CONDO Baseboard Heat: How to Bleed Air?

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Old 12-25-13, 11:23 AM
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CONDO Baseboard Heat: How to Bleed Air?

Hi all! My one bedroom condo has baseboard heat. It was working fine up until two days ago. Now the heat isn't getting hot enough. There was no work done, no pipes freezing or bursting, nothing has changed. The heat just stopped getting hot out of nowhere.

I can hear everything turn on and tinkle as usual when I turn the thermostat up or down. The pipes are warm but not putting out enough heat anymore for the space. This happened one day last winter too, but it corrected itself by morning so I didn't worry about it then. Maybe there's air in the pipes but I don't know how to bleed them.

There's a single thermostat. I forgot to take a pic of it but found a pic online of the same one:

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I browsed the threads and some mentioned that there might be a "bleeder valve" or something at the end of the baseboards themselves but I don't see anything on the baseboards that I can open or get into. The ends are just "capped" and I can't pull that cap off unless I'm supposed to break it off?

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There's one baseboard heater in the bathroom, then there's one along the wall in the bedroom where the pipe runs through a closet and out into the baseboard heat in the den. This is what's in the closet:

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Any help on how to bleed the pipes would be great! It's friggin' cold lol

Note: The water heater is in the basement, which I don't have access to. I was told when I bought the place that each unit owner is responsible for servicing their own heat, property management has no maintenance staff, and I don't have money to hire someone to come look at it, plus it's the holidays, so I need to address this myself.

Thanks!
 
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Old 12-25-13, 11:34 AM
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The water heater is in the basement, which I don't have access to.
How do you service it if you don't have access ?

Most condo associations I deal with supply the hot water to a group of condos. One place I work at.... it's one boiler to six units. That particular place has all six zone valves next to the boiler. The reason I brought this up is the association, unbeknownst to any of the tenants, lowered the boiler temperature. Well.... I needn't tell you how that went over. You may have the same issue.

Your picture shows a zone valve. Is the pipe the same temperature on both sides of the valve ?
You shouldn't have to bleed air out in your condo on a one loop system. We actually need to know more about your boiler and controls.
 
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Old 12-25-13, 11:48 AM
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Thanks, PJMax! All I remember them saying is that if something is wrong with the actual boiler and piping in the basement, the board will take care of it, but if it's something wrong in our individual units, we're supposed to take care of it and that we have our own thing inside the unit to do that (I'm assuming the zone valve).

It's in a different place in each unit since we're not all laid out the same (there are 8 units in here) but I did recall them saying my "thingy" was in the closet, that's why I looked in there. The pipe is the same temperature on both sides (very warm but not so much that I can't touch it). Would I be able to bleed air using that valve thing or does that only control the water flow and doesn't have a way to bleed out air?
 
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Old 12-25-13, 11:56 AM
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I can't pull that cap off unless I'm supposed to break it off?
No... of course not! The cover on the front should be removable though... but I doubt you will find any bleeders anyway... before you take anything apart (or break something!), take a bright flashlight and look inside at each end and see if there is any devices sticking UP from the pipe elbows at the ends of the baseboards.

PJ has all excellent points.

How are you to service something if you don't have access? That's kinda crazy isn't it? And even if you did or were able to get somebody out to look at it, how would THEY access the boiler?

How about your neighbors, talk to them? Any problems in other units?

Do you know if there is a 'common' heating plant for all the units in your building? If so, it should NOT be your responsibility for the service and maintenance of that heating plant. Since it is a COMMON element for multiple tenants, that item should be part of property maintenance, because legally, you do not 'own' it.

I was told when I bought the place that each unit owner is responsible for servicing their own heat, property management has no maintenance staff
And if it IS a common heating plant, property management then needs to CALL SOMEONE to fix it. That's what you pay your HOA fees for.
 
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Old 12-25-13, 11:59 AM
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If the temperature of the baseboard is the same in all areas that would suggest it's not an air problem.

Does the temperature on the pipe near the zone valve seem to be the same as the baseboard heat ?
I'm guessing yes.... that would most likely mean the boiler temperature may be set too low.
Check with someone/neighbor in the building..... they should be able to confirm the issue.
 
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Old 12-25-13, 12:03 PM
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if something is wrong with the actual boiler and piping in the basement, the board will take care of it
OK, that's more like it.

The water coming into your unit on that heating pipe should be hot enough that you can't hold your hand on it for more than a second or so... is it that hot?

If it's warm on both sides of your zone valve, then it's not likely that there is any problem with that valve.

Would I be able to bleed air using that valve thing or does that only control the water flow and doesn't have a way to bleed out air?
No, there's nothing you can bleed on that valve. Yes, it only controls the water flow.

Do you know where the pipe RETURNS to the boiler at the other end of the heating 'loop'? If you can find it, is the pipe that goes back the same relative temperature (a little cooler is OK) than the pipe coming into the valve?

Are ALL the baseboards relatively the same temperature?

PJ beat me to the punch!
 
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Old 12-25-13, 12:11 PM
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Hey, Trooper! I looked inside and didn't see anything sticking up anywhere so no bleeders. No one else in here is having a problem with heat. They would definitely have mentioned it when I spoke to them if they were since they always mention everything.

Hold on...

EDITED: Okay, I don't know where the return would be. At the end of each baseboard, the pipe goes down into the floor and that's all I see. I can hold my hand on the pipes at the valve without needing to take my hand away. It's warm, not hot. That's good that it likely isn't a problem with the valve!

I doubt they turned anything down in the boiler room this week but anything is possible. For one thing, we're in between property managers right now and the board members aren't randomly going down there, half are away for the holidays and the other half are too old to bother.

When this happened last year, we did have a property manager on call 24/7 at the time so I called asking if they turned the heat down or off or something and he said no one did anything to the heat, it was the middle of the night, probably just something going on in my unit. It was late so I just wrapped up and a few hours later, the heat "kicked back in" fully again and everything was fine, no more problems. The only difference this time is that it's been like this since Monday night I think.

At the house I used to live in, there was one room where this happened constantly. Everything fine then out of nowhere, not enough heat. A plumber would come and say it's just air and he'd bleed the pipes and everything would return to normal so that's why I thought it might be air.

If it's not, could it be an issue with the thermostat?
 

Last edited by cyberphonics; 12-25-13 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 12-25-13, 01:00 PM
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Let's say that it COULD be a problem with air... but not a complete blockage, only enough to almost stop the flow in the loop... but not terribly likely.

If you hear the valve open or the baseboards 'tinking' when the thermostat calls, then it's probably not a problem with that either.

I can hold my hand on the pipes at the valve without needing to take my hand away
I call this the 'five finger ouch! test'.

If you can hold your hand on the pipe without any discomfort continually, then the water in that pipe is less than 130F and this is not likely to be hot enough water to heat your unit.

If the other owners are not having problems, either they are senseless, or the problem IS with your unit somehow.

On your zone valve, you see that wheel on the side? Push that wheel all the way to the "MANUAL" position and tell us what happens.
If you have not done this yet, don't...................................................................
 

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Old 12-25-13, 01:12 PM
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I think you have a "1311-102" zone valve? Hard to see for certain, my eyes are old...

Can you describe what wires are on what terminals on the connections to that valve?

There's three separate multi-wire cables there... not knowing how the system is set up in your building, it is possible that each separate unit has it's own circulating pump installed at the boiler.

I 'could be' that the valve is opening, but that the pump at the boiler is not running...

There 'should be' wires coming from your thermostat going to terminals 4 , 5, and 6 (those valves are 'three wire' and a 'standard' thermostat will NOT work with those valves). These three wires should be in one cable going to your thermostat.

The other two cables 'may' be only two wires each.

One may go to terminals 1 and 2, and the other may go to terminals 1 and 3.

Does this accurately describe what you are seeing?
 
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Old 12-25-13, 01:19 PM
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On your zone valve, you see that wheel on the side? Push that wheel all the way to the "MANUAL" position and tell us what happens.

If you haven't yet tried to manually open that valve, then DON'T...
Instead, is the thermostat close enough to the valve that you can turn it all the way down and quickly get near the valve to LISTEN for the motor whirring? And likewise when you turn it all the way UP?

Or can you get a helper to do the t'stat while you listen?
 
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Old 12-25-13, 01:50 PM
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That would be a first for me if each unit had it's own pump.

The condo association board members don't do anything. They send memos about what needs to be done. The condos I mentioned earlier.... that memo went to the heating company and they went around and lowered all the boiler temps before the heating season started. It's funny.... there are like forty 6 unit buildings and only a handful called in with a problem.
 
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Old 12-25-13, 01:54 PM
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That would be a first for me if each unit had it's own pump.
I don't expect it's the case myself, but wanted to throw it out there...

only a handful called in with a problem
It's amazing to me what the 'sheeple' will accept as the 'norm' these days.
 
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Old 12-25-13, 02:27 PM
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Okay, sorry guys, I went into my room with my space heater for a while. I'm attaching the blown up pic of the valve so you can maybe make out the wires better.


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The thermostat is in the den and the valve is in the closet in the next room and no one else is here right now so I can't turn it down and then up and listen for a whir at the same time but when I turn the thermo up or down, there's a distinct rattling sound that lasts for a minute or two, is that the motor?

I wondered about the thermostat because it's very much like the one in my old house in that if I push the needle to anything less than 80 degrees, the heat comes on but not enough to heat the place. Once I push it to 80 degrees, then it actually gets warm inside.

The TEMP on the thermostat never reads more than 70 but if I put the needle at anything under 80, it might as well not be on at all because the temp will just hover at 50s-60s and it'll just be cold like it is now.

Our heat went on in October. There haven't been any issues with mine until this week. It would just be really random to have someone make any changes days before Christmas and without me seeing anyone come in the building other than residents. I just want to make sure it's not something on my end before considering that it could be intentional.

My neighbors are elderly so whenever there's the slightest problem, they always ask everyone else if they're having an issue, whether it's with water, heat, electricity, noise, etc, because it bothers them a lot. They didn't say anything so I'm leaning more towards them not having a problem than them not noticing one but you never know.

I can hear a ticking in the pipes but it's not as loud as I'm used to hearing it.
 
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Old 12-25-13, 02:41 PM
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Oh, in case you need it, I took the face off the thermostat so you can see what that looks like inside. Thanks again, both of you, I appreciate the help! It's like another Christmas gift, haha!

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Old 12-25-13, 06:58 PM
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I think you have a "1311-102" zone valve? Hard to see for certain, my eyes are old...
You'll have to answer this.

Please read the model number off the valve and tell me what it is.

The close up picture doesn't help because I can't see what terminals the wires are on.

Of the three multi-wire cables.

Call them cable 1 , cable 2 , cable 3

It looks like 1 cable has 3 wires in it, RED, WHITE, GREEN

The other two cables look like 2 wires, RED and WHITE.

I expect that you will tell me that the three wire cable is going to terminals 4, 5, 6

and that the other two cables are together on terminals 1 and 2

I expect you will tell me that there is no wire on terminal 3

Can you confirm this?
 
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Old 12-25-13, 07:03 PM
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Is that thermostat perfectly LEVEL?

If it's not level, it will not be accurate.
 
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Old 12-25-13, 07:09 PM
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That's a fairly old thermostat but turning it up should yield you heat. As far as we know, your thermostat just opens the zone valve. You shot us a picture but we need to see any numbers where the wiring connects on the wiring side.

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We must be psychic today
 
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Old 12-26-13, 06:20 AM
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Good morning! I'm a doofus, I attached the wrong pic of the wires, sorry. Yes, it says 1311-102. I don't know where my level is to check if the thermostat is level, I'll check it when I find it.

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There are three multiwire cables...

A has red and white.
B has red and white.
C has red, green, and yellow.

The connections...

Top row left to right:

2 White (AB), 1 Yellow (C), 1 Red (C)

Bottom row left to right:

1 Green (C), 2 Red (AB), Nothing.

Hope that helps!

Meanwhile, I left the thermo up overnight hoping the heat would normalize but nope. It's still cold in here, the pipes near the valve and the baseboards are at the same lukewarm temperature to the touch, and the thermo temp reads in the 60s. So I turned it all the way down.

About ten minutes later, I turned it back up very slowly until I heard that familiar rattling, then went to go check the valve. This time, when I touched the pipes on either side of the valve, I couldn't keep my hand on them at all. I'm hoping that's a good sign.

Also, when the heat is working, I hear some level of noise coming from it constantly. Water tinkling through it, ticking, rattling, a lot of noise that I always associated with it being "on".

The past few days, however, I hear the rattle when I change the thermostat up or down but then everything is quiet as if nothing is happening in the pipes. Right now, I'm hearing much more activity in the pipes than I was hearing throughout the week, so hopefully that's a good sign as well.

Even if it does fix itself, I need to know why this happened in the first place so I can address it immediately the next time. I emailed the board about the heat since I started seeing some of the members heading back today and they said there haven't been any issues with the heating and no one has made any changes to anything.
 

Last edited by cyberphonics; 12-26-13 at 07:13 AM.
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Old 12-26-13, 07:22 AM
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Hope that helps!
Yes it does. The cable with the red 'tracer' in the outer fabric is your thermostat cable with 3 wires and is connected where expected.

The other 2 cables are 24VAC power supply to the valve. It is probably wired such that the voltage comes up from the boiler room and then loops to the other apartments zone valves. Also expected.

That there is no wire on terminal 3 is the main point I wanted to learn. This means that there is nothing 'telling' the boiler that your condo wants heat. It means that there are NOT individual pumps for each condo and concurs with what PJ said... would be very unusual if there were...
 
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Old 12-26-13, 07:24 AM
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Quick update: When the heat is working normally, it would be feeling warm in here by now, I can feel a difference within the hour. But in spite of the pipes near the valve being hot, the baseboard heaters still feel barely warm and aren't really putting out any heat.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 07:31 AM
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Thanks, Trooper! So what does that mean on my end? Is there anything I can do to try to get this heat working or do I have to wait until I can get access to the basement? What would happen if I try the manual setting on the valve?
 
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Old 12-26-13, 07:40 AM
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This time, when I touched the pipes on either side of the valve, I couldn't keep my hand on them at all. I'm hoping that's a good sign.
A sign that you may be getting some heat in your condo finally... but not that it will continue.

Also, when the heat is working, I hear some level of noise coming from it constantly. Water tinkling through it, ticking, rattling, a lot of noise that I always associated with it being "on".
A hot water heating system should be nearly silent when in operation.

You WILL usually hear some noise when the valve first opens and the hot water enters the cool baseboard... expansion noises... maybe 'ticking', maybe 'pinging', but what you should NOT hear at ALL is the sound of WATER flowing... because if you DO hear the water flowing it usually means that there is AIR MIXED IN with the water. This will sound like 'indigestion' when you know you need to make a run for the bathroom... to put it bluntly... like a periodic 'gushing' noise when the air bubbles are rushing through the pipes... and there should be NO AIR in the water.

Even if it does fix itself, I need to know why this happened in the first place so I can address it immediately the next time.
It WON'T 'fix itself'. This can occur for a variety of reasons... there could be LOW PRESSURE in the system, the air removal devices aren't working properly, a leak in a pipe or valve somewhere - even a slow drip.

Here's the bottom line I think:

Your valve appears to be working properly. From your descriptions I believe that it's opening and closing as it should be. This is all that should be necessary for the hot boiler water to flow through your pipes and heat your condo.

With the cover off your thermostat if you watch that ball of mercury inside that glass vial, when you operate it slowly one direction or the other you will see that ball of mercury roll from one side to the other. When that ball of mercury moves is when you should hear your valve open or close depending on which direction you are pushing the thermostat.

If you are getting lukewarm water, it means that SOMETHING IS WRONG and NEEDS ATTENTION and you should PRESS THE ISSUE to have the system checked out. Tell them that you want a HEATING TECHNICIAN to inspect the system and that YOU WANT TO DISCUSS THE ISSUE WITH THE TECHNICIAN PERSONALLY when he is on site.

Describe to the technician the problem. Explain that your valve is working properly but the pipes are lukewarm at times, at best. Tell him about the air gushing sounds that you hear. Don't expect that the HOA people will properly communicate your issues and concerns to the tech. They WON'T.

Just because none of the other tenants are complaining doesn't mean there isn't a problem. It only means they are clueless, senseless sheeple that won't stand up for their rights and what they deserve... or they are ignorant and apathetic. (Did I just describe the bulk of the population in the US?)

You need to have the technician understand the problem and be on YOUR side. Buy him a cup of coffee and a donut or lunch if you have to and think it will help. Hopefully he will take the high road and do the right thing.

Don't let the HOA bully you into silence. You pay GOOD MONEY for your maintenance fees, and you DESERVE AND DEMAND that you have reliable heating in your home!

There is probably a local town government agency in your town that deals with such conflicts between owners and association and you should seek out this agency and lodge a complaint if you don't get satisfaction.

Don't be a 'sheeple'.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 07:48 AM
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Thanks so much, Trooper! I do plan to ask for basement access so they can check things out, I just wanted to go through as many options on my end as I could before asking for that. That way, I won't be told, "Well, did you check the valve, did you check this, did you do that?" I can tell them what I did and that nothing is changing, which may help.

Like I said, when this happened last year, it "fixed itself" in that it happened then resolved itself within the day and didn't happen again. It's possible that this is a totally different problem since it's been days so I do plan to have it looked into this time for sure. Thanks again!!!
 
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Old 12-26-13, 07:57 AM
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What would happen if I try the manual setting on the valve?
Some types of valves can be operated manually even when the power is present.

YOUR valve will not.

If you push that wheel in the direction of the arrow when power is ON, it will alla sudden take over on it's own and make one complete revolution back to OFF again.

If you inspect closely, you will see that the wheel is imprinted with lettering " OPEN " and " CLOSED " ... you can double check that when you push the thermostat all the way UP that you see OPEN on the wheel, and when you push it all the way down, you see CLOSED on the wheel. This will double check that the valve is working properly.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 08:00 AM
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I don't know if this is a way to proceed... but so that there's no 'conflict of interest' you might suggest that YOU HIRE the technician... and if he finds anything wrong that THEY pay the bill... if he finds nothing wrong (which I doubt) you would have to pay the service call...

If I were looking into this the first things I would check would be:

1. BOILER PRESSURE - make sure that there is at LEAST 12-15 PSI in the system and even a few PSI higher if the building is 3 or more stories tall.

2. That the safety pressure relief valve has not been opening... look for signs of water around the discharge pipe.

3. That the EXPANSION TANK is properly charged and serviced correctly.

4. That the AIR REMOVAL DEVICES are functional.

5. that the system PUMPS are functioning properly.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 10:56 AM
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Hey, Trooper! I'll make a list of those things to make sure I ask about them if I get someone to come in. Whenever there are problems in the buildings that are related to commons, our board has them taken care of, so I'm not too worried about a conflict of interest.

Quick update, though, I bumped into one of the building reps and asked if he had basement access just so I can take a quick look myself, told him what's going on. He said no problem. We checked with the other units in my building and everyone said their heat is fine.

We went down to take a look, the boilers are in an adjacent building. I took some pics for reference to look at later. Upfront, we didn't see anything suspect. The units looked new and I vaguely remembered paperwork mentioning when I bought the place that the units were updated within the past few years, Slant/Fins.

The place was spotless, no leaks/signs of moisture, no noises. Each unit had a gauge at the front and the reads on them seemed identical, on the pic I took, it looks like 20 psi, kpa something under 300, the temp at 140.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 12:09 PM
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140 supply temperature is pretty low if it is cold outside, probably should be 160 or higher.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 02:20 PM
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Why not upload the pics? We like pics...
 
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Old 12-26-13, 03:52 PM
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Hey, all! I never upload pics of common areas on the web since they'd be identifiable by locals, only pics within my own four walls. I wondered if 140 was low because when I was browsing websites yesterday looking up things about temperatures for heating systems, the numbers were all over the place for what's considered optimal depending on the situation.

But I kept seeing 160 and 180 low/high or something repeated more than any other numbers. I wasn't sure what that was referring to, though, but when I saw the 140 today, I shot an email to the board asking about it just in case that was lower than what it should be or normally is. Will keep you all posted and thanks so much for the help!
 
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Old 12-26-13, 04:04 PM
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What you saw on the temperature gauge may not be what the HIGH LIMIT control of the boilers is set to.

It could just be that at that particular point in time that's what the boilers were at.

Did you see any controls on the boilers that appeared as if they could be "Outdoor Reset Controls" ?

I highly doubt that if you posted pictures of boilers and piping that anyone could ID the locale and cause mischief there from... but it's your choice.

You say the basements are locked anyway? Who sees it? You were lucky I guess getting a glimpse into King Tuts Tomb!
 
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Old 12-26-13, 04:23 PM
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Yeah, I'm just one of those people who thinks a slim chance is still a chance. I've been identified by stranger, more obscure things on the web before so I never say never lol The board said they didn't make any changes. I'll look through the pics to see about outdoor reset controls, those look like little panels on the wall?
 
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Old 12-26-13, 06:35 PM
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a slim chance is still a chance
I understand... no problem.

outdoor reset controls, those look like little panels on the wall?
Could be. Can also be incorporated into aquastat controls...
 
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Old 12-26-13, 06:58 PM
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How about the make (definitely a Slant Fin?) and model number of the boiler instead of a pic?

It would also be helpful to know if the boiler is also responsible for making the domestic hot water for the building.

I doubt that there would be outdoor reset installed on a conventional cast iron boiler that's also responsible for making DHW. Certainly not any sort of full outdoor reset...
 
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Old 12-26-13, 07:00 PM
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Not likely..... with condo's each owner usually has their own electric water heater.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 07:14 PM
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Not likely..... with condo's each owner usually has their own electric water heater.
Probably in the majority of cases that's true, although in my area there are a lot of condo complexes that were originally designed and built as apartments and then converted over years later. Many retain their original heating and plumbing systems, which means the heat and HW are generated by the same source.
 
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Old 12-27-13, 05:46 AM
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Do you know how the gray box controls the water flow? For example is there a rotating ball valve inside the pipe the gray box is mounted on? Did you at any time detach the gray box from the pipe? (Don't try this at home if it isn't easy.)

Perhaps the valve (ball valve?) did not rotate to the fully open position due to dirt or other jamming. At a later date it broke free and worked normally. Then at a still later date it jammed again.

Each time this happens, try turning the thermostat all the way down and letting the radiators cool down for five minutes and turn it on again. Does the system heat up normally on the very next try?

I have also seen zone valves of this kind with a plunger on the pipe that is depressed by the gray box mechanism instead of a motor driven ball valve in the pipe. One box was defective in that it did not push the plunger all the way in so the full forced hot water flow was not achieved. (It was not supposed to be modulated but rather the plunger was either pushed all the way in or released completely.)
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 12-27-13 at 06:09 AM.
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Old 12-27-13, 07:24 AM
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Allan, why not research the zone valve in use before commenting? (and also read the entire thread) You will see that it is a rotating 'plug valve' type.

http://www.emersonclimate.com/en-us/.../0037-5421.pdf

Not a good idea to suggest taking the valve apart. This type of zone valve requires that the system be drained or the valve otherwise isolated in order to do so. Yes, I know you said "don't try this at home..." but don't even throw the idea out there. You can get people into deep doodoo by doing so.

I have also seen zone valves of this kind with a plunger on the pipe
" ... this kind ... " No, I don't think you have seen " this kind " with a plunger. As stated above, " this kind " of zone valve employs a rotating plug valve.
 
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Old 12-28-13, 09:34 AM
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Hey again, all! I went back and read, I forgot to follow up, when I was talking about the constant noise I hear, it wasn't the sound of water sloshing around, it was just constant tinking and tapping and that kind of dull shhhhh heated sound that radiators make.

Since this started happening, it's relatively quiet. The only time I hear any sound is after moving the thermostat up or down. Then after a minute or two, all is quiet again. I'll only hear a little tink or tap every now and then and it's low. It could just be my imagination but before, I could "hear" that the heat was on. Now, it "sounds" like it's off even though there's heat.

In the boiler room, there were two large square Slant/Fin Caravan boilers hooked up to all the piping and then off to the side also connected to the piping was a regular looking hot water heater, a Rheem-Rudd Universal. I didn't realize that my camera wasn't set to its highest resolution so I can't zoom in to see any info on it like model numbers like I intended. On the wall were some panels and a blue box that said Tekmar boiler control. I don't know if any of that is helpful.

I can't grab a hold of the rep again to go back down there, he's out and I'm busy the rest of the weekend anyway. It'll be a little while before I can have a plumber come in so in the meantime, I figured I'd look more into troubleshooting the thermostat and valve. Plus I may take the front panel off the radiators to vacuum the fins or whatever they're called for good measure since it looks grimy in there.

What are some of the things I should be looking for with my thermostat's behavior to make sure it isn't the problem? I cleaned out any dust that was on it and I found my level, checking how the thermo's mounted on the wall, the bubble is maybe a millimeter or two to the right of dead center, still within the lines.

From what little I know about these old funky thermostats (which is nothing lol), the kind I have moves the mercury bulb by the expanding and contracting of that coil in there as it reacts to temperature. Could there be something around the coil or the thing in the center of the coil throwing the thermostat off somehow?
 
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Old 12-28-13, 10:08 AM
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a blue box that said Tekmar boiler control.
Tekmar is one of the leading manufacturers of outdoor reset modules. Depending on the model of boiler control it's very possible that there is an ODR unit on the system and this could account for the 'lukewarm' water issue. As you probably already know, ODR will reduce the boiler water temperature during milder temperatures and increase it when the weather turns colder.

There is potential for inappropriate settings to be applied to the controls...

The only time I hear any sound is after moving the thermostat up or down. Then after a minute or two, all is quiet again.
This would seem to describe the motor in the zone valve opening and closing.

figured I'd look more into troubleshooting the thermostat and valve.
Have you looked at the 'printing' on the 'wheel' on the side of the valve yet? When the thermostat is turned up and the valve should be OPEN, take a look to see if the wheel says OPEN... and likewise when it's turned down... should say CLOSED.

I may take the front panel off the radiators to vacuum the fins or whatever they're called for good measure since it looks grimy in there.
That's always a good idea. It's amazing how even a thin coat of dust can reduce the heat output from fin-tube. BE CAREFUL! those fins can be SHARP! If you want to do an extra good job, find a brush that the bristles will fit between the fins and loosen the dust up.

What are some of the things I should be looking for with my thermostat's behavior to make sure it isn't the problem?
I don't feel as though there's a problem with that. If the mercury blob moves from one side to the other at close to the temperature that the room is at, it's functioning properly.

Yes, the coil is a 'bi-metal strip' that reacts to room temperature.

Could there be something around the coil or the thing in the center of the coil throwing the thermostat off somehow?
Doubtful. Level is the main thing that affects the accuracy. I suppose that over time the bi-metal coil could go 'off' a bit... but then all that would happen is that you would have to turn the temp up above the normal setting to get the heat to kick on. It sounds like from your earlier description that may be the case already. So just set it to where the room is comfortable and forget about it... If you need to set it to 75 to get the room to 70 then so be it.

As mentioned earlier, you can NOT use your 'run of the mill' thermostat as a replacement. The ones that allow a THREE WIRE connection are few and far between.
 
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Old 12-28-13, 10:41 AM
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Hey Trooper, happy weekend! I forgot, yep, I checked the valve. After I turned the thermo up, the wheel at the valve was in the position that said open. When I turned it all the way down, I ran to go look and saw the wheel turning and then it stopped on the closed position.

It brought to mind another question. I thought there would be a pipe that ran into the valve where the water from outside was coming in and that the water it let through would then split off into the pipes that lead to the radiators, but I realized that there's no pipe connected to the valve other than the ones to the radiators, so is the water coming in from one of the radiator areas instead?

Nevermind the above, I just realized what I was saying didn't make sense.

Also, about the thermostat, the temperature difference is why I wondered if it was working okay. There seemed to be a 10-15 degree difference between what I set it to and what it warmed up to, so in order for it to be a comfortable 70, I had to push it up to 80. If I set it to 70, it would be 55-60.

Since this happened, I can push it all the way up to its max of 90 and leave it like that and it still won't top 70, so I was wondering if it was starting to fail or become less sensitive to temperature or something.
 

Last edited by cyberphonics; 12-28-13 at 11:10 AM.
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