Baseboard heater conundrum. No flow at all.

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Old 01-04-14, 01:46 PM
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Baseboard heater conundrum. No flow at all.

First of, hello group!

Ok I have searched extensively but I haven't found any problems out here that match mine completely. I'm hoping I can get some help.

I have a dual heater house. This basement used to be an in law apt. so it has it's own heating system. Up stairs is forced hot air and down stairs is baseboard heating. So the heater downstairs was working fine a day or so ago. I noticed last night that it was getting cold in the basement so I checked out the heater. I just replaced the pilot thermister a month ago so I thought it went bad again. Checked it. Still lit. Hmmm. Checked to see if the heater was hot. It was. I suspected maybe the thermostat. Took it off, checked it out and its working fine. I reinstalled it and as soon as I turned the heater back on it fired up. Great! Well not so great. It stayed on for about 2 minutes. Everything got hot and then it stopped. I can usually hear the water start to move but nothing. Ok, I thought circulating pump. It was getting 110V, but I didn't hear or feel it going. Easy fix. Picked up a new one, installed it...same problem. This time i can hear the pumping going and gets hot.
Ok so I got air in the system. Need to purge. So this is where it gets weird. This is a single loop system so its pretty easy. I closed off the return valve, checked that there was pressure in the system, about 15psi, attached a hose to the purge valve and opened her up. nothing! Not even a single drop. On the return line the flow drops to floor height and then kicks up 2.5ft to the return inlet. At the point there is another drain. I can open that drain and water flows.
Now I'm at a loss. How can that be? this a small system with an over powered boiler. Blockage? Where? Seems like it's not getting out of the boiler. pipes are not frozen. Lowest in got down stairs was 45F and it stopped working long before it got that low. I have a space heater going in the basement to keep it from getting colder then 55F.
Hope this all makes sense. I have attached a couple of pictures. It's currently in the purge position in the pics.
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Any ideas guys?

Jimini
 
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Old 01-04-14, 03:09 PM
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baseboard heater conundru

Is there a flow check valve to keep heat in boiler when pump is off?
 
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Old 01-04-14, 03:42 PM
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I'm not sure. There is only one other component that the out flow goes through, and that is this thing. I thought it was just another purge valve. Name:  IMG_20140104_183659_669[1].jpg
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Old 01-04-14, 04:18 PM
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That is indeed a flo-check valve. If the check valve inside is stuck in the closed position, that could be the cause of your problems. Does the piping get hot after the valve when the boiler and pump are running?

Good prior thread on the subject here:

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...ck-closed.html
 
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Old 01-04-14, 04:21 PM
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That is a flow check valve.

On the return line the flow drops to floor height and then kicks up 2.5ft to the return inlet. At the point there is another drain. I can open that drain and water flows.
Blockage? Where?
Between your purge station and the other drain.

pipes are not frozen.
Famous last words!

I'm not clearly visualizing what you said about the return line though... how far is this other drain from the purge station?
 
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Old 01-04-14, 04:38 PM
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Ok so I loosened the knurl nut on the top of the check valve, and I was able to un screw it completely. I then could lift it up about an inch with no resistance. I think I loosed the packing nut because I got a slight hiss of air and then weeping. Tighten packing nut and re-seated the knurled nut.

Here is a pic of the other valve near floor and the riser pipe to get it back to the height of the return tube. Once it kicks back up it runs about 8 ft.

As a side note. When I had the purge valve open, and I opened that lower valve I heard it bubble at the purge vale as water came out of the lower valve. Name:  IMG_20140104_193034_459[1].jpg
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Old 01-04-14, 04:44 PM
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Rockledge, No it doesn't. After that check valve is cool to touch.
 
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Old 01-04-14, 05:28 PM
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When I had the purge valve open, and I opened that lower valve I heard it bubble at the purge vale as water came out of the lower valve.
OK, that's a different story then... you were draining the section of pipe from the purge station to the drain valve. That water was not coming from the boiler.

Don't let your inner gorilla loose on that check valve, but give it a few raps with a hammer while the pump is running.
 
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Old 01-04-14, 05:51 PM
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Ok, I gave it a shot. Some good solid raps but no go. It's getting pretty warm on one side and not the other. I'm gonna say its the check valve. I think this was just replaced last year but there really isn't anything else to point at.

I'll report back on the results.

Thanks for the help guys.
 
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Old 01-04-14, 08:21 PM
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I think this was just replaced last year but there really isn't anything else to point at.
Why was it replaced, and who replaced it?
 
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Old 01-05-14, 07:00 AM
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baseboard heater conundru

Since the valve is new the big cap on the top should come off easily so you can take the valve flapper out to clean .Another option is to isolate boiler from the system and apply town water pressure to the bottom of vale as you strike it with your hammer .
 
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Old 01-05-14, 08:27 AM
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@Rockledge

We had a problem last year with the heater and called in a pro. He replaced a lot of external components, but they all needed it, and brought the water intake up to code. From the looks of it he replaced the valve. In the pic you can see where he cut it out and then brazed back in.
I'm just getting to work on it. I think I will cut out the valve and see if I can fix it. if not I'll buy a new one. Either way I'll post back the outcome.
 
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Old 01-05-14, 09:28 AM
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So a quick update.

I cut out the valve and its fine. it moves freely, and I can blow in one side and get flow and blow in the other side and get no flow.

So now that I have an opening on the pipe 7 feet up I thought I would try and open the purge valve to see if it would flow. I should get something if there are no obstruction. Much to my dismay...nothing.
I seriously doubt ice as that side is at 58F.
Now that the baseboard loop is isolated, I'm gonna try to apply the town water pressure. See if that does anything.
 
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Old 01-05-14, 09:32 AM
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Are you in fact getting water into the system? i.e. the pressure reducing valve is not 'plugged' up? Happens fairly often.
 
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Old 01-05-14, 02:00 PM
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pipes are not frozen.
Famous last words!
lol...you got me NJ Trooper. turned out to be a frozen pipe. flooded my down stairs in the process of finding out.
So I have one 2.5 foot run of pipe that ran right underneath a back door. The pipe was enclosed in a wooden step. So it turned out to be a very good icebox. Even though it was never below freezing in the main area, in that box It certainly was well below freezing. There was insulation in there, but it was so old it wasn't do anything but making a good home for a mouse.

So now my final question for you guys. Is ok for me to use a SharkBite brass quick connect to repair this or should I really braze in a replacement section?
 
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Old 01-05-14, 02:18 PM
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Shark bites are fine if you don't have the soldering equipment. I had a hell of a time yesterday at a customers house trying to thaw out a line. I was there nearly 10 hours all because the homeowner had the stat set to cool and the absence of flow caused the thing to freeze up in a drafty section of the house.
 
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Old 01-05-14, 04:03 PM
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Sharkbites are fine...

you want to be VERY careful though that you have NO BURRS on the pipe after cutting it, and that there is little to no 'torsion' on the fittings.

You could even use a section of HEATING PEX tubing instead of copper. IF you can buy just a short piece. NOTE: PEX for HEATING has a special Oxygen barrier. Don't use PEX for potable water!
 
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Old 01-05-14, 06:29 PM
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Ok I promised a post-mortem so here it goes.

I cleaned out the flow check valve and (not dirty at all. Just some build up. to be expected.) I brazed it back in on the bottom, but I used a shark bit on the top tube. That way if I ever have to clean it out again I can just remove the shark bite fitting and unscrew the bottom. Name:  IMG_20140105_203430_730[1].jpg
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As much as I could have used the shark bites for the fix, deep down inside i would have been disappointed with myself. I know how to solder a pipe and not to is just plain lazy. So I cut out the offending piece and brazing in a new section. Name:  IMG_20140105_203528_557[1].jpg
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and here is the waster of my weekend.
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Heat is back on, all is good. Just need to clean up and build a new step. That's actually my next conundrum. I gotta figure out a way to isolate the outside from the inside and keep the pipe on the inside...side. Ah a battle for next weekend. For now I will reward myself for being a dummy and letting the downstairs get cold enough but being able to fix my mistake and learn from it.
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Thanks to NJ Trooper, RDSTREAM, and Rockledge for your help. Very appreciated!
 
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Old 01-06-14, 10:13 AM
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Insulate that line now too.
 
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