Boiler with baseboard heating problems/questions

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Old 11-24-12, 02:00 PM
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Boiler with baseboard heating problems/questions

First off I want to say thank you to the contributors of this forum. I have learned so much today by reading a few threads here then I have in the past few weeks by googling my boiler questions.

Now for my issue. I guess I'll start from the beginning so I don't accidentally leave any information out.

When i first bought my house and ran my boiler i noticed that water was coming out of my pressure relief valve. not much water but enough for me to put a bucket under it. i think it was leaking slowly rather then all in one shot but cant be sure. I checked the pressure gauge and sure enough it was broken and stayed at 0. I didn't do anything else to remedy this besides the bucket.

next my top floor stopped getting heat, but my first floor worked fine. Through google I determined my system needed water but I was nervous to fill it because I don't know what happens if I add too much pressure (I assumed best case was pressure relief valve let out water but worst case possibly an explosion?) I ended up pulling the fill valve anyways and I heard water coming into the system and it almost felt as if the fill valve got stuck open but it eventually shut. After this my top floor heat started working again. Also my pressure relief pipe stopped leaking water into the bucket.

now my top floor heat is banging when I turn it on or off. After googling some more I determined air is in the pipes that's need to be removed. I also read that the system should have an air release that should automatically get rid of the air so I didn't understand why mine wasn't ridding the air. I also read about the cap that should be lose on top of the air release. I checked mine and it was corroded shut. I loosened it and heard air coming out and figured it would eventually rid all of the air but i still get the banging. It also seems to be leaking water as the metal below it is rusting and I assume the water coming out is what corroded the cap shut.

What do you guys think is wrong? By going through this forum I gathered that I should make a pressure gauge and also test the expansion tank.

Anything else that I should do?
Can I safely add more water to push the air out of the second floor?
Does the system have to be cool before adding water or adding while hot is fine?
are any pictures needed?

edit: I just made a YouTube video of my system

Boiler - YouTube

Thanks,
Jonathan
 

Last edited by Joncat84; 11-24-12 at 02:36 PM. Reason: Added video
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Old 11-24-12, 03:08 PM
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First of all, you need to replace the gauge, which will require depressurizing the system. While it's depressurized, do what this says: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...sion-tank.html

Also, at the same time, replace the air eliminator device and keep the cap loose. When you install a new air eliminator, use teflon tape or pipe dope and tighten the threaded connecton so it doesn't leak all over the place like your present one has.

After completing those chores, we can go to the next steps, if required, to troubleshoot.

The video was helpful, but personally, next time, I would prefer a series of good photos, with wide enough angles to see how the whole system goes together. Still photos allow carefully studying them individually. Others here may disagree.
 

Last edited by gilmorrie; 11-24-12 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 11-24-12, 03:32 PM
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I definitely plan on replacing the gauge, but for now I was thinking about doing this

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

After this is set up I plan on checking the expansion tank and because of your post replace the air eliminator as well.

Do you think the banging is excess air? Can I safely add water with no current pressure gauge ? Can I add water while its hot, or should I wait for it to cool?

thanks,
jonathan
 
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Old 11-24-12, 03:51 PM
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If your present gauge is broken, I'm not sure what verifying the gauge will accomplish.

No, I wouldn't feel good about adding water to the boiler without a functional gauge. First, you don't know if it needs additional water - it shouldn't if you have a functional automatic fill valve. What if the relief valve is kaput along with the other things, and you overpressurize the boiler, and it splits open catastrophically? In that event, it would be better to have the boiler cooled first Seriously, first fix what was suggested, and don't add more water.

I think you are looking for a simple, quick fix without understanding all the ramifications. Don't.

If you are unsure of yourself, call a pro. Browsing this forum for a few hours probably wasn't enough to introdluce you to the things most DIYers know, but we are willing to work with you if you can follow our directions.
 
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Old 11-24-12, 04:47 PM
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If your present gauge is broken, I'm not sure what verifying the gauge will accomplish.
The screw on pressure gauge would serve well as a temporary replacement.

So, the plan steps should be:

1. Get a reliable pressure gauge on the system.

Your relief valve leaking is either a defective relief valve (not too likely actually) OR a problem with the expansion tank (either busted bladder and waterlogged (most likely) or simply needing an air charge).

2. Service expansion tank. (I think you will be replacing it)

3. Replace vent valve.

4. If relief valve is more than 5 years old, REPLACE IT.


As gil said, we're here to help...
 
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Old 11-24-12, 05:32 PM
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If the circulator is on the return side of the tank or boiler do not use an automatic vent at the high points as it will continue to suck air when the pump kicks on. Use a manual vent.
I never suggest an auto-vent on the high points of the system but if the circulator is on the supply pumping away from the tank connection you have a chance it will work. The high point always needs a minimum of 4 psi all the time. If pumping toward the expansion tank connection the pressure at the high point will actually drop below the 4 psi requirement.
 
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Old 11-24-12, 05:39 PM
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Gil,

Fair enough, I was looking for a quick fix for now. Then i would fix everything else when i had more time. My wife can barely sleep now because she is preggers and the banging at night makes it worse. I figured the verifying gauge could act as the original gauge so that I could tell easily if the system was low and could add water Bc my gut tells me that's where the banging is coming from.
 
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Old 11-24-12, 06:28 PM
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So, the plan steps should be:


1. Get a reliable pressure gauge on the system.


Your relief valve leaking is either a defective relief valve (not too likely actually) OR a problem with the expansion tank (either busted bladder and waterlogged (most likely) or simply needing an air charge).


2. Service expansion tank. (I think you will be replacing it)


3. Replace vent valve.


4. If relief valve is more than 5 years old, REPLACE IT.
thank you! The relief valve stopped leaking after I added water when my top floor heat stopped working but it is over five years so ill replace it regardless. I think the expansion take may have a leak in the bladder because when I pushed the pin in on the bottom for the first time a little water sprayed out. When I press it in now though there is no water. If there is a small hole in the bladder is there a way for me to tell? Or should I just replace it regardless because of the water coming out of the bottom initially?

Also Like rbeck mentioned my circulator pumps towards my expansion tank. Would you recommend a manual valve as well?
 
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Old 11-24-12, 06:32 PM
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If the circulator is on the return side of the tank or boiler do not use an automatic vent at the high points as it will continue to suck air when the pump kicks on. Use a manual vent.
I never suggest an auto-vent on the high points of the system but if the circulator is on the supply pumping away from the tank connection you have a chance it will work. The high point always needs a minimum of 4 psi all the time. If pumping toward the expansion tank connection the pressure at the high point will actually drop below the 4 psi requirement.
my circulator does pump toward the tank, so maybe that has to do with the air not properly being released. Thank you!
 
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Old 11-24-12, 06:44 PM
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Also, when you're all caught up on boiler repair, replace that long section of copper gas line running over to the water heater. Use black iron pipe all the way as the copper can corrode over time and come off the fittings where it's screwed on.
 
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Old 11-24-12, 07:13 PM
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Also, when you're all caught up on boiler repair, replace that long section of copper gas line running over to the water heater. Use black iron pipe all the way as the copper can corrode over time and come off the fittings where it's screwed on.
good eye! Thanks for the tip. I definitely have corrosion problems where my boiler and water heater is. They are I'm my garage which is very well insulated to keep the heat in. Moisture stays as well...
 
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Old 12-03-12, 02:12 PM
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Ok, I made a pressure gauge using your stickied thread and now I am about to check the pressure on my expansion tank by following your other stickied thread. The pressure when at 82 degrees is 14 psi. It is still cooling though so I will check again once it drops to zero.

Next I am checking the expansion tank pressure. My system has 5 drains on it. One for each of the four zones and one below my circulator pump. I installed the pressure gauge on the drain attached to the pump because I guessed that it was the best location for now. I am about to drain the system to zero (not below zero). after I turn off the water supply,

Can I drain the system using any of the zone drains?
Do the zones have to be opened when I drain it to zero?
how do I pressurize the system after I am done refilling/replacing my expansion tank? Do I just open the manual fill lever till I hit 12-15 psi and then bleed each zone using the zone drain, a small hose and a bucket of water to look for bubbles? My system doesn't have bleeders.
 
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Old 12-04-12, 06:48 AM
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Hi Jon, sorry I missed your post last night somehow!?

The pressure when at 82 degrees is 14 psi
Right off the bat, that's not bad.

Can I drain the system using any of the zone drains?
Yes. Any boiler drain will allow you to relieve the pressure.

Do the zones have to be opened when I drain it to zero?
No.

how do I pressurize the system after I am done refilling/replacing my expansion tank? Do I just open the manual fill lever till I hit 12-15 psi ...
Yes. Fill slowly.

...and then bleed each zone using the zone drain, a small hose and a bucket of water to look for bubbles? My system doesn't have bleeders.
No. You probably won't have to bleed at all. By not 'draining' the system and only relieving the pressure you won't be introducing any air into the system.

[edit- I just read back in the thread to refresh my memory... if you still had air in the system from previous, you MAY (or may not) have to bleed... I need to look at pics again to instruct on that. Procedures differ from boiler to boiler depending on how they are piped]
 
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Old 12-04-12, 07:19 AM
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I don't think I looked at the YT vid earlier ...

Some questions and observations:

What on earth is that thing on the flue pipe? If that is some kind of 'heat reclaimer' with fins, my strong recommendation is to remove it. You do NOT want to cool the flue gases before the enter the chimney. They need to be as hot as possible in order to not cause problems with flue gas condensation. What is the shiny stuff on the flue pipe? Aluminum foil? Some kind of insulation?

Wow... that's some world class soldering on the water shutoff valve... is that still actively leaking?

Yes, that air vent should be replaced... but you can operate it manually until you get a chance. On the other hand if you do end up having to drain to replace the tank, do it then for sure.

If you do have to remove the tank, definitely consider adding the valve and drain as discussed in the sticky post. Future tank maintenance then becomes a 10 minute job.

On to the bleeding of zones...

I see in the pics that each zone return has a drain valve. What I don't see though is any kind of a shutoff valve between the drains and the pump/boiler. This shutoff is required in order to be able to purge the air from the zones. If you just hook a hose to the drain and open it, any purge water isn't going to go through the zone at all. It will simply go through the short section of pipe where the water feed enters the return at the tee, up and out the drain.

There needs to be a 'roadblock' there which would close that path of least resistance and force the water through the boiler, up the supply pipe, through a manually opened zone valve, through the zone, back down the return and out the drain.

Are there any other valves not visible, hidden under insulation or otherwise out of view?
 
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Old 12-04-12, 09:19 PM
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I don't think I looked at the YT vid earlier ...


Some questions and observations:


What on earth is that thing on the flue pipe? If that is some kind of 'heat reclaimer' with fins, my strong recommendation is to remove it. You do NOT want to cool the flue gases before the enter the chimney. They need to be as hot as possible in order to not cause problems with flue gas condensation. What is the shiny stuff on the flue pipe? Aluminum foil? Some kind of insulation?
lol yes I believe someone installed the fins on the flue pipe to release heat because my boiler is in the garage. My flue leads right outside and doesn't go up a chimney. Would i still have to worry about condensation? The shiny stuff seems to be foil maybe as a radiant barrier.

Wow... that's some world class soldering on the water shutoff valve... is that still actively leaking?
yes, slowly. Definitely needs fixing. I could have soldered it better, and I have never soldered! Whoever did it has some other bad ones...



On to the bleeding of zones...


I see in the pics that each zone return has a drain valve. What I don't see though is any kind of a shutoff valve between the drains and the pump/boiler. This shutoff is required in order to be able to purge the air from the zones. If you just hook a hose to the drain and open it, any purge water isn't going to go through the zone at all. It will simply go through the short section of pipe where the water feed enters the return at the tee, up and out the drain.


There needs to be a 'roadblock' there which would close that path of least resistance and force the water through the boiler, up the supply pipe, through a manually opened zone valve, through the zone, back down the return and out the drain.


Are there any other valves not visible, hidden under insulation or otherwise out of view?
Unfortunately there are no other shut offs between the drain valves and the boiler. What if I bled the system by turning on one zone at a time which would cause the pump to circulate the water in the correct direction? Then I would use the respective drain valve.


I appreciate all your help!
 
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Old 12-05-12, 03:15 PM
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Would i still have to worry about condensation?
So it's connected to a proper 'direct vent' terminal then? I dunno, you might be OK... have you ever looked underneath the foil wrap at the condition of the vent pipe for any signs of corrosion, etc?

Definitely needs fixing. I could have soldered it better, and I have never soldered! Whoever did it has some other bad ones...
I suspect a homeowner job on that. Thing is, it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to properly sweat solder a pipe if there's any water in it. I'm betting that they didn't know this and kept heating and feeding solder while the steam was hissing out of the fitting.

turning on one zone at a time which would cause the pump to circulate the water in the correct direction? Then I would use the respective drain valve.
I don't think it would give you much joy... I mean, you could try it, what have you really got to lose?

Let's think about it... we know that water always flows from high pressure to low pressure. When the drain is open, that becomes the lowest pressure point.

From what I can see, the feedwater enters the return pipe downstream of the drain valves and upstream of the pump.

Since your pump is pumping TOWARD the expansion tank (point of no pressure change) that means that the pumps 'head pressure' will be subtracted from the system pressure at the suction side.

But, since by opening the drain valve you have essentially created an 'open' system, the pump may not be capable of 'pushing' the water UP and through the zone. Remember that in a closed system the pump pushes and pulls at the same time and only moves the 'ferris wheel of water' AROUND the system. Opening the drain opens the system and now the pump is required to overcome the HEIGHT of the system. Circ pumps generally can't do it.

Somehow I think what is going to happen is that the pump will turn, but not move any water UP... and the water coming in through the feed valve is STILL going to go to the right and out the drain, rather than through the pump, UP through the zone, and out the drain.

You may get SOME water to go up and over, but I think the flow from the feed valve is going to 'split', a small amount will go left toward the pump and get pushed through the zone, but the majority of it will go right and out the drain.

Also, remember that in order to actually move the air that may be trapped up there, the flow velocity needs to be around 4 feet per second. Not likely that's gonna happen.

Take a closer look at those drains. Are you sure they are standard threaded tees with a drain screwed in? Or is there a screwdriver slot shaft on the bottom run of the tee fitting?
 
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Old 12-12-12, 04:22 PM
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Sorry it has taken so long for me to reply, have been busy getting ready for our first baby. Our baby girl is due tomorrow. I checked the zone drains and it does look like there is a place for a screw driver. I attached a picture. If I screw it in does it close off the pipe behind it?
 
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Old 12-12-12, 04:36 PM
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Wow! You gonna be a new daddy! Congrats... come back and give us updates.

There ya go! I knew there was a way!

Those are 'butterfly' valves. They should rotate 360 around. When the slot is parallel to pipe, as shown, the valve is open. When perpendicular, the valve is closed.

If those haven't been turned in a while, they may be rather tight.

Don't use a 'too small' screwdriver, you want one that more or less 'fills the slot'. It may be possible to even use a coin... (don't use a 1916D dime though! (long story, not for here))

Turn the slot 90 to perpendicular, hook hose to drain, open drain, activate fast fill on fill valve. Run hose into bucket, watch gauge to not go over 25 PSI while fast fill is open, run until no more bubbles in bucket.

Release fast fill, close drain, turn back to parallel, done...

If you get a little leakage around the stem of the screw slot, ever so slightly tighten the smaller of the two hex heads on the valve. Don't let your inner gorilla help! There is a flexible 'packing' behind the top nut (called a gland nut by the way) that will be compressed around the stem as you tighten. Go only tight enough to stop the leak.
 
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Old 12-12-12, 06:00 PM
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Nice!! I have been manually releasing air on the automatic release every few days which eventually made my banging stop. Now I can get the rest of it out and check that expansion tank.

I was really hoping the baby would come today (12/12/12) but as long as she is healthy ill be happy. Thanks again for your help!
 
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