Gas fired boiler is heating water, but not sending it through the pipes


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Old 12-08-13, 10:20 PM
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Gas fired boiler is heating water, but not sending the water through the pipes

My gas fired boiler is heating the water just fine and the pump is on, but it's not sending the water through the pipe. Some background on the chain of event that have brought me to this point and what I've done so far.

1. Our energy company had a gas outage and a power outage, and when the gas came back on, only one of the 2 zones was heating.
2. I noticed that under the 2 zone valves, one pipe was hot and one was cold, while above both the zone valves was hot. I assumed this meant that something was wrong with the zone valve that had the cold pipe connected to the bottom, and I had an extra valve, so I replaced it with my extra.
3. With the new zone valve on, there still was no heat in the pipe under the valve.
4. I wish I never did this part, but I attempted to take off the working zone valve to compare what it looked like behind it with the one that wasn't working, but when I did this I actually removed the plate that was holding the water back, causing water to gush out.
5. I turned off the water and re-attached the zone valve, turned the water back on, but it wasn't sealed well enough so it starting leaking.
6. I took off the zone valve again, cleaned out the groove around the seal, reattached the zone valve, turned the water back on, but this time no water was moving through the pipes.

At this point I can say that the boiler is heating up, and fires up for just a few seconds every few minutes or so, but the water never moves through the pipes to the zone valves. Also, I see both zone valves turning open when the thermostats are calling for heat.
Could the water not be moving through because of the loss of water when it was gushing/leaking out? Do I need to add more water back in? What are the troubleshooting steps I should follow at this point to determine why the water is not moving through?

Thanks so much for any advice or suggestions.
 
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Old 12-08-13, 11:51 PM
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The pressure gauge reads 2PSI, and I've read that it should be at 12. Since I lost quite a bit of water I'm guessing that this is why the pressure is so low and that I need to add water until the pressure builds back up to 12. Once it's back up to 12, will the flow control valve open? I'm going to assume that my system has a manual way to add water and that I'll need to find it and use it. I read that I need to make sure the boiler is cooled before adding the water, which makes sense. Am I on the right track here?
 
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Old 12-09-13, 10:56 AM
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I added in water and the pressure went up to about 17, so I let some out to bring it down to 15. The water that drained out was black. Should I flush out all that dirty water?
 
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Old 12-09-13, 12:05 PM
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if the circulator isn't running it is most likely going off on the controller maintaining the boiler temp within...is the circulator running ...if body is super hot to touch need new one...stat calls the circ and boiler in when first starts as long as the stat calls the circ runs..cold boiler should be 12psi and when it makes stat setpoint and circ shut off around 20psi is good ....relief there is 30 psi to blow off...if you see that off pressure over 25psi blow off the expansion tank if applicable
 
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Old 12-09-13, 02:41 PM
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Could the water not be moving through because of the loss of water when it was gushing/leaking out? Do I need to add more water back in? What are the troubleshooting steps I should follow at this point to determine why the water is not moving through?
Am I on the right track here?
Should I flush out all that dirty water?
Wow... lots of questions, but it seems as if some you've answered for yourself already.

Let's start with the newest first.

NO! Do NOT flush out the water, you will make matters worse.

In order for us to help you we will need clear well lighted pictures that we can see what valves you have to work with.
 
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Old 12-09-13, 04:01 PM
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Thanks for the reply, I had to replace the boiler drain faucet because it would not close tight enough not to leak. Of course when I took the old one out there was some draining, but I wouldn't say I flushed the system, hopefully I didn't. I will get some pictures.
 
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Old 12-09-13, 04:23 PM
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I hope you did yourself a favor and used a 1/4 turn BALL VALVE drain? You'll never have to worry about valve not closing again!

One 'trick' that can be used in future to put off having to replace leaking drain is to screw brass garden hose cap on leaking valve.

The reason not to drain is because the less water you 'change', the less problems with air when you are all through. Fresh water contains tons of dissolved 'air' and when heated will form bubbles that need removal... a PITA in many cases... there's no benefit, and in fact the opposite, to change water in a heating system. That old stinky water works just as well as fresh water. Fresh water will turn to old stinky water in a few days anyway!
 
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Old 12-09-13, 05:04 PM
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Thanks for the explanations and tips!
Nope, not doing myself any favors with this repair project.

Here's picture of where in the piping the heat had stopped:
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This is the part that I'm using to add the water in:
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This is the pump:
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This is the air purger:
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Overview of pipes and pieces coming out of boiler:
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Overview of top of boiler return piping leading into top of boiler:
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After putting in new valve drain, I tried adding water back in, but it just seems to be circulating continuously without bringing up the pressure in the boiler.
 
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Old 12-09-13, 06:35 PM
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did you confirm the circulator is running,did you bleed the air from the highest radiator or fin tube run with the unit off...let the feed regulator push the air out of the line up there
 
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Old 12-09-13, 06:53 PM
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The circulator was running before I added the water and replaced the valve drain, but I have the boiler off now until I can get the water pressure back up. Right now when I try to add water, the pressure goes up to about 5psi, then drops back down to 2 while I'm letting water in. Is this happening because there is air in the system now? If so, how do I go about getting the air out?
 
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Old 12-09-13, 07:35 PM
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Bruno, I don't see any zone valves at all?

It appears to be only one zone from what I can see.

This is the part that I'm using to add the water in:
Yes, that's a 'pressure reducing valve' and should maintain the system pressure automatically... IF it's working. You are adding the water by lifting that lever on top I presume?

Right now when I try to add water, the pressure goes up to about 5psi, then drops back down to 2 while I'm letting water in. Is this happening because there is air in the system now? If so, how do I go about getting the air out?
Even if you have air in the system, the pressure should still build.

Dare I ask this? How long was the system 'down'? As cold as it's been, is there chance that a pipe has frozen and burst? Can you see the pipes all around or do they go to places where you can't see them and if burst would not see a leak?
 
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Old 12-09-13, 08:46 PM
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Good call NJ, I turned on the water and looked down in the crawl space and indeed I have at least 2 spots where pipe burst. Game over, I guess it's time to call in a plumber.
Am I in danger of losing the boiler now too? The room the boiler is in is heated.
 
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Old 12-09-13, 08:57 PM
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No........ fix the leaks and get the boiler going... The tech should be able to recommend additional things you may need if he sees something amiss....

Anti freeze, although I hate it, may be a good choice for colder climates installed in the boiler..........
 
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Old 12-09-13, 09:15 PM
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Thanks Lawrosa, the next couple days are going to be in the 30's during the day for a high, but then in the 40's on Thursday. Would you recommend waiting till Thursday to fix the burst pipes?
 
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Old 12-09-13, 09:22 PM
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Fix ASAP IMO if you want heat..........

Whats night time temps?????
 
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Old 12-09-13, 10:03 PM
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night temps are single digits over the next couple nights. We have a small house and the space heaters and kerosene heater is keeping us warm.
 
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Old 12-09-13, 10:17 PM
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You'll have more leaks the longer you wait...
 
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Old 12-10-13, 04:14 AM
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Busy times for the power company and the plumbing & heating contractors in Boulder County!

First, the epic flood...then the Arctic freeze...then the gas and power failure. Yikes! Over 7,000 homes affected by the outage with -15F overnight temps. 700 power company workers relighting pilots. I suspect contractors will be extremely busy through the new year. Watch out for "scammers".
 
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Old 12-10-13, 06:16 AM
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good point, I'll start on those today
 
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Old 12-10-13, 07:09 AM
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Good point Razz, I'm actually going to try to do this on my own, at least getting the pipes fixed, that I can do. Then I'll try adding water back into the system. At that point it sounds like since I've added so much new water in, that I'll end up with air and/or bubbles in the system that I"ll need to purge. How do I do that?
 
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Old 12-10-13, 07:21 AM
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Just need to find a proper purge station...There should be a shut off valve and a boiler drain on the loop somewhere near the boiler...


.May want to change that air vent on top of the separator and check the psi in the exp tank while the system has 0 psi in it...
 
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Old 12-10-13, 07:22 AM
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NJ, sorry, I missed taking a picture of the actual zone valves, there are definitely 2.
Once I get the pipes fixed and water back in, I'll post those pics.
 
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Old 12-10-13, 09:07 AM
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May want to change that air vent on top of the separator
Looks pretty much brandy new to me?

Make sure cap on top is loose so air can escape.

Bruno, it's possible that the reason that you have no flow in that zone is because it was already frozen...
 
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Old 12-11-13, 08:47 AM
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All right, busted pipe is fixed, the system is at 14 PSI. Should I fire the boiler back up now?
About that separator, it was here when I moved in 1.5 years ago, so it's at least that old.

Bruno, it's possible that the reason that you have no flow in that zone is because it was already frozen...
Here's a pic of the 2 zone valves. When I first noticed that one part of the house wasn't heating, I felt the pipes above and below both zone valves. Above both were hot, but below only the left side was hot. At this point I assumed that the zone valve wasn't opening correctly and replaced it. Since the water leading into the zone valve was hot, I don't think frozen pipe was causing the lack of heat to that zone.
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I just went out and saw that the pressure has risen to 16 PSI. Also, since adding the water back in this morning, this long open pipe that's pointing straight down into the red bucket has been leaking. Should I be concerned about the rising pressure and/or the leaking pipe. Below is a picture of the pipe, which has some kind of bell shaped piece on the top. I'm guessing this is some kind of pressure reliever?
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Old 12-11-13, 09:25 AM
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OK, I confirmed that that long pipe is attached to a pressure relieve valve. I've been using that to let the pressure back down, but it keeps going up slowly. I haven't turned the boiler back on yet.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 09:29 AM
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Since the water leading into the zone valve was hot, I don't think frozen pipe was causing the lack of heat to that zone
I don't believe that's a valid assumption. It's still possible that the pipe was already frozen.

I just went out and saw that the pressure has risen to 16 PSI. Also, since adding the water back in this morning, this long open pipe that's pointing straight down into the red bucket has been leaking. Should I be concerned about the rising pressure and/or the leaking pipe. Below is a picture of the pipe, which has some kind of bell shaped piece on the top. I'm guessing this is some kind of pressure reliever?
Yes, that is your pressure relief valve.

When a 30 PSI pressure relief valve is dripping, and the gauge shows 16 PSI, to be SAFE, one must always assume that the pressure relief valve is correctly opening at 30 PSI and that the pressure gauge is in error.

You will need to verify the pressure gauge on the system first, and you should also check and charge the expansion tank if you have not done so already.

Please read the following messages.

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

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...ure-gauge.html
 
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Old 12-11-13, 10:58 AM
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I confirmed the expansion tank is at 12PSI.
I'm going to pick up this guage from home depot, looks like it has everything in one piece - Watts 3/4 in. Plastic Water Pressure Test Gauge-DP IWTG at The Home Depot.

Since the pressure keeps slowly rising, I turned off the water for now.
The leak from the pressure relief valve has just been a very slow drip.
What could be causing the pressure to keep rising? Could it be the feed water pressure regulator?

Thanks alot for your help. Money's super tight here, so if I can handle this without hiring someone, that would be fantastic.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 01:40 PM
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Ok, pressure is holding at about 13 psi now and the pressure relieve valve pipe is no longer dripping......anything else I should do before firing it up?
 
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Old 12-11-13, 03:24 PM
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pressure is holding at about 13 psi now and the pressure relieve valve pipe is no longer dripping
This is after you've turned off the manual water feed shut off valve?

Since the pressure keeps slowly rising, I turned off the water for now.
The leak from the pressure relief valve has just been a very slow drip.
What could be causing the pressure to keep rising? Could it be the feed water pressure regulator?
Yes, it sounds as though the pressure valve is leaking through, it is not an uncommon failure at all.

anything else I should do before firing it up?
Give it a go.

Write down the pressure and temperature before you start it and watch the gauge as the boiler is heating up. Write down the pressure and temperature when the boiler is hot... report what you see on the gauge.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 03:44 PM
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I ended up turning the water back on and it still held at 13 and the leak stopped.
I did fire it up, turned on one of the zones (the one with the zone valve that I replaced), felt the pipe leading out of the zone valve get hot, and saw the temp go up a little over 180 and PSI up to 20, and then turned off. Pipes are now cold again near the zone valves, temp is at 160 and PSI back at 12. I'm assuming that the boiler won't fire up again until the temp goes below the 'low' setting of 140, but I'm surprised that the pipes went cold again with the t stat on.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 04:10 PM
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This isn't sounding right to me...

saw the temp go up a little over 180 and PSI up to 20, and then turned off
The BURNER shut off but the circulator kept going because the thermostat was still calling for heat? Or did the thermostat satisfy and the burner AND the circulator stop?

Either way, so far, so good.

temp is at 160 and PSI back at 12
This doesn't sound good though... there is no way that the pressure could go down to 12 PSI which is LOWER than it was when the boiler was cold, and still be at 160 degrees...

Are you still looking at the questionable boiler gauge? Or did you get something to verify that gauge?

I'm assuming that the boiler won't fire up again until the temp goes below the 'low' setting of 140
Ummmm... no... if there is a heat call from the thermostats, that 140 LOW setting doesn't come in to play at all.

What temperature controls are on the boiler? Make and model ?

I'm surprised that the pipes went cold again with the t stat on.
Are you sure that the t'stat is still calling for heat? If it is, the circulator pump should still be pumping the hot boiler water through the zone.

You've checked that the cap on top of the air vent is loose to allow air to escape, correct?
 
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Old 12-11-13, 04:19 PM
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I just remembered that I had the valve for the incoming water to the boiler turned off because I was going to bleed the air out of the system. Do I need to the turn off the boiler again and let it cool down before opening that back up?

I did get a pressure guage, but it didn't work, it never moved past zero.

The BURNER shut off but the circulator kept going because the thermostat was still calling for heat? Or did the thermostat satisfy and the burner AND the circulator stop?
The burner definitely shut off, not sure about the circulator. The thermostat definitely wasn't satisfied.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 06:30 PM
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I turned off the boiler to let it cool down again, then opened the water back up and refired it. We now have heat throughout the house! The PSI keeps fluctuating between 5 and 10 though, but that could be the gauge is bad since I never verified it. I'll try to track one down tomorrow. This has been a crazy 5 days and I really appreciate all the help!
 
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Old 12-11-13, 07:16 PM
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I did get a pressure guage, but it didn't work, it never moved past zero.
If the gauge is one of those that you posted link to, it has either a 200 or 300 PSI gauge installed. You can't get a good enough resolution using that gauge. Remember we are working with pressures less than 30 PSI.

BUT, have you considered that the gauge on your boiler may be REALLY messed up... and you actually might have far less pressure that you think you do? That the guage you tried is actually reading properly?

I'll try to track one down tomorrow
The highest guage I would spend money on would be a 50 PSI model. 30 PSI is better but you might not find easily locally... check REAL plumbing supply house... home brewing supply store... swimming pool supply...
 
 

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