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Critique wanted

The rag is the story.

The before shots didn't look too much worse than the after.

ANYONE could make such a "rag" mistake--and laugh about it forever.

ONLY a true cur would refuse to find that rag.


  • Ya gotta see this...

    A little history. Some of you have heard snippets of this over the last few months.

    This pertains to the apartment boiler change out, where I wanted to use one boiler, and 1 new tank, and my "competiton" wanted to install 2 boilers, and one tank.... for a LOT less money than I was asking for ONE boiler, and 1 tank...

    As I told the owners rep, when he called me to inform me that I wasn't going to get the bid (THANK you for at least calling me..) I sez "Ya gotta ask yourself, when you see this much difference in a system configuration, Who's right??"

    Funny thing is, I'd already done a monster boiler change out for his company (3.5 mill down to 600K Munchies w/3- LARGE DHW tanks) and knocked their gas bills for a 50% loop. Something like a 3 year pay back on a $100K installation, so you'd think they'd trust me.

    Anyway, he tells me " This decision is being made stricly on budget..."


    He finally broke down this week and called me and asked me to come back and get him heat in 6 units that WERE working fine BEFORE the competiton got there and changed out his boiler... The competiton told him that it wasn't their "problem", and they refused to try any more to fix it. Their attitude is that it was something that was already in the system that had just busted loose when they were filling and purging...and it wasn't their "problem".

    I looked at the boiler room and wanted to cry.

    I went to the troublesome manifold/S&R piping, and wanted to cry some more.

    I had to bite my lip so hard to keep from telling this guy to go take a leap, it was incredible. But I didn't. I turned to him and said "I'll fix it, but it's T&M" To which he replied "Just make it go away..." I couldn't help myself any longer, and said "Ya know, if you had followed my advice and paid me my asking, we wouldn't be standing here having this conversation..." Long dead silence...

    "You're right, and I assure you it won't happen again." he said. To which I replied, "That's right, because you just hired me as a consultant to design and bid every system you'll be doing from here forward, right?" He sighed a BIG sigh and said "Yeah...No more messing around." I thanked him for his business and went fast to work.

    There was a 1-1/4" Supply going to 6 units of the building in a single stack. Hit the supply with 100 PSI street pressure and got SQUAT out of the returns. But when I first opened the returns, I DID get SOME pressure for a minute, but it went dead. Remember that.

    I took a hydrostatic pump and hooked it to the return and pump it up as high as I could get it by hand, then took a hammer and started giving large single hard WHACKS to the pump in an effort to dislodge whatever it was that was blocking the supply. Attemping to blow it backwards. After about 12 really god whacks of the "hydraulic hammer", the hammer (hand pump) blew up. It was a SOLID blockage.

    When I attempted to fill the supply with water again, after having let it GLUG empty,it filled up RIGHT NOW. That told me that the stoppage, whatever it was, was close to this end. Remember the pressure thing on the return, there was none now. Dead returns, nary a trickle.

    I closed the drain valve for the return, and took of to rent the induction locator we use to locate the 1-1/4" under concrete main to find where it comes out of the cement slab. When I get back, I check the returns, and find SOME pressure there. Just a quick shot, but pressure nonetheless. This tells me that whatever the blockage is it's partially pourus.

    We use the locator to determine exactly where in the party wall the main came up, busted out a newly finished tile wall in a bath enclosure, cut the pipe, and see the blockage, but can't identify it. Made "spiral hooks" in 1/2" copper tubing trying to grab wahtever it was that was stuck in said pipe. It was soft, but I could get enough of a bite on it to pull it through without straightening out the "hook".

    One of the contractors says "Hey, I've got a small sewer snake in the trunk of my car". He grabs it, I grab the blockage, and start pulling it out, and STRETCH the living crap out of his snake, and whatever it was started moving, steady pressure now, then it slides out.

    Terry cloth towel.

    The GC starts laughing hysterically and sez
    "I been wondering where the heck those towels went!"

    Seems they disappeared shortly after my former "competiton" started the job of removal of the old boiler. I'm guessing, stuffed into a pipe to keep the residual water from dripping on the people chopping up the old fire breating dragon...

    The building owners rep, the guy that didn't hire me in the first place, wanted me to make comments about the conditions of the installation that I had seen that I didn't like. I thought I would ask my fellow trades people here at The Wall to help me in critiquing my former competitions handy craft. Please keep it clean,,,and fun if you see fit. If you work for the person that did this installation, heads up. Pay attention, you might just learn something.

    Have at it boys (and ladies).

  • I will give the installer this much credit...

    He WAS pumping away. Good job. Keep up the good work:-)

  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    the Hammond valve looks good *~/:)

    mind you, that may not have been in the budget:)

    to add a jot of constructive perspectives having not seen the venting requirements in the muni i can only say that leaving them condensing on the meter or drawing combustion air from the vent of the meter does not strike me as something written directly into the code.
  • I like the 120% design...

    you know, the one where he discharges his exhaust onto the meter/regulator assembly. Kinda like waste heat recovery, but NOT...

  • It's is OKay to use cellular foam core pipe on the exhaust, ....

    ONLY if it's going to be ripped out immediately, right?

  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    i type slow*~/:)

    > you know, the one where he discharges his exhaust

    > onto the meter/regulator assembly. Kinda like

    > waste heat recovery, but NOT...


    > ME

  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    i type slow*~/:)

    give me a second and QUIT reading my mind*~/:)

    The electricians could learn a thing or two about bringing their OWN duct tape to snarl up that bendy beader:)

    is the previous vent now a means to control stack effect and adjust the positive pressure plane or is it there for humane reasons like letting small creatures in & out of the weather to "warm up".
  • Valves....

    We don't need no stinkin' valves (Said in the gruff Mexicans Bandito voice in Treasure of Sierra with Humphrey Bogart)

    There are, count'em on one hand, 2 (two) isolation valves on this system...

  • I read slow....

    that's probably why we get along so well. We finish each others statements :-)

  • Ya know all that excess wire that comes on zone valves...

    if you wrap it around the end of your screw driver, it makes this really cool looking spring, that I call a Radio Frequently Interrupter. It like, de-scrambles secret Martian codes that you can hear on the high band radio waves...Dude!
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232

    I....Particularily liked that photo. man, tell me you at least came in the top three of your photography class:)

    You really have a Square Eye :) the picture, if you were as far from the building as i am ,...would look a bit like a cyclops "eyeballing"his next taco:) Solly....;)

    the thing is though some of the time spent and care taken is invisible ...what i mean by that is ,when you tend to spend the time of day to put; hangers, unistrut, all thread, conduit and a host of minor "looking where you are goings" for some odd reason That seems to vanish right out of the persons view.

    i would like to honestly help buh the guy who may have bid the work may not have been the person doing the work..it happens. then the dig is, it has his name on it and gets really depressing when he comes over to see it.... really,i sad for the guy because it probably does not meet his standards either.
  • Look ma...

    no support!

    None needed, it's coming out any way...


  • Sleep Chamber...

    Yeah, ya know, I been cracking my bedroom window at night to cool down my bedroom, and I wake up in the morning, looking and feeling kind of blue...and REALLY tired.
  • What WAS I thinking...

    when I stuffed that rag into the pipe...

    Heck, I think I coulda fixed the old one for the same amount of money...
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    now you are doing circumambulations :) Knock it Off :))

    no fair :)

    Hey! I like the purple tank must been left over from the "I Hate purple primer post" :)
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    Mark, is that a cad cell wired into the zone valve?!

    If it is,.....Then...the zone valve must have to prove before it will recognize a flame:) that might be good:)
  • Dave Stroman
    Dave Stroman Member Posts: 763

    I like that combination primary/parallel/secondary/bullhead tee piping arrangment. And I wonder how many Btu's can be squeezed through the zone valve when all the tenants hit the showers. And that is a pretty big pump to be dead heading against all those zone valves when only one is open.

    Dave Stroman

    Stroman Plumbing & Heating

    Denver, CO.
    Dave Stroman
  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884
    Jeeze Mark

    Ball valves cost alot !

    I don't mind draining an Apt. building int he middle of the night, to change out a pump.

    Some peoples kids.


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  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884

    A P/P/S/B tee arrangment is one I have never seen and I was wondering what it would be called. Even Siggys class did'nt mention it. How the tee's are so evenly spaced is the impressive part.

    SO Mark, electrical code in Colo. seems preety easy, No Conduit ? Maybe too much lead in the conduit and the combination of the Radio Frequently Interuptor is too much of a health hazard.

    I was wondering how those munchies were working ?? What did the combustion effeciency tag say ? You know the on hanging in the mech. room.


    PS: I have always been impressed with the strenght of copper.

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  • Tony_23
    Tony_23 Member Posts: 1,033
    HS !!!!!!!

    If I was the Munchkin rep, I'd duct tape over the name on the boiler and sue them for defamation !

    Amazing how the ONLY support is on the illegal "preheater" vent :) Warm gas burns better, right ? Kinda like an HRV :)

    I wonder how many Sawzall blades that job consumed ?

    Sloppy, blatant code violations, refusal to come back, "not my problem" attitude. Sounds like one of my "competitors". Maybe he was on a ski vacation and did this :)

    That so-called header employs what we call, "The Halo System". 'Cept the results usually don't elicit angelic thoughts :)

    I can't go on, my fingers can't find the keys 'cause I'm laughing too hard.

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  • Gee Dave...

    You mean they didn't ask you to come look at ths job? They had no less than 6 other people look at it before they called me back in to take a crack at it. I guess that's the difference. Everyone else just wanted to look at it. I rolled up my sleeves and fixed it.

    They saw nothing but A-holes and elbows until we got it fixed. 7 hours from the time we rolled out to the time we rolled up and walked away from a fully flowing system...

    Ya gotta love that feeling of being the hero tho...;-)It feels especially sweet when tempered with "I TOLD YOU SO!!":-)

    BTW, My assistant/service manager, Tim Reini was the hero. He found the 1-1/4" riser when no one else could. I was just the director of the play.

  • Scooter...

    I pitty the suckah that has to replace the DHW tank. He's guaranteed to get wet feet. I guess that part of the code requiring low point drains only applies to boilers, not storage tanks...

  • More history...

    When I did my walk through initially, I did a skin loss, a base board inventory, I clocked the gas meter, reviewed 12 months of utility data and did a combustion anaylsis on the beast. I came up with 300K of baseboard, and 250K of skin loss. The boiler clocked in at 325K out, so I reasoned, one boiler is MORE than enough, especially with DHW Priority.

    When confronted with these facts, the "other" contractor that got the job told the owners rep that I was dangerous, and shouldn't be listened to... Said they (the developers) would probably end up in court, getting sued by the Homoaners Association due to shortages of heat and DHW if they followed my recomendations...

    He was right on target about one thing, I probably WILL end up in court over this, but not on the defense teams side of the court room...

  • Plumdog_2
    Plumdog_2 Member Posts: 873

    cut and notch a piece of plywood and place it over the top of the Primary/Secondary/Chandelier and create storage space in the boiler room.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546


    Would you not have thought the owner, or owner rep. Would have peaked in on the progress from time to time to view the work being done?

    With that said baring not knowing anything about proper piping, piping support, venting, valving, wiring. One could look at the crooked pipes, pump, sloppy wiring, and say hold on a minute! Do you guys know what the hell your doin!

    You get the culinary award, Mark for baking a cake out of hrsoe siht. Pardon my french. Did they pay the original installer in full. Hope not!

  • Conflicting stories on payment...

    The GC says YES, they were paid in full, but the developer says NO, they've not been paid a dime. And other than for base materials, they may not get paid...

  • Weez...

    You and I call it quality control and company installation standards. I dunno, maybe he DID hire the guys standing on the corner with the sign that said "Will solder for food"...

    IMPO, there is no excuse for professional botchery, or would that be butchery. OR both.

  • kevin coppinger_4
    kevin coppinger_4 Member Posts: 2,124
    Is that a SSU-80

    with 3/4" copper feeding the HX???? That drop's the output a little doesn't it???? kpc

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  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546

  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    Picture= 1000 words

    Heck Mark, I think you could submit your pics for evidence, and not have to say a word. Case closed. The venting is to just "DIE" for. Your dangerous alright.... Only to the lowest bidder, who strikes again! Was there an inspection done of the finished product?

  • Boilerpro_3
    Boilerpro_3 Member Posts: 1,231
    Another thing that may be a problem

    I suspect that gas meter is undersized for the load of the two boilers..unless you're running higher pressures. Meters that size usually top out at about 425 cu ft/hr. @ 0.5 inch pressure drop.

    Gee, you make me feel pretty good, I been told I don't know what I'm talking about by other "contrators'" too, when I come across new steamers that are twice as big as the radiation.
    Sounds like you're up and running....just don't go too fast yet!


  • Not inspected yet...

    I told the GC that if it did pass, to write down the inspectors name and badge number and that I would contact him and his direct supervisor later.

    It won't pass.

  • No...

    it's already paid for. I'll probably just throw a 2 stage controller on the system in case the first one craps out. Nothing like redundant redundancy eh...

  • Dave...

    It doesn't really matter. There will only be one 399 running at any given time anyway. It has also been my experience that you can get more gas to go through those AL500's. They just sound like they're going to come apart, wheezing banging and clanging. Thanks for the words. I actually only lost about 1/2 day of work, and that was the Monday following the Friday surgery. Did my first strenuous activty today, moving solar collectors onto the roof of my home. Reading Dr. Kawasaki's web site lit a fire under my butt.

  • Tony...

    I spec'd Munchkins too, except just one. This guy could have screwed up a Viessmann boiler. Why can't people take the time to read the installation instructions? I PAY my guys to sit down and read the instructions once a year just to make sure the manufacturer didn't change something on us.

  • Yeah, right on...

    a place to store their pool and hot tub chemicals. And maybe even room for the gas can for the lawn mowers and stuff...

    Unfortunately, the "table" is going away...

    More beer money:-)

  • Jerry_15
    Jerry_15 Member Posts: 379

    Hey Mark - I admire your trying to salvage this customer, and this job, but understand that you own it now. Also you have stepped into a legal morass in which the owner has the legal right (and if they have half a brain will most certainly), sue the GC, and the sub. Be very, very careful to bill each task that you perform, and log your conversations, in a short and clear manner, without passing judgement. Don't be afraid to say that you may not be able to cure generic problems in the installation without major re-consturction. Say it soon - in writing.
    I ticks me off no end to get stuck on t&m after boyo ran off with the cream, but I do it for the same reason I do service work. It's a loser, but the only way to sell equipment. Good luck
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
    don't you mean...

    Dr. Suzuki? I like the "squirrel sex argument"

    What a cluster...!! This type of installation is not uncommon in any part of the country. Many owners or property managers would not be able to recognize a "proper" installation. "First Cost" predominates our psyche. See how it Bites.... Good find and fix!!

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  • Busted...

    I knew it was one of them foreign cars. At least I didn't refer to him as Dr. Yamaha..

    Dr. Suzuki it is.

This discussion has been closed.