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My fin-pipe radiator heat sucks

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by tiber, Oct 21, 2010.

  1. heating8

    heating8 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Messages:
    48
    Loc:
    south central PA
    I think the only reason there's air was because of the broken pipe, and after the repair it hasn't been purged properly. Just make sure when you're trying the fill that you don't have the heat on. I don't want you cracking the boiler with all the cold make up water. (depends on cast iron / stainless / steel / etc.)

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  2. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
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    2,805
    Loc:
    SE PA
    If there was air in the lines you would hear it. Really loud gurgleys when the circulator is running. Are you sure your problem is air? Balancing a residential hydronic system consisting of loops is usually done by blocking off sections of the radiator by wrapping the fins in foil (or if in Maine, towels). If you've got multiple loops, are you sure they are all open to flow, if you have zone valves are they all working as expected? Maybe the boiler can only send water to part of the house and it is trying to satisfy a tstat elsewhere? I've got two loops that are plumbed together to give a 1 zone/ 1 tstat system. One of the loops (the upper one) thermosiphons (gravity driven flow) despite a check valve (that must be rotted out), making the first room or two in that loop hot all the time. Probably irrelevant to your sitch, but you should play with the different loop/zone valves, cycle the circulator and see which radiators come on to figure your layout.
  3. heating8

    heating8 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
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    Loc:
    south central PA
    1. You won't hear it if it's bound and the air isn't circulated. It basically acts as an air cushion at the top and doesn't allow circulation.
    2. I'd love to know more about the foil / towel trick. I have no idea at all on that one (unless you're trying to cut down on the heat emission from the rad.) but not for balancing
    3. you're probably getting flow back up the return loop (not necessarily a faulty check on the supply) this is fairly common which is why we always use one on the return too.
  4. tiber

    tiber New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2009
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    450
    Loc:
    Audubon, PA
    Ughghgh, I got sick this week and I wasn't able to do anything. I got my flu shot, so what the hell man?

    I took apart the other room and verified there's no bleeder nipples. At least every place I could expect there to be one. I did look at the boiler again, there's TWO other spigots. Amazing. One is really low, it's obviously to drain the entire system. One is on the expansion tank. One is not obviously related to anything. I hate this sort of mystery crap.

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    Labeled Boiler, Giant Version

    From your guys posts, I gather I open the fill from the water company, open the expansion tank, and just run water through it until it stops chugging?
  5. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    1,689
    Loc:
    northern massachusetts
    hookup a hose to the valve you have a question mark on that is behind the water feed. turn off the valve that is going up to the expansion tank. then open water feed then quickly open the valve with the hose. to get more water pressure into the system you take the flat piece of metal on top of the water feed/pressure regulator and force it up straight. that opens up the feed. keep a close eye on the pressure/temperature gauge and keep it below 30 pounds. you might want to put a bucket under the the pressure relief valve in case it blows off. run water thru the system for about 5 minutes, trying to keep the pressure up at between 25 and 30. then shut off feed and quickly after that shut off the hose valve. then open up the the pressure tank valve keep a eye on the pressure in the boiler at the gauge. to lower the pressure open the hose valve until it goes down to 15 pounds. to higher the pressure open up the feed valve until it reaches 15 pounds. now turn on the boiler and get it hot and see how it is. the pressure should rise a bit as the water heats up. if it goes up over 20 pounds lower at the hose valve. if you can't get the air out of the system that way you need to call good plumber that know heat. not meaning to knock oil or gas people, don't call your oil or gas people for this job. i say this because more times than not i've had to teach these guy's how to troubleshoot and run a boiler. they usually send out a apprentice to the job, when he can't get it the apprentice calls the good guy and they charge you by the hour and it winds up costing more money in the long run.
  6. tiber

    tiber New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Audubon, PA
    Thank you, fbelec.

    In fact it was the oil and gas people who caused this entire nightmare. The guy went to inspect the tank and broke both my sewer line and my radiator pipe. The radiator pipe was a resolder, it wasn't that bad, but the sewer line is still in court with my insurance company vs them because they're claiming no wrongdoing.
  7. heating8

    heating8 Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    48
    Loc:
    south central PA
    left to right on the top small photo
    flow control valve, relief valve, fill valve, purge valve (then i can't tell what the one above the purge valve is from the photo)

    Flow control valve stops flow when your circulator doesn't call (you may heat domestic with the same boiler too) and helps to prevent overheating. The theory is that you can screw the top and force it open if your circulator fails too to get some heat but this is mostly from the old days of gravity flow.

    Relief valve saves your butt from getting hit from a piece that explodes when the pressure gets too high. Just remember they're only designed to operate ONE TIME.

    Fill valve keeps new water coming in to keep whatever pressure it's set to (when it's not in bypass mode to purge)

    Purge valve gets the air out when you do as Flebec stated above.
  8. tiber

    tiber New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2009
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    Loc:
    Audubon, PA
    heating8 ,the bigger picture shows it off better. ;)

    I am going to leave it go right at the moment, I don't have another set of hands and what knocked me on my ass last week looks like it's sneaking up on the wife and kid. Ughghghg...
  9. heating8

    heating8 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Messages:
    48
    Loc:
    south central PA
    that other thing with the 3 ??? is just a ball valve, exactly as the same as the one parallel to it without the ???

    edit : to clarify, a ball valve is just used for isolation (turn on or off) to stop flow.
  10. tiber

    tiber New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2009
    Messages:
    450
    Loc:
    Audubon, PA
    Funny thing, heating8, my mother in law came up and she doesn't like to sleep with the door open (understandable), so we turned on the oil heat. It's been down to 28F here on the top of the PA hills, and the problem just weirdly resolved itself. I'm guessing the air worked it's way down to the expansion tank and the heater wasn't pumping enough to get it there with the woodstove carrying most of the load.

    Lesson learned: Turn it on every once in awhile. :)

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