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Service Calls, to test the P&T or not to?

Weezbo
Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
The valve is supposed to be checked Monthly by the owner.....Get a Great Big Magnifying glass, focus up on the little green tag, and hidden DEEP within the CYOA wiggle room clauses, is that very sane and same piece of advise ... so, next time ask ..."have you tested the valve?... recently...?"it is sort of a sucker punch.

Be Cause.

You already KNOW that they could not have Possibly been able to read that without Visual Aid:) so, the next move is theirs and when they reach out and open the valve..Hey! They Touched it Last :)

You have to keep your wits about you on those service calls:) or, you will be chasing many problems not of your own making.

Have you never heard it said,..."Welllll....,I had a guy LOOK at it ...the other day"?

Think about it....

Comments

  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,676
    drip drip

    Had an interesting problem recently. My service guy took a boiler through its paces and also tested the puker, which of course dripped. He replaced it, charged for it, and sure enough a complaint came in, "it wasn't dripping before you got here".

    Anyone have any thoughts? Should we "not touch" the stupid thing?

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  • Ragu_5
    Ragu_5 Member Posts: 315
    Gary..

    That one is a killer (literally and figuratively). If the people are home, I'll show them and tell them that it should be tested, but it may not reseat.

    If they are not home, I'll leave a note that it needs to be tested. If it is a REALLY BAD one, I'll write that it needs to be replaced immediately, but with permission.

    I still have had to pay for more than my share of these.

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  • Norm Harvey
    Norm Harvey Member Posts: 684


    I don't understand what your testing by releasing the manual lever. Your not testing that actual pressure or temperature will open the valve. In my opinion your making problems.

    If your test was to raise the temperature or pressure to a point that it should open on its own, that would be a more conclusive test, but is that safe or cost effective? I'd say no.

    Installing a T&P gauge on the unit and monitoring that the burner shuts down at its temp limit and that the pressure is where it should be is a better practice during an annual maintenance.

    Thats my opinion.


    Edit: I just re-read my post and saw that the installing a T&P gauge reference I should have referenced that to a DHW heater. On a boiler I use the existing T&P.


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  • John@Reliable_14
    John@Reliable_14 Member Posts: 171
    Gary,and others this may help you

  • John@Reliable_14
    John@Reliable_14 Member Posts: 171
    Gary,this may help you but ...............

    I can't get it to save as a attachment right now, its in PDF form. Nice three page report how and why to test annually, complete removel every three years. I sometimes cheat by explaining the date code, if date is five years old needs replacement even if not leaking. The report suggust lifting lever often(testing), monthly? because it should hold when released. I will try to save as something else and post or e-mail you w/it.
    Check your e-mail John@Reliable
  • Norm Harvey
    Norm Harvey Member Posts: 684
    "We see the world as WE are, not as IT is, because it is the "I" behind the EYE that does the seeing"
  • Spudwrench
    Spudwrench Member Posts: 47
    T&P Valves

    As a person in the repair industry (not hydronics) I have a suggestion. Figure out the average leaks-after-testing rate (i.e. one out of every five T&Ps you test leaks afterwards and needs replacement.) Divide the cost by the average failure rate (so, let's say $30 for a T&P divided by five.) Add $6 to EVERY service call you do where you expect to test the T&P. (This would work best if you have a flat rate for boiler check/clean/preventive maintanence. Just increase your flat rate by $6) In the event the T&P fails after testing, tell the customer you happen to have an extra T&P valve on the truck they can have for free. The extra padding on ALL the boiler preventative maintainence work insures you don't lose your shirt when this happens, the customer will be happy to get a "free" part, and you've covered your A-- in terms of safety by testing all the T&P valves.
    It's a little deceptive, but you are doing everyone a favor by checking T&Ps...better to fib a bit than have boiler explosions, lawsuits, etc.

    Just my .02

    Nathan
  • JERRYG
    JERRYG Member Posts: 11
    relief valve test

    over the years I have probably had three relief valves,when the handle was lifted.expelled no water or air.All three were totally plugged.Three potentional hazards were prevented,that is why we lift the poppet
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,676
    thanks for the comments

    When I have a few minutes I may type up a 'what might go wrong when we touch your old heating system" paper.

    Here's another kicker. We recently made a repair on a 60 year system, a run-out off of a one pipe was leaking. So my guys drain it down, make the repair and fill it back up. A few days go buy and the unhappy customer calls in; water all over the floor. The stupid service valve to the old expansion tank was spinning, that is somehow the valve was close to shut. I managed to "open" it by pulling on the handle and turning.

    These ancient crappy systems can bite you in the rear, be watchful out there!

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  • Norm Harvey
    Norm Harvey Member Posts: 684


    If thats the case and I should be testing these regularly, a domestic water T&P is super easy to replace just for the price of the part if necessary,...

    But as far as a boiler relief valve from a customer relations standpoint, I think I would make it a practice to replace the valve every 3 years during a maintenance.

    I can't imagine trying to sell a customer a new relief valve every year because it leaked when I tested it. A boiler relief valve change is about an 45-60 minutes work between setting up the tools, draining the boiler a bit, replacing the valve, purging the air, and cleanup. At a modest $85/hour and a watts 374A at a modest $50 thats $135+ that I could be adding on to the maintenance bill every year.

    At that rate I think it would take a maximum of three years for the customer to be calling the Better Business Bureau.

    To get back to Gary's question,.. Is there a better way to apporach customer relations about this issue?




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  • Norm Harvey
    Norm Harvey Member Posts: 684


    I hear you about the old systems Gary.

    One pet peeve of mine is that some customers forget that THEY own the equipment. They are not leasing the heating system from me or anything.

    That "what might go wrong" paper sounds like an excellent idea. We'll have to compare notes when we get them done. I used to write a long detailed list of everything I found needed attention after I did an annual maintenance. I stopped because people got the impression I was digging for work. Now I filter that list to the major issues.

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  • mikea23
    mikea23 Member Posts: 224
    NUTS

    P&T should be a normal repacement just like a air or fuel filter in a car or tuck. This is not an item that should be ignored. Normal boiler service
    Mike A
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,676
    yep

    do you ever feel like you'd be better of being a shrink than a heating guy? You have to choose your words carefully because by-golly it's your fault you made that thing leak.

    The more info we can get out in front of our wake the better. The old "I found something wrong" days are coming to an end for me. How about, "here are the things that usually go wrong when I touch your dilapidated boiler; do you still want we to go ahead?

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  • Norm Harvey
    Norm Harvey Member Posts: 684
    "We see the world as WE are, not as IT is, because it is the "I" behind the EYE that does the seeing"
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,537
    Here

    50% of PRV's are NG also. It's tough to explain that the relief valve that wasn't leaking now is, and by the way you need a new PRV also

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  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,676
    first draft

    I'll beam you over a copy of my first draft, lemme know what you think.

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  • When I do a yearly PM, (Heating Crisis PREVENTION Check) on a boiler I see regularly, I change the relief valve ever other year...and I keep the records. If I've never seen the boiler, or it's been awhile, I change it as a matter of coure. I've already got the pressure off the boiler so I can check the fill valve, fluid quality, freeze point, T+P gage, expansion tank pressure, air vents(which usually get replaced too), and PH, so it's no big deal to cork a new relief on...unless some bozo buried it in the back of the boiler behind a bunch of piping. The relief valve goes off my truck for 32 bucks including any fittings that I need to modify the drop piping 'cuz the installer soldered the original one in or didn't bother to pipe it.

    I flat rate a PM and any parts are extras. A simple gas boiler PM is 150.00 and usually winds up burning up a hour truck to truck and about 50.00 bucks worth of parts. A simple oil boiler goes for 200.00 plus parts. A fired water heater alone is 100.00, but if I'm already there for the boiler it's 25.00. And I change that relief every other year too. I use a check list just like you get at MIDAS for your vehicle inspection...none of my customers have complained...over 150 PM checks in '06. I add alot of checks that most guys never do...manifold pressure, etc, along with electronic combustion check, all of which is on the check list, which keeps me focused, and looks really impressive when you hand them the check list wth 50 or 60 check marks and comments....and then the bill.
  • Ken C.
    Ken C. Member Posts: 267
    That is why...

    ... I am making a transition from service to new construction.

    -Ken
  • Steve_35
    Steve_35 Member Posts: 546
    We test every relief valve we come across.

    IMO, to not do so is malpractice. Probably 1 in 10 leaks after. We explain to the client why we test.

    Mary, we never used to test these because we were concerned about them leaking after we were done. Then we started reading about boilers leaving the house through the roof and ending up several hundred feet away. I never want to read about one of our clients whose bedroom was over their boiler when it let loose so we test every one now.

    I think it's important to explain why we check relief valves in terms they understand and can relate to. We have yet to have a client complain about replacing a relief valve.
  • chapchap70_2
    chapchap70_2 Member Posts: 147
    I think its against codes but...

    Does anyone think that a ball valve before the relief valve would help more relief valves get checked/replaced? I understand the reasoning for the codes where the valve may pop or leak and the customer just shuts the valve and "forgets" about it.
  • Chris_82
    Chris_82 Member Posts: 321
    Ditto,...

    and not really debatable, they need to be, read must be replaced as a matter of routine. As far as testing them the moreyou test them the cleaner they stay and then they frequently last the reccomended full life which, varying by manufacturer is an average of three years. A testamoney to the manufacturers to these devices is that even ignored for twenty years they still seem to work, but that is not an excuse to let them sit there that long! In fact as more and more insurance investigators come from experienced trades more and more people are using this to not pay out claims! Tell your customers that! Generally if the tag is missing it should be replaced, generally at three years they should be replaced. Watts has litarature that can be given your customers explaing all of this but if you have an really irate customer just plug the safety he will sleep better at night knowing you have done the right thing! Sooner or later nature will take care of them. Seriously a well written disclaimer about the things helps, but don't make excuses for them, stand your ground and "they have to be replaced, thats it."
  • Chris_82
    Chris_82 Member Posts: 321


    WHY would you advocate against the plumbing code?
  • Steve_35
    Steve_35 Member Posts: 546
    I don't know about 50% of PRVs being bad but

    we find quite a few. Especially when you first test the relief valve and nothing comes out. Really makes the case for a LWCO of which we sell quite a few as addons a year.
  • Steve_35
    Steve_35 Member Posts: 546


    > Does anyone think that a ball valve before the

    > relief valve would help more relief valves get

    > checked/replaced? I understand the reasoning for

    > the codes where the valve may pop or leak and the

    > customer just shuts the valve and "forgets" about

    > it.




    Might as well put a plug in the relief and be done with it as put a valve between it and the boiler or between the relief and the drain.
  • Big Ed_3
    Big Ed_3 Member Posts: 170
    Good Luck

    Better to get in- get paid - get out..... New construction .....you will burn too much gas while you waiting for a discounted check ...


    Relief valves...... In the good old days the relief valves were tested and cleaned every year by the expansion tank filling up .. Maybe its better installing better valves other then a cheap 335 . The old Thrush valves lasted until the boiler was trashed... Rub or brush by a 335 .....and they leak ..
  • Uni R_3
    Uni R_3 Member Posts: 299
    But does it test it?

    Sure, lfting the level should confirm the outlet path is clear, but can you reliably predict the actual water pressure required for the valve to release excess pressure?

    I think the only way to test one with purpose and without harm from debris is by pressuring beyond 30psi and that should be done as an off season test in case it leaks.
  • jim lockard
    jim lockard Member Posts: 1,059
    sounds like

    a law suit or worse. j. lockard
  • chapchap70_2
    chapchap70_2 Member Posts: 147


    I did not advocate doing it, I was just wondering if some don't get checked because the "hassle" of draining and refilling the boiler. It seems that many don't get checked now because of this.

    There are boilers with relief valves out there now that will not pop if an excessive temperature or pressure condition surfaces. Is this not the same as having a closed ball valve?

    For arguments sake, forget about the code. If ball valves were installed next to the relief valve, would enough non working relief valves be checked and replaced so as to overcome the percentage of ball valves that would be closed?
  • Ken D.
    Ken D. Member Posts: 836
    Relief Valves

    We- I- test relief valves on EVERY call. You want to be sure the thing relieves! If it leaks, so be it. Replace it. I have seen my share of blocked valves. I also went on a call several years ago when a gas water heater had a defective T-stat along with a blocked PRV. The heater was in the rear basement of a stone walled row house. The heater blew through the front wall across 4 lanes of traffic and went through the window on the 2nd floor of a home on the other side of the street and ended up in the guys bedroom. Thank God no one got hurt. The amount of energy there is incredible. If you are on a call and don't check it, you will be getting a call from some legal eagles if something happens. Some one could get killed. You are professionals. Act like it and consider the customer's (and others) safety. You can bet some lawyer will say the same thing. And if you want to lose a lawsuit big time or possibly charged with criminal negligence, put a ball valve between the boiler and PRV.
  • Testing relief valves?????

    Chap,

    The reason that the valve is prohibited is due to human nature. A homeowner is MUCH more likely to close a valve and save money, than have the dripping relief valve replaced and pay for a service call.

    If they close that ball valve they are then only a limit switch failure away from a BLEVE.

    To all,

    As for the testing of the relief valve, I can hardly believe that I have read some posts that would advocate NOT TESTING a relief valve during a PM call because they may leak after wards. If they leak, they are bad, and they should be replaced!!!!!

    You have to remember that as professionals, we are expected to provide service within the accepted industry "Standard of Care".

    Some people think that a standard of care is established by repetitive action, "BUT WE HAVE ALWAYS DONE IT THAT WAY", or by pass down knowledge, "BUT MY DAD TAUGHT ME TO DO IT THAT WAY, AND HE WAS REALLY SMART".
    If you work on a piece of HVAC equipment and the manufacturer(s) of the component parts of that unit have a published procedure for testing, maintenance, repair, service, cleaning, etc., that published procedure sets the "standard of care' for that device. If you work on that equipment, employing that component part with a published “standard of care” that is the procedure to follow, period.

    The instructions that come with equipment do not state that "this is the way to test this device but if your father didn’t bother to test them you can do it the way your father did". They will tell you the way to test that device, and they expect you to follow those instructions. If you do not, YOU are responsible for the results of not following the "standard of care" that they have already established for that part.

    As far as I know virtually every relief valve manufacturer publishes their procedure for testing their relief valve. It should be with the valve on the tag, but if some bozo pulled it off and threw it away, you can always get it on the internet or from the manufacturer with a phone call.

    The 'standard of care" that the part manufacturer publishes is what you should do to that relief valve. If you do anything less, is NOT PROFESSIONAL.

    That is my Friday Night rant,

    Ed Carey
  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    How would one put a ball valve on a T&P?

    seeing as the "T" part indicates it has a probe that is supposed to protrude into the tank.

    Turning off a ball valve with a probe through it would be a good trick :)

    I've also seen folks try to plug a leaking boiler relief valve. It usually moves the drip to the stem of the valve anyways and it still leaks!

    hot rod

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  • steve_29
    steve_29 Member Posts: 185


    Lets put it this way...

    Lift a relief valve and it leaks rather than,reseating , leads me to believe that it is no longer working properly.

    I have had a number of reliefs that I couldn't even lift, let along worry about leaking.

    It's a safety device and all safeties should be tested during each PM... notice I said PM, not cleaning or annual service.

  • Maine Ken
    Maine Ken Member Posts: 531


    Stated right on the label "the homeowner is to test..."

    'nuff said.

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  • Chris_82
    Chris_82 Member Posts: 321


    just looked at my own XL it says every 30 days!
This discussion has been closed.