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Boiler problems, no heat, storm coming

IceCold
IceCold Member Posts: 9
Slantfin Sentinel SE-140 DP boiler

Grundfos circulation pump

Watts Feed Water Pressure Regulators Series 1156F

Baseboard radiators, one zone (I'm assuming)



After repairing a frozen/ruptured copper line, I turned my system on today for the first time this season. Aside from the pipes knocking, which I'm assuming was air trapped in the pipes being that it was open for quite some time, the system seemed to be working fine -- the baseboard radiators were heating, I could hear water circulating. Steam was coming out of the air bleed valve atop the air scoop & expansion tank. For whatever reason, I felt the need to open the three valves that resmble your typical outdoor water spigot and steam came out of them profusely as well. However, the the gauge on the boiler showed no pressure and the temperature was all the way up. The boiler seemed to shut down, while the pump continued to hum and radiators eventually got cold. Any clue as to what's going on and what it will take to get my house warm for the first time this season?



Thanks in advance. ANY help is appreciated.

Comments

  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    edited January 2011
    STOP EVERYTHING!!!!!

    Your on your way to blowing up the boiler, and yourself !!  What you have is dry fire meaning there is not enough water in the system, and the boiler is flashing what residual water was left to steam.  That is why you are getting steam out of the air vent, and boiler drain valves.





    You listed a water feed valve in your post.  Did you not fill, and purge  the system of air after the work was done? There should be a fill valve to fill the system. This was probably turned off when you had the leak other wise water would continually flow out of the leaking pipe in the system.





     I hope you shut everything down before serious damage to the boiler, and yourself was done. What ever you do DO NOT fill the boiler until it cools to ambient temperature. I would recommend getting a professional on site to check everything over before you attempt another try. You may have already cracked a boiler section. This is why low water cut offs properly placed in the system are so important to prevent this.



     Your boiler shut down because it hit high limit. Thank god that worked.





    Gordy
  • IceCold
    IceCold Member Posts: 9
    edited February 2011
    Stopped Everything

    Thank you for the response. Yes, my system has an auto-feed system. Now I thought the system was filling up because I could hear water in the radiators, however, when I attempted to bleed the system, I never got that steady flow of water out of one of the spigots like I expected. Here is a picture of what I believe is my auto-feed device. To be very honest, hiring a professional isn't an option right now so if there are any other pointers that can be given, it would be appreciated. Otherwise, I'll simply stop everything and continue with space heaters as I've been doing. Again, thank you.



    UPDATE: What I've ascertained thus far is low and behold, my auto-fill device, Watts Feed Water Pressure Regulator, is defective. I remember it having a spring to the lever in previous years. I had to manually fill the system with water by holding the lever Now a steady flow of water comes out all three spigots when opened as well as the air bleeder valve atop the expansion tank, leading me to believe that the system is too full of water now. I'll leave it be for the night and hope for some solutions in the a.m. Thank you.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    edited February 2011
    Walk through

        Could be the water feeder has a clogged filter screen or is limed up. You should really get a new one or clean up the one you have it looks pretty new. Very important that this works properly. When working it should be adjusted to 12- 15 psi. This insures as long as you do not have leaks in the system that it is always topped off. A non functional water feeder could stick open over filling the system, or as in your case stuck shut, and not keep the system at 12-15 psi. If there are no leaks it should be a non issue to have the water supply off once the system is filled, and bled of trapped air. But since you do not have a low water cut off installed which I suggest you install one. I would leave it on when you get it working properly.



       First you need to make sure the expansion tank is filled with air to 12-15psi. That is the big round silver tank with rust or dirt on top of it in the first pic. There should be a schrader valve check it with a tire pressure gauge. It should be isolated from the system when checking, but if you have 0 psi in the system that will be okay to check the tank.



     Second, start filling the system watching the pressure temperature gauge on the boiler. Fill the system until this gauge ( the one that says psi) reads 12- 15psi. Check the pressure relief valve on the boiler for operation. Make sure it is not stuck shut, and when flipped up water, and possibly air at this point may come out but should stop when lever is flipped closed again. If it leaks, or is stuck shut replace it before going through the following steps. If you replace make sure it is a 30psi boiler rated prv, and not a 150psi water heater prv.



    Note if you have some help you can open the bleeder valve on the top floor baseboard farthest from the boiler while filling. Have someone watch for water comming out of the bleeder then shut it. This will save some time in the following steps.





      Third with the boiler off, and the system now filled to 12-15psi go upstairs to the top floor, and start bleeding the baseboard of trapped air. Start with the one farthest from the boiler, and work your way to it. You may have to go back down from time to time to fill the boiler some more as you are removing volume from the system while bleeding the air. Make sure you let them bleed a bit you should get a steady stream of water with no spurting.



     Fourth Go to first floor, and repeat the bleed process working from farthest away baseboard to the closest to the boiler. Again replacing water as needed when removing air.



     Now make sure the boiler is set to the 12-15psi fill pressure.  





    Start the boiler let it run, and visually make sure no water is leaking any where after what happend.

    If everything appears to be fine, and no STEAM. Go up stairs, and listen to the baseboard for trapped air let it run a bit if there is gurgling then turn the boiler off, and go through the bleed process again. May take a few times to do this. Hopefully this will get you up and running. 



     Gordy
  • IceCold
    IceCold Member Posts: 9
    edited February 2011
    So far, so good, but what about the Aquastat?

    First and foremost, thank you for all of the assistance thus far. Everything seems to be running fine, though the radiators are heating slower with a full system than they did when I was apparently lacking a significant amount of water, but that's to be expected...I think.



    However: I have a Honeywell Aquastat Relay Type L8148E and there's a dial on it. What should it be set to?
  • IceCold
    IceCold Member Posts: 9
    edited February 2011
    So far, so good, but what about the Aquastat?

    First and foremost, thank you for all of the assistance thus far. Everything seems to be running fine, though the radiators are heating slower with a full system than they did when I was apparently lacking a significant amount of water, but that's to be expected...I think.



    However: I have a Honeywell Aquastat Relay Type L8148E and there's a dial on it. What should it be set to?
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    aquastat setting

    With baseboard 180*
  • IceCold
    IceCold Member Posts: 9
    Hopefully last question:

    PSI is at 15

    Aquastat is 180 degrees

    First two floors are heating quite nicely. However, the top floor isn't getting any heat whatsoever, whereas yesterday when the system wasn't full and had no pressure, the baseboard radiators were heating. What could the problem be?



    Thanks for all your assistance Gordy. You've got a round on me should you ever find yourself in the Detroit area.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    edited February 2011
    airbound

     bleed the upper floor baseboard some more until you get flow. Do this with the boiler off. If you do it while the boiler, and circulator are running you will be chasing the air all over the system.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Glad to help

     Bracing for the snow will have a nice Manhattan after removal. Let us know if there is any more trouble.





    Gordy
  • IceCold
    IceCold Member Posts: 9
    No bleeder valves.

    Unfortunately Gordy, my system doesn't have bleeders on each baseboard radiator. My system has three spigots above the boiler and by following the lines, I do believe each spigot represents a floor of my home. Two of the spigots when opened release piping hot water. However, the third (the one furthest to the left) is releasing room temperature water.
  • IceCold
    IceCold Member Posts: 9
    Random Questions:

    Is it possible my system requires more than 12-15 psi? My boiler reads it's maximum capacity is 50 psi.



    Should I be able to hear the water running in the baseboard radiators?



    What exactly is the proper procedure to fill the system?



    What exactly is the proper procedure to remove air from the system?



    Again, my system is one zone, no bleeder valves on the baseboard radiators.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    purging

      Okay you need to bleed that line. Same procedure just a different valve. Try it with the boiler, and circulator running, Just keep an eye on the pressure. Do this when the boiler has cooled down other wise you could shock the cast iron sections in the boiler with the incomming cold make up water while purging. 
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    edited February 2011
    Boiler psi

     You should only need 12-15psi for a two story house. Your pressure relief valve pops at 30psi on the boiler so you do not want to over fill the system, because when it heats up water expands, and could pop the PRV. The pressure gauge just has a scale that goes up to 50psi





    Bleed as I outlined your just doing it from the valves at the boiler.



     Start with the far left one first if it is the top floor.



    If there is no air in the system you should not here water running through the baseboard.



    Make sure that the brass valve with the screw driver slot below the spigot is open. It should look like the others the slot being parallel to the piping. I can't tell if its open the hose is hanging in front of it in the pic.







    I should also add you really need to get this boiler looked at by a pro as soon as possible. Unless the basement was flooded the rust around the bottom, and the corrosion on the flue pipe running down are indications of flue gas condensation corroding the components.
  • IceCold
    IceCold Member Posts: 9
    Swear to God, absolute last question

    Thing is, I have a three story home, not including the basement. Is the 15 psi still sufficient?



    Again, I really appreciate you Gordy. Even if this top floor never gets warm, I'm already warmer than I've been all year. If you haven't caught on, I'm not in a situation where I can really afford a plumber/HVAC guy, so I'm so very thankful to you for taking out the time to help me, a total stranger.



    Also, now that I've become somewhat knowledgeable about my system, I see the gentleman who installed it in 2004 pulled a fast one on me and installed plain ol' 3/4 copper without fins behind a few of the radiator housings in spare bedrooms. I'd call him and raise hell, but he's deceased. Do they make fins you can attach yourself to existing copper or would I have to cut out and sweat in the appropriate length of finned copper?
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    edited February 2011
    Thats why its called

     Heatinghelp. com



    We are not all strangers we just think we are. We just have to be careful how we help so no one gets hurt, or hurts others, or damages costly equipment.



      I did not read where you have a 3 story plus basement. The formula is 2.31 feet per 1 psi. Thats from the highest point in the system which would be the baseboard top floor to the PRV ( pressure relief valve) on the boiler. If your ceilings are 8', and 2x10 floor joists youwould have 9' per floor.



     So you have 18' plus what ever it is from the basement ceiling to the PRV call it 5'.



    So thats 23' / 2.31= 9.96 psi call it 10 plus a little more to get over the top 15



      15psi should be enough you could bump it up a couple more. could be gauge is off a little. If you see the pressure relief valve start spurting its to much....If the PRV is good, and the expansion tank is set properly, and the diaphram inside is not leaking.



    Are you sure the valve is open to that loop the one I asked you about?



    What kind of work was done is it possible debris got into the pipe?



    Do you here any gurgling in the top floor piping?



    That baseboard with no fins in your situation being money is tight. You could try to make some fins out of heavy gauge aluminum foil wrap around the pipe. Just fold into narrow thick strips about 6" to 8" long wrap around the pipe once go every few inches. But I think you might be okay if you get it purged.



    Gordy
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,839
    Nice job Gordy...

    Not bad for a self taught hydronics technician/master carpenter :-)



    Couldn't have done much better myself. You're doing well grass hopper;-)



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Master teaches well

    Oh wise one! And Thanks Mark!! That's a real complement coming from you, Professor of Hydronics. Think like air Grasshopper.
  • IceCold
    IceCold Member Posts: 9
    A simple thank you.

    I just wanted to post one last time to give my thanks to Gordy for all of his help. Never underestimate the human spirit.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Very welcome

     Did you get all zones working?



    Gordy
This discussion has been closed.