
Q.2) "water rushing" sound when heat comes on the base board at start: from my readings, this issue can be solved by purging the air trapped in the pipes. I have a simple 1-zone system controlled by 1-thermostat. Is this simple enough to do it myself?
All advise would be greatly appreciated!
 
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Old 11-23-12, 01:56 PM
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For starters, I have to ask you this:

Was the boiler flooded?

If so, my recommendation is to spend some of the FEMA money and get a professional in to look the system over. I see a number of possible 'issues' that should be looked over by a trained technician.

I would like to know the make and model of the boiler system.

I believe that the gauge you are looking at is NOT the pressure in the boiler. It appears that your boiler has a domestic hot water coil, and that this gauge is connected to that, and is probably reading your domestic water pressure.

Look for another gauge on the boiler. This other gauge will also have a temperature needle on it. Tell us what BOTH scales on that pressure/temperature gauge are reading.

If you did in fact have 50 PSI on your boiler system and your SAFETY RELIEF VALVE did not blow off at 30 PSI, then YES, you would have a problem... but don't freak out yet... look for that other gauge before you do.

Q.2) "water rushing" sound when heat comes on the base board at start: ..... Is this simple enough to do it myself?
It MAY be. It depends on us being able to see ALL the piping around the boiler so that we can see what valves you have available... and how it's piped. It also depends on how well we state the instructions and how well you follow them.

By the way, it's unlikely that you got much air out of that hose on the drain... Q: why would air go DOWN in water? A: It would not.

So, take some more pictures, show us everything.
 
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Old 11-23-12, 09:18 PM
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First and foremost, you have a STEAM boiler. Do as Trooper requests and post at least a dozen new pictures from all angles. Have some pictures from far enough away that we can see how it all fits together. Make sure that the pictures are well-lit and in focus.
 
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Old 11-24-12, 12:39 AM
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Thanks, NJ Trooper and Furd for your helpful responses.

I did find (2) gauges as NJ Trooper had pointed out in the front of the unit. (Here are more photos of the whole system with descriptions as requested.)

Furd, I do recall one of the service man told me it was originally STEAM boiler. (there is an old cast iron radiator next to it so I assume it's changed to water distribution by the previous owner.) Not sure how it differs from water boiler.

NJ Trooper, My basement did NOT flood so I am not eligible for FEMA assistance. I just want to make sure I will have no heating issue this winter so I don't have to worry about the future flood from burst pipe as I had once experienced a couple of winters ago. (Thank god I was in my house when it happened so I was able to shut off the water main.)

Another thing I had noticed is that the upper pipe (connected to the pressure tank) is badly corroded. Perhaps I should have this replaced sooner than later.

Upon your review, I would appreciate any advice you can provide so I can be educated enough on how my system should be working.

Sincerely,
 
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Old 11-24-12, 01:04 AM
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Quite a busy setup. This isn't my strong point but I have a couple of questions. You shot pics of the two gauges. I'm trying to figure out why there are two side by side. One shows 15 psi which would appear pretty accurate and the other shows 4 psi. You say this was converted from a steam boiler....I see a glass sight gauge. Is that an actual water line I see in the pic ? It looks it's 1/3 of the way up in the glass tube. It looks to be quite low compared to the tape mark on the boiler.

Looks like the plumbing was set up for three loops but only one is in use. I don't see any circulator so I'm guessing that this is still some kind of steam boiler unless there's a circulator pump that we can't see.

On third perusal.......is that a pump.....in red......way up at ceiling ?


Looks like the air bleed valve on top of the air separator could use a replacement too.
 
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Old 11-24-12, 07:25 AM
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Not sure how to say this without sounding like an alarmist, but I see so many issues with that system in these pictures that I don't even know where to start...

Yes, those corroded pipes... it appears as if that union has been leaking a long time. That does need to be addressed.

Is that wall where the flue pipe enters WET ? It's shiny... makes me thing so. Where is that water coming from if it is water. Is the chimney base full of water perhaps?

Really... I'm at a bit of a loss here... sorry.
 
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Old 11-24-12, 01:06 PM
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NJ Trooper,
Black shiny surface is NOT water, it's some sort of epoxy paint applied on CMU wall (exterior below grade). The flue pipe turns 90 degree angle & up through the brick chimney to the roof. Water damage has not been issue so far.

PJMax,
Not sure why 2 gauges either.
Yes, the plumbing has 3 available connection but only 1 is set up for use. It serves only one floor with 620 sqft space.
The glass sight tube has full water. should it be at level at the tape mark for normal operation? Not sure what this indicates. Does this indicate why I am not getting heat?
Not sure what the red thing on top is or does. Perhaps someone can explain?

Perhaps I spoke too soon, I am back with the same problem, no heat. Shall I try to purge air from the top pipe?

Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

Regards,
 
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Old 11-24-12, 01:23 PM
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The arrow is pointing to the air purge valve. My guess is that will need to be replaced.
 
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Old 11-24-12, 01:47 PM
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The running water

This looks like a steam system converted to hot water, The red thing looks like an air trap/eliminator. Why someone left the guage glass working is beyond me. It looks like there is a water circulator above the boiler also, making me more shure that is a hot water system. At any rate, you have to get water to the top of the system, and hopefully have a way to vent the air from the top piping and convectors, as the system is filling up, and the pressure should be around 15 psi when you are all done. This is over simplified, but it's more or less what has to be done.
Sid
 
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Old 11-24-12, 03:55 PM
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I don't trust ANY of those pressure gauges. Without actually KNOWING what the pressure is, you are spitting in the wind.

Segal's law applies here:

"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."

Read this and do:

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

And while you are down there in the basement, this post has step by step directions for proper checking and charging your expansion tank.

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

The glass sight tube has full water. should it be at level at the tape mark for normal operation? Not sure what this indicates. Does this indicate why I am not getting heat?
Ignore the glass. It simply is not relevant to a hot water system. The boiler must be FULL OF WATER at all times. Even if the glass does not read full, it does not mean the boiler is not full... it COULD mean that, but if those valves top/bottom of the glass are clogged or closed, it simply means nothing at all.
 
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Old 11-24-12, 05:11 PM
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Thanks, All,
NJ Trooper, I do see your points, also read your instructions on charging the expansion tank, however it seems way more involved procedure than I'd handle.

I want to see if there is any simple thing I can try NOW so just went down and took a look at the valve on top of the expansion tank, as in the photo. I turned it upward a little bit and I can hear some air sound. I lower the lever then check'd the pressure gauge right after and the needle went up to 10. I tried a bit more, it went up to 12...I came back up and turn up the thermostat and I hear the water running again to my base board. I'll monitor the pressure next few hours.

Does this indicate that I need to charge my expansion tank?

Also, as PJMax indicated on the photo, there is a small knob on top of that red thing. Is that the air purge? can I simply try to purge air by opening it?

Many thanks for your helpful responses,

Regards,
 
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Old 11-24-12, 05:41 PM
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You shouldn't hear a "water rushing" sound when the boiler is running. It should be just about silent. If it sounds like a babbling brook, you don't have enough water in the system.

As trooper said, you need to verify the boiler gauge. This is will help you enormously in getting things resolved. Otherwise you are just guessing.

That thing on top of the red gadget is an air vent. The screw should be loose. If it leaks water when it is loose, then it needs to be replaced. That will help remove air air from the system, btu you still need enough water to go around.

By the way, what are your plans for that radiator?
 
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Old 11-24-12, 07:10 PM
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Thanks, drooplug,
I now understand what "babbling brook" sound means after much of learning on this forum. It's annoying but I haven't thought much of it as I know that indicates my heat is working... the air vent above the red gadget definitely wasn't loose when I checked it before I adjusted the valve next to expansion tank. I'll try to unscrew it then see what happens. So after purging the air, how do I fill in the water in the system so I can have a normal silent base board?

I have no plan for that radiator in the photo. I'd love to get rid of it. There is also a bright blue tank behind the boiler, which I am not sure if it has any use. (see picture). Would you have any use for the old radiator?
 
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Old 11-24-12, 07:44 PM
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You have a private well system and that blue tank is absolutely necessary for it's operation.
 
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Old 11-24-12, 09:01 PM
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A private well with what looks like some kind of chemical injection system attached to it.
 
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Old 11-25-12, 04:38 AM
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Would you have any use for the old radiator?
I would, but if that has to come up a flight of stairs, it's not going to be useful. That looks to be quite a large radiator. Assuming it is still in working order.
 
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Old 11-25-12, 06:06 AM
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drooplug, Totally understand, but it's yours if you want. Yes, I believe it's fairly wide but narrow in depth. Let me know if you need exact size.

PJmax and NJtrooper:
You are both correct. This house used to be on well system but not any more though I haven't confirmed where those pipes go myself. For one, I pay for the water quarterly to my municipality, Two, I recall the conversation with one of the boiler-man while back...It's fairly large tank so I'm thinking whether it's worth removing it and relocate the boiler back to that location next to the chimney/ shorten the flu run etc...It may be a huge expense but I also wonder if I can expand the heating to supply heat for the basement using one of 2 available connections to the boiler...

Update on my heating issue:
I'm happy to report that my heat seems to be working since I adjusted the pressure valve next to the expansion tank and raised the pressure to about 15... I am also going to try to purge air through the air purge valve above "red" gizmo to see if it'll help with the "babbling brook" sound, will report back when done.
 
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Old 11-25-12, 11:51 AM
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drooplug,
I just checked the air vent on top of the red gizmo. It was easy to unscrew it but when I loosened it slowly, air came out and some water as well. I screwed it back untill water leak stop'd. Is it a matter of replacing the vent cap or should I replace the whole red air trap gizmo. From the look of that greenish drip mark, it must been slowly leaking from time to time. Any helpful comment would be much appreciated,
Regards,
 
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Old 11-25-12, 11:57 AM
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You would just change the air purge valve. The part I pointed to back in post # 8
 
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Old 11-25-12, 08:21 PM
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Thanks, PJmax, It sounds easy enough to change it if I can find the part.

Care to share any tips, any precautionary measures? do I need to shut off anything before I start? I will do some further web search in the mean time but I'd appreciate any helpful advice anyone can give.
 
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Old 11-26-12, 03:47 PM
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Care to share any tips, any precautionary measures? do I need to shut off anything before I start? I will do some further web search in the mean time but I'd appreciate any helpful advice anyone can give.
Make sure you get a replacement with the CORRECT THREADS. MOST of the ones in common use these days have 1/8" threads, but that one appears to be THREE QUARTER... there should be a model number on the side of that 'can'. You might have to go to a REAL plumbing supply to find that, chances that HD or Lowes has one with that thread is slim...

SHUT OFF BOILER AND ALLOW TO COOL TO 100F or LESS. You don't want to get burnt!

Close the blue handle water feed valve by the red thing.

Open a boiler drain and drop the boiler pressure to zero. DO NOT DRAIN THE BOILER! Just let a little water out to drop the pressure!

CLOSE the YELLOW valve on the corroded pipe below, and the BLUE valve on the pipe leading UP to the left of the red thing.

Unscrew the air vent. You may get a LITTLE water out, but it shouldn't be much, be prepared for water anyway.

Put ONE or TWO wraps of teflon tape on the threads of the new vent. Do NOT believe that "More tape is better"... it is NOT! Regardless of videos or advice you might see on the internet, more than two wraps of tape is TOO MUCH! Do NOT put any tape on the first two or three threads.

Screw new valve in and tighten. Open the blue water feed valve first and check for leaks, tight a bit more if needed.

When you are pretty sure there are no leaks, open the blue and yellow valves and turn the system back on.

The new valve may leak a few drops of water at first, but don't be alarmed by that... it should stop. BUT, check carefully for leaks at the threads for a few days afterward and tighten a little more if you find any.
 
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Old 11-26-12, 07:56 PM
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Thanks, NJtrooper, for your detail direction!

just to confirm, can you re-confirm if my understanding is correct per attached?

Thanks again,
 
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Old 11-26-12, 08:13 PM
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In your note #3, the blue valve I mean is:

Coming out of the red thing on the left is a pipe with three vertical 'risers'. Two risers appear to be unused and the valves are already closed. The one closest to the red thing appears to have a pump mounted above the valve. THAT is the valve I want you to close.

I notice that there is a DRAIN VALVE on the end of that pipe.

An ALTERNATE plan is to go ahead and close ALL THREE valves without dropping the boiler pressure first.

After all three valves are closed, you can OPEN the drain at the end of that pipe to relieve the pressure in ONLY THE SECTION YOU ARE WORKING ON and then CLOSE that drain valve again.

Since that red thing is now completely isolated from the rest of the boiler because those valves are all closed, opening the drain valve on the end of that riser manifold will allow you to let the pressure off the section of piping you will be working on.

Again, you don't need to DRAIN the pipe, only relieve the pressure in that section.

Makes sense?
 
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Old 11-27-12, 05:05 PM
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Yes, it does make sense now. Thanks!

I guess the upper pipe on either side of air trap is the section I need to work on, NOT the return piping, which is connected to the lower part of boiler.

I'll give it a try once I find the replacement part, will post an update when done.

Thanks again!
 
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Old 12-08-12, 08:42 PM
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New Boiler System Cost Estimate

Hello everyone,
My neighbor's boiler man came by and temporarily fixed my heat problem simply by bleeding the pipe for now. I no longer hear "running brook" sound from my baseboard.

He gave me the verbal quotes of $400 to replace the air trap valve and replace the corroded pipe vs $3,500 to replace the system with a brand new boiler and expanded heating the basement space with a separate zone. He mentioned "Slant Fin(?)" or "Burnham" unit. (If I want high efficiency one, he suggested "Energy Kinetics" but it will be more like $7000.)

What do you think? Since I have a finished basement, it would be nice to have heat here even though I do not really need or use this room. Would this be worth the investment?

Thanks for any comment or advice,
 
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Old 12-09-12, 10:53 AM
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He gave me the verbal quotes of $400 to replace the air trap valve and replace the corroded pipe vs $3,500 to replace the system with a brand new boiler and expanded heating the basement space with a separate zone.
Those are pretty good prices! Better get that in writing!

I think your system is ripe for replacement.

One thing I would recommend though... if at all possible, get a boiler that does NOT have the domestic hot water coil as yours appears to have. Have a SEPARATE hot water heater installed. An 'indirect' type. This will likely jack the price by $1000 or more but in the long run will be worth the extra cost.

I hope this boiler guy has a better 'eye for level' and a healthier workmanship ethic than the last! That thing is a MESS!
 
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Old 12-09-12, 11:15 AM
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Since I have a finished basement, it would be nice to have heat here even though I do not really need or use this room. Would this be worth the investment?


Wonder if checking real estate and appraiser forums would help? Seems like a finished basement is a real plus and including heat would seem to really top it off. Seems like it would be a plus if you ever sold. But who knows?

A friend of mine put heat in his finished basement. Is great! Now I can drink his beer in real comfort.LOL
 
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Old 12-09-12, 07:30 PM
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Thanks for your feed backs

NJ Trooper,

I will speak with my neighbor who recommended him. I do think it is reasonable price for new install. Yes, he also commented on the shady workmanship of the previous install...so I presume he will do a better job?? He also said he can move it to the back where the well water tank sits idle. I guess it will also cost money to remove that as well... I'm sure it will all snowball to larger expense by the time I'm done with all relocation and re-laying out the stair etc..

We travel quite a bit for work at the moment so the house is not fully used now, mostly on weekends and more during the summer. Would having a separate hot water tank be less efficient if it is not being used everyday?

Zoesdad,
Thanks for your comment as well. I do think it'd be plus myself but with this housing market, it's hard to tell. I'll check out RE forum as you mentioned.

Sincerely,
 
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