Three zone boiler one zone is not heating

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Old 12-14-13, 11:19 PM
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Three zone boiler one zone is not heating

I have a three zone boiler the thermostat is being shown as calling the boiler but nothing in zone one is heating up. The two other zones work. I don't have bleeders on this zone base board. So I was not certain how to bleed zone one. The pump heated up when I called it with thermostat so I imagine it is operating. Not sure how to tackle this?

Any assistance is greatly appreciated

Thanks Oakey
 
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Old 12-15-13, 08:33 AM
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Hi Oakey,

First things first, as much as I don't like asking this, is there ANY possibility that you are looking at a frozen pipe situation? Are you in the area that has recently been under 'deep freeze'? The zone that doesn't work, is that pipe exposed to extra cold anywhere? Just something to consider first...

What is the reading on the PRESSURE and TEMPERATURE gauge on the boiler? (can't see it clearly in the pics)

You mentioned that the pump gets hot, so it's probably getting power. Do the lights on the Taco panel on the side of the boiler reflect that this zone is being called for heat?

I notice that the pump on the left looks newer than the other two, and that the electrical box is on the other side. Is that the zone that is not working? Has that pump recently been replaced? Are you certain that it's pumping in the correct direction? (look for arrow on pump body, or compare shape of 'volute' on the cast iron.

Using your 'five finger tool', what does the 'ouch test' tell you when you feel the pipes for that zone going to and coming from the non-working zone? Follow the pipes with your hand as far as you can before they disappear inside the walls... where are you losing the heat? Is the return pipe stone cold?

Above each pump you have a 'flow check' valve. It happens that sometimes these get 'sticky', so it's possible that could be the case, but probably the least likely issue.

After answering these questions, we may instruct how to perform a 'purge' of the air in that zone... you'll need a garden hose and a place to discharge water.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 08:37 AM
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In the pictures I see no form of air removal devices... no 'scoop' or automatic vent.

Is there anything that looks like these pics?

images courtesy pexsupply.com





 
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Old 12-15-13, 09:36 AM
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What is the reading on the PRESSURE and TEMPERATURE gauge on the boiler? (can't see it clearly in the pics)
Temp is 140 degrees, at resting the pressure is showing 5 psi but when fired up it has been going up to 32 or 35 psi. The discharge has been letting water off and this was the reason I checked the zones when I found the puddles of water around the boiler.

Do the lights on the Taco panel on the side of the boiler reflect that this zone is being called for heat?
NJ yes the panel is lighting when the thermostat calls the boiler in all three zones.

I notice that the pump on the left looks newer than the other two, and that the electrical box is on the other side. Is that the zone that is not working? Has that pump recently been replaced? Are you certain that it's pumping in the correct direction? (look for arrow on pump body, or compare shape of 'volute' on the cast iron.
NJ yes it is newer then the rest of the circulation pumps however I have been here two years and it was replaced prior to me buying the place. I believe this is the pump responsible for zone 1 which is the problem zone. Yes it has been cold here on Long Island but I am not quiet sure this zone is exposed to freezing temperatures. But it might have been. I have a pellet stove so there has been no need to use the oil heat the thermostats were set to 62 and the home has been warm the coldest I have seen any room is 60 and that was on a few very cold evenings. The third floor which is almost always the coldest floor has heat even in the eves it has been warm. It's an old girl. The arrow on the pump body is in the correct direct.

Using your 'five finger tool', what does the 'ouch test' tell you when you feel the pipes for that zone going to and coming from the non-working zone? Follow the pipes with your hand as far as you can before they disappear inside the walls... where are you losing the heat? Is the return pipe stone cold?
Warmer by pump but a foot and farther away it is cool to the touch the other pipes from the other zones are a lot hotter.

There are valves at the top of all the pumps but not one of them moves by simple finger twist would require pliers.

Thanks
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-15-13 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 12-15-13, 09:51 AM
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more pictures.

yes I have something like this auto-vent by the expansion tank. The third picture looks like mine. I down loaded pictures.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 10:06 AM
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Temp is 140 degrees, at resting the pressure is showing 5 psi but when fired up it has been going up to 32 or 35 psi. The discharge has been letting water off and this was the reason I checked the zones when I found the puddles of water around the boiler.
Glad I asked... not right... you should have mentioned this right off the bat.

Read both of these posts:

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

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

Your gauge may not be far off, but you DEFINITELY have a problem with the expansion tank. You need to follow the step by step instructions to the LETTER to check and charge your expansion tank.

Since your tank is mounted UPSIDE DOWN, the test for water out of the air valve may not be valid... you could get air out and the tank still be bad.

The FIRST thing you need to do before concerning yourself with the non-heating zone is get the system pressure under control. Anything else you do before that is going to be pointless and futile.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 10:25 AM
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I have a pellet stove so there has been no need to use the oil heat
Along with the suggestion of a possible frozen pipe, I was going to ask if you were using a wood stove.

Something that wood heat users often don't realize is that when the boiler does not call for heat for long periods of time during cold weather, is that the outer extremities of the home can get quite cold and even freeze the piping.

At this point I don't think this is your problem but it is good for you to keep this fact in mind. If you've got heat piping that runs through uninsulated crawlspaces or basements, it would not be bad practice to fire up the oil heat at least once a night to get it HOT during very cold weather...
 
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Old 12-15-13, 10:31 AM
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The third floor
This is something else we need to talk about.

When any boiler system is COLD there is a certain MINIMUM PRESSURE that must be maintained to ensure that the radiators at the highest elevation are maintained at POSITIVE PRESSURE.

In a three story home, that minimum pressure is usually 17-18 PSI. If the home has 10' ceilings, then that minimum could be even higher.

This minimum pressure requirement is all about physics and the pressure that is required in a system to raise water in a pipe to a certain level.

Estimate to the nearest foot how many feet above your boiler the highest radiators are located and I'll let you know what your minimum should be and how I arrived at that number (if you are interested in that information...)
 
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Old 12-15-13, 10:37 AM
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There are valves at the top of all the pumps but not one of them moves by simple finger twist would require pliers.
Yeah... don't do that!

Those aren't your typical valve... inside of them is a weighted disc that should be able to move freely. When the pump turns on it pushes the disc up and you get flow. Pump turns off and the disc comes back down and closes the opening.

The knob on the top is a 'screw jack' that manually will lift the valve if needed. They often freeze up because the knob is never used. The valve itself usually still functions normally when this happens.

The purpose of those valves is to prevent 'thermosiphon', meaning that even after the heat call ends, the hot water will continue to flow because it is more buoyant than cold and will 'float' up out of the hot boiler and into the radiators. When the pumps stop and the valve closes, this is prevented.
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-15-13 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 12-15-13, 10:53 AM
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NJ it is about 21 or 22 feet to the third floor base boards.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 11:01 AM
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NJ the basement is rather warm never goes anywhere near freezing from my experience maybe mid 50's or low 50's on very very very cold night single digits and I don't think there are any crawl spaces at freezing that these pipes travel through. However I don't know what is going on inside these walls we have plaster in some parts of the house. This home has been built in a few stages over the past 120 something years the original structure was erected in 1885 but I believe it has been insulated but it may not have been. It hold heat well for an old home.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 11:51 AM
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NJ it is about 21 or 22 feet to the third floor base boards.
Sounds kinda low... are the ceilings less than 8' ? I'm thinking at LEAST 27' ? no?

27' would require a MINIMUM when boiler is COLD of 16 PSI.

If they are in fact say 22' above, then the minimum would be 14 PSI.

This number is arrived at by multiplying the 'altitude' above the boiler by 0.432 (which is the pressure required at sea level to raise water 1' in a column) and then ADDING 4 PSI for 'headroom'.

So here's what you need to do:

1. SERVICE EXPANSION TANK to get system pressure under control. After reading that message that I posted link to you have learned that the expansion tank needs to be charged to the same PSI as the minimum water pressure in the boiler system.

If you need to replace the tank be aware that they are 'pre-charged' to 12 PSI at the factory and you will have to raise that pre-charge to match your minimum.

2. Verify that your "PRESSURE REDUCING VALVE", the green 'bell shaped' valve that tees into the vertical pipe with the air vent on top and the branch to the expansion tank, is working properly.

It sounds as if it may not be. There is a yellow handle ball valve on the pipe leading to that reducing valve and it is shown as OPEN in the pics. Yet you are reporting that there is only 5 PSI in the boiler when cold. With the yellow valve OPEN and if the green reducing valve were functioning properly, there would not be 5 PSI in the system. That valve AUTOMATICALLY sets the minimum cold system pressure. If the system drops below 5 PSI that valve will feed water to maintain it's setting.

If that valve requires replacement, it too will need to be adjusted to a slightly higher pressure to compensate for your third floor.

3. It is also highly advisable to verify the accuracy of the boiler pressure gauge as detailed in the other post which I linked to. Without knowing that the gauge is accurate it is impossible to set up the system properly.

When this is done we can discuss how to purge the air out of the non-working zone.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 12:16 PM
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I am unable to get the tank to 12 psi without the boiler psi going up when I relieve the pressure from the boiler the psi in the tank drops to zero as well I have tried this four times with the same results each time?
 
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Old 12-15-13, 12:28 PM
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I am unable to get the tank to 12 psi without the boiler psi going up when I relieve the pressure from the boiler the psi in the tank drops to zero as well I have tried this four times with the same results each time?
That is 'normal' in the case of an expansion tank that has completely lost it's air charge, and is the reason that the instructions say to repeat those steps.

Since the tank is now full of WATER, when you pressurize it that water is being forced out into the boiler where it belongs, and is being replaced by AIR in the tank, which is what you want.

You may notice that each time you do this you have to add a little bit more air to get back to 12 PSI... again, normal...

Try several more times... at some point all the water will be out of the tank and you will no longer have to repeat the steps outlined. If you hear what sounds like air leaving the tank and into the boiler (you may hear bubbles) then it's a good sign the tank is shot.

There is a rubber 'bladder' between the air and the water. If that bladder has a tear or a hole, you will get water on the air side and air on the water side.

When you finally get all the water out of the tank the boiler pressure will not rise when you add air.

When finished, take some spit or soap water and check that the tire valve is not leaking air by putting a 'bubble' of spit or soap water across the top of the tire valve.
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-15-13 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 12-15-13, 12:32 PM
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top of boiler to ceiling without the space in between floor floor jousts. 36" or 3ft
First Floor floor to ceiling without ceiling jousts 94" or 7ft 10"
Second Floor without third floor floor jousts 90" or 7ft 6"
 
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Old 12-15-13, 12:41 PM
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I actually do suspect that your tank is toast... and you should plan on replacing it.

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

Pex Supply is in Farmingdale, but I don't know if they have a storefront or not.

You could also try Patriot Supply in Plainview... they DO have a storefront.

If you go to HD or Lowes for a replacement (they may have them on the shelf) make sure that you get one made for HYDRONIC HEATING SYSTEM of the same size that you now have. There are ones for POTABLE WATER SYSTEMS too, so don't let an ignorant sales dude tell you they are the same thing.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 12:43 PM
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top of boiler to ceiling without the space in between floor floor jousts. 36" or 3ft
First Floor floor to ceiling without ceiling jousts 94" or 7ft 10"
Second Floor without third floor floor jousts 90" or 7ft 6"
Use BOTTOM of boiler.

Count floor joists... you need total height.

The EXACT measurement is not CRITICAL, but you should be within a foot or so.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 12:58 PM
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I got the the expansion tank pressurized.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 01:00 PM
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I got the the expansion tank pressurized
Great! How many more repeats did it take?

You brought it to what... 15 PSI ?

Now you have to repressurize the boiler to that same pressure, so open the manual feed valve and you should hear water going into the boiler.

It should automatically fill to 12-15 PSI...

Does it?
 
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Old 12-15-13, 01:19 PM
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24 feet according to all of your directions that 14.5 psi cold? My psi/temp gauge I have not tested yet got to go get needed parts.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 01:31 PM
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Great! How many more repeats did it take?
One more try and the tank pressurized. I thought the tank was shot as well when I left you that post. Then you responded saying that was kind of what is expected. So I gave it another shot did the boiler stayed at zero and the tank said it was holding 14lbs.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 01:42 PM
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2. Verify that your "PRESSURE REDUCING VALVE", the green 'bell shaped' valve that tees into the vertical pipe with the air vent on top and the branch to the expansion tank, is working properly.

It sounds as if it may not be. There is a yellow handle ball valve on the pipe leading to that reducing valve and it is shown as OPEN in the pics. Yet you are reporting that there is only 5 PSI in the boiler when cold. With the yellow valve OPEN and if the green reducing valve were functioning properly, there would not be 5 PSI in the system. That valve AUTOMATICALLY sets the minimum cold system pressure. If the system drops below 5 PSI that valve will feed water to maintain it's setting.

If that valve requires replacement, it too will need to be adjusted to a slightly higher pressure to compensate for your third floor.

How would you suggest the best way to verify this is operating correctly? We replaced this bell last year.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 01:45 PM
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24 feet according to all of your directions that 14.5 psi cold?
Call it 15. Round up to next higher PSI...

gauge I have not tested yet got to go get needed parts.
While it is always good to know if the gauge is off... I would like to at least get your heat running properly again before that.

Have you successfully re-pressurized the boiler to 15 PSI yet?

Let me know when you do and we can then purge the air out of that non-heating zone.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 01:50 PM
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How would you suggest the best way to verify this is operating correctly? We replaced this bell last year.
Sorry... our posts are 'crossing in the ether'...

The reason I had some suspicion about the valve is because you had said that the boiler pressure was at FIVE PSI...

It's sorta unlikely that valve has crapped in one year I think.

When you turn the water back on, the boiler pressure should go to 12-15 PSI automatically.

Does that happen?
 
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Old 12-15-13, 02:14 PM
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The system has been sitting at 15 psi. Should I check it some other way to be certain that this is the cold psi setting? The pressure when running has also been maintained at well below 20 psi I don't think it moves much past 15 psi when heating up the homes water. Is this what I should expect a constant 15 psi when operating correctly?
 
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Old 12-15-13, 02:57 PM
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The system has been sitting at 15 psi. Should I check it some other way to be certain that this is the cold psi setting?
No, I think you may be OK.

Is this what I should expect a constant 15 psi when operating correctly?
No, not constant... when the boiler heats up further than what it normally sits at, the pressure will rise somewhat, maybe up to 20 PSI or so...

Have you fired the boiler yet? and still no heat in that zone?

If not, let me know and get your garden hose ready.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 03:38 PM
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The expansion tank is showing 17 psi according to my new pressure gauge but the boiler is showing 12 or 13 psi cold? I attempted to put more air in the tank but it didn't raise the boiler psi? Boiler temp is 80 degrees
 

Last edited by Oakey; 12-15-13 at 03:39 PM. Reason: put boiler temp into post
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Old 12-15-13, 03:52 PM
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expansion tank is showing 17 psi according to my new pressure gauge
You mean a new TIRE PRESSURE GAUGE, correct?

I attempted to put more air in the tank but it didn't raise the boiler psi?
Sorry Oakey, that was a mistake. You can't change the boiler pressure by adjusting the pressure in the tank.

Now you need to drain the boiler back to zero and repressurize the tank to 15 PSI. You can't get an accurate pressure reading on the tank if there is pressure in the boiler.

You can only change the minimum pressure in the boiler with the green pressure reducing valve.

I can explain how to do that in the next posts, but the first thing is to get the heat back in that zone.

So for now, reset the tank pressure to 15 PSI and let me know when that's done and we'll proceed to purge air from that zone next.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 04:09 PM
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back to 15 psi

the tank is back at 15 psi. I was confused. Thought you manipulated the boiler pressure from the expansion tank. Garden Hose is ready
 
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Old 12-15-13, 04:28 PM
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OK great...

Shut the power off to the boiler so it can't fire up while doing this process.

You may have noticed that the pressure reducing valve has a 'lever' on the side of it. This lever is called a 'fast fill' lever and it bypasses the regulating portion of the valve and allows a FASTER flow of water. You will be operating this valve.

In this picture:



you will see that there are three yellow handle ball valves after each flow control valve on top of the pumps. You need to close the TWO that are working properly.

Also, on the right side on the large vertical copper pipe there is a red handle drain valve. Connect your hose to that drain and direct it to a laundry tub, floor drain, or otherwise someplace you can dispose of quite a bit of water.

Below that red drain is another yellow handle ball valve. CLOSE that valve also.

Make sure that the yellow ball valve on the water feed line is OPEN

Now the fun part:

OPEN THE RED DRAIN FULLY.

Go to the green pressure reducing valve and push that lever over... water will feed into the boiler at a fast rate, go up through the pump, through the zone, and come back down the return and out the red drain.

While pushing that lever over keep an eye on the boiler pressure gauge, it is possible to feed too much water and go over 30 PSI which will result in opening your pressure relief valve and dumping water. Try to keep the pressure at about 25 PSI by 'modulating' the lever.

It may be helpful to submerge the end of the hose in a bucket so the bubbles can be observed, even if the water is being dumped outdoors through a window, and to have a helper at the end of the hose to make sure it doesn't 'get away' and start spraying all over.

When there are no more bubbles from the hose, FIRST release the fast fill lever to 'normal' position, and then close the red drain valve.

Check system pressure... if less than 15 PSI just add slightly more water with the fast fill lever to 'bump' the pressure up to 15 PSI. If MORE than 15 PSI, open the red drain with the hose and let a little water out to drop the pressure to 15 and then close the red valve again.

OPEN all the valves that you closed.

Turn power back on and fire the boiler up.

You should now get heat in all three zones, and the pressure relief valve should stop spewing. You may see the pressure on the boiler go up to 20 or so PSI when the boiler is hot.

Once you give me the all clear, we'll talk about how to adjust the pressure REDUCING valve to give you a couple more PSI... it's easy... and then you're all done.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 04:37 PM
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We'll follow up with a few more go rounds after this because I also want to talk about the settings on your aquastat, which is the gray box on the round plate on the front of the boiler.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 05:50 PM
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I took 20 (5) gallon buckets of water of out of zone 1. There were bubbles still coming when I stopped. The hose was submerged in a 5 gallon water bucket. Then I tried the other zones that are operating and they are doing the same thing? The heat is still not coming on zone 1?
 
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Old 12-15-13, 06:03 PM
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At least tell me that the pressure is not going up to 30 PSI and the relief valve opening...

We had to have made SOME progress!
 
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Old 12-15-13, 06:04 PM
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The other two zones are still heating properly though, right?
 
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Old 12-15-13, 06:09 PM
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OK, all along I've been thinking that there MIGHT be a problem with that pump.

And even if there was, we still had to get that pressure problem fixed.

Take a screwdriver in hand...

Start only one of the zones that IS working.

Place the handle end of the screwdriver to your ear and the pointy end of the screwdriver to the pump that is running and listen to what it sounds like. Do this on both the MOTOR, and also on the 'bulge' on the other side opposite the motor.

Shut that zone down and do the same for the one that is NOT heating.

Do they sound exactly the same?

Go to the non-heating pump and tell me everything that it says on the label.

Are the letters "IFC" on the end of that model number?

Do the OTHER pumps have "IFC" on the end also?
 
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Old 12-15-13, 06:15 PM
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How do the three zone returns join back into the large return pipe with the red drain valve that we used?
 
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Old 12-15-13, 06:34 PM
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WILCO is the zone not circulating

the two taco sound the same. Neither TACO has an IFC they are TACO 007-F5 circulator pumps

the other sounds a little quieter it hums very low but I hear it. It is a WILCO W 80
Nr. 4090767/ 10w 25
Typ Star 16 fx
 

Last edited by Oakey; 12-15-13 at 06:36 PM. Reason: WILCO is the zone not circulating
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Old 12-15-13, 06:42 PM
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yes they return all back to that pipe I purged from it is 1 1/4
 
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Old 12-15-13, 06:54 PM
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And the pressure? It is now staying well below 30 PSI, even when the boiler is 180F ?

The other two zones are still heating properly?

I am not familiar with the WILCO circulators.

the other sounds a little quieter it hums very low but I hear it
When you listened to the 'bulge' on the Taco pumps, could you hear what sounded as if water was flowing in the pump?

And you did not hear the same on the Wilco pump?

You may have a siezed pump.
 
  #40  
Old 12-15-13, 06:56 PM
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NJT
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Are you sure that the third pump is not a WILO ? note that there is no " C " in the name?
 
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