New home....Boiler questions/Indirect HW heater (long,sorry)


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Old 12-25-14, 01:12 PM
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New home....Boiler questions/Indirect HW heater (long,sorry)

Hi everyone,
My wife and I recently purchased a new home and I have some questions related to the boiler and the new indirect hot water heater.
The home is roughly a 1,300 sqft ranch with a full unfinished basement, and it is serviced my a WeilMcLain series 68 oil fired boiler. I assume that the boiler was installed in or around 1992. The HW was provided by a Rheem electric hot water. The house had two heating zones, one for the upstairs living area, and one for the basement.
When we had the home inspection completed, the inspector noted that the electric HW heater was from 1985 and it was in need of replacement. He also noted that the actual plumbing at the boiler was mostly incorrect, including the basement zone that "only was piped for return". The house also has very hard water, so most of the fittings were corroded.
As part of the negotiations, the sellers agreed to correct the problems. The plumber that they hired installed a new WeilMcLain indirect HW heater Aqua Plus 55. The plumber also installed new plumbing at the boiler to correct the problems there, an Argo priority zone control device, three new zone vales, a new air device, and a Watts RBFF.
My question relates to the new indirect HW heater. It seems that whenever you use hot water, even if it is just to wash your hands, the boiler kicks on. I was under the impression that the boiler would not kick on until you exhausted the storage amount of water in the tank? At this point it seems that using the coil in the boiler would have been a better option, since the boiler kicks on anyway when you need hot water. The indirect seems to be a terrible waste of oil, am I wrong?
The final questions relates to the aquastat and boiler temperature, where should it be kept to maintain "hot" hot water and still cut down on oil consumption? I know that with a boiler of this age, I really can't nor do I want to have it cold start. In the current winter season, the aquastat is set for 160 High and 140 Low. Where should I keep it in the summer? Would it be beneficial to change to aquastat to a different model more appropriate model for an indirect?

Thank for your help!

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Old 12-25-14, 01:50 PM
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Hi Zack,

Stand back and take some wider angle shots...

Let us see where the pipes are coming and going...

Show us everything please.
 
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Old 12-25-14, 02:37 PM
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A few more pictures of the other side of the boiler....
 
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Old 12-25-14, 03:14 PM
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It seems that whenever you use hot water, even if it is just to wash your hands, the boiler kicks on. I was under the impression that the boiler would not kick on until you exhausted the storage amount of water in the tank?
Does it just 'seem' that way? Or is that true 100% of the time?

Could it just be coincidence that the times you hear the boiler kick on the water heater was on the verge of needing to be reheated ANYWAY?

Or perhaps the boiler itself was cooling down to the LO setting of the aquastat and fired itself up for no good reason?

What is the temperature setting on the water heater control?

At this point it seems that using the coil in the boiler would have been a better option, since the boiler kicks on anyway when you need hot water. The indirect seems to be a terrible waste of oil, am I wrong?
Yes, you're wrong... but there's a 'catch' to this...

You see, the aquastat control on your boiler is going to keep the boiler at or around 140F 24/7 (warm start) in any case. THAT is the 'terrible waste' part of the picture.

I know that with a boiler of this age, I really can't nor do I want to have it cold start
Of course you CAN go cold start. Very easy (and fully reversible if needed) modification to the aquastat will allow that.

True you might not WANT to... because it's possible that you may end up with weeping seals between the boiler sections.

It's a toss up gamble you have to decide if you're willing to take.

In the current winter season, the aquastat is set for 160 High and 140 Low.
In the pic of the aquastat, I don't see the HI set to 160 ... I see a bit over 180.

HI of 160 is fine ALL THE TIME if that's adequate to heat the home. You don't want to lower the HI much below that though.

Turn the LO setting down to 120F. This will save you some fuel.

Where should I keep it in the summer?
The same place it's set in the winter.

Would it be beneficial to change to aquastat to a different model more appropriate model for an indirect?
You mean replace with a COLD START aquastat? That's your only other choice. And you don't need to replace it, just do the simple 5 minute modification.
 
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Old 12-25-14, 03:18 PM
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You need to get some pipe insulation on the hot water lines from the indirect for starters.

Not that there's really any problem with this, but in this picture:



the guy only wired the 'motor' of the zone valve to the panel. He could also have wired the 'endswitches' to this panel and then run a wire back to the boiler from the endswitch on the panel. It's going to work either way, I just don't understand why one would not utilize the full features of the control panel.
 
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Old 12-25-14, 05:19 PM
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Based upon the pictures, does the quality of the work look up to par?
 
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Old 12-25-14, 06:20 PM
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Do you have natural gas heating?

I tried that same Honeywell thermostat. No matter how much I adjusted it, it wouldn't perform consistently. I went back to a simpler aquastat.

Cold start vs. warm start: a year or so ago, I calculated the additional "wasted" fuel with a warm-start, gas-fired boiler, and posted the results here - no disagreements were posted. The value of the "wasted" fuel was just peanuts - even ignoring that most of the lost heat wound up in the home's heated space.

I don't have an indirect water heater, so that may change your situation - in which case, you could consider replacing your indirect with a stand-alone, gas water heater, and shut down the boiler during the non-heating season.
 
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Old 12-25-14, 07:41 PM
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Do you have natural gas heating?
The home is roughly a 1,300 sqft ranch with a full unfinished basement, and it is serviced my a WeilMcLain series 68 oil fired boiler.
Gil have you even read this thread??
 
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Old 12-25-14, 07:42 PM
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Thanks for the advice everyone. I will lower the aquastat tomorrow, to 160/120. As far as the pipe insulation, can or should it go on every pipe in and out of the indirect and the boiler, or just the domestic hot water line? I have insulated most of the baseboard heat pipes in the basement so far, I guess I should hit all the pipes on the boiler.
So far it does seem that 100% of the time there is a call for hot water the boiler does kick on. We are not in the house full time at the moment, so the call for hot water is infrequent, and the need is short in duration. Would that make a difference?
Can you elaborate on the 5 minute aquastat mod? How is it done and what does it accomplish? Also how would I operate the boiler differently with the mod?
 
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Old 12-25-14, 07:51 PM
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Also if there is anything else about this system (zone valves and priority relay) that you can educate me on, I would be most appreciative.
I am somewhat versed in the series 68 boiler, since the home we purchased is across the street from my mom's home, which is serviced by the exact same boiler. I have been dealing with her boiler since it was installed in 1992, however in her home it is only one zone, and the HW is provided by the coil....the set up there is easier to understand. The zones and priority relay are uncharted waters for me.
Oh, and the priority setting is off currently, I assume it should be switched on?
 
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Old 12-25-14, 07:57 PM
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Im not sure the argo is wired right for the indirect...

Im looking up specs now..

Changing the aquatst to cold start is the mod. It will act the same as it does now but will not keep the boiler warm on a no call for heat or HW...

Cold start vs. warm start: a year or so ago, I calculated the additional "wasted" fuel with a warm-start, gas-fired boiler, and posted the results here - no disagreements were posted. The value of the "wasted" fuel was just peanuts - even ignoring that most of the lost heat wound up in the home's heated space.
I disagree with this statement...
 
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Old 12-25-14, 08:01 PM
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Do you need the model # of the Argo? If it is wired incorrectly, can you give me some direction on fixing the wires? I have no clue who the plumber is who did the work, so I am on my own here.
 
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Old 12-25-14, 08:09 PM
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Yes whats model of argo??? I cant find it on line. may be older
 
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Old 12-25-14, 08:11 PM
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Old 12-25-14, 08:18 PM
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If the end switches are not used on the zone valves ( the two red wires at each zone) then terminals 3 and 4 need a jumper. I see no jumpers in the argo panel.. Page 3 of the link...
 
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Old 12-25-14, 08:24 PM
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And I am not sure how the boiler is fireing as there are no wires to the boiler TT terminals..

On zone 2 and 3 can you tell us where those wires go at # 1 and 2???

The red and white wires here at bottom of photo...

[ATTACH=CONFIG]43832[/ATTACH]
 
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Old 12-25-14, 08:27 PM
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whats the model aquastat here?


[ATTACH=CONFIG]43833[/ATTACH]
 
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Old 12-25-14, 08:33 PM
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Here is the booklet, it appears to be the AZ 4P
 
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Old 12-25-14, 08:51 PM
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The aquastat is a Honeywell L8124A.

Here is a picture of the other end of the red and white wires that are in the bottom of the other picture. The red and white wires are connected to the yellow wires with the orange wire nuts. It looks like those yellow wires then run to the zone valves for the 1st floor and basement zone.
 
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Old 12-25-14, 09:01 PM
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If the end switches are not used on the zone valves ( the two red wires at each zone) then terminals 3 and 4 need a jumper. I see no jumpers in the argo panel.. Page 3 of the link...
are there jumpers?...........................
 
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Old 12-25-14, 09:27 PM
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Sorry for the incessant questions, but where should I look for the jumper wires? In the Argo box or at the zone valves?
 
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Old 12-25-14, 09:55 PM
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in the box...right of the two yellow wires and/or red-white wire . terminal 3 and 4 should have jumper...
 
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Old 12-26-14, 08:53 AM
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If the red wires are paralleled and go directly to the boiler T T connections, then there is no need for the jumpers in the Argo panel.
 
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Old 12-26-14, 09:16 PM
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Thanks everyone.
Based upon what is shown in the pictures, is everything up to par? Does the quality of work look good?
 
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Old 12-27-14, 06:25 AM
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On those controls you would also want to reset the diff setting to a minimum of 20.
Cold start is definitely a fuel savings. Standby loses reduce, boiler does not fire when there is no demand, chimney maintains a higher draft sucking more heat from the boiler, etc. Any boiler that is not sidewall vented and has combustion air connected directly to the boiler costs more to operate.
But as stated the gaskets could leak.
A test is on a warmer day turn the boiler off. when OD temps allow, overnight and check for leaks before you turn the boiler back on.
It's a shame your mom lives across the street. It's to expensive to run pipes under the street. The point is that boiler is big enough to heat both your homes providing her home is about the same size of your home.
I have a 5300 sq ft home, 32 years old being heated with 90,000 btu's, and a 1430 sq ft home heated with a 2 section boiler @ 42,000 btu's. Both have an indirect water heater installed.
 
 

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