Bleeding air from system with no radiator bleeds, no air separator.

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Old 01-05-13, 03:40 PM
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Bleeding air from system with no radiator bleeds, no air separator.

I live in the second-floor apartment in a two-story house. Our boiler is a combined system, which supplies heat to both apartments, as well as hot water.

There has always been problems with air in the system, particularly on the second floor.

Photos of system: (see bottom of this post) ***NOTE: these are high-resolution photos. To view them in full size, simply right-click them and click "View Image"

Service history:
  • At this point, we have had literally every employee from the local boiler maintenance company come and try to restore heat to our second floor apartment.
  • In the past 8 months, they have replaced both zone valves, the circulation pump, and some transformers.
Symptoms:
  • The second floor doesn't have any heat, even when the first floor does
  • Lots of gurgling, flowing noise on the second floor when the heat works
Boiler Observations:
  • After turning off the breaker to the whole system, the top floor zone valve automatically shuts, but the main floor zone valve does not shut (it stays open)
  • There is no air separator on the system
  • The plastic casing on the boiler gauge is missing... gauge may be broken
  • Lots of sloppy soldering as evidenced by excessive flux and solder on nearly every connection in the system.
  • Boiler gauge reads 14 psi @ 192 F
Radiator Observations:
  • There does not appear to be proper air bleed-off valves on any of the radiators in the house.
  • Sloppy soldering evident on all radiator connections
What has been tried:
  • After closing the bypass valve above the circulator pump, and closing the return valve from the main floor return, a hose is connected from the bleed-off valve just above the bypass valve and leads into a bucket. The bleed-off valve is then opened, allowing blackish return water from the top floor to drain into the bucket, along with plenty of air bubbles.
    The flow gradually slows to a trickle, and stops.
    By manually overriding the make-up water valve to be open, the flow resumes. No more air bubbles are evident. Flow slows and stops once again if the make-up valve override is terminated.
My questions:
  1. How do I get the air out of the system, and get it running to both floors again?
  2. Should I tell my landlord to scrap the current system and have the entire thing replaced? ( he has already spent about $1000 on this boiler over the past few months, just in maintenance visits)

Photos:
Boiler Gauge:


Overall System:




Return Lines




Return Lines (and some of the previous derelict boiler)



Return Lines and Return Bypass Valves



Zone Valves (supply lines)


Cold water make-up regulator valve:




Pressure-release valve:



Circulator pump:



Zone Valve:




Radiator end-cap:


 
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  #2  
Old 01-05-13, 04:03 PM
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14 psi at 192 deg is a little low. Should be more like 14 psi with the system cooled down to room temp, and 119-200 psi hot.

Haven't studied the pix. But from your description of actions taken, your landlord is not calling the correct people, which is his job to do, regardless how much money he has already spent. Whatever you do personally to a system you don't own can likely buy you grief. I would give the landlord one last chance, and then call the zoning/building inspectors - they should have a field day with the improper wiring and other things.

You say there is no automatic air eliminator - it should be near the expansion tank, which I don't see either.

There does not appear to be proper air bleed-off valves on any of the radiators in the house.
The last photo shows an air bleeder at a baseboard.
 
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Old 01-05-13, 04:07 PM
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P.S. Where do you live? Are plumbers licensed there? It would appear not.
 
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Old 01-05-13, 04:45 PM
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  1. How do I get the air out of the system, and get it running to both floors again?
  2. Should I tell my landlord to scrap the current system and have the entire thing replaced? ( he has already spent about $1000 on this boiler over the past few months, just in maintenance visits)


Boiler psi is too high. Its reading 30psi. The relief valve can trip. You need to cool the boiler and set to 15psi cold. Let it cool and let us know what the psi reads. Its the inside reading on the gauge.

Next you need to drain the expansion tank in the ceiling completely of all water. That mat take some time. You will need to follow the pipe that the relief valve is attached to. Close that round blue round handle valve. Then follow that to that red handle boiler draing. Thats what needs to be drained. When your done open that blue handle valve again.

Then try your heat.

If you have bleeders like in the last pic at each baseboard go ahead and bleed the baseboard that does not get hot.

Try that and let us know.



 
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Old 01-05-13, 04:51 PM
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Boiler psi is too high. Its reading 30psi.
Lawrosa, you're reading the wrong scale on the gauge.
 
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Old 01-05-13, 05:04 PM
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Not enough pressure in the system. It's that simple for the heat on the second floor...

What is not so simple is addressing all the other maintenance issues that those systems need.

I know you are trying to help the landlord, because you want heat and all... but ultimately it's HIS responsibility to provide heat.

If you mess with it, even if you don't break it, your landlord can claim that you did and then you are on the hook.

"Best Burners" my azz...
 
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Old 01-05-13, 05:07 PM
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Lawrosa, you're reading the wrong scale on the gauge.
Dang!!! Bliget farngang!!!! I always do that!!!!


 
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Old 01-05-13, 05:21 PM
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Well, there's, count them, three pressure scales: ft, psi, and metric.
 
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Old 01-05-13, 09:22 PM
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Well, I just got the heat back on on the 2nd floor by following this methodology:

  1. Shut off breaker to boiler
  2. Close bypass valve above circulator
  3. Close return valve from first floor
  4. Open bleed-off valve above circulator and drain fluid from 2nd floor loop until flow stops
  5. Manually override cold water makeup regulator valve to restore pressure needed to move fluid through 2nd floor loop, and continue draining fluid from that loop until no air remains
  6. Close bleed-off valve
  7. Wait 15 seconds, then close regulator valve
  8. Open bypass valve
  9. Open return valve from first floor
  10. Switch breaker back on

So, basically from what I gather, it looks like there are three major problems going on with my system (other than its overall shoddiness):
  1. Gauge on boiler is broken
  2. Insufficient boiler pressure, therefore the regulator valve isn't rated for a high enough psi
  3. No air separator

So, would steps to fixing it essentially be to replace the gauge, get a higher psi regulator, and plan on eventually installing an air separator?
 
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Old 01-06-13, 09:04 AM
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Tom, on general principal we don't condone tenants working on systems they don't own.

I understand what you are doing and all, trying to help, probably with the landlords blessings and all, but I had to say that.

As informational questions, I can say this:

1. Maybe... it would need to be verified that it is by someone your landlord hires, and replaced by them.

2. That can't be known for certain until the gauge accuracy is verified. Most regulators are adjustable, but they usually don't just 'go out of adjustment'. Once they are set that's it for the most part. They can fail in two ways, leaking through because of 'crud' under the valve seat, or not filling at all because they get plugged up.

3. Yes, but the air separator needs to be installed in a 'proper' location to do any good at all.

I'm going to add one more, because it is the most overlooked part of boiler maintenance:

4. Check condition and function of expansion tank.

OK, one more:

5. If more than 5 years old, replace pressure relief valve and properly mount in an UPRIGHT position, NOT horizontally as it is, per manufacturers recommendations.
 

Last edited by NJT; 01-06-13 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 01-06-13, 09:08 AM
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One more thing...

If the guys that have been unable to restore the heat to the second floor are so clueless that the problem all along has been that there wasn't enough pressure to raise water to the second floor, I would suggest that they NOT be called back again. Especially if they are also the ones that performed this monstrous install (and didn't even remove the old boiler)

"Best Burners" my azz.
 
  #12  
Old 01-06-13, 11:47 AM
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Dang!!! Bliget farngang!!!! I always do that!!!!

After gilmorrie pointed that out, I still couldn't see it (Oh my! I swore it was 30 psi) until he pointed out there are 3 scales.

Guess I better be very careful of what I undertake! LOL
 
  #13  
Old 01-07-13, 07:36 AM
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Great, thanks for all your help guys. I'll let the landlord know what your recommendations are.

-Tom
 
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