Newbie: question about gas boiler maintenance/ problem.

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Old 10-31-13, 05:37 AM
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Newbie: question about gas boiler maintenance/ problem.

Hi, I just bought a house built in 1964.
It was designed and built by the owner who was an electrician and a plumber who also owned an electrical and plumbing supply store.
That being said he was meticulous about his home and the pride he took with the build and care really shows but he died years ago and the house was rented out and things were neglected.

First I would like to know what all is involved in a general yearly servicing of a gas/steam water boiler system with upstairs and downstairs zones?
The guy they sent was very nice but not very familiar with my system but was knowledgeable on large industrial boilers he said.
Did not oil my pump, did not check my air bladder tank, did not clean anything under the panels of the unit, just checked operation and an issue I was having with the upstairs zone not shutting off when t-stat turned down.

He installed a new T-stat because the other was the original....still not shutting down for upstairs after temp reached.
It was clear to me that the zone valve was stuck in the open position but worked if I turned the manual over ride screw to open/ closed.

My steam pressure is 12 and my water pressure is 20 with a water temp of 180-200 deg normally.

Looks like I need a new zone valve because its not working automatically.

Now here's the problem.....these old zone valves I have are no longer in production so I will need to upgrade.
I was thinking of upgrading both with newer, faster and more reliable valve controls.
I need suggestions on what with work.

Stand by for pics of my set up.....note pics will be with boiler turned off and cool since Im not currently running it.....thanks.
Yes my good valve for the downstairs is seeping a bit.
 

Last edited by Johnzan; 10-31-13 at 06:21 AM.
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Old 10-31-13, 06:04 AM
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Okay..here are pics of my entire system...please feel free to critique and give any suggestions.
The service tech told me that my gauge is piped backwards and that the steam pressure reads 12 and the water pressure reads 20....they are reversed as far as the color codes of the dials go...should be red/red, black/ black, but they're swapped so he tells me.....make any sense?

I will post 4 pics at a time and I really need suggestions on what upgradeable zone control valves to get.
The one I have pictured is an identical " used" one that was boxed up and saved.....I don't know Whay they would keep it if its faulty but I don't want to chance it.



t



 
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Old 10-31-13, 06:07 AM
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Old 10-31-13, 06:10 AM
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Some seepage.


Exp tank.





 
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Old 10-31-13, 06:14 AM
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Old controller on the shelf.....two of them in fact were on the shelf.
 
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Old 10-31-13, 06:24 AM
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I know current code would call for a double walled vent but so far so good and yes I have a digital c/o detector on the wall near the unit and also one upstairs.
 
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Old 10-31-13, 06:55 AM
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Hi John,

You can stop talking about STEAM. There is no steam in this system, it is strictly HOT WATER. If you got the idea that it was a steam system by the nomenclature on the data plate, that simply means that the boiler COULD be use for a steam system if fitted with the proper 'trim'.

The service tech told me that my gauge is piped backwards and that the steam pressure reads 12 and the water pressure reads 20....they are reversed as far as the color codes of the dials go...should be red/red, black/ black, but they're swapped so he tells me.....make any sense?
No, no sense at all... I have absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

I know current code would call for a double walled vent
How come? Typically this is only true if the vent pipe is closer than 18" to combustibles per NFPA code. Is it closer? Doesn't look it.

Your safety relief valve, the brown one with the handle on top of it, and the pipe that goes UP toward the ceiling... That's all wrong. That pipe must not go UP! Can you explain why this was done? Where does that pipe go? Relief valves must always be piped DOWN so the pipe can DRAIN. Standing water in the pipe impedes the ability of the relief valve to do it's job.

I'll have more later this evening...
 
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Old 10-31-13, 07:55 AM
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If I'm reading the plate correctly, that's an oil fired boiler that's been converted to propane? Who did the conversion or was it initially installed that way back in the day. Interesting...
 
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Old 10-31-13, 10:34 AM
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By the way, Google can be your friend!

Edwards Hydronic Parts
 
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Old 10-31-13, 07:07 PM
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Okay then my tech was clueless...what I thought.

So the pressure relief is piped up and goes outside block wall and drains into the ground.
I can fix this easily.

Any ideas on replacement zone control valves?
 
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Old 10-31-13, 07:22 PM
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See previous post... click link... parts still available...

Well... I just looked again and the pic of the valve shown is SIMILAR to yours, but different enough that makes me wonder if those parts are compatible with your valves.

AND

probably expensive and may not be easy to get when you need them.

Replace with something COMMON.

Check out Honeywell V8043 series. "E" model has leadwires, "F" model has terminal strip, but otherwise the same valve.

V8043E1012 - Honeywell V8043E1012 - 3/4" Sweat Zone Valve - PexSupply.com

V8043F1036 - Honeywell V8043F1036 - 3/4" Sweat Zone Valve (Connection = Terminal Block)

It appears as if that tan box up higher is also from Edwards... and you might have to do something with that also. What's inside that box?


So the pressure relief is piped up and goes outside block wall and drains into the ground.
I can fix this easily.
Disadvantage to this is that if there is no floor drain, and it opens... well... floor gets wet. But you really don't want that like it is now. What if pipe fills with water and the end sticking through wall FREEZES... and boiler has to pee... then what? Possible KABOOM!

With proper boiler maintenance, particularly the expansion tank and fill pressure regulator, the boiler will never have to pee.
 
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Old 10-31-13, 09:46 PM
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The guy they sent was very nice but not very familiar with my system but was knowledgeable on large industrial boilers he said.
I suppose that could be me, except for the nice part, but I know far more about your system than did that "service" man.

As Trooper has already pointed out the downstream piping on the safety valve is incorrect. While I HAVE seen safety valves on hot water boilers piped up they also had a drain pipe from the valve to the floor. Those were also two-inch flanged safety valves, quite a bit larger than yours and on a boiler that had an operating temperature in excess of 300 degrees F.

The circulating pump is not connected in a manner that indicates best practice and I don't mean because it is on the return, there should have been straight nipples of at least six inch lengths on both the suction and the discharge. The make-up water supply should have been to the "point of no pressure change" (i.e the same point where the expansion tank is located) and NOT in the return manifold ahead of the zone valve. The return header is made up of a drilled and tapped black steel pipe and those tapped holes are very weak. The smoke pipe should have gone up vertically and then horizontal with a slight upward angle into the chimney while the barometric damper was installed on the vertical riser.

That boiler was definitely designed for oil firing and that is a conversion burner. I would like to see several close-up pictures of that burner from all angles. The copper tubing from the primary regulator to the burner itself looks funky to me. The line-voltage wiring looks good but the zone valve and gas burner wiring definitely leaves much to be desired in my opinion.

Those zone valves look to be a high quality unit to me. They are most likely a "three-wire" design that uses the motor to both open and close the valve, a method that in my opinion is superior to the norm these days of stalling the motor in the valve open position and using a strong spring to close the valve. You can easily test the actuators on the bench and also the valves themselves after removing the actuators. If the man that originally installed the system was as meticulous as he was in some areas of the installation he may have very well had one or two spare actuators in the remote case that one died.
 
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Old 11-07-13, 08:59 PM
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Thanks for looking the system over and giving your advice Furd and others.....I can try to get some pics of the burner this weekend.

The old man did leave two extra actuators but since I was not sure of them I decided to look up the manufacturer and purchased two new, upgraded ones with new valves as well for under $100 each for actuators and $39.00 each per valve.
The actuators look the same but the internals seem a bit more modern.

I replaced the bad one for the time being and now my upstairs zone works just fine although I am still having issues with my thermostat as it does not want to turn the heat on unless I turn it up hotter than I would like, for instance, if the room temp says 68 deg on the stat and I turn it up to 70 it does not kick on the furnace but if I turn it up to 75 then it will turn on.
Note, my new thermostat is A new old stock mercury dial type spare the P/O left.

Thinking of upgrading to digital ones and hope to have better results.

I'd like to find someone local that is as familiar with these things as some of y'all and have them go over this thing with a fine toothed comb and address the items Furd mentioned.
 
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Old 11-08-13, 06:36 AM
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if the room temp says 68 deg on the stat and I turn it up to 70 it does not kick on the furnace but if I turn it up to 75 then it will turn on.
Note, my new thermostat is A new old stock mercury dial type spare the P/O left.
Mercury thermometers must be very carefully 'leveled' for proper accuracy.
 
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Old 11-20-13, 07:46 PM
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Thanks NJ...makes sense.

Ok...latest question.

Can you guys take a look at the pics of my system and let me know what all shut off valves are my returns and which are my source valves?

I am getting some gurgling and slight vibes and knocking from time to time and feel I need to bleed some air from the system.

I've watched some videos of how to bleed the systems out but I haven't seen any set up like mine and was not sure which ones I shut off while bleeding the zones.

If any of you are handy with putting red arrows and labels on pics...please feel free to give me some pointers....pun intended.
 
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Old 11-21-13, 04:41 PM
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Have you been able to get something done with those zone valves?

I'll try to get back to give you some pointers later... unless someone else beats me to it.
 
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Old 11-25-13, 05:59 PM
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Yes, replaced the zone valve controller but did not tackle the valves yet....don't see a need to yet.

Everything working fine although it seems like Im getting more and more water gurgling and swooshing through my upstairs pipes than ever.
Don't know why.
I did not do anything that I know of to let air into the system although I did test the pressure relief valve a couple times in succession with two short bursts to seeif it was working...it was.

I really need someone to take a look at my original pics and tell me what procedure I should take to bleed the air from the system.

If more pics are needed I can get them quickly....thanks.
 

Last edited by Johnzan; 11-25-13 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 11-25-13, 07:36 PM
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Hi John, sorry I didn't get back in... usually by the time you get to post it's late by the time I see it and I can't devote the time it needs... then the next day there's a whole new crop to distract me ... but enough of my whining!

I think you should start with some basic stuff first.

Air problems are often a result of pressure problems. That said, pressure GAUGES are evil lying devices whose lot in life is to deceive...

My feeling is that you should verify that pressure gauge before you start bleeding and purging.

Read this:

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

Next, that pressure tank is about 30 years old judging by the label style... have we talked about servicing that tank yet? If not, (or even if we have) read this:

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...sion-tank.html

IMHO, there's no point in purging the system if you've got a waterlogged expansion tank, or no idea if the pressure gauge is accurate or not. FWIW, those old square gauges fare much better then the new crap they put on modern boilers, but it could still be off enough to cause problems for you.
 
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Old 11-25-13, 07:47 PM
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Thanks for checking in...much appreciated.

I did another knock and feel test on my expansion tank, only the top say 1/4 of the tank is hot with water and the bottom 3/4 is cool to the touch.
The knock test seemed heavy at the top and hollow at the bottom...I know its not a scientific test but gives me a good idea its working at least.

The valve on top of the expansion tank has no screw on cap and no schrader valve...it appears to be a hole with a solid block off in there like nothing could come out if it needed to.

I will check out those links again to refresh myself and try to test my gauge tomorrow.

Here is a video of my system running tonight and I tried to get everything possible in there.


75819ef5ee59ac95dca4042e0e9afa77_zpsdc137fdf.mp4 Video by clownzilla | Photobucket


Would love to know which valves to turn off..if I even have it plumbed right with shut off valves in the proper places.

Would also like to know which ones to turn off in case I needed to repair the system components and turn off the source.

Thanks again for taking the time to help a guy out.
 
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Old 11-25-13, 08:11 PM
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After watching that video, I'm going to tend toward saying that your gauge MAY be OK... but it still can't hurt to verify it. It could in fact be far enough off that your pressure is low and causing the air to collect at the top of the system.

In any case, I would still check the air charge in the tank, it's easy enough to do.

You DO have the correct valves to 'purge' air from the system, but if as you say that air vent doesn't seem to be doing anything, I would not recommend doing a 'power purge' for the simple reason that adding fresh water to a system ADDS AIR that will have to be removed.

Did you say that there are air bleeders on the radiators, or no?

I would much rather suggest you bleed the individual radiators to remove air than adding a bilge full of fresh water. You could easily end up in worse shape than you are now.

Can you get a close up photo of that Thrush air vent? It may be that you need to loosen that fitting on top. That's a VERY old vent!
 
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Old 11-26-13, 05:27 AM
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There are NO individual bleeders on the radiators.
I just had all the covers off to check and clean them all.

Yes.
I can get a pic of the top of the thrush vent.

Probably not a bad idea to get a new one from amazon....any suggestions?
 
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Old 11-26-13, 08:15 AM
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Probably not a bad idea to get a new one from amazon....any suggestions?
Or HD or Lowes... they usually have the "Maid-O-Mist" #67 on the shelf ... under $10 or so...

I can't see spending big bucks on what is essentially a 'throw-away' item, although the more expensive ones from Taco and others can be opened and 'cleaned'... but eventually, they get crudded up with mineral deposits anyway.

I can't see clearly the thread size on the Thrush, but the #67 is 1/8" ... that Thrush might be 1/4" ...

Keep in mind that it might not actually be bad ! Maybe just 'closed' !

PEX - Radiant Heat - Radiant Heating - Plumbing Supplies - PexSupply.com is a good on-line source.
 
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Old 11-26-13, 02:07 PM
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Ok, I blew the dust off the top and cleaned some of the scale with a flat blade driver and to me it looks like it once had a schrader valve but it appears that the plunger may have corroded and snapped off at one point.
Whattaya think of this?
http://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e5...ps3f7334ca.jpg

This don't look too good does it?

Anyways If I get a new one, Ill be like the old man and buy an extra....so far he's got one strike against him for not having a spare or two of these...LOL.

Ill probably pick up a new expansion tank as well just for safe measure, and I did not get a chance to fashion a aux gauge to verify my pressures.
 
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Old 11-26-13, 04:52 PM
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This don't look too good does it?
I dunno... kinda looks like a 'manual or automatic' valve to me.

Don't get out of your 'comfort zone', but I'm gonna say that if it were mine, I would put a wrench on the smaller of the two nuts on top and gently try to loosen.

Only a little bit! and see if air comes out. I bet it will... If not, tighten it back down and replace.

If air comes out, and then stops, and no water leaks, then leave it open for a while and see if the air in the system gets vented... might take some time, but keep an eye that the valve doesn't start spewing water!

Like I said though, not at all familiar with air vents that are older than me... MY 'air vent' is still working fine! (mostly HOT air though!)

There's no reason you can't thread a nipple into the top of that air scoop with a small BALL VALVE on top that the air vent threads into. This would make easy work of future vent changing.

If you DO replace the tank, do yourself a favor and add a couple optional bits...

Did I post a link to this 'sticky' post already?

Instructions for properly charging the expansion tank, and at the bottom details on added bits to make one's life easier when it's time to charge/replace expansion tank.

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...sion-tank.html
 
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Old 11-26-13, 08:31 PM
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Yeah I can give that a try and see of I can make that thing spit some air...hopefully no detonations will occur...LOl.

Yeah I saw the info on the quick change valves for expansion tank service/ replacement.......makes sense.

ill tell ya Im about to call a buddy of mine that is a plumber and have him work some magic on this system to make things much easier for me in case I ever run into a SHTF scenario of any kind and need to change, shut off or replace stuff easily.

Anything else you can think of to add, eliminate or upgrade Im all ears and definitely of the do it right the first time mind set and I don't mind dropping a few hundred bucks to make this system kick -A if I have to.
 
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Old 11-28-13, 08:00 AM
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Happy Thanksgiving!

Any news on venting that Thrush?

Air come out?
 
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Old 03-04-14, 07:40 PM
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Wow late reply, but no air came out that I heard but after I cracked the screw open for a few minutes it started to seep some water so I closed it.

Still have not replaced it, been working fine although my sloshing and gurgling sounds are getting worse.
 
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