Similar problem ( air in hot water loop)

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Old 11-26-13, 06:02 PM
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Similar problem ( air in hot water loop)

Hi....first post here, so let me know if I should start a new thread.

I have a similar problem with noisy slant fin baseboard heaters.


http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...radiation.html


Specifically, the noise sounds like random tapping from the pipes that are in the walls/floors. I do not have the pinging sound from rubbing fins, etc. I have a tapping/knocking sound that isn't steady or constant. Happens all the time upon boiler start-up and several minutes into each cycle (as the pipes expand).

I'm pretty sure there's air trapped in the system but I don't have any experience with this type of heating as our previous residences were all GFA heat. We just moved into this house this summer and this is our first cold season and the noise is a major PITA at 2am, 3am, 4am...well just about any time actually. It happens all day long, but is much more obvious when all is quiet at night.

I've done a bunch of interwebs research, so I have a basic understanding of the theory behind the system, but where should I start eliminating possibilities? Expansion tank test first?

Oh...should I start a new thread first?
 
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Old 11-26-13, 06:07 PM
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Moved to own thread,,,,,,,,,,,
 
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Old 11-26-13, 06:29 PM
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Thank you.

Rewind to early October when we first switched the heat on. Turns out there was almost NO water in the system. Figured this out right away. The main water feed valve was turned off. Turned on water to fill the system which was previously reading almost ZERO on the pressure gauge when cold. The reducing valve seems to work fine. We have around 12PSI when cold and around 20PSI when hot. There seems to be good pressure, but the noise is crazy at times.

I suspect that my expansion tank may not be working correctly as it sounds like a dull “thud” when I tap on it everywhere….suggesting that it is full of water?? It’s also mounted horizontally. Is this correct?



Also, despite all the hours I have spent in that stinkin utility room, I have not ever heard the spirovent release any air.



I attempted to “bleed” (I use the term lightly as I think I did it wrong) the system by closing the valve near the boiler and opening the drain valve until new (cold) water started to exit. I did this separately for each zone. Then I read that new water comes with its own gasses and air that eventually turns into noisy bubbles in the system. So good news is that I have fresh water in the system. Bad news is the noise is just as bad…maybe even worse now.

There are no bleeder valves on any baseboard heater anywhere in the house on either level. We have a bungalow with a finished basement and slant fin radiators on most external walls. The basement and main level have their own thermostats (zones).

The baseboard pipes disappear into the floor on the main level and into the walls in the basement level. Both levels make noise, but the main living area is loudest at the front of the house and the rear of the house and surprisingly quiet in the middle.
 
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Old 11-26-13, 06:33 PM
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What you describe sounds like expansion of the copper pipe in holes that are too small through wood framing. Kind of like a mini-earthquake, the pipe 'sticks' to the wood and begins expanding. Once the pipe expands enough to overcome the friction, BANG! It moves and can be loud enough in some cases to make it sound like a brick hit the house.

I'm pretty sure there's air trapped in the system
You may, but this won't cause the expansion noises you seem to be describing.

You would hear the 'gushing', 'swooshing', 'indigestion' sounds if you had air in the system.

where should I start eliminating possibilities? Expansion tank test first?
Expansion tank won't help with the pipe expansion, even though they have the same name...

Of course it's never wrong to check the expansion tank, there's a 'sticky' at the top of the forum that has instructions, step by step, on how to properly recharge a bladder type tank (if that's what you have).

If the noises are inside the walls, there isn't a heck of a lot you can do about it, short of opening the walls up... you don't want to do that.

What CAN sometimes help a bit is what we call "OutDoor Reset" (ODR) because for the greater part of the heating season the boiler water won't be getting as hot, and thus the expansion isn't as great.

What is the make/model of the boiler?
 
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Old 11-26-13, 06:38 PM
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I suspect that my expansion tank may not be working correctly as it sounds like a dull “thud” when I tap on it everywhere….suggesting that it is full of water?? It’s also mounted horizontally. Is this correct?
I don't put much stock in the 'tap test'.

Here's the 'sticky' I mentioned:

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

We have around 12PSI when cold and around 20PSI when hot.
This suggests that you still have SOME capacity in the expansion tank. If it was completely waterlogged you would have pressure relief spewing.

But yeah, check it... and charge it...

Horizontal is not really correct, but it will still work that way... tank might not last as long though.
 
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Old 11-26-13, 06:46 PM
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Weil Mclain cg-5-pidn

 
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Old 11-26-13, 06:56 PM
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On the main level I have dismantled all the baseboards and cleaned and straightened all the bent fins and made sure that the plastic retaining clips were properly placed over the metal brackets -- most were not in the proper positions. The prior occupants were dog owners and I'm pretty sure I vacuumed a couple dogs worth of hair out of the fins not to mention coins, pencils, crayons, dog food, etc., from underneath. The pinging sound has gone away after that fun little exercise. My allergies kicked into high gear earlier this week though.

Anyway, I did notice that in a couple spots where the pipe disappears into the floor, there was not the required spacing so that the pipe moves freely for expansion. So you're saying THIS is what I'm hearing. Great.

Does the pipe expand lengthwise or outwards? What sort of play should I be looking for in these holes in the floors? In our hallway, the pipe moves very freely up and down and back and forth to some extent. In the living room (noisy room) there is one spot where the pipe will not move at all.
 
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Old 11-26-13, 07:01 PM
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Does the pipe expand lengthwise or outwards?
Lengthwise, axial. SOME radial, but not enough to cause the problem you are having.

What sort of play should I be looking for in these holes in the floors?
Say at least 1/4" all around the pipe... so what's that, 1-1/4" hole for a 3/4" pipe?

Wherever you can, cut strips of plastic milk bottle and slide into tight spots.
 
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Old 11-26-13, 07:13 PM
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Wherever you can, cut strips of plastic milk bottle and slide into tight spots.
So at the point that the pipe turns 90-degrees and disappears into the floor, if the pipe is snug in the hole, I should jam some plastic milk bottle shims around the pipe?
 
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Old 11-26-13, 07:16 PM
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Is this expansion noise something that can be seen in real time? For instance, if I locate a snug pipe and pump up the heat, will I literally see the pipe expand and jostle around?
 
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Old 11-26-13, 08:06 PM
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if the pipe is snug in the hole, I should jam some plastic milk bottle shims around the pipe?
It would of course be better if you could find a way to open the hole... danger of puncturing the pipe with this approach is of course very real.

If the hole is that tight, the plastic shims might do more harm than good...

will I literally see the pipe expand and jostle around?
Doubtful... but ya might...
 
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Old 11-26-13, 08:51 PM
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Thanks so much for the tips so far. I work nights, so I'll try the milk bottle shims tomorrow. I'll also take some pics of the snug pipes. Perhaps when I was inspecting them, they were in the expanded position -- I don't know. It just dawned on me that they very well might have already been expanded while I was cleaning/realigning the fins. I kept the heat on as normal while I was working and it has been rather cold in Chicago this week so the boiler been doing a bit of double time.

I looked up the ODR control and that's a possible route, but it sure doesn't look cheap and it's unlikely that I would DIY that project. I like that over the long haul it would pay for itself however. For a 2-zone system without DHW, what sort of price would I be facing from a plumber? Any idea?
 
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Old 11-26-13, 09:11 PM
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ooked up the ODR control and that's a possible route, but it sure doesn't look cheap and it's unlikely that I would DIY that project. I like that over the long haul it would pay for itself however. For a 2-zone system without DHW, what sort of price would I be facing from a plumber? Any idea?
Lets first ask what are the temps of the boiler? Possibly your aquastat is screwy and your getting higher then normal temps,,,

Forget ODR... You can lower and raise the temp manually.... If you have too much radiation you can lower it and set it and forget it IMO.........
 
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Old 11-26-13, 09:25 PM
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Lets first ask what are the temps of the boiler? Possibly your aquastat is screwy and your getting higher then normal temps,,,
I've been fixated on the pressure since I refilled the system. I just called my son who sent a pic just after the boiler cycled, so this is a "hot" reading. This seems a bit high to me, but I bet the boiler is cycling a lot more at night than during the day when I am actually home to monitor it. Any cause for concern here?


 
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Old 11-26-13, 09:31 PM
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Deleted -

I answered my own dumb question.
 

Last edited by BryanK; 11-27-13 at 12:22 AM.
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Old 11-27-13, 12:14 AM
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Got home and did a couple experiments.

1) Plastic milk container shims around a snug pipe. Did I do it right? This particular pipe moves up and down but it doesn't have much play, side to side. I stuck a few shims around. Just to be clear, I don't hear noise right at this point, but there is noise in that room and it feels like it's in the floor.





For comparison, here's an element in the hallway that does seem to have the proper cutout. I do not notice any noise in the hallway.



2) I pumped up the thermostat to 73 degrees and monitored the pressure and the temperature. Guess what? Eventually the temp went all the way up to 220F and the boiler shut off at that point. The air temperature at the thermostat was still around 71, so I assume the boiler shutting down at 220 is a safety measure, correct? We don't want boiling water in the pipes. THIS must be a real problem. Would this be related to a faulty aquastat?



The temperature BEFORE I toggled the thermostat up was around 110.

 
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Old 11-27-13, 12:20 AM
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I don't know if this will help, but here's a low quality phone video of the boiler. Notice the water leakage from the pressure release valve pipe. I noticed this happening the last couple weeks -- just a small area under the pipe is wet like a slow leak.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WASOHiPjpXI Also here's a closeup pic of the pressure valve pipe and the leakage:



Here's the photobucket album with all my pictures thus far.

Boiler Photos by bkeane1259 | Photobucket

Please let me know how to proceed. Many thanks!!

Bryan
 
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Old 11-27-13, 04:47 AM
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You need to lower the temp in the aquastat. Boilers way too hot.

Set it to kick off at 170F is good to start. That should be plenty hot to heat the home.

The relief valve may need to be changed but I bet lowering the temp will stop it from leaking.......
 
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Old 11-27-13, 09:34 AM
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You need to lower the temp in the aquastat. Boilers way too hot.

Set it to kick off at 170F is good to start.
Small problem. I've not been able to locate that device. Do you see it in the pictures anywhere?

I'll look again. I'm looking for something that has 110v lines attached to it, yes?

Is it part of the Taco circulator thinggy?

 
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Old 11-27-13, 10:06 AM
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WOW....what a total noob I am.

The aquastat is behind the front service panel. Pretty obvious too when you look in there.





And yeah - it was set to 210 degrees?!?



Soooooooooooooooooooo....I notched it down to 190. I'll monitor the noises at the new temperature setting.



As I'm typing this, I'm still hearing knocking. It was horrible last night...HORRIBLE. I think the outside temperature didn't get much past 20 degrees and right now it's 26, so the boiler is cycling a lot right now.

I think I have the correct understanding with the aquastat -- If I lower the max temperature, then the pipes will not expand as much and therefore less noise??
 
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Old 11-27-13, 10:49 AM
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I notched it down to 190
Go back to 170.

If I lower the max temperature, then the pipes will not expand as much and therefore less noise??
In theory, yes...
 
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Old 11-27-13, 02:26 PM
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OK...got it. Thanks.

On to more potential problems.......

I'm pretty sure I have a problem with the spirovent air elimination valve.

I know I have trapped air in the system as I can hear water gushing in a couple places, especially in the utility closet. I have spent a good deal of time futzing around in the utility room and at no time have I seen/heard the spirovent evacuate any air. If the unit discharges air I should hear it, correct?

The release valve looks calcified....is that possible?

 
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Old 11-27-13, 02:41 PM
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If the unit discharges air I should hear it, correct?
Well... I'll say MAYBE. Fact is that it might only be letting out silent gas passage in very small amounts... when you aren't there... and even if you were there, you might not hear it.

This isn't to say that it IS working, but your not hearing it isn't saying that it's NOT working either.

For it to catch and release air, that air has to go through the device. The air you are hearing might not actually be travelling through the entire system and passing through the SpiroVent at all.
 
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Old 11-27-13, 02:51 PM
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Based on the multiple pictures I see of your pressure gauge, I have ZERO confidence in it's accuracy.

1. appx 195° appx 24 PSI

2. appx 215° appx 12 PSI

3. appx 112° appx 16 PSI

These figures are totally inconsistent with physics.

The pressure should be LOWEST at the COOLEST temps, and vice versa, HIGHEST at the HIGHEST temps.

closeup pic of the pressure valve pipe and the leakage
The fact that you have relief valve leakage could have something to do with the fact that physical laws appear to be broken.

The rule only holds true with all other things equal, specifically the amount of water in the system. If the boiler got HOT and spewed some water, of course the pressure would be lower...

But still, you need to get to a 'known state' ... so,

FIRST, I always recommend VERIFYING THE PRESSURE GAUGE accuracy, read:

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...ure-gauge.html
 
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Old 11-27-13, 02:52 PM
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Earlier today I took apart the rec room baseboard heaters to vacuum and straighten the fins and realign any misplaced plastic retaining clips. I noticed two places where the pipe goes into the wall (external wall - below grade) where there was a steady flow of very cold air.

I guess the house isn't insulated as well as I thought. There is insulation in the walls, but where these holes are, there is an obvious leak.

What can I do to seal the hole to stop the inrush of cold air while not messing up the required expansion space for the heating pipe?

Is silicone caulk NOT a good idea? I have rock wool and fiberglass also if that's a better solution.

 
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Old 11-27-13, 02:56 PM
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I posted the link how to check/charge the expansion tank already, and that's the next step.

I really don't like the way it's mounted at all... but it doesn't look like there's enough room to properly mount it under the SpiroVent, is there? Can't tell from the pics if you have clearance, or if it will block other components that may need servicing. It will 'work' as-is... it's just not 'kosher'.

Speaking of 'service', can you even GET TO that tank where it's mounted? Looks like it's jammed into an inaccessible 'cubby-hole' up high?

You might consider adding the optional valves that are shown at the bottom of the expansion tank thread.
 
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Old 11-27-13, 03:05 PM
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2. appx 215° appx 12 PSI
THAT particular picture was taken when the boiler shot up to 220 and then shut down. The zone valves then closed and I took the picture maybe a few minutes afterwards. Does the timing of that picture make any difference?

I have noticed exactly what you pointed out during NORMAL operation. When the boiler is off and the pipes are warm (not HOT) the pressure falls back towards 10 PSI. When the boiler is on and the zone valves are open (HOT pipes), the pressure ticks up towards 20-25 PSI.
 
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Old 11-27-13, 03:21 PM
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I posted the link how to check/charge the expansion tank already, and that's the next step.
Yes...I printed the procedure. I did check to see if water would spew out of the expansion tank schrader valve and to my joy only air came out. I will run the full pressure check on the tank after Turkey Day.

...it doesn't look like there's enough room to properly mount it under the SpiroVent, is there?
Good eyes. There is not enough room. The tank would hit the exhaust stack. On a slightly more happy note, I can access the tank fine, where it's currently mounted.

I am not too impressed with this utility closet. It is VERY small and I can only imagine how I will get totally raped if a contractor has to do any major work in there. They will for sure slap a premium on as soon as they see the work space. Crap...I would.
 
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Old 11-27-13, 06:07 PM
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OK...more questions. I'm going to build my pressure testing/verifying jig after Turkey Day and I do not have any spare plumbing parts, so I’ll be buying the supplies new.

Here’s what I have in my Amazon cart for the PSI gauge:
Winters 30 PSI Liquid Filled Pressure Gauge

I got a 6-foot washing machine hose that I will cut about 18” off of. This will make it easy to read the gauge since the only spigot I have access to is at the very bottom of the mess of boiler pipes and pointing away from me.

Now….what sort of brass fitting can I use between the hose and the PSI gauge? Will this one work?
Anderson 1/4" Barb x 1/4" NPT Male Pipe

And of course I will use a hose clamp over that.

Thanks!!
 
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Old 11-27-13, 08:02 PM
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There's no reason to have to cut the hose if you don't want or need to.

6' of hose might make it even easier to use!

You could screw the gauge right into this, and onto the end of the hose.


Anderson Metals Brass Garden Hose Fitting, Connector, 3/4" Male Hose ID x 1/4" Female Pipe: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific

I don't know the ID of the hose... so can't tell you which barb to use.

I only cut that one because it was NFG anyway.
 
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Old 11-27-13, 08:45 PM
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I only cut that one because it was NFG anyway.
LOL.

Perhaps I will wait until I get the PSI gauge before I get the fittings, but I'm a little confused about exactly what fitting (if any) is on the gauge I linked to above.

Other cheaper as well as more expensive gauges show the connector. This one does not. What up wit dat?
 
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Old 11-28-13, 08:48 AM
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Happy Thanksgiving!!

Glad we're out of here for the Holiday because the boiler noise is getting frustrating and disturbing.
 
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Old 11-28-13, 09:18 AM
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What up wit dat?
Dunno! Specs say that the gauge is 1/4" NPT. It's a 'back mount' meaning the connection is in the center of the rear rather than on the bottom of the case. That will screw into the fitting I showed, and the fitting onto the end of the washer hose.

Didn't reducing the water temperature help at all?

Perhaps I will wait until I get the PSI gauge before I get the fittings
The fitting I showed is from Amazon also... one stop shopping, free shipping over $25 ... sure you don't need something else?

Happy Thanksgiving!
 
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Old 11-28-13, 02:01 PM
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Didn't reducing the water temperature help at all?


Nah. It is just as loud and annoying as ever. In fact, I think my cleaning and straightening of the radiator fins has made things worse....or maybe my tolerance for this BS is wearing thin.

Next week I will hit this full force. For now the heat is toggled way down since we're away for the Holiday.

I need to experience this and learn about the system so I can maintain it properly going forward. Very obviously the prior home owners were not as diligent in their HVAC maintenance....THIS I can say with confidence. I do appreciate all the help and guidance.

As far as Amazon….of course I’ve got more things to add to my cart. Gonna toss my wife’s Christmas present in there too….she loves plumbing accessories!! Free shipping FTW.
 
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Old 11-28-13, 06:40 PM
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What can I do to seal the hole to stop the inrush of cold air while not messing up the required expansion space for the heating pipe?

Is silicone caulk NOT a good idea? I have rock wool and fiberglass also if that's a better solution.
Sorry I didn't see this earlier... just scrolled back and found it.

Fiberglas insulation might be the best choice... maybe open the hole a bit more in the plaster behind so easier to stuff the stuff in... you don't want fiberglas insulation compressed really. But that means air will still flow. How about getting as much insulation as you can inside the cavity around the pipe, and then use some pieces of that closed cell foam pipe insulation around the pipe itself in order to block the air flow.

I would be asking myself why there is obvious air flow around the pipe... is this an older home with tongue and groove sheathing?
 
  #36  
Old 11-28-13, 07:27 PM
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No worries.

I would be asking myself why there is obvious air flow around the pipe... is this an older home with tongue and groove sheathing?
I suspect there is some leakage around the window casings that might be eventually finding its way thru those holes. This air leak is in the basement. The house is 20 years old - brick bungalow with fully finished basement. We've been there less than 1-year so this is our first cold season. During the summer it was bone dry despite some very severe rain, so things could be much worse. I'm grateful for the apparent good condition of this place, all elese remaining equal.

I was thinking of renting a FLIR at the Home Depot to troubleshoot the air leak. However, the first order of biz is getting the heating system in good order before something bad happens.
 
  #37  
Old 12-02-13, 11:26 AM
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Tested the expansion tank today with my bicycle pump after following the sticky thread instructions. I cannot get any air into the tank at all. Also, when I depress the Schrader valve on the expansion tank, NOTHING comes out. There's no pressure in the tank at all according to the pressure gauge on the bicycle pump. I should at least be able to pump up the tank this way. I'm not using a rinky-dink air pump.

A couple other notes:

When I drained the system to get to zero pressure, I noticed that it only took about a half cup of water to drop the pressure quickly to zero. Soooooooo, I do not have much water in the system to begin with?? I guess having a constant drippy PRV is causing this?

But......when I fire up the system, the pressure rises towards 30 PSI pretty quickly now. I'm at a loss. Am I now running steam?

I'm about to throw up the white flag guys.
 
  #38  
Old 12-02-13, 03:47 PM
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I'm thinking about just swapping out the expansion tank. It's 20 years old and it's mounted horizontal which may have shortened its life anyway??

From what I can gather, it will be a fairly easy job, despite how and where it's located. I can still access the original pretty easily and I would be sticking the new one in the same place as I don't really have a choice there.

Is this a suitable replacement?

Watts 8.5 in. W x 11.5 in. D x 8.5 in. H Pre-Pressurized Steel Water Expansion Tank-DET-5 at The Home Depot

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  #39  
Old 12-02-13, 04:25 PM
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That tank is for potable water(faucet water).
You want one for heating systems.
Ex. #30 extol tank. The heating extrols are also cheaper.
 
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Old 12-02-13, 04:40 PM
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I'm about to throw up the white flag guys.
Don't do that... you can handle this!

I'm thinking about just swapping out the expansion tank
Absolutely.

I should at least be able to pump up the tank this way
Yes you should. That air valve is crudded up. If you can't get air IN, it means that you won't get any reading on a gauge because air won't come OUT either. I suspect that it's full of water.

When you change it, BE PREPARED FOR IT TO BE HEAVY! THIRTY POUNDS OR MORE! DON'T FALL OFF THE LADDER! DON'T DROP IT ON YOUR HEAD (or any other part)... or just DON'T DROP IT! HAVE A HELPER HANDY!

Use TWO WRENCHES! If you don't you will twist that fitting right off the pipe, then yer screwed.

DO NOT use more than TWO WRAPS of teflon tape when you reinstall. More is NOT better and it WILL leak later on, even MONTHS later if you use too much! Do NOT put ANY tape on the first two or three threads, you want METAL TO METAL there.

This is the type of tank you want to use:

102-1 - Amtrol 102-1 - #30 Extrol Expansion Tank (4.4 Gallon Volume)

Amtrol is not the only manufacturer... Watts and Bell & Gossett are two that you may find locally. Just make sure to get one for heating system.
 
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