Questions about expansion tank leaking and maintenance


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Old 02-27-15, 05:40 AM
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Questions about expansion tank leaking and maintenance

here in NJ, checked on why there was no heat in the house.

Turns out... DOH!.... last night, I bumped the red switch at the top of the basement stairs. Solved that problem, but I looked at the boiler and there was a small puddle on the floor. The water is coming from the silver part of the expansion tank that was likely installed with the system back in 1996?

The system is cold - not sure if that has a bearing on why it's leaking, but I know I don't get that leakage in the summer when the furnace is off for months at a time.

I haven't done any maintenance to the system. It's just 'worked', but takes hours to heat the house from the overnight 58 degrees to 68 degrees (is that normal).

Any thoughts? tips on maintenance on the expansion tank?

THANKS!
 
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Old 02-27-15, 05:54 AM
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Is the system in safety due to a low water level?
 
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Old 02-27-15, 06:38 AM
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Sorry, I don't know - how would I know if it's low water? The heat IS coming up now that I flipped the red switch back on : )

The dripping has stopped.

I remember as a kid on a different system, unscrewing the cap from the silver part , pressing the valve (looks like a tire valve) till water came out and then put the cap back on? Was that good? should I do that now?
 
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Old 02-27-15, 06:58 AM
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We don't use boilers in the South, so I have never seen one, BUT, what does that red switch do? Sounds as if it controls a recirculator, and when it ceased to work, the system over pressurized and the valve popped, releasing water, which would be normal. I'd take a serious look at that red switch, relocate it, or at least find out what repercussions it causes being on or off.
 
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Old 02-27-15, 07:28 AM
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The red switch is the emergency shut off & it has to stay where it is. When he flipped the switch back to the on position, everything should go back to normal. If the boiler is working now, it wasn't due to a low water level.


babaganoosh, When you say the silver part, do you mean the pressure relief valve. Watch it carefully. If you see water again, determine if it's due to the pressure relief valve or if there is an actual leak.
 
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Old 02-27-15, 07:29 AM
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Funny! Here in the northeast, that red 'boiler shutoff' switch at the top of the basement stairs is ubiquitous. It cuts the power to the system.

Wondering what maintenenance I should be doing to boiler / expansion tank...
 
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Old 02-27-15, 07:30 AM
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that silver thing is an 'automatic float type air vent'.

Inside there is a 'float'. When the 'air scoop' catches air, it sends it into the vent assembly.

The float drops when air enters, and opens the vent valve on top and lets the air out.

When the air goes out, water comes in and pushes the float back up and is SUPPOSED TO close the little vent.

They get crudded up with minerals from the water and don't completely close, and leak... happens all the time.

The immediate solution is to screw the cap down tight and wait for spring time to change the vent.

As long as you don't have air bubbling through the pipes, you can leave that cap closed... nothing 'bad' will happen.
 
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Old 02-27-15, 07:32 AM
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Pulpo, look at pics... see air vent on top of scoop above expansion tank that's leaking... NOT the relief valve!

baba, step by step instructions for servicing expansion tank in the following thread:

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...sion-tank.html
 
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Old 02-27-15, 08:06 AM
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Pulpo: sorry I missed your post - you posted a minute before my last post.

NJ: THANKS! Now that the system is back up to temp, I guess I can't do that procedure right now.

some more questions:

1) would that series of events (powering down boiler, then getting water out the silver air vent) acceptable / to be expected?
2) The system is from 1993 and on the lower end of efficiency from that yellow page. Would anyone recommend proactively replacing it now or at some point? Either because of age and potential failure at the wrong time or because new systems are more efficient and would save lots of money?
3) the system takes hours to heat house each morning. we set night temp to 58 or so and have a nice down blanket. low setback to save money? and like it cool. but then system turns on at 3 - 4 AM and doesn't get up to 68 by 8AM before it turns off for daytime / no one home drop. Does that long time to heat the house indicate a problem / undersized / inefficient operation?

I did blow out the dust from hot water radiator fins around the house, and there was dust, but nothing horrific.
 
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Old 02-27-15, 08:17 AM
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That's a huge temp swing and most likely not doing you any good on actual savings in fuel. Think about it, you're trying to recover 10 degrees at the coldest part of the day, early morning. That's a huge load on any heating system. I would expect at least 4 hours for my system to recover from a drop like that. Consider only a 4 or 6 max temp swing.

Something to consider, when you allow the house to cool 10 degrees, it's not just the air your heating, it's the entire inner structure (walls, floors) you're heating back up, including the contents like furniture etc. I've cut my swing down to only 3 degrees with small increments of 1 degree recovery intervals throughout the day, taking advantage of solar gain from the sun beating down on the house and through the windows.
 
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Old 02-27-15, 08:20 AM
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I wouldn't replace the system. If you are setting the temp to 58 at night in NJ, of course it's going to take forever to reheat the house. A new system will take just as long. I never understood why people do that. They aren't saving any money. When the summer comes, no one shuts the AC, to save money. They blast it to no end.
 
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Old 02-27-15, 08:48 AM
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Thanks guys. the large setback is partially because we like it cool / if it's warmer we sweat under the down blanket : )

We'll try a smaller swing of temperature.
 
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Old 03-01-15, 12:13 AM
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We'll try a smaller swing of temperature.
And definitely follow Trooper's expansion tank advice. Depending on your setup, it can be really easy, I'm a complete 'noob and I replaced my tank and air vent in about an hour in the middle of winter in Maine. Works like a charm now and made such a difference!
 
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Old 03-01-15, 06:05 PM
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in an hour?! I would think it takes hours for the system to cool down? In maine!?
 
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Old 03-01-15, 09:30 PM
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in an hour?! I would think it takes hours for the system to cool down? In maine!?
Nah, Maine is pretty damn cold recently so I just shut it off for a couple hours and it was cool enough to work on. Fired up the propane cook-top to keep the upstairs warm while I was doing work. The actual work took about an hour, the cooling down of the system maybe 2hrs before that.

Just make sure the pressure is has dropped low enough first, mine was running on the low side before so that wasn't a problem. You can always let out some water to reduce pressure and close off all the isolation valves you can to minimize water loss.

Check out Spott's replies to my thread about this, he was incredibly helpful. Like I said, it depends a lot on how your system is set up and where you have isolation valves, if it's setup well you don't have to lose too much water at all, other than the amount in the expansion tank if it's ruptured and full of water, and a little more from the piping leading to/from it.

Again, I'm a noob here so I hope the experts correct me if I've explained anything wrong.
 
 

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