Thermostats not triggering boiler and main circulator pump

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Old 12-01-13, 07:30 AM
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Question Thermostats not triggering boiler and main circulator pump

Hi, I have a 3 zone Slant Fin Liberty L-30-P boiler system. It has a Becket AFG burner, and a honeywell ignition box. My problem is that each zone has a thermostat, but only one thermostat will trigger the burner and main circulator pump. The thermostat wires are the simple double wires.


Each zone has it's own transformer. Zone 1's thermostat runs to zone 1 transformer/relay that splits to the burner/ignitor, zone 1 pump, and the main circulator pump. So this zone runs fine.


Zone 2's thermostat runs to zone 2 transformer then to zone 2 pump only. It will not trigger the the burner or main circulator pump. So if zone 2 thermostat is calling for heat, it will only turn on zone 2 circulator pump and circulate cold water unless zone 1's thermostat happens to be calling for heat at the same time.


Zone 3 has it's own transformer and runs the same as zone 2.


Is there any way to wire zone 2+3's thermostats to trigger the burner and main circulator pump?
 
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Old 12-01-13, 08:09 AM
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Hi dvaut,

I am a little confused by your description, perhaps it's because of the terminology you are using...

The items which you are calling 'transformers'... are those silver boxes on the piping? Do they look like this?


image courtesy pexsupply.com

If so, those are ZONE VALVES, not 'transformers'.

If I'm mistaken and you are actually using relay boxes, please tell us what the make and model of those are.

Another question I have is:

You said:

zone 1 pump, and the main circulator pump.
Sounds like you have what is called a 'primary/secondary' piping scheme if you have a "main pump" and then individual pumps for each zone.

Is it possible to post some pictures of the system piping so we can be sure we're on the same page?
 
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Old 12-01-13, 09:25 AM
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Sorry for the confusion.

I don't think they are zone valves. Here is what they look like with the covers off. Just to make it easier each one is different.

Zone 1
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Zones 2 + 3
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Zone pumps with what I guess are the relays of Zones 1 + 2 at the top right.
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Zone 1 relay: Honeywell Triple Aquastat Relay Type L8124A, C

Zone 2 relay: Honeywell Type RA89A 1074

Zone 3 Relay: Dayton 9038E10 ANF 90


So zone 1 relay connects to 120V power source, a thermostat, a zone pump, the burner and the main circulator pump.

Zone 2 relay only connects 120V power source, a thermostat, and it's zone pump.

Zone 3 relay only connects 120V power source, a thermostat, and it's zone pump.


Zones 2 and 3 are not connected to the burner or the main circulator pump.
Is there a way that I can connect them so that I can run zones 2 or 3 independently from zone 1.
 
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Old 12-01-13, 09:42 AM
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Sorry for the confusion.
No problem! Just like to make sure we're all talking about the same thing.

Wow, that's an old home, isn't it! I'm going with 1909... do you know when it was built? I do see evidence of 'powder post beetle' or 'termite' damage to that main girder that the relays are mounted on by the way...

a zone pump, the burner and the main circulator pump.
I see only three pumps, but what you are implying is that there is a fourth pump. Can we see that please? Maybe get a lamp nearby for a little bit more light in the pictures? I need to know how the system is piped in addition to the wiring... they work together.

I need to study the wiring a bit more before making suggestions as to possible re-wiring.
 
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Old 12-01-13, 09:53 AM
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D,
Yes you can and should run each zone as you described. Unfortunately it looks as though the wrong relays were installed and not designed to do what you want.

My suggestion would be to replace those 2 relays with a TACO SR503-4 relay

SR503-4 - Taco SR503-4 - 3 Zone Switching Relay

You would bring all your wiring from all 3 zones into this one relay and just bring your t-stat wire to your aquastat and each t-stat would run a pump and the burner independently.
 

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Old 12-01-13, 10:29 AM
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We still need to clear up the question as to why you are mentioning zone pumps AND a 'main pump'.

The 503 might be a fit solution, but we need to know this answer first.
 
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Old 12-01-13, 10:46 AM
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NJ,

I recently bought this 1890 house and have been doing other things like insulating before working on the boiler. Upon further inspection the fourth pump is on a line that used to run to a hot water heater, but is now valved off. I don't know why I thought it was a main circulator valve. However the zone 1 Aquastat Relay is connected to it? The Floor joices above are rotted as you noticed, but what is difficult to see from the photo is that there are new joices sistered in on the opposing side. Here is a side view of the boiler from here you can see the brown taco pump that pumps to nowhere.

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I don't understand, the sellers told me it was a brand new boiler system, just kidding.



spott,

This makes sense, I checked out the relay that you were talking about and it looks like what I need. So am I right by saying that all three thermostats will be wired to the TACO SR503-4 relay, then another low voltage wire will run from that relay to the aquastat? This makes sense.

I am guessing that the current arrangement has been in operation for almost 30 yrs. Guess no one questioned why the other zones never worked right.
 

Last edited by dvaut; 12-01-13 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 12-01-13, 10:56 AM
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Trooper, I may be misreading this but what I see he is saying is, the main pump that came with the boiler and is hooked up to C1 & C2 runs normally.
Then someone came in and added 2 more zones with relays and pumps.
I believe he is saying he has a total of 3 zones but only 1 operates the burner on a call for heat. The other 2 hooked up to their respective relays only turn on the pumps and have never been wired properly to turn on the boiler.

In effect only zone 1 runs properly. On a call for heat from either one of the other zones only the pump operates so it's only pumping cold water through the zones unless he turns on zone 1 to reheat the water.
 
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Old 12-01-13, 11:08 AM
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That brown pump as you called it is actually a bronze pump and is connected to your tankless heater which is telling me you may have had an aqua booster tank at one time. That's a storage tank for domestic hot water.
You say it's valved off now. How are you getting your hot water now. Did they put in a seperate tank?
 
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Old 12-01-13, 11:19 AM
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Either that or the previous owners were mixing hot water into the old electric water heater. There is also an old return line from this location. Now I have a new electric water heater. The pump is an old TACO 006-BT4-1. The other three active zone pumps are 007- F5 pumps. Here is a picture of them.

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I know this boiler is nearing the end of it's life cycle but I am hoping to get a couple more years out of it. I appreciate both of you helping me out.
 
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Old 12-01-13, 12:19 PM
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Guess no one questioned why the other zones never worked right.
I think when folks don't know, they don't know... as they say, "Ignorance is Bliss!"

the fourth pump is on a line that used to run to a hot water heater, but is now valved off.
"Valved off" as in closed valves, cut pipes and capped? Where do the pipes go?

You say water heater is now stand-alone electric and not connected to those pipes in any way?

If there are plumbing 'dead ends', pipes that are still connected to the domestic plumbing but no water ever flowing through them, well, those dead ends are dandy places for water-borne 'thingys' to grow and breed. If this were mine, I would spend some quality time with a tubing cutter and a torch getting rid of any dead ends.

From what I'm seeing in the pics, I even question if the boiler was ever piped properly.

At least one of the three zone pumps is pumping DOWN, so I think it's at least safe to assume that all three are pumping down, which is as it should be... the pipe into the bottom of the boiler is the cool return from the system radiators (and I presume that an 1890's home would have cast iron standing radiators, correct me if I'm wrong).

The HOT SUPPLY out of the boiler is always going to be at the top, but I'm not sure that I see any piping coming off the top of the boiler that appears to be the hot SUPPLY to the radiators.

I DO see a larger size pipe coming into the bottom of the boiler from the opposite side as the pumped returns, what is connected to that pipe? Can you show us the other side?

In the picture with the brown pump front and center, there is what appears to be a large pipe coming out the top of the boiler. That would seem to me to be the hot supply OUT of the boiler. Does that even go anywhere? Or is it just a nipple with a cap on it? Can you show us?

There is an 'automatic air vent' (AAV) on a pipe that comes out the top of the boiler... brass can with small cap on top. It looks as if that thing has been leaking for years and years and is possibly what caused all that rust on top of the boiler. Is that cap on top now tight? I know if it is and you open it, it will leak. That device has a 'float' inside and when working properly that cap on top is kept loose so the air that it collects can be 'relieved'.

BUT......... I haven't yet seen your expansion tank and suspect that the pipe that comes off the pipe with the air vent on it goes up to a large steel tank in the ceiling.
 
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Old 12-01-13, 12:26 PM
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Sometimes the server this dang DIY.COM is running on really pizzes me off... just lost half my reply...

A system with a steel expansion tank should not have any AAV's on it. The air that comes out of the water in the system is supposed to be directed BACK TO THAT TANK where it belongs, NOT vented out to the atmosphere.

What happens in time is that the air cushion that is supposed to be in the top of that tank is depleted, the tank becomes waterlogged and the system pressure rises above 30 PSI when the boiler is heated... resulting in the RELIEF VALVE (also on top of the boiler with a pipe over the side and down) opening up and spewing steamy water all over the place.

So, for now, if the cap is closed, keep it closed, if open, CLOSE IT.

Let's get back to the brown pump... if it does in fact still run, and you are absolutely certain that it serves no purpose, TURN THE POWER OFF TO THE BOILER! and remove the cover on the pump. Disconnect the wires and put wire nuts on them so they can't short out. You could also completely remove the wire from the aquastat to the pump if you wish.

more...
 
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Old 12-01-13, 12:44 PM
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The Floor joices above are rotted as you noticed, but what is difficult to see from the photo is that there are new joices sistered in on the opposing side
I can see the sistered joists... I hope they are treated against infestation, or you will soon have the same trouble...

I know this boiler is nearing the end of it's life cycle but I am hoping to get a couple more years out of it
I wish you luck!

Here's what I'm recommending you do, aside from any reconfiguring of the wiring to get all zones to call the boiler...

No number) If you find that the pipe mentioned previously that appears to come from the other side of the boiler is actually coming from the bottom and is being used as the hot supply to the radiators, then I wouldn't bother doing anything other than getting a sawzall out and replacing the whole boiler sooner rather than later. If it has been working like that for thirty years, I have no idea how.

If I'm wrong about that, continue:

1. Verify that the pressure gauge is working properly. See:

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

2. COMPLETELY drain the expansion tank. Hopefully you have a shut off valve on the pipe from the boiler to the tank and the drain valve on the tank is functional. When the water stops flowing, the tank is NOT EMPTY yet... you will need to find a way to break the suction that forms and prevents the tank from draining completely... more about this in the future if you do decide to undertake...

3. REPLACE the PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE.

4. Have a COMPETENT oil burner tech (that's becoming somewhat of an oxymoron these days, good luck finding one!) tune up the burner and clean out (meaning brush and vacuum) the combustion chamber and heat exchanger. This tune up should include: new nozzle; adjust electrodes; change pump screen and oil filters; check draft in chimney and adjust to spec; oil the burner motor; clean blower wheel and air inlet on the burner and adjust burner to specs using INSTRUMENTS, NOT 'by eye'; plus whatever else I'm forgetting.

In other words, all this stuff should be done BEFORE you start dropping coins on rewiring a system that may be beyond repair already.
 
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Old 12-01-13, 12:50 PM
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Ya know what? I just took another look at the pictures... and see that the pipe coming off the top turns to the right into a cast iron AIR SCOOP with ANOTHER automatic air vent on top.

I still would like to know where that large pipe on the left side is going... it's purpose and connection, but for now it appears that the installers at least knew enough to pipe the supply off the top of the boiler.

Here's the thing though... you see that plug in the tapping on the air scoop to the right of the AAV? THAT is where the expansion tank SHOULD HAVE BEEN piped to. In this way the air that it collects can go back to the tank. The piping should be 3/4" all the way to the tank and have an UPWARD SLOPE in any horizontal sections so the air can go UP to the tank.
 
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Old 12-01-13, 02:06 PM
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Alright, the pipe I said was "valved off" have a shut ball valve and then the pipes are open on the other end, not capped off. All three zone pumps are pumping down into the return manifold. The large Pipe going into the bottom of the boiler actually comes from the supply. It comes from the cast air scoop. Near the floor it has a cold domestic water line that fills the boiler. Off of this 1.5" line are the supply side of the 3 heating lines. see below

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Also if you look closely you will notice the line coming out of the bottom of the air scoop which is to the expansion tank, though not 3/4". I think that is how you thought it should be but it probably was not clear from the pictures.

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I already took the top and side off of this and completely cleaned and vacuumed out the pin style heat exchanger. Probably a few gallons of scale, ash and soot. I also replaced the jet and fuel oil filter. I know I should get a professional to check the combustion but we just spent $5,500 on a new wood stove so pennies are short. Probably should have spent that on a new boiler. In the mean time if I could get the three zones working correctly that would be great since the one zone that controls the demand for heat is the same one with my new wood stove. Also I would think that a relay that could control all the zones to my current boiler this winter probably could be reused in a new system? And just for the icing on the cake I added a picture of the home made wood boiler the previous owners used for a couple of years, until they had numerous chimney fires.

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I'm not sure if I have amused you or scared you.
 
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Old 12-01-13, 02:59 PM
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I'm not sure if I have amused you or scared you.
Definitely amused! I don't scare easily! ... well... unless I see a boiler with portholes covered in Asbestos in someone's living space! (sorry Dali!)

But yeah, I AM a little freaked out about the homemade wood boiler.

Let's explore this a bit, shall we?

Is that homemade boiler vented into the same flue as the oil boiler? After "numerous" chimney fires and in a home of this age, it would be EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to have that chimney THOROUGHLY INSPECTED with a snake camera for any damage. In fact, forget the camera inspection, just have the flues LINED with INSULATED METAL FLUE LINER if you haven't already. I know, I'm spending too much of your money... but it's a REAL safety concern.

more...
 
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Old 12-01-13, 03:10 PM
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The large Pipe going into the bottom of the boiler actually comes from the supply
GREAT! That's a 'boiler bypass line' and it serves to protect the boiler by diverting some of the return flow AROUND the boiler. Less flow through the boiler means a higher average temperature in the boiler, and less flue gas condensation inside the boiler.

It looks like that wood boiler has a 'water jacket' around it. Was it piped in parallel with the oil boiler at one time do ya think? And when it was disconnected the piping was connected together to form that bypass loop?
 
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Old 12-01-13, 03:14 PM
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D,
I must respectfully disagree with Trooper on this, not that the boiler hasn't seen better days.
Your original problem was zone control and post #5 will solve your problem.

As far as expansion tanks go that pipe coming off the air scoop is going to your expansion tank.
That is a bladder type tank and does not get drained. It is just a large extol tank and you should leave that vent on the air scoop operational. If it isn't working you should replace it.

You are correct in saying that even when you do get a new boiler you will still need that TACO RELAY to operate your 3 zones properly.

You might even want to get a 4 zone to have an extra in case when you get your new boiler you might want to put an indirect hot water heater in instead of the electric.
Just a thought for a few dollars now instead of more later.

The good thing about this forum are the different views.
This is only mine, this is what I would do.
Good Luck,
 
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Old 12-01-13, 03:14 PM
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I also replaced the jet and fuel oil filter
Are you aware that there's also a 'strainer screen' under the side cover of the oil pump?

Where is your fuel tank located?

Are there one, or two pipes from the burner to the tank?
 
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Old 12-01-13, 03:17 PM
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I must respectfully disagree with Trooper on this
Which point Spott? About the Sawzall? Keep reading, I retracted that statement when I noticed that there was in fact a supply pipe coming off the top of the boiler... I only said that when I thought it was piped all wrong.
 
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Old 12-01-13, 03:22 PM
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Also if you look closely you will notice the line coming out of the bottom of the air scoop which is to the expansion tank, though not 3/4". I think that is how you thought it should be but it probably was not clear from the pictures.
If it were a steel tank in the ceiling, it would be correct for that type of tank to pipe from the TOP of the air scoop and would require 3/4" pipe.

OK... so you do NOT have a steel tank in the ceiling (or is there ALSO a tank in the ceiling?, I still see another small pipe going up in one of the pictures).

As Spott has said that is a bladder or diaphragm type. I highly recommend the following reading for servicing that tank as I guarantee that it low on air charge:

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

What is the make/model of that tank? I don't recognize the label.
 
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Old 12-01-13, 03:42 PM
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Also I would think that a relay that could control all the zones to my current boiler this winter probably could be reused in a new system?
Yes, absolutely, and as Spott has also said it is a good idea to go with the extra channel for the couple extra bucks. Always good to have room for expansion!

By the way... you appear to have TWO relief valves on that system. One on top of the boiler, the other on the pipe from the air scoop to the expansion tank. Fine with me, the more the merrier!

So, to recap:

To get all zones calling the boiler, install an SR-504 panel. All thermostats and pumps will wire to that panel. You will move the pump that is wired to the 8124 8148 control and leave C1 and C2 on that OPEN, no connection. You will wire the 'endswitch on the 504 to the T and T terminals of the 8124 8148 (low voltage).

Check and charge the expansion tank.

Verify boiler gauge accuracy.

Disconnect the brown pump wiring.

Replace both air vents, I doubt either one is any good.

I was going to say to modify the 8124 control to operate as 'cold start', but then I looked closer and the control that is installed is NOT an 8124 triple aquastat. The COVER might be from an 8124, but what is installed appears to be an 8148A which is ALREADY cold start. So someone has already swapped the aquastat and for some reason stuck the original cover on it.

I would also replace the relief valve on the top of the boiler if it appears to be more than 5 years old. The other one on the 1/2" pipe to the tank is redundant, and being on a 1/2" pipe is not going to do the job anyway. Relief valves should always be on at LEAST 3/4" pipe in order to move the amount of water that they need to in an emergency.

Replace the strainer screen in the oil pump on the side of the burner, ESPECIALLY if the oil filter was all full of sludge when you changed it.

Anything else? Maybe... Spott? you got anything further?
 
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Old 12-01-13, 03:52 PM
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By the way... one more question:

Is the water feed for this boiler MANUAL ONLY? A hand valve to bring in the water? or is there an automatic fill valve?

OK, one more point I forgot...

Cut out any 'dead ends' in the potable domestic piping that resulted from disconnection of the 'thankless' coil in the boiler.

Yet one more thing...

In this picture:



That pressure gauge is reading some pressure. How much pressure is indicated? It appears to be connected to the potable piping. Why is it reading if that system is 'valved off' ? Is it possible that the OTHER side of the coil is NOT valved off and it's reading the potable system pressure?

Again, dead ends, NOT GOOD! Make ya sick ya know?
 
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Old 12-01-13, 04:06 PM
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No, Trooper I think you covered about everything. D, if you can get all that done you and that boiler will be around for a comfortable and hopefully trouble free winter.
Good Luck,
 
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