PSI gradually creeps over 30 over a period of 2 - 3 days - overhead 15 gal expan

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Old 03-19-13, 04:37 AM
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PSI gradually creeps over 30 over a period of 2 - 3 days - overhead 15 gal expan

Good morning. I am working on the daughters baseboard heating furnace. After having replaced the pump(Taco pump with 3 settings, low, med, high and have set on med) and the aquastat(Honeywell L8148a), I now have everything functioning/running properly. I initially added water to the system until I was at 10 PSI on Saturday. Sunday it read 15. Monday morning it read 25. Monday evening it had gone to 35 and the pressure relief valve kicked in. From reading other threads, it seems that the 15 gal overhead expansion tank is responsible for keeping PSI at a level amount. One thing I read said it should have been completely drained when I drained the system before. I do not believe I drained it completely. I instructed my daughter to shut down the thermostat and go back to the space heaters until I can get there to drain the system again, and, this time , make sure I completely drain the expansion tank. Not having dealt with a baseboard heatiing system before, i am wondering if I am on the right track and if there is anything else besides the expansion tank that could be affecting the rise of the PSIs. Thanks in advance for any info.
 
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Old 03-19-13, 04:41 AM
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Drain that expansion tank, that should fix the issue
 
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Old 03-19-13, 05:27 AM
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If it's a 'slow creep' in pressure, I might be more inclined to believe that the 'pressure reducing valve' is leaking through. This is the 'regulator' that is in the line from the domestic water to the boiler that fills the boiler to a preset minimum (usually 12-15 PSI) pressure.

One easy way to test this would be to fill the boiler to the minimum (12 PSI) and then CLOSE the manual valve feeding the boiler water. Monitor the water pressure for the following days and observe if the creep has stopped. If so, replace the pressure reducing valve.

And yes, drain that expansion tank in any case.

One other question to be asked because it deals with a remote possibility as to why the pressure is increasing... does the boiler have an internal 'tankless coil' which provides domestic hot water? or is there a stand-alone water heater?
 
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Old 03-19-13, 10:53 AM
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...until I can get there to drain the system again, and, this time , make sure I completely drain the expansion tank
Most systems have an isolation (shut off) valve on the expansion tank piping, and so draining the entire system is not necessary.
 
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Old 03-19-13, 02:09 PM
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That's right .. it does and that will make thigs easier ... never occurred to me .. thanks
 
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Old 03-19-13, 02:33 PM
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I guess I don't know enough about boilers/furnaces to know if this is truly a "slow creep" .. it took 2 1/2 days to go from 10 to 35 .. to me it seems slow ... and, as I previously stated, I am very ignorant regarding this system .. when you say "then CLOSE the manual valve feeding the boiler water" I THINK you are telling me the water main on/off that I used to fill the system and bring it up to 10 PSI in the first place.. I closed that valve after getting to 10 PSI and so no more water will be added to the system .. from what I see, there is no valve or any device between the water on/off and the furnace/boiler ... some background info that might help .. my daughter moved in Dec1 and it's an old house that doesn't appear to have had routine basics done to anything for quite awhile .. I am a computer geek of 30 years and just learned recently about the boiler portion of baseboard heat .. I have a 70 year old friend that has had baseboard heat for 50 years and he has been walking me through diagnosing/replacing over the phone ... not the best system but workable ... from what he has said, it seems this is a very barebones configuration with nothing like automatic fill valves ( whatever those are) or anything else.. if I can get the system through 8 more weeks I plan on doing some overhauling this summer before my daughter needs it again .. I will double check the system for the "pressure reducing valve" when I go back tomorrow ... I appreciate you taking the time to help .. will let you know what i find .. thanks a million
 
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Old 03-19-13, 02:49 PM
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I closed that valve after getting to 10 PSI and so no more water will be added to the system ..
What type of valve? If its old it may not be holding..... May just be the valve if there is nothing else but a shut off.

from what he has said, it seems this is a very barebones configuration with nothing like automatic fill valves



Nothing that looks like this? Fill valve/ pressure reducing valve....







 
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Old 03-19-13, 04:59 PM
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it took 2 1/2 days to go from 10 to 35 .. to me it seems slow
I would call that slow too.

One other question to be asked because it deals with a remote possibility as to why the pressure is increasing... does the boiler have an internal 'tankless coil' which provides domestic hot water? or is there a stand-alone water heater?
Need to know the answer to this as well... just in case this remote possibility turns out to be true.

I THINK you are telling me the water main on/off that I used to fill the system and bring it up to 10 PSI in the first place..
Yes. Mike noted that this valve may in fact be leaking through. Just like a dripping faucet. Ever so slowly feeding more water into the boiler.

Not every boiler has a 'pressure reducing valve'. Many are built without them. As long as the owner understands that he must monitor the system pressure. Even WITH the pressure reducing valve, an owner should know enough to monitor the system pressure.

Sadly, most people never look at their system until something goes wrong. What starts as a minor repair ends up as a 'no heat' call on Sunday, Christmas Eve, during the blizzard of the century, at 3 AM.

Kudos for being pro-active and taking an interest in your daughter's heating system! Yer a good Dad!
 
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Old 03-20-13, 02:36 PM
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no, I know for certain I've never seen anything like that down there
 
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Old 03-20-13, 02:39 PM
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"What type of valve? If its old it may not be holding..... May just be the valve if there is nothing else but a shut of"

it's a standard straight handle ballcock on/off valve .. seems about the only thing that they had replaced in the last 10 years
 
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Old 03-20-13, 02:49 PM
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"One other question to be asked because it deals with a remote possibility as to why the pressure is increasing... does the boiler have an internal 'tankless coil' which provides domestic hot water? or is there a stand-alone water heater?
Need to know the answer to this as well... just in case this remote possibility turns out to be true."

um .. I don't know ... it is a natural gas burner furnace with a tank(?) inside the metal rectangular furnace box (approximately 3'H x3'd x 18"w)... oh, there is a stand alone water heater, yes .. the furnace is in the center(sort of) of the basement with 1 inch copper going up and eventually splitting to the front and the back of the house , which then come around and feed back to a single center return line, back to the pump/furnace ....from what I read, this was to have warmer water going to the entire house all at once, rather than cooling by the time it finished circulating around the end of the house ... I am heading over there when the wife gets back and I'll get the brand name and model, just in case that will help, especially in the future .. thanks again for everything
 
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Old 03-26-13, 08:16 AM
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maybe I'm missing something

so Wednesday went and drained expansion tank ... drained about 7 - 8 gallons from it ... and very muddy/dirty water too ... about as black as a pail of used oil, just not viscous... anyway, PSI dropped to 8 ... added fresh water to bring to 10 and just for giggles, opened the expansion tank drain to make sure and about a gallon of water came out .. .guess when I added water it went straight into the tank ... (by the way, it's a Crown boiler model CXE -3, stamped 2/10/1998) ... so i draiined again and did NOT add anymore water ... fired everyone up and bled air from the system as it ran .. .everything seemed great ...
Wed = 8 Thur = 10, Fri = 15, Sat = 22 and Monday morning PSi was at 27 ... so I shut it down .. talked to my friend and to an employee at Menards that I've talked to about projects on/off over quite a few years .. his opinion was there is too much air in the line causing the pressure to build so I need to do a better job of bleeding the lines .. went back last night and drained another 5 - 6 gallons from the expansion tank .. (started clear, then became muddy again as it ran down)... soon as the tank was empty, PSi read about 6-7 ... fired it up and I could hear the water pumping through the line ..opened the manual bleeder valve and it took awhile for it to start hissing and spitting, then it would stop for a few minutes and do it again .. this went on for maybe 40 minutes ... automatic bleeder was hissing consistently ... my friend said the lack of spitting/hissiing suggested I had too little water in the system and to let just a bit of water in at a time, bleeder open constantly ... I did this for about 20 minutes until the thermostat shut everything down, as upstairs had reached the 75 degrees I set it for to work on the system ... I quit for the nite with 7 PSI ... so I am hoping someone could give me a brief outline of how a baseboard system SHOULD work and what causes pressure to increase in a closed system .. .also, how can the water get dirty in an expansion tank .. Iassumed the water should be just as clear as from a faucet ... is this wrong thinking on my part? will be going back to continue bleeding when I'm done babysitting grandkids so appreciate any info anyone has time to impart .. thanks
 
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Old 03-26-13, 09:17 AM
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Can't read through the whole thing at the moment, but a couple quick comments are in order:

First, perhaps we should have explained that in normal operation the expansion tank will be about half or so full of water. The top half of the tank will be air.

The point in draining the tank is to get ALL the water out in order that when the valve is turned back on you still have an adequate 'cushion' of air at the top of the tank in order to control the pressure swing from hot to cold.

The thing to remember when draining the tank is that the 'drinking straw analogy' applies. While draining a 'vacuum' will build up in the tank and the flow may stop when there is still lots of water inside. You need to 'break' that vacuum in order to completely drain the tank.

his opinion was there is too much air in the line causing the pressure to build
No... absolutely not. Completely wrong.

Excess air in the system will NEVER cause an over pressure problem.

You have a leaking feed valve on your boiler.

Since you do not heat domestic water with the boiler, the ONLY way that the pressure can creep up is if that valve is leaking through.

Keep going in circles if you want... but that valve is leaking.
 
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Old 03-26-13, 10:12 AM
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how can the water get dirty in an expansion tank .. Iassumed the water should be just as clear as from a faucet
Water in heating system gets that way... ferrous materials 'shed' some 'stuff' over time. Oxidization is what causes it... rust.

OLD NASTY STINKY water is what you want to leave in the system.

For corrosion to occur you need three things, ferrous material, water, and OXYGEN.

In a short time of operation in a heating system the OXYGEN is forced out of the water and the water then becomes inert. No more corrosion can occur without oxygen present.

It is for this reason that when servicing any hydronic system one must strive to replace as little water as possible. There is no advantage to having 'clean' water in the system.

Of course, if ya gotta, ya gotta in some cases, but for the most part leave the old water in the system and if it's dirty, don't worry about it.
 
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Old 03-28-13, 12:50 PM
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I do not want to keep going in circles .. I have plenty of "fun" projects I'd rather be doing ... it is my ignorance of how it's supposed to work that keeps messing me up, but I think I understand now what you are saying ... I would appreciate a logic check here ... I originally emptied the line to install isolation valves and the new pump ... I added water until it was at 10 PSI .. the ONLY thing that brought my pressure up was adding the water .. therefore, the only thing that can be making the pressure rise is water leaking in from somewhere and since the only way water can get in is through that valve, the valve has to be leaking a bit ... am I finally understanding? .. I looked at the valve and it's not such that I can cut out and replace on mmy own so have a plumber coming to give me an estimate ... hopefully it's one I can afford ... thanks very much for taking your time to help get me on the straight path ... will let you know what happens ...
 
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Old 03-28-13, 01:05 PM
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since the only way water can get in is through that valve, the valve has to be leaking a bit ...
If the valve you are referring to is the pressure reducing valve, a.k.a. automatic fill valve, then Yes - it needs to be replaced. Photos would help us confirm that. There has to be a union somewhere that would allow you to replace the valve. If not, use a sawzall to cut a section out of the supply line, and add a union and two small nipples to replace the cutout section.

It would be unusual if there weren't a manual isolation valve ahead of the pressure reducing valve - which you could shut and wait until cold weather is over. If there isn't such a valve, you need one - a ball valve. We need to see photos to help you. Or, otherwise, just call a plumber.
 
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Old 03-28-13, 02:32 PM
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Gil, as I recall, there is no pressure reducing valve on this system, just a single manual fill valve.

the only thing that can be making the pressure rise is water leaking in from somewhere and since the only way water can get in is through that valve, the valve has to be leaking a bit ...
Duke, you passed your sanity check! That is 100% correct.

I too would not mind seeing some pictures if that is possible.
 
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Old 03-28-13, 03:32 PM
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as I recall, there is no pressure reducing valve on this system, just a single manual fill valve.
OK, I would replace the manual valve and add a pressure reducing valve.
 
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Old 03-28-13, 04:11 PM
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Yup... me too.

An ALL BRONZE pressure reducing valve, not one of the cast iron ones. (B&G FB-38 comes to mind)


image courtesy johnstonesupply.com

AND a Watts 9D backflow preventer.


image courtesy pexsupply.com

With a manual shutoff (BALL VALVES) on both sides of the components so as to easily service them when the time comes.



Me personally would also install a WYE STRAINER to catch the 'big chunks' and a HOSE BIBB to periodically flush the pipe leading to the boiler.

 
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Old 03-30-13, 09:52 AM
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ok, went over this morning and drained the expansion tank ( furnace was at 27 PSI), got down to 7 PSI ran furnace and added water to 8 PSI, bled system and took pictures .. can't meet plumber until Tuesday morning and based on the last few weeks, I shouldn't have to worry about the PSI again until Tues or Wed... I have the pics on my PC so how do I get them to you?
 
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Old 03-30-13, 12:56 PM
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I have the pics on my PC so how do I get them to you?
Upload them to one of the free image hosting sites, such as Image Shack, and post the link here.
 
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Old 03-30-13, 02:05 PM
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ok .. let's see if I got this right ..

ImageShack® - Register

let me know if it works
 
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Old 03-30-13, 02:23 PM
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Asking for a 'login' Duke... is the album set for public viewing?
 
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Old 03-30-13, 03:18 PM
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You linked us to the page to set up a new account for posting OUR pix. (When I logged in, I got to MY pix, not YOURS.) You need to set up an account for YOU and post YOUR pix there, and then paste here the direct link to your pix.

Or, if you can't figure out the image hosting site, upload your pix directly to this forum using the attachments button.
 
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Old 03-31-13, 07:03 AM
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well crap .. seems I did just the quick upload now have to wait to create a password, blah, blah blah .. tried it through here and it says upload error ... should point out I was a HARDWARE computer geek, not software ..will come back soon
 
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Old 03-31-13, 07:55 AM
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Duke, try Photo and image hosting, free photo galleries, photo editing ... fairly painless... free account.
 
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Old 03-31-13, 08:14 AM
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if this link doesn't work, I'll try that ... Happy Easter

ImageShack® - smtrusten
 
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Old 03-31-13, 08:34 AM
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You got it Duke! Happy Easter!

What valve is this in the first (or is it the last) pic? What is that white stuff?



If I hadda guess, I'd say that there's a leak under that crud.

From what I can see, there already IS a ball valve in the line feeding the water to the boiler. While it's not unheard of for a ball valve to leak, it certainly IS unusual.



Also in this pic there can be seen water stains on the wall and what appears to be a wet 'anthill' in the dirt below, and this appears to be coming from the leak on the right side of the air separator (which is inappropriate for a system with a conventional expansion tank such as this system has.



That green stuff on the pipe indicates leakage.
 

Last edited by NJT; 03-31-13 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 03-31-13, 08:56 AM
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Look at the first photo - with the boiler to the left and the water meter to the right. There are two valves shown - the one with a yellow handle shows that it is in the shut position. Check the valve with a red handwheel, and tell us if it is open or shut.

Which valve are you using to add water to the boiler?

My "guess" is that the valve with the red handwheel is open and maybe the ball valve with the yellow handle is leaking through?

But first, how do you know there is an air cushion inside the expansion tank? My hunch is that the tank is waterlogged. Is there a drain valve on one end of the tank? The correct procedure is to shut the valve in the line from the tank, open the tank drain, and open the petcock on the bottom of the red Airtrol tank fitting that is at the bottom of the tank. When the Airtrol tank fitting starts to suck air (correction - when the Airtrol stops sucking air), restore the valve lineup and add water for 15 psi in the system.

I see numerous unions conveniently placed throughout your system that would allow replacing valves or adding a pressure reducing valve if need be (but not yet). I seem to recall you saying that there was no way to remove valves.
 

Last edited by gilmorrie; 03-31-13 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 03-31-13, 10:38 AM
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air separator (which is inappropriate for a system with a conventional expansion tank such as this system has
Right, the air separator needs to be removed, for sure. If my "hunch" is correct that the expansion tank has lost its air cushion, the air separator could have caused that.

Also, the line toward the red Airtrol fitting at the bottom of the tank should be sloped upwards, toward the tank, so that air has a chance to return to the tank. I can't tell for sure, but that line appears to be level.
 
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Old 03-31-13, 11:25 AM
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the air separator needs to be removed
Or, alternately, an appropriately sized bladder expansion tank hung from the the bottom of it... with appropriate support straps to the structure above, and...

AFTER the leak is repaired.

BUT, none of this explains the slow creep up in pressure... I don't think...

IF air were being removed from the system, AND the feed valve was closed 100%, THEN the system pressure would DECREASE slowly.
 
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Old 03-31-13, 02:48 PM
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BUT, none of this explains the slow creep up in pressure...
Yeah, OK, maybe so. But if the theory is that the ball valve is leaking through, then also shut the globe valve just upstream of the ball valve, and see if that stops the increasing pressure.

Which raises a question in my mind - why was the newer ball valve added in series with the old globe valve? Maybe the globe valve was leaking first? Before getting too carried away, I would replace the ball valve and see if that corrects the problem. And, at the same time, add a pressure reducing valve.

As to why the ball valve would be leaking through, think about this: that ball valve has been used, for who knows how long, for filling (and perhaps flushing) the boiler. Throttling might have damaged the seals.
 
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Old 03-31-13, 04:29 PM
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As to why the ball valve would be leaking through
Usually high heat... If the gate valve was leaking when the guy soldered the ball valve on he probably cooked the seal....

Just my opinion.....


That whole system is a mess. Looks like LP....
 
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Old 03-31-13, 04:36 PM
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old globe valve?
Looks more like a gate to me...

why the ball valve would be leaking through
Possibly damage by overheating during installation too. Some of the solder joints which are visible appear to be a bit, well, not done so well. (I'm being careful here, don't want to insult anyone!)

By the way... as an aside... there's a 'bonding jumper wire' across the water meter that appears to be held in place with worm drive hose clamps. Maybe where y'all are that's OK with your inspectors, but I can tell you that it wouldn't be passed anyplace here in Joisey that I'm aware of.

The correct UL listed and code accepted clamp looks like this:



There should also be similar across the hot and cold pipes from and to the water heater.

The wire used shall be 6 gauge.
 
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Old 03-31-13, 05:29 PM
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when the guy soldered the ball valve on he probably cooked the seal....
Makes sense to me - a little MAPP gas could do it pretty quickly. I hadn't thought of that - 95% of my connections are threaded steel, not sweated - otherwise, with my soldering skill, I'd have melted the seals on the ball valves I have.

I just looked at my gas hot-water heater installed by a union plumber. He used NPT-to-female copper sweat fittings on the threaded ball valves for the water heater. That's probably the best approach rather than using ball valves with integral sweat connections.
 
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Old 03-31-13, 05:37 PM
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there's a 'bonding jumper wire across the water meter that appears to be held in place with worm drive hose clamps. Maybe where y'all are that's OK with your inspectors
In our town, there are no codes and no inspectors. But I agree, that hose-clamp arrangement is unacceptable.

The purpose of the required bonding jumpers is to avoid unexpected voltages when the water meter or the water heater is pulled out.
 
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Old 04-01-13, 06:42 AM
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I am using the yellow to add water to the system ... remember my daughter just moved inn last dec1 .. I believe the old handwheeel was /if leaking and they paid to have the bare minimum done to fix the issue ... since I can add water by opening the yellow handle I am working on the assumption that the handwheel is rotted in the open position ( hence the slow leak and anthill under it) ... "air cushion in expansion tank" .... when I drained it I let it go for over an hour .. it was making "water cooler" gurgling noises intermittantly and I waited an extra 30 minutes or so until no noises came from it I have opened the petcock to verify no water comes out ... I know what the petcock is because origanally i called a heating contractor to come out and give me an estimate .. I had been told $140 for the visit and I would be given an estimate of the total to completely fix it .. what I got was an estimate for $500 to add an isolation valve and repair the hole in the exhaust vent and THEN he could give me an estimate of what was actually wrong ... and that's when I started repairing myself .. however, the guy told me that if the petcock is opened and water comes out, the system is "waterlogged" .. so that's what I got for $140 ... "no way to remove valves" .. I I believe what I meant is that the yellow handled valve for adding water is too close to the wall ( as far as cutting out to replace with the tools I have) and I'm not comfortable trying it .. also, with the old valve still in place and galvanizd on the other side going to the meter, I decided I would rather see if I can afford a real plumber to just remove that junk and put in a new ballcock....
 
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Old 04-01-13, 07:03 AM
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I did a lot of typing and then the site said I wasn't logged in anymore .. so if this is posted twice, i apologize .. starting from NJtrooper bottom comment .. yes, that is green and from what I can tell it is an automatic bleeder .. before I figured out the pump wasn't working the heat/steam/ water spray coming out of it was excessive .. now it just hisses occassionally as air escapes .... "wet anthill" ... yep, it sure is .. and yes that old valve has a slow drip ... the yellow handle is what I use to add water to the system.. also, that section is what I am hoping the plumber will replace .... "right side of the air separator" ... I have no idea what you are seeing or what an air separator is so i guess a little more help would be great here .... "leak under the crud" ... yes there was .. this is a shutoff/isolation valve with a bleeder I put in on the return pipe .. this pipe goes another 4 feet, then 90 degrees down to the top of the pump .. my sweat job sucked and every attempt to correct my job got worse so I bought a fiberglass patch kit that DOES work to get things through until the summer ... and, yes, I had to do this to 2 others of my sweat jobs ..bright side is I did 7 correctly ... though you can't tell from the pics, it isn't easy working down there .. if you have seen "Fellowship of the Ring" and remember Gandolf trying to stand erect in the hobbits house it will give you an idea of the height of the ceiling ... what my goal right now is, is to get the pressure stabilized, hopefully with a new shutoff, and get through the next 6 weeks ... the furnace is working beautifully with the new pump and aquastat ... so if I get the shutoff done now, I want to revamp the system later this summer.. replace thta expansion tank with the hanging one and put in appropriate automatic valves, etc where needed ( based on info I hope to get from you gentlemen here) ...
 
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Old 04-01-13, 07:07 AM
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"why was the newer ball valve added in series" ... I do not know .. I assume the previous owners did it themselves or had someone come in and do the cheapest job they could .. best theory I have
 
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Old 04-01-13, 07:14 AM
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"don't want to insult anybody" .. feel free.. as I said, not being a plumber I was quite happy 7 of my 10 sweat jobs were perfect .. and seeing what someone else did down there previously, I don't feel bad about my shortcomings .. yes, there are a lot of things that need to be corrected/tweaked ... but that's part of buying an old house and if it had all been perfect, my daughter wouldn't have afforded to buy it .. so I appreciate all info on what I will be should/need to do by next winter ...
 
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