Limited heat being produced


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Old 11-27-13, 10:44 AM
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Limited heat being produced

Hi,

I purchased a house that had installed a Chromalox electric water furnace. As the temperature dipped, we had to turn it on. We feel heat coming from the baseboards and the pipes are warm, but not warm enough to combat the coldness.

I am using a Nest thermostat and I can see that on some days, the furnace worked for more than 16 hours a day. Once the weather gets really cold, It will most likely work 24/7.

I purged the air out of the radiators and baseboards. Only 2 emitted air, the others were quiet.

In the pictures below, you will see that one heating element is not properly wired, but the other 3 seem to be ok.

From reading other threads, I understand that I cannot trust the pressure indicator on the furnace. I will try to build one as instructed by NJ Trooper in another thread.

The temperature never goes above 110 on the indicator.

Besides plugging in the other heating element, could there be something else wrong?

Thanks.

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  #2  
Old 11-27-13, 10:53 AM
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You may actually have burned out elements... or a contactor... or 'sequencer'...

The pressure in the boiler should not prevent the water from getting hot.
 
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Old 11-27-13, 10:56 AM
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That's possible. In order to verify this, I could use a continuity tester to see if electricity is reaching these components right?
 
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Old 11-27-13, 11:21 AM
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To test the elements, you should turn off all power to the boiler.

Remove one wire from an element and measure OHMS of the element. If memory serves, you should see somewhere around 12 - 13 ohms on a 5000W 240V element.

If they are OPEN... then the element is bad.
 
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Old 11-27-13, 03:48 PM
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One more thing I just remembered: when I purged the radiators, no water came out. All the videos that I saw online showed how first air comes out followed by water. I did not have water coming out of any of mine.
 
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Old 11-27-13, 03:59 PM
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when I purged the radiators, no water came out. All the videos that I saw online showed how first air comes out followed by water. I did not have water coming out of any of mine.
Oh.... that is NOT GOOD! and ESPECIALLY NOT GOOD with an electric boiler!

If by some chance the water is low in electric boiler, and the system calls for heat, the heating elements can burn out in a matter of a minute because they overheat without water around them.

I don't know if your system is THAT low on water, but it IS possible!

When you said that you had air emit from two of the radiator vents, it is possible that the air was actually being sucked INTO the system.

Your pressure gauge would seem to be defective.

I guess that's the first thing... verify that gauge...

Did you get a chance to check the heating elements resistance yet?
 
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Old 11-27-13, 04:31 PM
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I do believe air was being pushed out, because i did see some droplets come out, but nothing like the videos I saw online.

I have a pipe bringing water from the hot water tank (i.e. the hot water tank used when we shower, etc.) to the furnace. I am assuming new water is brought in if needed?

I did not get a chance to mesure the ohms yet, buying the tool tomorrow morning.

Would there be a way to measure the water level in my system?

BTW, really appreciate the follow up NJ Trooper. This forum would be at a lost without you!
 
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Old 11-27-13, 06:44 PM
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Also, what does this tank do? Should it contain mostly water or air or a mix of both?

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Old 11-28-13, 08:58 AM
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I have a pipe bringing water from the hot water tank (i.e. the hot water tank used when we shower, etc.) to the furnace. I am assuming new water is brought in if needed?
While not common that boiler fill water comes from the home domestic hot water supply, it is done from time to time for whatever reason the installer thought was logical.

Water will only be brought in automatically if there is an 'automatic pressure reducing valve' in the line from the domestic to the boiler.

Can you show a picture of this filling pipe and any valves that are on it?

Would there be a way to measure the water level in my system?
Level? No... the system should be FULL of water at all times, NO AIR. The PRESSURE in the system is what determines if water is required. There should be a minimum of 12 PSI when the system is COLD. It will be higher when the system is HOT, perhaps 10 PSI higher...

The pressure in the boiler should not prevent the water from getting hot.
I said this earlier, but may in fact not be quite true. SOME boilers, both electric and fossil fuel, may have pressure switches installed that will prevent boiler turning on in the event of low pressure. This is more likely with an electric boiler.

what does this tank do? Should it contain mostly water or air or a mix of both?
That is an "Expansion Tank" (more accurately a "Compression Tank", but both terms mean essentially the same thing). It's purpose is to control the system pressure as the water is heated. Water expands when it gets hot. This expanded water needs a place to go.

Water can not be compressed, but air can. That tank should be approximately half full of water, half full of air. When the water is heated and expands, the air in the tank will be compressed as the expanded water enters the tank.

Is there a drain valve at the other end of the tank?
 
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Old 11-28-13, 10:25 AM
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Hi,

I measured the ohms and the heating elements all seem to work. However, some of the other components seem to not work. As I am above my comfort level here, I booked an appointment with an electrician to help me replace these parts.

As for the expansion tank, there is a valve and did empty some of the water content from it. As there are not indicators, it is difficult to see how much water there is inside.

I made a mistake: the furnace is hooked up to the city water line, not the hot water heater.

I can post pictures of these valves this evening.

Next thing I want to figure out is why no water comes out of the radiators when I open the bleeding valve.
 
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Old 11-28-13, 11:22 AM
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there is a valve and did empty some of the water content from it. As there are not indicators, it is difficult to see how much water there is inside.
You should COMPLETELY empty that tank.

In order to do so, it sometimes is not a simple matter because as the water drains it will create a vacuum, or suction, inside the tank which will not allow all the water to drain. Some will drain and then it will stop.

Think of a drinking straw in a drink. If you put a finger over the straw and lift out of the drink, the liquid will stay in the straw. The same thing is happening with the tank when you drain it.

CLOSE THE RED VALVE ON THE PIPE GOING INTO THE TANK BEFORE DRAINING. You only want to drain the tank, not the rest of the system.

If you use a hose for draining from the drain valve, use the SHORTEST, and LARGEST DIAMETER hose that you have. You do NOT have to TIGHTEN the hose on the drain, you WANT AIR to be sucked in as you are draining.

When the water stops draining, close the drain valve and remove the hose. Put a bucket under the drain valve and open it again. With luck, the tank will take a 'gulp' of air and water will start flowing again.

Sometimes it is necessary to FORCE some air back into the tank, either by BLOWING INTO THE END OF THE HOSE ( which I DON'T RECOMMEND due to the risk of getting a face or mouthful of nasty bacteria water, but is POSSIBLE if you are VERY CAREFUL!) or by the use of a small air compressor with some way rigged up to push air into the tank.

In any way you proceed, the tank must be EMPTY of water, and FULL of air.

CLOSE the drain valve and OPEN the red valve leading to the boiler.

If you had pressure in the system, the tank would refill approximately 1/2 way with water and compress the air at the top of the tank... this is what you want.
 
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Old 11-28-13, 11:26 AM
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I want to figure out is why no water comes out of the radiators when I open the bleeding valve
This would be because you do not have enough pressure in the system to lift the water as far as the radiators.

I have little doubt that your gauge may be 'stuck' at the position it is in and is not accurate.

Have you ever seen the pressure gauge change?
 
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Old 11-28-13, 01:27 PM
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Have you ever seen the pressure gauge change?
Yes: when off, it is around 2 psi. When furnace is working, it moves to around 10 psi at most.

2 things: the indicator could be wrong or that is the real pressure inside my system. If the pressure is too low, what is possible to do?
 
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Old 11-28-13, 03:41 PM
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I measured the ohms and the heating elements all seem to work
What OHMS reading did you get on the elements?

2 things: the indicator could be wrong or that is the real pressure inside my system. If the pressure is too low,
Based on the fact that you say no water comes out when you open bleeders, I have to say that the pressure is too low. Logical, you think?

Not to say that the gauge is correct, it could be off too.

what is possible to do?
Can you show a picture of the filling pipe and any valves that are on it?
This is how you will get the pressure into the system.

Show us pictures of all the piping around the boiler.
 
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Old 11-28-13, 04:33 PM
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Show us pictures of all the piping around the boiler.
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Old 11-28-13, 04:53 PM
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This picture shows, from left to right, your PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE, and your PRESSURE REDUCING VALVE.



The piping from the bottom of your pressure RELIEF valve is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

One must NEVER drop what is supposed to be a 3/4" pipe size down to what appears to be a 3/8" copper tubing. The pipe connected to a relief valve must be of a large enough size to relieve pressure in a system, and QUICKLY. Dropping down to that tubing will NEVER work as it is supposed to work.

Relief valves are to be piped as straight down to the floor as possible, and to within 6" of the floor.

I doubt that your local jurisdiction inspected that boiler after it was installed, it NEVER would have passed with that connection.

Are you in the US? Maybe where you live things are different...

Speaking of relief valves, that particular valve would not pass most inspections because it is not what is called an ASME rated valve. It's better than nothing though, but with that tubing on the bottom, it is almost useless in the event of a pressure relief.

Where does the end of that tubing go?
 
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Old 11-28-13, 05:04 PM
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The pressure REDUCING valve on your system is probably not working properly. That valve is supposed to maintain a pressure of 12-15 PSI when the system is COLD. It is obviously not doing that. It is STUCK CLOSED and not feeding any water to your system.

To the right of that valve on the same pipe is a yellow handle BALL VALVE. That valve is the manual water shut off valve for the boiler, and it is shown in the OPEN position. If the handle is turned 90° to where it is perpendicular to the pipe, it would be OFF position. Just so you know what to do in the event of a leak in the heating pipes... turn that valve OFF, AFTER turning OFF the electric supply to the boiler.

That lever on the top of the pressure REDUCING valve is called a 'fast fill' lever. If you LIFT that lever it will allow you to bypass the regulator portion of the valve.

My recommendation would be to replace both of those valves and have the relief valve piped properly to the floor with 3/4" pipe. To be within 'code', you should have proper ASME rated relief valve installed.

You can TRY gently lifting the lever on top to see if you can manually feed water to increase the pressure in the system to 12 PSI when COLD, but be prepared to see the pressure continue to increase after you release the lever. It will do this if there is 'crud' built up in the valve that won't allow it to close. If this happens the pressure will continue to rise until the RELIEF valve opens.

If you notice the pressure continue to rise, CLOSE THE YELLOW BALL VALVE that feeds the water to the system.
 
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Old 11-28-13, 05:28 PM
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Where does the end of that tubing go?
It connects to a drainage pipe i.e. it makes its way to the sewer.

I live in Canada, but if you deem this wrong, that I am positive it is wrong. Thanks for all the suggestions. I will figure things out over the weekend.

Again, much appreciated and I really learned a lot from your comments.
 
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Old 11-28-13, 06:01 PM
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If you pipe to the floor, there is no reason that a bucket can not be placed under the pipe to catch any drippings... of which there should be none anyway!

Good thing you have got that cheap Hydro up there! We would not be able to afford to run that boiler down here from the cost of electricity.

Keep us posted how you are doing with your project!

Au Revoir for now...
 
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Old 12-04-13, 10:55 AM
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Hi,

Just wanted to bring conclusion to this: the electrician came and replaced the contactors. All 4 heating elements are now working and plenty of heat is being produced.

Next step is to remove the water from the expansion tank.

Thanks again for all your help, much appreciated!
 
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Old 12-04-13, 03:40 PM
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Voilŕ de bonnes nouvelles de Jean!

Next step is to remove the water from the expansion tank.
And repipe the pressure relief valve...

Keep in touch on the progress!
 
 

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