Need help with my boiler/hot water heating system

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Old 12-19-12, 07:26 AM
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Need help with my boiler/hot water heating system

Could use some advice on how to fix or find the problem I'm having with my hot water heater system. I'll give a little background and i'll try not to go on too long. For the past couple season water has been discharged from the pressure relief valve. It goes into a bucket and I dump it. Last summer I decided to try to empty the expansion tank myself. Turns out the isolation valve to the expansion tank in the ceiling doesn't close completely. I have a plumber come in close that off and add a bladder type expansion tank. Figured that would fix the problem but winter comes and water is still being expelled. Have someone come by to check the pressure of the expansion tank and it is at 12psi. So all good there. The person also shuts off the main fill valve and tells me this will rule out that the reducing valve is the problem. Next day water still is discharged.
Some other info. Boiler is 58 years old. Its a venturi single pipe system. Before shutting the fill valve I have seen the pressure gauge go up to 29/30. Since the person closed I have not physically seen it go that high. Not sure if it went to 30 this morning and that why 2 cups of water were discharged. I assume the pressure relief valve is working correctly. I have seen the boiler running at 25 psi and no water coming out.
Lastly yesterday at 8am (12 hours after the gentleman shut off the fill valve) I checked the gauge it was at 8psi (need 12 for 2 family house) I manually filled it up to 12psi and temperature read 140. By 12pm temp was down to 120 and pressure was at 10psi. I kept refilling it throughout the day as the temperature dropped. I'm not sure if the PSI was going down due to the temperature dropping of if I'm losing pressure somewhere. Sorry for the long ramble.

Pics are to show the system. Last one was to show the psi going to 29/30. This was a couple weeks ago before closing the main fill valve.

Thanks for any help
Jay
 
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Old 12-19-12, 07:52 AM
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Most pressure relief valves are set to let water out at 30PSI, so if your gauge is correct, you are running with too much pressure.
Check the sticky threads regarding the relief valve leaking and consider replacing your gauge just so you can confirm it is accurate.

Based on your gauge and issues, you are running too much pressure.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 08:59 AM
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I would like to ask where is the old exp tank?

If it was a bladderless type and the plumber changed to a bladder type you need to add some type of automatic air purger. I see none.

Next i would think that boiler is high mass and contains a lot of water. I can bet that expansion tank is not large enough. Looks like a 30. probably need a 60.

I think you could have fixed the issue with your old tank and the plumber does not now what he is doing.

I would be inclined to move the exp tank to the return side above the pump. Looks like you may have a copper line there but cant tell by the pics.

Also where the exp tank is now, and since you may move it I would add a air vent there.

Wait for others to give advice also, but that would be my guess. Seems like your gauge is probaby working so I would rule that out.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 10:16 AM
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Thanks for the replies guys.

Mike that is what the pressure is getting up to with the boiler on. The pressure is filled to 12psi. I'm trying to figure out why it is getting that high?

Lawrosa- The old expansion tank is in the ceiling. The reason it was replaced is the valve to isolated was shot. It would not close fully and I could not drain it. It is the old metal bladderless type. I have a warranty service that fixes problems with the boiler. When I explained this to them they said they were not allowed to put a new shutoff valve to the old expansion tank. They were only allowed to add a new expansion tank. However I did not have them do it . A licensed plumber who is a friend of my dads came over and he decided to put in a bladder expansion tank. I guess he though that was the best or easiest decision.

You are correct with the expansion tank being a 30. I was wondering if that was the wrong size.

If just say the expansion tank is the right size and the pressure relief valve is functioning correctly what is causing the PSI to reach 30? Why is it going from 12 psi cold to 30 heated up?

It also did go from a bladderless to a bladder expansion type. I'm not sure what an automatic air purger is? I'll have to look into that

Thanks Jay
 
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Old 12-19-12, 10:26 AM
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Here are some pics of the new expansion tank. Don't think it has an automatic air purger built in or added somewhere.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 10:40 AM
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sorry one more reply. LawRosa if you look at the last pic of the new expansion tank you can see a image of a pipe coming down that's just capped off. Do you think I should just have that reconnected? I now have a new shut off valve hooked up to the new expansion tank so I will be able to isolate the old tank and drain it. If they could just reconnect the only one with some new pipe is that the best move?

That way it will be the right size and I won't need an automatic purger or move anything from the return side to supply side etc.

thanks
 
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Old 12-19-12, 12:44 PM
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Curious to know if putting the expansion tank on the supply side above the circulator would work in this situation. They copper pipe LawRosa is speaking about is the second zone, a back porch room. Pic attached
 
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Old 12-19-12, 12:58 PM
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I would suggest replacing your feeder. System pressure should be staying at 12 psi when its cold (room temp) water. If you have 12 psi at 140 degree water thats not nearly enough and your creating more problems. You definitely need some type of air elimination, spirovents work the best and dont need much room to install. Get the size of your boiler for us so we can size your expansion tank, that one there looks like a home depot special and its probably the only size they carry.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 01:56 PM
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Hi RdsTeam. I'm not sure if feed valve and fill valve are the same thing but it is completely turned off so no water can be added to the system. I'm not sure if the pressure dropping is due to the water being purged from getting over 30psi or if their may be a leak. Attached is a pic of the boiler info.
There are 5 radiators on the 1st floor and 5 on the second. All are cast iron without fins. Listed are their dimensions. All are 20 inchs high including their feet. Length are 27,40,86,67,50,50,27,27,54,36 . Main pipe downstairs going to and from the system is 2 to 2.5 inches. The pipes leading up to each radiator is 3/4.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 02:09 PM
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For a 125k with baseboard or panel rads your looking at a 30. For 125k with cast iron radiators your looking at a 90. What you have falls somewhere in between baseboard and cast iron rads, safe bet would be to upsize to a 60. Change your relief valve and change your feeder. Make sure you charge your expansion tank to whatever your cold fill pressure is going to be, you shouldnt have to do any adding of air because you shouldn't need anymore then the 12 psi feeders are preset for but if you do run any higher then 12 psi cold fill then the tank needs to be bumped up in pressure.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 03:06 PM
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Aside from what was said here you still need a air vent with the bladder tank. Your old tank removed the air. With this new tank there is no way to remove the air.

I drew this and may be best for now with minimal work. Change the tank to a 60, possibly put a tee and a AAV.

Others will chime in hopefully to suggest if this is good. Strap that exp tank also. It will need support.

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AAV

 
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Old 12-19-12, 09:29 PM
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If given the option would you choose:
1)reconnect to the old steel expansion tank in the ceiling? (only reason expansion tank was changed was the isolation valve going to it wouldn't close completely. The plumber must of thought it was easier to just add an new valve and then add bladder expansion tank) Nothing is wrong with the old tank in the ceiling as far as I know
or
2)have them install a correct sized bladder expansion tank (60 or 90). And also add an automatic air valve to the system (basically on top of a tee above the new expansion tank)

Thanks Jay
 
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Old 12-20-12, 07:02 AM
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Just to give and update. Guy from warranty service came in. Explained the situation and he spoke to his supervisor. Said they were going to put a 60psi tank in. At first they said it would cost 165 to do it since they didn't not add the 30 in the first place. I tried to explain that by having someone else do it it actually made their job easier. They agreed to waive the charge.
Supervisor said no air separator or Automatic air vent is necessary. That the radiators on the top floor are natural air collectors and just need to bleed them at the beginning of the season. Tried to tell them thats not what I read but I could see them getting piss off (whos this person telling us our job).
I also asked them if they wanted me to drain the system to get an accurate count of gallons in the whole system. They told me there is no way they need more than a 60psi tank. I wanted to be certain that I didn't undershoot again?

Any further thoughts guys
Just to let you know. Last night at 2am temp reading was 95 and psi was at 7.5. This morning it hit 30 psi and discharged water. Temp was around 165. Thats a 23 psi jump.

Just out of curiosity what is the supply side what is the return side. Is the supply side supplying water to the boiler or supplying water to the system/radiators. Same with the return side, is it returning water to the boiler or returning water to the radiators/system. Trying to understand if my circulator is on the return side or supply side. Same with the expansion tank - supply side or return side.

thanks
 
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Old 12-20-12, 07:43 AM
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As far as the air eliminator, those guys aren't boiler people. Of course you need one.

Particularly with the larger expansion tank, you need to improve the support for the tank. Now it is cantilevered off a pipe, which is not good.

You need to pump up the bladder of the new tank to 12 psi before it is installed and the system is pressurized. And, for grins, check the pressure in the first tank after the system is depressurized. I have a sneaking suspicion that it may have lost its air charge between Taiwan and your installation. If so, this whole saga may have been avoidable.
 
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Old 12-20-12, 08:06 AM
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Geez that boiler has been there how long? I would have just hooked the old tank back up. You have a new shut off valve there at the exp tank. Drain the old tank completely, then open that valve back up. Done...

At ambient temp you should have 12-15 psi in the boiler. If you have 7.5 then your gauge is off or the fill valve for the boiler is not working.

IMO you need to find new people to service the boiler.

You need an air eliminator with that exp tank.

Here is a good article and re enforces my suggestion to put the air vent where I said. Although it says put the tee on the horizontal and not how I show.

Expansion Tanks 101: pressure and air vents | Hydronics content from Contractor Magazine
 
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Old 12-20-12, 08:36 AM
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gilmoreie - air pressure was check on the bladder tank 4 days ago. It read 12psi with a air tire pressure gauge know to fairly accurate. As far as support I will make sure they support it to the ceiling

lawrosa- I asked them to hook it back up to the old expansion tank. Said they were not supposed to do that by contract and if I insisted they do it it would cost an additonal 215 plus tax over they 325 yearly contract fee i pay.
I understand 7.5 psi it too low. That feed valve is shut off. And water has discharged from the pressure relief valve each morning. So it started at 12psi two days ago. About 4-5 cups have been discharged. I'm not sure if that enough to drop it 4-5 psi or if there may also be a leak in the system

As far as a AAV I tried to explain it to them. I could tell they were getting annoyed. They were being polite but definitely getting annoyed that I was bothering them about what they know so well.
 
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Old 12-20-12, 08:40 AM
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lawrosa- boiler has been there 58 years. And I believe the old expansion tank is still good
 
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Old 12-20-12, 08:44 AM
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Sorry I reread an earlier post. they are not putting a 60 psi expansion tank . That was my error. I meant to write that are putting a model 60 as opposed to the 30 which is double the VOLUME. Sorry about that
 
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Old 12-20-12, 12:40 PM
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I drained the system to get an accurate idea of how much volume was in it to size the expansion tank. Its 47.5 gallons. According to sites it looks like the tank I have is properly sized. I'm not sure where to go from here.
 
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Old 12-20-12, 12:44 PM
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I drained the system to get an accurate idea of how much volume was in it to size the expansion tank. Its 47.5 gallons. According to sites it looks like the tank I have is properly sized. I'm not sure where to go from here.


What? Why? Doing that now you introduced new minerals and oxygen/air into the system... No good.

Ugggg!!!

 
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Old 12-20-12, 01:17 PM
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air pressure was check on the bladder tank 4 days ago. It read 12psi with a air tire pressure gauge know to fairly accurate
Was the system depressurized when you measured the air pressure? If not, the reading is meaningless.
 
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Old 12-20-12, 01:21 PM
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I realize that was not a smart move. But I wanted to be rule out the expansion tank size for good. According to the calculations the expansion tank I have it fine. It system should not be purging water like it is. And for the past couple years every time is removes a couple cups of water new water is added through the refill valve. I realize its not anywhere near the amount of water I just added but this has been going on for years. New water introduced every day or two for years.
Any other recommendations since the expansion tank is size okay and the the fill valve and relief valve are okay , why my system is going up to 30psi and dumping out water?

the warranty company is coming tommorow to put in a 60 volume tank. I'm going to let them since it is free and can't hurt don't but I don't see it solving the problem.

thanks Jay
 
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Old 12-20-12, 01:37 PM
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gilmorre- the expansion tank was removed from the system. The warranty company company came over. Closed the isolation valve going to it. Unscrewed it slowly letting the water and pressure out. Then they drained all water out of it and tested the air pressure of the bladder. It was at 12psi.
 
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Old 12-20-12, 02:16 PM
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For a 125k with baseboard or panel rads your looking at a 30. For 125k with cast iron radiators your looking at a 90. What you have falls somewhere in between baseboard and cast iron rads, safe bet would be to upsize to a 60. Change your relief valve and change your feeder. Make sure you charge your expansion tank to whatever your cold fill pressure is going to be, you shouldnt have to do any adding of air because you shouldn't need anymore then the 12 psi feeders are preset for but if you do run any higher then 12 psi cold fill then the tank needs to be bumped up in pressure.


This was already quoted for you. Not sure why you are not following the advice.

Originally your issue was probably because your old exp tank was not drained/serviced properly.

The issue now is probably because the new tank is undersized.

What does the fill valve pressurize the boiler to, cold boiler, if the valve is left open?

 

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Old 12-20-12, 03:05 PM
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lawrosa- I'm not trying to be stubborn or throw aside advise. I do appreciate it.
When the boil is cold not running for a couple hours the pressure reducing valve is set to exactly 12psi. With it on it refills the system to 12psi anytime it goes below that. With it off and water being expelled i have seen it go down to 8psi. Maybe even a possible leak but I can conclude it is adding water to the system every couple days when water is expelled.
As far as the new tank being underside. I was all in agreement with that. It made sense. That is why I fought with the guys today to either reconnect the old steel one or get me a 60 or even a 90 volume tank. I took your advice. The thing is I have read and been told by people on forums that to figure out the exact size tank you need there is a formula. And that it can be calculated by the volume of water in the system (i have 47.5 , which I rounded to 50) and the temperature variation from room temp to what the boiler get to or highest temp. The basement is between 60 and 70 degrees and the boiler temp setting at 180 (i have yet to see the temperature gauge go over 170. Using a couple different sites this being one of them
Non-Potable Water Expansion Tank Sizing - Support - Water Safety & Flow Control -Watts
you can calculate what sized expansion tank you need. I have entered my info as best I can with some wiggle room. According to that my accepted volume is 1.35 and total volume is 3.76. And according to the expansion tank I have on now has a capacity of 4.8 which is well above my 3.76 and an acceptance volume of 1.9, which is well above my 1.35. So according to this the current expansion tank is the correct one. I have not found info on using btu's to determine tank size but I will keep reading.
So you see i'm not going against your advice, I'm just getting more and trying to determine what the best course of action is. All I want is to fix this and I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to answer me.
I am going to let them replace the 30 tank with a 60 since a bigger one can't hurt but after determining the size of the expansion tank i have should be okay for my system I am lead to believe there is another issue.
Again I am sorry about emptying the system, I now understand it was a foolish idea.

thanks
 
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Old 12-20-12, 03:17 PM
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the expansion tank was removed from the system. Closed the isolation valve going to it. Unscrewed it slowly letting the water and pressure out. Then they drained all water out of it and tested the air pressure of the bladder. It was at 12psi.

OK, that is reassuring. I'm thinking that the larger expansion tank will solve the problem. Check the air pressure before it is installed and the system pressurized.
 
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Old 12-20-12, 03:34 PM
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I think the 30 is 'borderline'. With 50 gallons in the system, using 4% as the expansion in volume from room temp to 180, you are at TWO GALLONS acceptance. Yes, I realize you have a little less than 50 gallons and that the actual expansion is a little less than 4% but still... borderline.

Going to the 60 is the correct move.

Sure, you may still have another problem, but you still need the 60.
 
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Old 12-20-12, 03:37 PM
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I am going to let them replace the 30 tank with a 60 since a bigger one can't hurt but after determining the size of the expansion tank i have should be okay for my system I am lead to believe there is another issue.


OK good.

And the consensus is you need an air vent. Are you going to get one from these techs?

If not then what?

There is only one other issue to cause high psi, but don't think it applies to you and no one has brought it up.

Pumping Away

Hence why I suggested moving the exp tank. But I am not sure how pumping away correlates with the original steel tank. Plus the system was there for 50 years.
 
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Old 12-20-12, 04:56 PM
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I can only ask them for one when they come tomorrow. The answer I got from the supervisor is that the top floor radiators were an air vent. Which basically I took as no you are not getting one.
If I were to talk to them into it or even after get a plumber to install one is all I need the one lawrosa showed above the expansion tank and off a tee. What about air separators, air eliminators, spiro vents, etc. Its all very confusing. I believe I read on this site of someone change from bladderless to bladder and he was ask if he is getting both a air separator and a air vent.
Currently the expansion tank is coming off a Thrush Flow Valve no. 115. It it made for an expansion tank to be hooked up to it. Does that do any function of air separation. Include are some pics.
I will try my best to get this guy to install something tomorrow. If you could give me some options on what best to install an where. Or if just the AAV above the expansion tank will work he may do that.
 
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Old 12-20-12, 05:53 PM
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Old 12-20-12, 08:46 PM
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thank you for the article lawrosa. Just printed it out and highlighted certain passages like "at this time , you must install an auto vent to get rid of system air" and "if its a factory captive-bladder expansion tank , auto vents are a must". The person who they send is going to get an good argument from me, not sure they will do it but I will some how get an air vent on this system

If you could just clear up the language of this part for me. "in a retrofit, where the old ceiling hung expansion tank's pipe goes up, install a tee in the normal configuration, bush down the end run and install an auto vent. Then on the branch, install a nipple long enough to give you clearance for the diameter of the tank and install an elbow facing down. Hang the tank right there, and don't forget to support it"

I'm not sure how that would diagram out. I've attached 3 pics. Could you let me know if one is correctly diagrammed according to what is written or if none are right

And lastly is their a specific model auto air vent I need ?

thanks
 
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Old 12-21-12, 05:47 AM
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My read of that paragraph doesn't fit what you have... I think...

It sounds to me as if they are suggesting installing the tee in a vertical position where the pipe turns up to go to the tank, installing the vent on top of the tee as you did in pic 3, but running a nipple off the bull of the tee and an elbow down to hang the tank.

Since you are already horizontal, I think that pic 3 looks like best option. Pic 2 is also probably acceptable.
 
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Old 12-21-12, 06:34 AM
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Ah I think I understand. See pic below. Is one much better than the other. I'll try to get him to do it the best way if he is willing to do it.
Also will any Auto air vent work or do I need a special type for this setup
 
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Old 12-21-12, 06:58 AM
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Pic #3 looks good.

Any air vent that the home stores sell.

1/8 in. Hy-Vent-400-3 at The Home Depot
 
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Old 12-21-12, 07:55 AM
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"Maid-O-Mist" is another brand that you may find locally... the #67 model most likely, has 1/8" threads.

Go with #3 ...
 
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Old 12-21-12, 08:01 AM
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I don't like the way the tank is cantilevered off that pipe - it will put too much stress on the pipe, particularly when the tank gets waterlogged. It needs addional support, possibly with steel plumbing strapping fashioned as a hanger.
 
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Old 12-21-12, 09:25 AM
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Thanks guys. I will go with pic 3 and ask him to do it. If they won't I'll try to just get him to put a tee and I'll go buy an air vent at home depot or a plumbing supply store. And if he won't do that I'll do it myself or call my uncles plumber friend and pay for it.

Gilmore- I have complete intentions to make him support the new one to the ceiling somehow. There are two sheets of 3/4 inch wood above it. Hidden behind that are pipes and the old expansion tank. I'll just make sure he used 3/4 inch screws as to not damage anything hidden above it.

When he is done I will update if I got an air vent and after running it a day or two will find out if my problems are solved.

Thanks Again
Jay
 
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Old 12-21-12, 01:05 PM
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Okay guy was cool had the parts and put in an air vent for me. A couple issue that you can let me know if they are okay or not. The air vent is like in picture 2 from earlier and because of the ceiling height it is on an angle. I'd say about a 25-30 degree angle. If that not acceptable I'll have to cut away some of the ceiling which is wood above it.
He didn't support it but I have no problem with buying some straps and doing it myself. I'll cut a piece of 2x4 right now and put it under it to give it some support
The boiler is running now and heating up. It is only at 130 degrees and the pressure is up to 20psi already. It started at 12psi cold. I'll have to see what happens when it gets up to 160-170 like it does in the morning.
Included 2 pics of the new expansion tank and the angle the auto air vent is on.
thanks
Jay
 
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Old 12-21-12, 01:37 PM
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The sell a horizontal mount.


I would try to straigthen the one thats there.


Did they check the air charge in the tank before they installed it?

Did you fill the system to 12 psi and shut the valve off? ( Just trying to make sure its not the fill valve, but I think you confirmed that.)

What type of valve are you turnig off for the water supply? It could be faulty if a washer style.
 
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Old 12-21-12, 02:01 PM
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Did he check the pressure - asked him to but did not watch
Filled to 12psi - check
Shut off valve is off - check
It is the screw handle type shut off valve. As far as it not shutting off completely its a possibility but I'm thinking its okay. When I drained the system no more water was coming out when it emptied. The fill valve piping is directly above the drain by the floor. If water was coming in even slow the first place it goes is straight down to where I drained it.
Reducing Valve- working correctly

I am running to home depot to get metal strapping. Over the weekend I'll get rid of and inch of wood above the vent so I can straighten it out.

Right now its at 22psi and 160 degrees. Before I can conclude anything I believe I have to get some more air out of the system. Two radiators are not as hot as the others. Might be an air blockage

As you can tell by the number of post I have already I will keep you updated.

Jay
 
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