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Orlan 60...pumps not pumping? No hot water to the coils?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Gilby, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. Gilby

    Gilby Member

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    Hey guys - recap...I have the orlan 60. Large house with two furnaces with hot water coils to each. The last problem I had was my boiler wouldn't maintain hot water with any amount of load to it. You guys all determined my wood was too wet. I began splitting my wood and my 4700 sq ft house has been 74 degrees 24 hours a day no problem...and my electric bill last month was $140. Can't beat that with a stick!!

    Last weekend (and again at 5:30 this morning) my house got cold. Fans are blowing on the furnace, but I'm getting no heat. Generally when that happens, I've run out of wood and my boiler says FUEL. I fully expected that this morning. However, when I got out to the garage, it said my water temp was 177. That's pretty normal. So I felt both pipes running from both pumps. Both pipes were cold...which means my furnaces are blowing on cold coils. Both pumps were running, but not getting any hot water to them to circulate. This happened last Saturday as well. I tried resetting my boiler...nothing. I even turned the boiler off...and then back on. Usually you can hear the pumps reset and start circulating. Nothing. I messed with it for about 30 minutes. Even shut the furnaces down and restarted them hoping the new call for heat would kickstart the pumps again. Nothing. I'm not sure what I did finally...but they started pumping again and the pipes got very warm. Problem solved...I thought. The one side of my house began to warm up. I go down to the furnace and the incoming hose, the coils, and the return hose are all hot like they should be.

    Then I go to the new portion of the house and the furnace is blowing....but both hoses - incoming and return - and the coils - are ice cold. Nothing. My pumps are both hot. Both pipes leading to and leaving from the pumps are hot...but no hot water is getting to the coils at the furnace. What in the world can cause that?????? Do I have some sort of air lock or something??

    Both pumps are Grundfos pumps...I believe. Any help you guys can give based on that info would be great!!

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  2. afblue

    afblue Feeling the Heat

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    Do you have a pressure gauge anywhere in your system? Boiler is hot, and burning, I am wondering if the problem is not your boiler, or the controller but it might be an air lock. What position are the pumps, are they pumping vertically so any air would pass up through them. Or are they horizontally pumped? If you have a way to purge your system I am guessing you have air that go in. Has any service been done to your system to let air in, or do you have your make up water turned off, or a leak somewhere in the system?

    How do you have your system circulators? Do you have a boiler circ, then individual zone circs for the the coils? How is each pump controlled?

    Do you have a plumbing schematic? or pictures of it? that would really help to see how your system is laid out.
  3. Gilby

    Gilby Member

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    There is a pressure guage and its been normal. I think about 12 psi. I have wondered about the controller before. My - button doesn't work. I can increase settings, but not decrease. I have to reset back to factory settings and redo the ones I know how to do if there's a problem.

    I had a plumber come out and take a look at this thing recently. He says the pipes are set up backwards...or upside down...and should be going up the wall instead of down. Does that matter? I will say I got a $640 bill from said plumber that didn't set well with me. They had two hours of time billed that was unaccounted for. I called them on it...it got ugly. Said plumber is still a friend, but his dad won't let him do anything for me. Oh well...for $640 I'll become a little more educated on this boiler!

    How would I purge my system? I'm not familiar with that.... and I haven't had it serviced. I'm in remote Wyoming..and have yet to find anyone around here that knows a ton about them. It was a do-it-yourselfer from the guy I bought the house from in October.

    I have no leaks anywhere. I'll try to post a couple pics. Hopefully it can answer some of your questions. Appreciate your time!!!

    Attached Files:

  4. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    is the valve on the top of your air scoop open? this will let any air out of your system as it is running. Can we see some pics of the boiler piping on back of 60? Why is the ball valve s on that pump almost shut off?


    Rob
  5. Gilby

    Gilby Member

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    Forgive me Rob...everyone...I'm not the most mechanically inclined when it comes to this stuff. I'm not sure what the air scoop is....

    I'll have my wife send me some pics of the back side.

    I couldn't get this thing to work at all when we first fired it up. Per the plumber, he says water is like electricity. It takes the shortest route. When we started adjusting those valves, the hot water started circulating more evenly. At first, the majority of the water was bypassing the pumps all together. When we sent more water towards the pumps, the first pump was hogging it. They are all open...some just more than others. If I opened that one of the left all the way up, it'd get very hot and the one on the right would only get moderately warm. At the way they're set, they are both fairly even. Hope that makes sense...
  6. Gilby

    Gilby Member

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    not my wifes backside...just the boiler. :cheese:
  7. Gilby

    Gilby Member

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    Here is a shot of the back of the boiler. I'm waiting for one that shows in between the wall and the boiler to connect to the front shot I posted.

    Attached Files:

    • Rear.jpg
      Rear.jpg
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  8. bpirger

    bpirger Minister of Fire

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    I think maybe we could use some more pictures....showing things a little more clearly....and ideally, a sketch showing the boiler, piping going in and out, and the various things (loads) coming in and out of this piping.

    In the picture of the boiler, I think I can just see the air scrubber that was mentioned. It is up high, green.....

    Is this plumbed into the hot water outlet from the boiler? In the picture of the boiler behind, I only see the pipe from the bottom....which I assume is the cold water return.

    Then in the picture along the side (of the pumps) it looks to me like this return line goes down....and presumably it is the supply line which is coming down from the top in the picture and then feeding the two pumps. It then goes down and back around and becomes the return. Looks like there is a "short" from the supply to the return, but there is also a ball val;ve in that short, primarily closed. So this will prevent most of the hot water from the supply from going straight back down to the return, though some water will come straight off the supply, through this ball valve, and go back to the return. This will serve, sorta, as a boiler proctection....i.e. keeping the boiler return water above 140F...which is typically the coolest you want to return your water to the boiler.

    So which HX is getting hot water? From the pump on the left or the right in the picture?

    Can you access the red pipe along the way to the coil? Does it stay warm for awhile and then just get cold? Is this far from the pump, or rather close to the pump? Can you feel that the pump is actually running?

    You said ice cold, you couldn't have froze, right? Just making sure.....msybe it goes through an exterior wall or some other thing....

    Just so you know, the pump on the return behind the boiler, that should push the water through the boiler, out the supply, and then around the black iron loop, and back to the return (where the pump is). So it just moves water around that "loop". This would be known as your primary loop....

    So the other two pumps, as you know, push the water from this "primary" loop and off to the HX'ers, and then that water returns to your primary loop, apparently along the bottom black iron pipe there. That water is then sucked through the boiler, reheated, and it all happens again.

    If it was working just fine.....and has been for awhile.....but now suddenly stopped.....did you add water to the system, vent water from the system, or anything at all to the system other than adding wood? I'd think if it was all OK and running for weeks, you wouldn't suddenly have an air problem.....but I'm no expert.

    So that would have me to think that a pump is not running.

    Does the boiler controller turn on the two HX pumps, or do they get activated by a thermostat somewhere?

    So the boiler controller turns on the primary pump (the one behind the boiler).....and that has been problematic?

    Carefully check the wiring connections.....maybe something is loose?

    Might be long, asking too many questions, and rambling....but there's no bill. :)
  9. Gilby

    Gilby Member

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    Thank you! I am going home for lunch in a few and will snap a series of pictures. I think you pretty much nailed it though.

    Both pumps ARE running. But occassionally (like this morning) I can feel them running, but both pipes are cold and no water is going through them. That's when I tend to think its my controller...because usually when I shut the boiler off, you can hear the pumps/water shut off...and then restart when you power it back on. Not today.

    When it finally began to circulate again this morning, both pumps were on, and both were hot. The pipes leading into the pumps and out of the pumps were both hot...but the hoses going into my one FURNACE in my basement was only luke warm...and the return was cold. Not ice cold...bad use of an adjective...but cold. I haven't had a freeze. The unit is in my garage, but because of the boiler, my garage is usually 80 degrees - even when it was 8 below this week.

    Because the pumps were warm and the pipes were warm....and my furnace coils were cold ...that's when I began to wonder if it was some sort of air lock. But the lack of control from my controls makes me wonder if its the control!

    Side note...when they decided to start circulating again this morning, one of my furnaces worked great like it always does. Only one furnace had the cold hoses and coils. Warm water is only getting to one furnace.....

    I'm heading home now. I'll get a few pics and post them up shortly.

    Thanks again guys!
  10. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    Well sure, pull the rug out from under us, lol. //// The problem seems like incorrect pipe runs causing poor circulation & air to be trapped as someone else mentioned, Randy
  11. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    Are the pumps returning back to the boiler or are they drawing off the large pipe sending water to forced air furnace?

    Looks like your primary returns right back into your return?

    Can you draw something up showing flow direction?

    Also the more pics the better!

    Rob
  12. Gilby

    Gilby Member

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    I'm puting up about five pictures right now.

    I believe the pumps are sending the water to the furnace off the large pipe.

    I'll try to draw something that resembles the flow...but i'm not entire positive on the flow!! still trying to learn this thing...
  13. Gilby

    Gilby Member

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    Excuse my elementary drawring. I believe that's how it all flows. WHen the furnaces call for heat, the water goes toward whichever pump is calling. when it's not, it bypasses the pumps and just flows in a continous loop, obviously. hopefully that's kind of what you're after.

    I have attached 5 other pics of the system. Hopefully they help shed some light. When I went home at lunch, it was still not sending hot water to the one furnace...even though the pump and pipes were warm. Somewhere...under the floorboards...there is something stopping all my hot water!

    Attached Files:

  14. Gilby

    Gilby Member

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    Please also excuse the messy garage. Kinda looks grimy looking at these pics!! Not sure how some of you guys keep the boilers and the rooms they're in so clean!

    Attached Files:

  15. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    Your output line comes off the top of the boiler & drops down. I'm far from an expert, the plumber that came over to my house many years ago was & he said you do not want up & down runs, that causes trouble. Unless there was a good reason not to I would have put that manifold at the level of the boiler top or higher. I may get corrected here by the gurus, the advice I was given worked well though, Randy
  16. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I'm thinking it's gotta be air.

    Where are all your fills & drains at? Ideally there would be one of each on each zone - you'd hook a pressurized garden hose to a fill the upstream side, and let some drain through to a drain on the downstream end, hopefully purging the air.
  17. Gilby

    Gilby Member

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    I'm not sure I'm thinking the same thing...but it's a "closed loop" system. It's hooked up to my house water. I have it on all the time. The pressure maintains. How do I bleed that system to let any air out?
  18. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Just like I said. You need a place downstream of the air for it to get out (drain) and a place up stream of it for water to get in to replace the air that will be leaving. Your closed system might not have air vents in all the right places to trap & let all the air out, and your house water feed has (or should have) a regulator on it that limits the incoming water pressure (typically to 12psi). So to purge, if you can hook up a hose at house pressure (say 40psi) as far upstream as possible, slowly open it and slowly open a drain as far downstream as possible, the air should be forced out. Close the hose feed as soon as you're done, because you don't want it to increase overall system pressure.
  19. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    It appears air is collecting at the pumps & they are spinning in air causing the problem. Is there any way you can "safely" bleed some water/air right there? I would expect the problem to return untill all the air is out of the water, Randy, Maple1 was a bit faster than me, I'd try that first. As stated you may need to repeat.
  20. in hot water

    in hot water New Member

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    My guess is air locks also. It takes a bit of pump or fill pressure to scrub all the air out of a system initially.

    The expansion tank to pump location could be better. The expansion tank wants to tie into the piping at the inlet of the circ. That way when the pump runs it adds it's pressure to the piping circuit, this aids in air removal..

    If the air coils are above the boiler then need float style vents to help get any trapped air, or even a manual valve.

    I'd bet just changing the expansion tank connection so you are "pumping away" would solve the stubborn air problem.

    Where in Wyoming? I know a handful of top notch hydronic guys up there.

    Here are a couple drawings from "Modern Hydronic Heating" by John Sigenthaler. An excellent book to own if you own or tinker with hydronics. This shows how the circ pump adds pressure when it pumps away from the expansion tank, also how it lowers the pressure when incorrectly installed. Removing, and keeping a hydronic system air free has a lot to do with this simple, often over-looked detail.

    hr

    Attached Files:

  21. Gilby

    Gilby Member

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    So i could hook a hose up to the incoming - that's easy. Where is considered "downstream?" Give me an example. Is downstream a connection to the furnace? or coming back to the boiler? What about the spicket on the bottom of the backside of the boiler?
  22. in hot water

    in hot water New Member

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    Some additional reading on Pumping away

    www.fiainc.com/documents/4-09PumpingAway...Whatdoesitreallmean.pdf
  23. Gilby

    Gilby Member

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    yikes...that stuff was above my head. I'm not even sure where to begin with that.

    I'm in Riverton...cental Wyoming. If you know anyone nearby, I'd be thrilled to meet them!
  24. afblue

    afblue Feeling the Heat

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    Its Air in the system. The 2 zone circ are trying to pump down 3 feet before they turn Circulators are not like positive pressure pumps, they move water around a loop. So every time they turn on, they are air locked and wont move the water. A little bit of reconfiguration of your piping in the boiler room will solve your problems, or you have to do some serious purging, and you are going be fighting with it for the rest of your life.

    I would have someone draw you up a new schematic that:
    1) moves the least amount of parts.
    2) has check valves on each of the of the zone circs
    3) possibly a controller that prevents one zone from turning on while the other is running and vis versa. Air Handlers from my experience only are running for 20-30% of the time or less, so if one thermostat isnt satisfied for an extra 5 mins you are not going to notice the 1/20th of a degree temp change in that zone.

    Bottom line to me is those circs need to be flipped so they pump up, and the boiler piping needs to be reconfigured to accomplish that.

    The air scoop above the boiler isnt going to get the air out if the system because its going to get trapped at the Temovar valve, and keep rising past the bypass valve, and its going to come right back around to the hot side.
  25. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I don't know from the pics you posted - I don't have a good grasp of your system. Ordinarily at a high spot on the outlet side of the pump somewhere, as close to the end of the loop as possible. I'm tempted to say you could try it at that place at the bottom of your boiler. Don't open the drain before you turn on the hose, air has strange ways of entering places you don't want it to. If it is air, and you are lacking places to let it out, and you can't get it out, you might have to do some plumbing work & put a drain in. Also you would need to make sure that the hose you hook up is on the boiler side of your pressure regulator.

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