How to drain a baseboard hot water heating system

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Old 02-25-13, 08:59 AM
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How to drain a baseboard hot water heating system

Hi - I have a gas fired baseboard hot water heating system with 3 zones. One of the zones is not working correctly - will not fire the boiler. All 3 powerheads are Honeywell V8043F 1036 with a sideways 4 at the end. My house has 3 levels just supplied as information. The powerhead that does not work never raises the mechanical arm far enough to hit the switch that fires up the boiler (an circulation if I understand thing correctly) As a work-around to get heat to my living area I go to the basement and increase the temp on that thermostat, the boiler fires and the pump starts which in turn circulates hot water to the living area as well as the basement ... looks like the powerhead in perenately in the "open position".
Bought a new powerhead and of course it doesn't fit on the valve body but Honeywell makes a conversion kit so the new head can be mounted on the valve body, but apparently the system needs to be drained to install the conversion kit.

I would like to know how to safely drain and after the kit is installed re-fill the system. I am considering replacing a 3 powerheads so I don't have to drain the system again.

My system has a "hose bib" type faucet on each of the zones on the return side of the system and just below those faucets is a ball type shut off valve on each of the zones. The system fill water supply and the expansion tank are located just below the ball valves hfter they are joined back into a single copper pipe. The expansion tank looks like diaphram type unit.

Anyway I need to know what the process is for the proper way of draining and then re-filling the is ... I am considering waiting until warmer weather before I do this because I don't want to mess my heating system while it's still cold in Montana. Appreciate any help you can offer - thank.

Tom Glendenning
 
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Old 02-25-13, 02:20 PM
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Before you get carried away in draining the system, and I strongly suggest that you DO postpone this until after the end of the heating season, I want you to explain in detail what you do to get heat in the non-functioning zone.

The way I interpret what you wrote is that you raise the thermostat setting on the offending zone and then go into the basement and observe the suspect zone valve. The valve opens and the boiler fires as it should. That part sounds perfectly normal. IF you do not raise the thermostat setting above the current room temperature will the valve never open and the are go cold? If so, it sounds more like a thermostat problem than a valve problem.

You also state that the valve seems to be "perenately in the "open position". Did mistype and mean permanently? Do you mean that while the boiler does indeed stop firing when the thermostat for that zone/valve is set below room temperature the heaters still emit heat when any other zone is calling for heat, thereby often causing the zone in question to overheat?

I ask these questions because it is possible it is not a problem with the zone valve motors (heads) but something internal to the zone valve or perhaps just some binding in the gear train of the motor unit.
 
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Old 02-25-13, 04:22 PM
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I agree, make due with what you have until warmer weather.

The main premise in draining to service any part of the heating system is to drain only as much as you need to in order to complete the job. Use any valves that may be available in order to drain only the section you are working on.

I would like to see pics of your system.
 
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Old 02-26-13, 10:30 AM
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Hi & thanks for getting back to me so quickly. First I did mis-spell "permanently" - sorry. In re-reading my post I was not very clear. 1. When checking the powerheads for proper operation it's always first thing in the AM - we turn our heat down at night so when I begin checking all of the pipes in the furnace room that are going to the baseboard heat registers are "cold" to the touch. 2. I raise the temp on the thermostat in the living room 1st (the room with the suspect powerhead), then back to the basement the, LR thermostat has not fired the boiler or the pump. 3. The stat for the basemant is very close to the furnace room and I just step out of the furnace room and raise the stat on the wall ... within a short period of time the boiler kicks on then the pump and hot water begins to flow in the basement and LR (as indicated the lever on the LR powerhead is ALWAYS in the manual/open position (completely at the right hand most position). 4. My thought process is that because the LR powerhead is always in the open position that when the basement stat kicks on the boiler & pump the hot water is delivered to the LR and the basement - that sound correct? Conversly, then the basement stat indicates the desired temp has been reached the burner & pump no longer run and heat to the LR is the same as it is in the basement - that sound right?


I have noticed on a couple of occasions that lever on the LR powerhead tries to move does not seem to be able to accomplish what it's trying to do ... and there is a click-click-click sound coming from the gears inside ... in order to get it to move I have to use a screwdriver to get the gears to move ... possibly a problem with the gears??? unable to see if there are any stripped gear teeth.


Another thing I should mention is that I put in a new "Nest" thermostat in the LR just a week earlier ... it seemed like an easy install however the LR was cold before the stat was replaced.


Last confession; when trying to trouble shoot the system I noticed that the tempature/pressure gage on the boiler had the following readings: 140 degrees, 20 psi. I did adjust the tempature control on the boiler back and forth a few times, then set it back to 180 degrees (this is where it was at at the beginning). After that I noticed the tempature guage on the boiler did change to read 180 degrees/ 20 psi ... could be some of the problems with the house being a little cold.

Unless you find a different problem in my explanation I would still like additional information concerning draining and refilling the system ... like I mentioned I would consider putting new powerheads & conversion kits on all 3 zones to avoid having to drain & refill the system should another powerhead go bad (with the new powerhead & conversion kit you do not have to open the valve body thus draining not necessary).

If I am able to figure out how to attach pictures of the boiler, I will do that.

Tom Glendenning
 
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Old 02-26-13, 10:34 AM
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2nd picture - couldn't figure our how to attach 2 pictures - technically challenged??
 
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Old 02-26-13, 12:46 PM
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Your pictures are really small and we old farts (meaning most of us on this forum) have trouble seeing details. If you could take more pictures and at higher definition (larger sizes) and then upload them to a photo hosting site such as photobucket.com and then post the public URLs it will help immensely. Take lots of pictures, just make sure they are well lit and in focus (you have that part down) and from many different angles. Close ups and distance (or wide angle) help as well because we need to see details and to see how all the various parts fit together.

Now, did this problem arise AFTER you installed the Nest thermostat or was it a problem for sometime BEFORE the Nest?

Trooper is far more familiar with the Honeywell zone valves than I so I will defer to him on any more testing of the valves and their operators.

From what I see you will have to drain most of your system to open the zone valves as you do not have any isolation valves on the supply side. I DO see purge stations above the valves so refilling and purging the air from the system will be easier. Once I see the larger pictures I, or one of the other members, can tell you more about draining and refilling.
 
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Old 02-26-13, 03:51 PM
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That 'click click' sound would indicate to me that there was certainly a problem with the valve.

Another thing I should mention is that I put in a new "Nest" thermostat in the LR just a week earlier ... it seemed like an easy install however the LR was cold before the stat was replaced.
So I'm going to guess that it was a pre-existing condition then? and that you changed the thermostat because you suspected that might be the problem?

From what my tired old fart eyes can see, there are no shutoff valves on any of the pipes ABOVE the zone valves, is that correct?

As Furd mentioned, filling the system will be MUCH easier because of the drains and valves on the return lines.

You are CERTAIN that you have the 'old style' valves that require the conversion kit? You know this because there are FOUR screws holding the power head onto the valve body?
 
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Old 02-26-13, 03:55 PM
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When you do the work in the Spring, I am going to suggest that you also maintain a few other items, such as the expansion tank, and possibly replace the pressure/temp gauge...

You said:

I noticed that the tempature/pressure gage on the boiler had the following readings: 140 degrees, 20 psi. I did adjust the tempature control on the boiler back and forth a few times, then set it back to 180 degrees (this is where it was at at the beginning). After that I noticed the tempature guage on the boiler did change to read 180 degrees/ 20 psi ...
Have you ever seen ANY movement of the pressure gauge?

There should have been a pressure difference between 140 and 180 ...

This leads me to believe that your gauge is toasted...

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

I would also like you to read this one:

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...sion-tank.html
 
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Old 02-27-13, 01:00 PM
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Boiler drain & refill

Hi again and thanks for staying with me.
1. Offered as an explanation for the question about the necessity of getting a conversion kit for the new powerhead. I purchased a new powerhead already and eventually was forced to actually READ the instructions ... they indicate the following ... "the 40003916(the unit I purchased) is a replacement powerhead for the v4043, v4044, v8043 and v8044. The powerhead on my furnace is model v8034f. "The powerhead (new unit) is for use with the new styly valve bodies (series 6) or old style valve bodies (series 1 - 5) that have been converted to accept this powerhead. The new style valve bodies are identified with a sideways 6 on the powerhead .... my powerhead(s) have a sideways 4. It goes on to say "if using an old style valve, the valve must be converted using part number 40003918 (which I have on order). The it goes on to indicate the old valve bodies have 4 screws to remove the powerhead and the new valve bodies have 2 screws (which my new valve body has. Armed with this information I have concluded that I will ned the conversion kits to be able to install the new powerhead ... that sound about right?


2. Should have mentioned earlier that the powerheads (new & old) have a lever on the bottom that can be pushed from open/manual to the opsite end labeled auto. I believe the the valve is a "normally closed" unit that requires the stat to provide power to open the valve. The correctly operating valves will return to the "auto" position if they are pushed to the "open/manual" position. Looks like a couple of springs on the powerhead return the valve to the "auto" position. The lever on the bad powerhead my system moves freely to any position and stays where it is left ... feels "bad" compared to the other powerheads.


After a steep learning curve (at least for me) I figured out how to pst pictures to "Photobucket" The url is mot39999's Library | Photobucket ... I've posted 17 pictures there, hope they will be of some help to you folks - let me know.

3. To answer a couple recent inquiries. The only movement on the pressure guage that I have noticed is it jumps up a little when the boiled kicks on and back down when it shuts down (not sure if thats a result of the circulating motor or what?)


4. My logic for the tempature guage ( increasing from 140 degrees to 180 degrees) is that when I ran the tempature setting on the boiler up then down a few times it cleared some dirt or dust that may have been on the contacts, after that it seems to maintain the correct tempature. We have noticed a definate increase in the tempature of our home ... before I did this we almost could not get our home at a comfortable setting.


5. I did receive & read your suggestions for maintenance on the system when I working on (draining & refilling) I'll think about that to see if I think I have the necessary skills to make it happen. Just what does the "pressure" indicate ... water pressure on the system .... air pressure in the pressure takn - or what? Because the boiler tempature and pressure guage are plugged into the boiler I'm assuling it's a water pressure in the boiler??


6. To my knowledge I have never had any water coming out of the pressure relief valve (the end of the pipe that is near the floor). Couple years ago a had a repair person at my home ... he decided the gaskets at the couplings above & below the circulation motor needed replacing (and I believe they did) The next morning after he had replaced the gaskets we heard a god awful sound coming from our furnace - lots of steam under some pressure .... turns out that he had accidently put the circulation pump back on "upside down!" don't know what kind of problems that caused but after he put it back in the correct position things seemed to work OK. I do not remember if that is what caused the "rust" on the metal on top of the boiler or something else.


Again thanks for all your help, I certainly appreciate your help ... so far I have learned a lot about hot water heating systems and need to learn a lot more!

Tom Glendenning
 
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Old 02-27-13, 04:01 PM
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1. Offered as an explanation for the question about the necessity of getting a conversion kit for the new powerhead. ... The it goes on to indicate the old valve bodies have 4 screws to remove the powerhead and the new valve bodies have 2 screws (which my new valve body has. Armed with this information I have concluded that I will need the conversion kits to be able to install the new powerhead ... that sound about right?
Yes... sort of... before concluding anything though, I would remove the covers on the old valves and actually LOOK. Or have you done that already? Your valves don't appear to be old enough to be 'old style', but they do deserve a visual confirmation before you order the parts and start draining the system.

2. Should have mentioned earlier ...The lever on the bad powerhead my system moves freely to any position and stays where it is left ... feels "bad" compared to the other powerheads.
If any of the valves are 'open', the lever will move freely. If the 'bad' one's thermostat had been calling for heat at that time, it won't be a good indicator of a bad power head. If the thermostat is NOT calling for heat, and the lever still moves freely, it indicates that particular valve is stuck open.

Yes, they are normally closed, spring return valves.

3. The only movement on the pressure guage that I have noticed is it jumps up a little when the boiled kicks on and back down when it shuts down (not sure if thats a result of the circulating motor or what?)
I question the gauges integrity.

5. ... to see if I think I have the necessary skills to make it happen.... Just what does the "pressure" indicate ... water pressure on the system .... air pressure in the pressure tank - or what? Because the boiler temperature and pressure gauge are plugged into the boiler I'm assuming it's a water pressure in the boiler??
I think you probably have the skills, they aren't difficult tasks, but only you know your own skill set.

The boiler gauge indicates the water pressure inside the boiler and system, not the air charge in the tank...

After seeing your pictures however, I realize that you have a slightly different type of expansion tank called a FILL-TROL and the function of these is quite different than a 'standard' tank. The procedure for charging the air in these is DIFFERENT than a standard tank. With the Fill-Trol system, the air charge in the tank IS directly related to the water pressure in the boiler.

What is quite puzzling about your system is the fact that you ALSO have a 'pressure reducing valve' installed in the line. You only need one or the other... either a FILL-TROL setup, or a 'pressure reducing valve... not both. I won't hazard a guess as to why there are both.

6. ...the gaskets at the couplings above & below the circulation motor needed replacing (and I believe they did) ... I do not remember if that is what caused the "rust" on the metal on top of the boiler or something else.
I was going to mention that the gaskets appeared to be leaking at the pump, but from what you are saying I presume that those marks must be 'legacy' remnants of previous leakage?

I'm a bit curious about the rust on top... It appears that there may be some new parts... was the flue pipe replaced recently? If so, for what reason?

There is an air vent to the left that looks somewhat newer... replaced recently?
 
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Old 02-28-13, 02:55 PM
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Draining and re-filling a baseboard hot water system

Thanks again for the replies.
1. To answer your question as to if my powerheads are the new or old style units ... I have checked and they do have 4 screws holding them onto the "valve body" and my understanding is that installing the new style powerhead will require a "conversion kit" The conversion kit comes with 4 screws to put the valve back on the valve body and 2 are screws that have a threaded hole in the top that will be used to mount the new powerhead. The old powerheads have a sideways 4 on the label indicating they are a "series 4" style and the new powerhead has a sideways 6 indicating a series 6 which according to the included instruction require a conversion kit ... so I think we're on the right track here ...

2. As far as the temp/pressure gauge on the boiler is concerned I will try to find a replacement for that guage when the weather improves and I am able to start the repair. Thanks for the info

3. Regarding your question/statement about the pressure reducing valve ( I am assuming you are referring to the green colored valve installed on the incoming water supply line ... it is a Taco with 329 marking on it?) AND the Fill-Trol expansion tank ... I am not knowledgeable enough to hazard a guess either. The taco valve has a "fast fill" lever on it, would that be usefull when re-filling the system after I drain it?

4. Your question about the rust on top of the boiler I really don't know what caused this, however I have discovered a very small leak on one of the hose bib style fuacets on the return side .. a drip or two every 5 - 10 minutes falls on the side of the expansion tank then on to the top of the boiler ... wouldn't think this small of a drip could cause that much rust.

5. Your question about a new flue pipe ... I have owned the home for about 20 years and no change in the flue pipe since I've owned it.
You also asked about the "air vent" off to the left ... not sure what you are seeing, is it the copper looking valve that sits on top of the "pressure relief valve"? If that's the case it has not been replaced since I've owned the house either.

6. Based on our conversations, the situation the LR stat and baseboard registers could never satisify the 70 degree temp that was being called for (personal observation) until we figured out a work-around and my "gut feeling" regarding the way in which the lever on the bottom of the suspect powerhead "feels" as compared to the other 2 powerheads ... I am convinced that the suspect powerhead is broken.

Thanks again

Tom Glendenning
 
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Old 02-28-13, 03:53 PM
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1. ... so I think we're on the right track here ...
Agreed...

3. ...( I am assuming you are referring to the green colored valve installed on the incoming water supply line ... it is a Taco with 329 marking on it?) AND the Fill-Trol expansion tank ... would that be usefull when re-filling the system after I drain it?
Yes, the green Taco and the Fill-Trol...

Yes, the fast fill will be used, but with it feeding the Fill-Trol, might not be of much use really.

Here's the PDF info from Amtrol website for you to read. Explains how the system is supposed to work.

http://www.amtrol.com/media/document...l/filltrol.pdf

http://www.amtrol.com/media/document...ILLTROL_IO.pdf

The Fill-Trol system uses a SPECIAL expansion tank. Yours can't be replaced with one off the shelf from HD or Lowes.

Since the Fill-Trol itself is a 'pressure regulating (or reducing) valve', the fact that it is being fed by ANOTHER regulating valve is redundant. Perhaps there are two installed just for the redundancy... if one fails, the other will take over? Can't know, only guess!

Fact is though that even if you open the fast fill on the Taco, it won't fast fill because it is being followed by the Fill-Trol.

Read up on the Fill-Trol because when you do the work it will be important to understand it's function. Basically with the F-T system, it is the actual air pressure charge in the expansion tank itself that regulates the system pressure.

With a separate pressure valve, the valve itself regulates the pressure without regard for whatever air charge is, or is not, in the expansion tank.

4. ...I have discovered a very small leak on one of the hose bib style fuacets on the return side .. a drip or two every 5 - 10 minutes falls on the side of the expansion tank then on to the top of the boiler ... wouldn't think this small of a drip could cause that much rust.
Unless at one time it was leaking more? I did notice that myself, the one on the left, correct?

Is it dripping from it's 'mouth'? Or is it dripping from around the stem of the valve?

If leaking from around the stem it could be a very easy fix. That nut just below the handle is called a 'gland nut', or a 'packing nut'. Around the stem, beneath that nut is a flexible 'packing' material which is compressed by that gland nut. Most times simply tightening that gland nut just a WEE BIT! will stop leaks around the stem. Don't go crazy tight! It only needs to be tightened enough to stop leaking. Usually less than an eighth of a turn. Tighten it a little and wait a couple hours to see if it stops. If it slows, but doesn't stop, tighten it a bit more and wait again. This should work if it's a stem leak. On rare occasions the packing material needs to be replaced, but that's also a fairly easy job and doesn't require draining the system. You WILL have to drop the system pressure to zero though.

So, go ahead and try tightening that gland nut if it's a stem leak and if it stops, cross it off your list.

If it's leaking from the 'mouth', you can simply get a brass hose cap and screw it on tight...

I think at some point, something must have been dripping a LOT, because you can see streaking down the side of the boiler also.

5. You also asked about the "air vent" off to the left ... not sure what you are seeing, is it the copper looking valve that sits on top of the "pressure relief valve"? If that's the case it has not been replaced since I've owned the house either.
Yes, copper/brass... that is an automatic float type air vent. There is another on top of the 'air scoop' to which the expansion tank is mounted. Those devices have 'floats' inside them that drop and open the small valve on top when they fill up with air that has been collected from the system. The caps on top of them are normally supposed to be about a half turn or so LOOSE so that the air can escape.

They often leak water... and owners will usually just tighten the caps and forget about them. But of course they won't work to let the air out in that case.

Check yours. Loosen the caps. If they leak water, plan on replacing them when you do the valves.

Perhaps one of them was leaking at one time and that's where the rust came from?

6. Based on our conversations ... I am convinced that the suspect powerhead is broken.
Me too.
 
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