High gas bills/radiator heat


  #1  
Old 12-23-02, 10:13 AM
kspoerl
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Question High gas bills/radiator heat

I recently got my gas bill and noticed a HUGE increase in the amount of gas usage this year vs. last year (2.5 therms vs .9 therms last year daily use). The thing is, that I'm home even less this year, so how can I be using more?

My hot water, cooking, and radiator are supplied by gas. I've noticed lately that my radiator has been acting funny, in that when I turn up the thermostat to get it to click on, the radiator will run for about 3 minutes, then turn off for about 5, then turn on again for about 3, then off again. This continues until I turn the thermostat back down. does this sound like a thermostat problem or a radiator problem? I've never flushed them or been very good at maintaining them (my boyfriend always did that-but now he's not around, so I'm thinking maybe that's it?)

Any suggestions would be appreciated!!
 
  #2  
Old 12-23-02, 11:20 AM
T
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When you say radiator you mean you have a hot water/steam heating system?
 
  #3  
Old 12-23-02, 03:56 PM
kspoerl
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Yes, the old fashioned type thing
 
  #4  
Old 12-23-02, 06:02 PM
bigjohn
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Well, the old fashioned type thing would have to be either a steam or hot water radiator which means you have a boiler somewhere. Maybe what you have is a wall furnace or space heater? It would unsual to have only one radiator unless maybe you live in a small apt. or condo? The clicking sound- does it sound like a valve clicking on and off? If you turn the thermostat up, the unit should stay on. Any chance you have a didtal camera and could post some pictures so can geta look at what you're describing? A few posts down, there's a guy who posted a picture of his furnace and his problem got solved right away.
 
  #5  
Old 12-23-02, 07:46 PM
kspoerl
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Ok, so let's just say I'm a typical girl here and don't have a clue as to what I'm talking about or how to explain it!

In my basement is the boiler/furnace thing that, when the thermostat (in the living room on the main floor) is adjusted, the gas kicks on and starts heating the water to heat the pipes and thus heat the rooms through the radiators. (is that right?)

My main floor only has one large radiator to heat the entire floor (due to some remodeling before I bought the house). It usually isn't bad, but because this is where the thermostat is, I usually keep the thermostat turned back very low (otherwise, the upstairs gets way too hot, even with the radiators partially turned off/closed). So when I'm downstairs and need some warmth, I usually just adjust the temperature up a couple of degrees, just to get the boiler/furnace (whatever) working, so that I'll get some heat in the living room. So then what happens is that I can hear the gas "kick in" and start the heating process-for about 3-5 minutes it will run. Then I can hear when it "clicks" off-for about 5 minutes it will remain off. Then it clicks back on and off, like it's doing a continuous cycle of on 3 minutes, off 5. Almost like it's trying to adjust to the temperature the thermostat is saying it needs to be at-but I wouldn't think that the air temperature would vary that much in that short of a time to warrant such a cycle of the boiler.

But then when I turn the thermostat back down to where it was before, I have no problems. The boiler kicks on maybe once or twice a night (I assume) because it never gets too hot upstairs (except right before I get up-which I would assume would be because of the colder air downstairs after sitting all night), but it's nothing like when I turn the thermostat up when I'm downstairs (make any sense?)

Did that help to explain any better?? Like I said, I'm just a "typical girl" when it comes to the repair part of the home, that's why I need so much help!
 
  #6  
Old 12-24-02, 07:39 AM
bigjohn
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Nothing wrong with being a typical girl. I've been fond of them all my life. [well at least since I discovered girls around age 11 or so] Anyway, it sounds like you have either a hot water or steam system. I'm assuming you mean you hear the gas burner on the boiler turning on and off when you're downstairs. There are a couple things to look for. Is the thermostat so close to the radiator so that heat from the radiator is affecting its' operation? Also, the thermostat should be mounted on an inside wall and not an outside wall. Inside the thermostat is a little resistor called a heat anticipator. If it is adjusted incorrectly, it could cause the short cycling that you describe. It's important to find out if the thermostat is cycling the boiler or if the boiler safety control is doing it. Can you take the cover off the thermostat and watch it's operation? [try not to breathe on it while you're watching it] See if the thermostat is moving back and forth and making and breaking it's switch contact or if it stays made but the gas valve on the boiler is still cycling on/off. This will tell you if the problem is in the thermostat or in the boiler. You'll probably need to call a service company for repairs.
 
  #7  
Old 12-27-02, 08:52 PM
kspoerl
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Thanks, so I've been doing a little investigating, and it seems that the thermostat's "trigger" (mercury is it?) isn't what's causing the boiler to kick on and off. When I adjust the temperature that I want the room to be (which it is located on an inside wall and not even close to the boiler-different floors altogether), the heat anticipator will go from one side to the other, to trigger the boiler. Then it stays on and when the boiler flame goes off, the anticipator is still on that same side. Then when the boiler flame comes back on, the mercury's still there where it was before.

So I went downstairs to the basement to investigate, found that it's a hot water boiler type with a two pipe system (I should preface this by saying these are my conclusions, not things actually written on the boiler itself). I was playing around with something called the circulator, and it had a knob for the speed of the motor (or something like that). It was turned to the fastest setting from what I could tell (too afraid to turn too hard), so when I turned it the other way, I could hear water running through the pipes. The psi on the boiler went up and the temperature went down, both faster than they had been. So that freaked me out a little, and I turned the circulator knob back to where it was and figured I needed to find out more about that first.

So it sounds like something with the boiler more than the thermostat, right? I'll keep working at it, if you have any suggestions (other than calling the professionals, which is what i"m sure sure I'll end up doing), I'd appreciate it.
 
  #8  
Old 12-28-02, 06:40 AM
bigjohn
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Does it say Grundfoss on the pump? Look on the boiler for a temperature control which we usually can an aquastat. What temperature is it set for? The thermostat probably turns the circulator on and off but not directly. It would have to operate a relay which would switch the pump on and off. The little glass tube with the mercury inside on the thremostat is the switch. Notice how it's mounted on a tightly coiled thin strip of metal? That's the temperature sensor. The anticpator is the little coil with the lever. You know, you could have a leak in the hot water plumbing [not the heating system pipes, the potable hot water] or a problem with the hot water heater or even the stove that's causing the increased gas usage. It's also possible that the gas meter nay be faulty. You should be able to get the gas company to come out for free to clock the meter and have a look around.
 
 

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