Wrong time to be asking but it's cold out and I wonder what I should check

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Old 02-13-16, 09:15 PM
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Wrong time to be asking but it's cold out and I wonder what I should check

It's cold here in NJ. My wife says the boiler has been running for hours and the temp inside is dropping? It's a programmable thermostat and she's been playing with it, so I don't think it's really that bad.

But from the pictures on here, can you comment on what I should be checking / do things look right? No gurgling / water hammer (so no air in the lines?). We do get expansion creaking of the fins and pipes in the walls when the system comes on / turns on.

But the pressure / temp meter - I guess I should have a picture when the system is cool to know what it looks like then / that these needles do move. But this is how the system looks after being on for hours....

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Old 02-13-16, 09:20 PM
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A working system - 120 degrees is OK? The flames are blue and seem uniform (no blockages that I can see). Is there some water I should drain? Valve to open to replenish water or test things? There's a pressure releif valve (that has a pipe that dumps water on the floor). I manually lift that and hot water spits on the floor. Does that automatically get replenished? Is there a way to see the water level in the system? I had a steam system on a previous house and that had the glass tube to see water level.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 09:25 PM
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we bought the house in 1997? that slant fin label mentions a-1993. Is that the year? Do you proactively replace a boiler like you do a hot water heater. Or like a hot water heater, you expect those to last 12 years? Boilers? Do they just keep going or subject to failure at some point?

And for that model vs. the models out now, is replacement a brain dead decision because the efficency of this unit is so low?

I have a harbor freight infrared / non-contact temp gadget. What should the temp of the water / outside of the water pipe be? (I also have a kitchen thermometer you'd use on a turkey so I can drain water (from where) and check the temp of that.

For good or bad, I haven't done anything to the system in a BUNCH of years. Just replaced a zone valve motor I think.

thanks!
 
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Old 02-13-16, 09:30 PM
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Hi babagabn, just hang tight for a bit, the pros will be along.
What is the size of the house? One thermostat? Last serviced?
The good news for you is, you are in NJ. I moved up to Maine and it is -4 here, although that really isn't cold for us.

You are in the right forum so we wait.

Bud
 
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Old 02-13-16, 09:34 PM
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While we wait, boilers last a long tine and the efficiency listed for yours is fine. Although a gas boiler can go several years without service, they do need service. It's late, but one of them should be around.

Bud
 
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Old 02-13-16, 09:35 PM
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Your boiler pressure looks good (20psi). The temperature is low(120). If the boiler is running continuously then it is having a hard time keeping up with the heat loss in your house.

Don't do anything with the water.

Is the boiler burner actually lit ? At that boiler temp it should not shut off.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 09:37 PM
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If accurate 120F is low.
If the burner is on for over 10 minutes with out the boiler temperature rising above 140 something is wrong.
watch the burner and record the boiler on time and temperature when the burner stops.

Can we have a view of the temperature setting on the aquastat.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 09:50 PM
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Currently it is 3° here in NJ and dropping.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 09:54 PM
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Heatworm: Aquastat!? I remember looking at that last year. I forget why. So with the cover off, the pointer is pointing to 200?! But I can spin that wheel around and there's that lever / extra piece of metal at 160? Nothing saying 120

PJ - 120 is low? What's a good number?

It would seem the aquastat is not calibrated correctly? Pointing to 180, the metal tab is at 160 but unit is at 120?

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Old 02-13-16, 09:58 PM
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Fire box look very good, so . . .
You could also be experiencing low gas pressure due to high demand
 
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Old 02-13-16, 09:58 PM
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What is the burner doing..... is it staying on.... is it cycling ? That is important.

You should be at the temp set on the aquastat..... 180° or so.
However.... some sag is normal in the cold weather. Your house could be using more hot water than your boiler can provide.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 10:03 PM
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[ATTACH=CONFIG]62845[/ATTACH]

The aquastat is set to 200F this sets the burner High limit off.
Looks good.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 10:06 PM
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Getting late so I want to leave you with a couple of options. Check all windows and doors to be sure they are closed tight. Then, the old fashion way to reduce the heat to places you don't need as much so more can get to where you want it, blankets in front of or even over the baseboard where you can get by with less heat, say an unused bedroom. That will increase the heat available for the rest of the house. You can guess how I know that works.

Good night.
Bud
 
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Old 02-13-16, 10:07 PM
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Not for you guys to give me a lesson in boiler function at this hour : )

The burner - is that the flame? That is on now - and staying on (when you say cycling you mean turning on / off even when heat is being called for? that's NOT happening).

if I lowered the thermostat upstairs, I would think the flame would go out because the thermostat isn't calling for heat (along with the zone valve closing? And the circulating pump would stop? Need me to really try that? I don't think the flame is staying on 24 / 7. But it certainly isn't turning on / off every few seconds / minutes.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 10:09 PM
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Yes.... the burner is the BIG flame inside the boiler.

With the water temp that low..... the burner should NOT shut off at all. It should keep burning and trying to raise the temperature back to the setpoint.

Use your non contact heat gun to measure the temperature of the big pipe the goes to the boiler. It's the one with the silver wrap. Check it near the boiler.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 10:17 PM
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Bud - yeah, that stuff I (think) I know. I feel cold / cool near our andersen double pane windows. that's just unavoidable, right?

As for the upper limit at 200 and that's good....but it's at 120 now.

is there a way to test the system / try to get the water up to a higher temp?

There's 3 zones in the house. Lower the thermostats so they aren't calling for heat? the zone valves will close, right? The circ pump will stop. But does the system try to heat the water in the boiler to that upper limit for the next time heat is needed? Or what do I need to do to have the heat continue to run to see if I can get higher temp?

Is there anything I could be doing with these circled areas? I remember as a kid at my folks house, that silver thing - I'd take the cap off, press what looked like a bicycle tire valve stem insert - until water came out? Was that wrong? : ) too late now for that other house : )

Do you check the pressure in the expansion tank? How?

Basically, how do I (try to) raise that 120 water temp?
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Old 02-13-16, 10:20 PM
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is there a way to test the system / try to get the water up to a higher temp?
You need fire to make heat. You are skirting what I'm asking about the burner.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 10:20 PM
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Take your IR gadget and point it at the big black pipe entering the air scoop.
Document what you get and immediately record the temp on the boiler gauge, if very close, good.

It may become necessary to start shedding unneeded zones like the basement and closing some of the registers to get the water temperature to a safe level.

PS finally a air scoop on this board that is sized and piped correctly!!!
 
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Old 02-13-16, 10:27 PM
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Burner must be on continuously when their is a call for heat and the boiler temperature is below 200F, else something is wrong.
Close some of the registers (say 1/2 ) in each room.

Return water temp needs to reach 130 F.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 10:51 PM
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I lowered the temp on the thermostat in 2 of the zones (so water is only circulating in 1 zone / less heat being put into house / temp in boiler will rise?).

Here's a picture of the temp of the black pipe down on the left side of the boiler. is that what you were asking for? it's a harbor freight gadget so don't know the accuracy : )

Measured my kitchen freezer - it said 22. Measured the temp at 1 of the thermostats - thermostat said 61, gadget said 71. Put it in my mouth, measured 103. And I'm not feeling sick. On my skin - 88.

So on the black pipe, it says 110 degrees. close to the temp on the gauge of the boiler.

air scoop? googling that, that is at the top. the temp up there on the big pipe is.

get the water to a safe level - safe in what respect and what number woudl you consider safe?

PJ here's a view of the fire : ) Not sure what you are asking - you mention cycling. as in turning on off every minute or 2? no. it's not doing that. Turning off when the house gets warm? I woud think it's doing that, if we get there : )

OK, I lowered temp on thermostats in 2 zones, wrote this, went down to check temp on air scoop.... and gauge says 145, scoop temp is about that also.

So the boiler is getting warm... when it doesn't have to heat the house : )? Sure, being cold outside takes lots of heat inside. but back to original thought of why I posted this - how can I tell if the system is working the best it can? how to tell if there's enough water in the system? The correct pressure (I think you guys said yes that's OK). Does the fact that the boiler heats up when 2 of 3 zones are closed tell you anything other than it's cold outside?? How to eke out more heat? I used a harbor freight compressor just a few months ago and blew out dust from all the fins around the house. There's 2 layers of R 30 in most of the attic. I've caulked the sill joist around the house, etc. Sure there's going to be leaks - it's a 45 year old house. but beyond that... how to know the boiler part of this is running as good as it can be?

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Old 02-13-16, 11:12 PM
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The boiler is running as good as you can get it. It may need to be cleaned. It would appear that it is not keeping up with the demand.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 11:32 PM
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Lowering thermostats will not raise the system temperature and keep all the zones warm they will soon cool and call for heat.

You need to close or cover registers to reduce their output and raise system temperature that way.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 11:34 PM
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thanks! cleaned - is that something I can do? physically vacuum around the burners? Flush the water? (does clean water help it run more efficiently? If so, what's the right way to flush it? I guess when it's cold or you'll crack the boiler with the cold water coming in? There's spigots on each of the zone pipes. And a spigot at the bottom of the boiler.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 11:37 PM
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heatworm - something I realized I forgot to mention. We might set the night temp to low 60s and even on a not really cold day, it will take hours to get to the upper 60s. Closing registers woudl just delay that further, right? and taking hours to raise a few degrees - is that indiciative of poor performance also? (is there a 'typical' time vs. temp rise when outside is x degrees?)
 
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Old 02-13-16, 11:47 PM
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What is the square footage of the house.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 11:49 PM
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Did the boiler used to make heat faster ?
Is this the first time your boiler couldn't keep the house warm ?

Sure outside temp affects interior recovery time.
Yes.... closing the registers also slows down room heat recovery.

Changing the water will not help this problem. Every time you change the water you have to purge the air out of the system and you introduce new minerals that are detrimental to the health of the sealed system.
 
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Old 02-14-16, 12:00 AM
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used to make heat faster? Likely. over time performance has dropped off? didn't think much of it before.

not the first time the boiler can't really keep up - it's an issue we've known about for years. but haven't done maintenance. Just write it off to older system / performance drops off with age... house leaks more? (that last 1 I'd have to disagree with - I've added insulation and caulk.).

Back to the question - it's 23? years old (from the 1993 on the label?) . time to replace it based on age anyway?

what's a new boiler install typically run? just an order of magnatude number. house is 2400 square feet? $5K? $10K? more!?
 
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Old 02-14-16, 12:29 AM
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Contamination the water side and or fire side of the heat exchanger will both kill efficiency.
Your slant/fin can last a very long time if cared for, 23 years is only middle age.

You need someone to check the stack temperature to see if it is high as it would be if one or both sides of the heat exchanger was badly contaminated. And to check that the firing rate is correct.
 
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Old 02-14-16, 12:33 AM
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For a newer home that would seem to be a lot of boiler for 2400sqft.
 
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Old 02-14-16, 01:04 AM
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Those flames look rather anemic to me, are all the manual gas valves wide open?
 
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Old 02-14-16, 05:04 AM
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I agree Furd, I was thinking the same about the flame...possible gas meter or regulator problem?...I think you need to get a pro in there with a monometer to check your gas pressures babaganoosh...you need a minimum 5" of water column on the inlet side of the boiler gas valve to run that boiler, and 3.5" of water column on the manifold side..this is nothing a homeowner wants to play around with and you need special equipment to measure the pressures ..National Grid should be able to check your meter/regulator for free but realize that it is 2* out and they are quite busy
 
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Old 02-14-16, 08:46 AM
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poor - thanks - you mention national gas? the local gas company (for you?). Here it's PSE&G. And like in another post, I am jaded to the utilities doing anything free. But a good tip to start with them.

Anemic flame! Interesting! I liked how blue it was. Not tall ehough? likely hard to say from the picture but what would you consider the correct height of a flame?

in suburbia NJ, would you think the utility can't keep up? (as an aside, I heard second hand that if everyone in the area kept getting generators, PSE&G said they likely wouldn't have the infrastructure to support them).

Let me add a wrinkle to this. 3 zone house here. 1 zone is for a great room that was added to the house. - 25x25' - high ceilings, lots of windows, etc (ie lots of exposed walls).

In the winter we don't go in there so we lowered that temp to 50 and put up a simple tarp over the door way into that room.

So the system is (trying) to keep 2 zones at 65 - 70 and 1 zone at 50. having that cold area next to the habitable areas... does that help / hurt the situation? If I try to heat the big room to 65, that much wall / ceiling area is losing heat at a higher differential vs. now at 50 degrees. But now I have a tarped off opening - 50 degrees on 1 side, 60 degrees on the other

Oh yeah, so it's 60 degrees in the house, boiler says 120 degrees again...

I checked the gas valves on meter and at boiler...all open full. I turned them each 1/8 turn then back on. same situation.
 
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Old 02-14-16, 09:16 AM
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Oh yeah, so it's 60 degrees in the house, boiler says 120 degrees again...
I see you've been having problems before. As it's gets warmer outside your temps should start to rise.

PSE&G is a pretty good company. They will come and check your pressure for free. The home generator issue can be a problem in the future..... more so in the winter than the summer.

Since the house is cold.... be sure to check any plumbing that runs in an outside wall.... especially in the colder areas. If there is any doubt... let the faucet drip a little.
 
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Old 02-14-16, 10:54 AM
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That Boiler is big enough to heat a 5000 sq ft home..

Lower all t stats but one of them..

Turn that t stat up high 80f

Then watch the temp on the boiler. Flame should be on.

The temp on the boiler should rise to 180f.. If it does not and the burner/flame turn off then you need to turn the wheel on the aqustat until the flame comes on again. Keep doing this until the burner shuts off at 180f

During this test if the burner goes up past 180f lower the wheel some to make sure the boiler kicks off at around this temp...

Do that and let us know..

Second you could have a gas issue.. You can call pseg.. They will test their regulator outside.

Last you may not have enough baseboard in the home. To heat a 2400 sq ft home you need about 110 ft of finned tube baseboard. Thats the finned part under the covers. Measure that and let us know.. Give a rough estimate...
 
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Old 02-14-16, 10:57 AM
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Also I would not close any registers... Leave them all open IMO...

What county are you in?

Edit: somerset... A bit far for me..

Let us know
 
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Old 02-14-16, 02:54 PM
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Thanks to all you guys! It's so nice having such a large number of competent people chiming in on this... on a weekend.... when its cold and you likely have lots of other things to do!

Some follow up - I called PSE&G and yeah, they WILL come out at no charge... and even with this cold, they come out within 4 hours for a 'low pressure' ticket. That fast, I felt bad - I reiterated the system is working just sub par, there's NO leaks (that I know of), etc. but they said that it's still < 4 hour response for that. NICE! It's just that we're running around and can't be here for 4 hours at a time to wait. so I'll likely call first thing monday AM.

Amount of finned registers - about 60' on 1st floor (zone 1 of heat system), 55' on 2nd floor (zone 2). And the 3rd zone is the room 25x25' that has a tarp closing it off (I used the seal and peel temporary caulk around the door frame so I'd rather not go in there to measure the radiators in there...

Lawrosa - I did part of that test last night - with only 1 zone on. water got up to about 160 (according to gauge). The aquastat wheel was set for something like 180. I think the flame turned off (at 160 or so) and I 'played' with the aquastat - there's 2 settings for that honeywell L8148e aquastat, right? The wheel and the pointer. I'd turn the wheel, hear a click but the burner didn't kick on. is it like an AC system that there's a delay? This morning when I woke up and wife said it was 60 degrees in the house, I expected to go to basement and burners were still off, but they WERE on : ) but water temp was around 120

So on the aquastat, there's the wheel and there's also that metal arm that locks into the notches on the wheel. WHat shoudl that be set to?

And even if the aquastat is set for 160 and that's too low, the water isn't getting anywhere near that at this point : )

What's the best place to measure the temp of 120 / 160 / 180? I have the harbor freight infrared temp unit. And I have a digital turkey temp type of gadget (stick the thick needle into the turkey to read the temp. Do I draw off a cup of water from the lower spigot? from one of the zone spigots near the zone valve? Curious to see if meter gauge and digital temps and aquastat are anywhere close to being in agreement.

Thank you again!
 
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Old 02-14-16, 03:54 PM
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Just read outlet pipe from boiler with laser temp gauge..


Boiler should get to 180f if aquastats set correctly.. regardless how cold it is outside boiler should still get to 180f..


Turn wheel an aquastat until boiler fires. There should be no delay...

But it would seem you have a gas issue with low flames like this....


[ATTACH=CONFIG]62890[/ATTACH]
 
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Old 02-14-16, 04:08 PM
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Honestly, I doubt that the thermometers are that far off. I really think the problem is one of low gas pressure.

When you checked the manual gas valves did you include the knob on the combination gas valve, the valve assembly right outside the boiler casing that automatically turns the burner on when the thermostat in the room signals for heat? This is the knob that turns from "pilot" to "run" (or something similar). It needs to be turned all the way to the run position.

If all the valves are wide open then a maladjusted pressure regulator, most likely the one incorporated with the combination gas valve is probably to blame. My reasoning is that the flames, although blue, look really small to me AND the fact that your boiler is not coming up to temperature. As previously noted, that is a HUGE boiler for the size house and you do not seem to have an excess of baseboard convectors. The only thing left is low heat input to the burner.
 
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Old 02-14-16, 04:53 PM
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Again, thank you guys!!!! I'm getting them in to check pressure Monday am and will post results here.

Looking at the flame picture now, I don't remember them looking that small but hey, low pressure would be great if that's the reason. Quick fix and free to boot!
 
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Old 02-14-16, 05:10 PM
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I know timing doesn't work great for you but here is a thought and maybe check today. Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer outside again.

I don't have natural gas available so really haven't checked.

Does PSE&G have any issues with supply pressures/volume? I'm thinking like the "brown outs" we get from them when it's really hot and everyone has the A/C on. All my stuff was working poorly and when I took a meter to outlets it was mid/ upper 90 volts not 110 volts. Fans were working slower, lights dim etc.

Every gas customer was calling for record amounts of natural gas today. Wait until tomorrow and maybe no issue showing as you might fire up normally. Got detect it while it's a problem (TONIGHT).
 
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