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Older Heat Timer Box vs. New Jazzed up EMS Box

Crunch
Crunch Member Posts: 62
We have a 2008 Heat Timer Platinum HWR box on our Smith boiler in a 27 apartment NYC co-op.  We tuned and tweaked it last winter, and got something like 35% fuel reduction on the shoulders of the season, even after allowing for the mild winter.  The curve was changed, boost was turned off, and minimum water temp was reduced to 140 from 160.  It is an outdoor reset system.  No indoor sensors other than a thermometer on the boiler supply line.

Due to a Con Ed program that helps pay for a new EMS system, we're getting a lot of pressure to upgrade to a jazzed up EMS box that will have quite a few indoor sensors.  Haven't yet had a full discussion with any reps, but I'm skeptical that we'll see any big savings, given the efficiency improvements we made last winter, and it seems we'll still have the same old cold apartments and cold apartment lines that we've always had.

Can someone please shed some light on how we are supposed to be able to save significantly on fuel usage, given the gains mentioned above, and given that just about nobody is opening their windows any more due to overheating?

Also, we've got a plain vanilla PowerFlame burner.  How much fuel can we expect to save if we went to L/H/L firing?

Thanks,

Crunch
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Comments

  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    HEATTIMER

    You do not need heattimer or any energy management system in apartment building. Those are things of the past. simple outdoor reset, controlling 0-10 VDC motor on butterfly valve after VFD boiler pump on P/S piping, sensor is mounted on pipe after VFD system pump, you make your boiler to act as a buffer tank as well and converting heating system to constant flow system with temperature modulation and TRVs.These are my 2 cents
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Gennady

    Gennady,

    With the existing Heat Timer box, we are already on ODR and have been for a number of years.  Our Heat Timer pipe sensor is mounted 5-6 feet from the boiler output, but before the output pipe feeds into our B&G 2-1/2 inch pumps.  It's set, when the temp is mild, to fire the boiler when circulating water temp in the pipe reaches 125 and to shut off when the boiler/circulating temp reaches 140.

    What do you mean by having our boiler act as a buffer tank?

    I noticed you are from NYC.  Are you qualified for AEA/Con Ed work?

    Crunch
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    condensing

    Your set up of the boiler is making conventional atmospheric boiler working as condensing boiler. In a couple years you will need new boiler. dew point at atmospheric pressure is 132F. at 125F your boiler is condensing. i would not set up temperature in the boiler lower than 160F.
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    P/S

    you need to have low water temperature in the system with protecting your boiler from condensing. Primary/ secondary piping system must be set up for this purpose and for best efficiency. Heattimer can control motorized valve, but heattimer is overbuilt and very expensive. even their mini-mod is overbuilt. Paxton control does better work at a fraction of the cost and excellent customer support. and build right for the job.
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Condensation

    Grennady,

    This is a good point.  I received info from the manufacturer of the boiler, Smith, that the minimum temp should be 140.  From others, I've been told that this refers to the shut off temp of the boiler after it fires, not the trigger temp that fires it.  We have a 15 degree boiler differential set on the Heat Timer box (used to be 5 degrees).

    What is the basis for your thoughts that we ought to set it for 160 instead of 140.  I have to tell you that is was set for 160 in prior years and most residents were way too hot.

    Crunch
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    condensing

    You have to protect not only the boiler, but the chimney as well. Even if it is lined, lining can be compromised because of low grade of stainless steel, and when boiler work in low fire your temperature of exhaust might be pretty low. I v seen terrible condensation problems on steam boilers working on low fire, not mentioning hot water boilers. 140F is too critical,
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Low firing?

    But we're not exactly low firing here.  Smith said 140 degrees, and it makes sense that we're talking about 140 degrees at the end of a minimal firing cycle.  The boiler is heated up, the flue is heated up, the chimney is heated up.

    Do you really think the boiler has to be set to operate at 160 degrees to avoid chimney condensation problems?  It's something I hadn't thought much about and would pose to Smith Boiler.

    I noticed you are AEA qualified and in Brooklyn.

    Crunch
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Hydronic

    BTW, we're hydronic, not steam

    Crunch
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    condensation

    In the winter you can check if you have a condensation inside of the chimney. If white plum on the top of the chimney is connected to chimney outlet, then you have a problem. If it is detached from top of the chimney, then you are OK.
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    STEAM

    My point was that even on steam systems those problem happen, but on hydronic you have to watch for it .
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Not much savings to be had...

    The reduction you have seen is more than I would have expected from the application of ODR controls. I wouldn't have expected more than a 10 to 15% reduction infuel consumption on an annual basis. As for indoor feed back is concerned, if you go through with the application of non electric TRV's, you will need to leave at least one emitter non controlled, as a point of reference to the heating controls indoor feed back (thermostat).



    As Gennady has pointed out, your boiler is being subjected to condensation production, which is not good. All heating system designs in the US are based on a theoretical 20 degree differential in fluid temperature. In the real world, that rarely occurs, and that is what is probably keeping your boiler from having a stream of rusty water running from its bottom.



    As for burners, it has been my experience, that unless you are modulating the combustion air, along with the fuel supply, the combustion numbers on low burn will not be good. And unfortunately, the boiler will spend most of its operating time on low burn.



    If it were my boiler, I'd hire a good knowledgeable professional to come in and check the combustion efficiency, and service the fire side of the system including a flue inspection to insure that it is as efficient as it can be. I'd also recommend your co-op start allocating money to replace the cast iron behemoth with a newer, high efficiency modulating/condensing boiler, which should show an additional 30% reduction in fuel consumption above and beyond what you already seen, and it will do it on an annual basis, not just in the should seasons.



    From your post, it also sounds as if there are some circulation issues. You may need to consider replacement of the main building circulators with either DCECM variable speed circulators, or the application of a Variable Frequency Drive pump controller, which will also show a significant reduction in electrical energy consumption. The lack of circulation will probably straighten itself out once the non electric TRV's have been installed.



    Are the circulation issues only applicable to those zones that are furthest from the pump station, or are they random and everywhere in the vertical profile?



    Con Ed SHOULD be interested in subsidizing those improvements as well... If not, they need to review their programs.



    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.
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Savings

    Mark and Gennady,

    I just lost a long post responding to your comments, since I was timed out.  I knew I should have copied it before I tried to submit!

    I'm too tired and hungry tonight to redo it now.  I will redo it at a later date and respond then.  From my view, yes, we've got some important concerns to flesh out and understand regarding condensation and circulation, but I'll fill you in on the details later.  It was a long post with lots of info, but as they say, either God or the devil is in the details.

    Overall, at this point in time, we've received about 10 proposed steps from Con Ed to increase our energy efficiency, which they'll subsidize to varying degrees, including replacement of a boiler.  We, meaning the board, are not entirely convinced the Con Ed steps make as much sense as they are suggesting, given our history and layout, none of which they are aware of.  We are trying hard to prioritize the steps in terms of the fastest payback to the building.  Any insight you can shed on this will be most helpful.

    Crunch
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Savings #2

    Mark and Grennady,

    Here's some more info, probably more than you need:

    1)  We've been focused on the boiler since last fall, but I have detailed Con Ed info going back to the summer of 2009.  We've tracked this and HDD on a monthly basis since August 2010.

    2) The first thing we did was to lower the minimum operating temp on the HT box from 160 to 140, and the ODR temp from 58 to 52.  Therm usage for the billing period ending 11/18/11 dropped by 31% compared to prior year while Heating Degree Days ("HDD") stayed about the same.

    3)  Dead-of-winter savings will probably be small, if anything.  Billing period ending 1/23/12 therm usage was down 19% but HDD were down 13%, as compared to prior year. For 2/22/12 billing period, therm usage and HDD were each down about 30%

    4)  Savings at the shoulders should be substantial.  For 3/22/12, therms were down 39% and HDD were down 20%.  For 4/20/12, therms were down 58% and HDD were down by 38%.

    5)  Overall, from a 12 month base on 8/19/10 when therm consumption was 13,982, we're now down to 10,272, a 26% overall reduction.  Rolling 12 month consumption coincidentally peaked at 14,650 therms at 8/19/11, just before we started to learn the difference between a broiler and a boiler.  Usage decrease since then has been about 30%.

    6)  In December, we tried to increase the burner differential from 5 degrees to 15 degrees.  PRV went off every single time the boiler fired, and scared the heck out of me more than once when the whole boiler banged and clanked and shook.  Not the best way to control pressure.

    Turns out the Extrol expansion tank was completely shot, and probably had been for years.  We replaced that with a B&G tank just before XMas, and were able to finally long cycle the boiler.  So now when it is mild outside and the boiler is minimally operating, the boiler fires at 125 degrees and shuts off at 140.  We adjust the temp on the HT box to whatever temp is needed to do this, but read off the two thermometers on the boiler itself.  One is a tridicator high on the boiler near the output pipe.  The other is a new DigiScan installed lower on the boiler.  The tridicator will read 140+ when shut off occurs, and the DigiScan will follow a minute or two later with the same reading.

    Obviously, if it is cold outside, the boiler will fire and shut off at much higher temps, but it will still maintain the 15 degree burner differential.

    7)  Replaced the backflow preventer and cold water fill pressure reducing valve in January, both of which also had probably been shot for years.  Boiler would not maintain pressure until this stuff had been replaced.

    8)  PRV had been replaced October 2010.

    9)  I hear you Mark on replacing the existing boiler, but this is the 3rd boiler in the buidling since 1985.  A pretty big sore point around here between the board and the managing agent, now that we know what was or wasn't, mostly wasn't, going on in the past in terms of care and maintenance.  We'll probably nurse this thing along, and look for other opportunities with a faster payback.  Insulating pipes is at the top of the list right now.

    10)  Annually, burner company comes in and tunes the boiler as part of their service contract, but it is for the burner only.  A different company cleans the tubes, etc. annually.  Managing agent for the building is supposed to look at the whole system, but never has, as we are now finding out.  The single biggest problem is that no one was being held accountable for the system in a holistic sense.  You get the idea.

    11)  Yes, we need to understand the condensation issue with precision.  I've discussed this with quite a few folks, and my understanding is:  circulating water can be at whatever temp and has no implication for condensation, but may have implication for thermal shock.  When the boiler fires at whatever water temp that might be, flue condensation should not be an issue as long as boiler reaches at least 140 at cut off.  And that there actually is some margin of error with natural gas, with something in the upper 130's being okay, too.  But we've got it set as described above to minimally shut off when it hits 140.  As described to me, it will be shutting off "dry" at that point.

    I haven't checked it often, but when I have, the difference in temp between return and supply is usually around 10-15 degrees.  We did get an IR temp gun near the end of the season, but I don't think I tried it on this differential.

    Grennady, not sure what you are referring to regarding a white plume.  Can you explain more and what I should be looking for?

    12)  So, I'm not sure if we have a condensation issue or not, and if we do, isn't Gennady referring to a potential problem further up the line, as in the chimney?  And if that is the case, wouldn't we have the same issue, but maybe more of it with a cooler condensing boiler?

    BTW, the big duct pipe coming out of the boiler and going to the chimney is sloped downward a bit just before it turns and runs into the chimney.  It has been patched at some point in the past, but not recently.  Might this be intentional to collect any condensate?

    If condensation is a problem, please point me in the right direction.

    13) Got it, Mark, on the low fire.  Hadn't heard that before.

    14)  BTW, if we do the Con Ed EMS stuff, one requirement is that we install a stack thermometer that ties into the HT box.

    15)  Tried to get our techs to do a stack test many times last winter, but never worked out.  Hopefully, this year, and Con Ed will subsidize that a bit.

    16)  Yes, Mark, circulation is an aggravating problem.  As far as we know, we have no balancing valves of any kind anywhere.  A bare 2.5 inch pipe from the boiler disappears into the boiler room ceiling and we have no idea what is in there or where it goes.  With some Con Ed help, we are going to open the ceiling and insulate all the pipe in the boiler room, including that in the ceiling.  Maybe we'll find a valve or two up there, but we're not expecting it.

    17)  Out of 5 vertical apartment lines, 2 tend to run hot, and 1 tends to run cold.  One of the hot lines is right above the boiler, the other line is relatively small apartments that are mostly landlocked at one end of the building.  The cold line is right next to the hot line above the boiler, both of those lines face south and are exposed on three sides to the elements.  The cool line is an ongoing mystery, especially since it used to be overheated a number of years ago.

    18)  We have two B&G 2.5 inch booster pumps hooked up in parallel.  For years, but some time ago, both were run simulataneously.  That hasn't been the case for the last 3-4 years, and, in fact, we found out one of the pumps was shot this winter.  We replaced it.  During one of the cold spells, we ran both pumps to see if it made a difference on the cold line of apartments.  Hardly any difference was noted.

    19)  We also have duplex apartments on the roof with big solarium windows.  They tend to get cool when it is cold outside, but I think we know why.

    20)  Also have one duplex apartment on the 1st floor who is also cold.  Probably a good candidate for a heat gun study this winter.  Just found out that out of 5 radiators, 2 of them are enclosed in some sort of custom built wall unit. Haven't seen it, but maybe not so much heat at those units.

    21)  Biggest mystery is that cold line, and why it would have flipped from an overheated line, say, a decade ago, to one that is so cold that you can see your breath in there.

    22)  Overheating and window opening was vastly less this winter, but some of it still goes on in the line above the boiler.  This line would be prime candidate for TRV.

    23)  Mark and Gennady, my gut feel is that we should get everything balanced and everyone comfortable first and then look at other stuff like EMS and insulating the roof, etc.  Does that make any sense?

    Many thanks,

    Crunch
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    savings

    these are my 2 cents:



    1) We've been focused on the boiler since last fall, but I have detailed Con



    Ed info going back to the summer of 2009. We've tracked this and HDD on a



    monthly basis since August 2010.

    ==================================

    Please check this website http://www.degreedays.net/ for HDD information

    ===============================================

    2) The first thing we did was to lower the minimum operating temp on the HT



    box from 160 to 140, and the ODR temp from 58 to 52. Therm usage for the



    billing period ending 11/18/11 dropped by 31% compared to prior year while



    Heating Degree Days ("HDD") stayed about the same.

    =================================================

    what does your heattimer is set up to control? boiler? pump?

    Did you set up reset curve using system temperature or boiler temperature?



    How is your boiler set up? do you have primary secondary piping? diverter



    valve?

    what is reset ratio?

    how did you pick it up?

    did you do heat loss on the bulding with EDR survey? did you do calculations



    for different outdoor temperatures to figure out proper reset ratio?

    I m not triyng to complicate issue, but there is certain ways of doing job



    right.

    If you do TRV installation,you migh skip those calculations and it simplifies



    things, and outdoor reset settings become more forgiving, but TRV must be



    installed on all radiators.

    ======================================





    6) So now when it is mild outside and the boiler is minimally operating, the



    boiler fires at 125 degrees and shuts off at 140. We adjust the temp on the



    HT box to whatever temp is needed to do this, but read off the two



    thermometers on the boiler itself. One is a tridicator high on the boiler



    near the output pipe. The other is a new DigiScan installed lower on the



    boiler. The tridicator will read 140+ when shut off occurs, and the DigiScan



    will follow a minute or two later with the same reading.

    Obviously, if it is cold outside, the boiler will fire and shut off at much



    higher temps, but it will still maintain the 15 degree burner differential.

    =====================================================

    I do not want to repeat myself, but in my opinion, boiler must operate at



    180F output temperature with 20F differential, and there should be low water



    temperature protection, preventing water flow trough the boiler if inlet



    temperature of the water hits 140F.



    =============================================



    9) I hear you Mark on replacing the existing boiler, but this is the 3rd



    boiler in the buidling since 1985.

    =======================

    WOW! Your managing agent probably makes good money on the side

    ======================================



    A pretty big sore point around here between the board and the managing agent,



    now that we know what was or wasn't, mostly wasn't, going on in the past in



    terms of care and maintenance. We'll probably nurse this thing along, and



    look for other opportunities with a faster payback. Insulating pipes is at



    the top of the list right now.



    ==================================

    pipe insulation is the best investment

    =======================================







    10) Annually, burner company comes in and tunes the boiler as part of their



    service contract, but it is for the burner only. A different company cleans



    the tubes, etc. annually. Managing agent for the building is supposed to



    look at the whole system, but never has, as we are now finding out. The



    single biggest problem is that no one was being held accountable for the



    system in a holistic sense. You get the idea.



    =============================================

    Ususally super takes care of all issues outside of boiler room. Don't shoot



    piano player, he plays as ne can

    =========================================



    11) Yes, we need to understand the condensation issue with precision. I've



    discussed this with quite a few folks, and my understanding is: circulating



    water can be at whatever temp and has no implication for condensation, but



    may have implication for thermal shock. When the boiler fires at whatever



    water temp that might be, flue condensation should not be an issue as long as



    boiler reaches at least 140 at cut off. And that there actually is some



    margin of error with natural gas, with something in the upper 130's being



    okay, too. But we've got it set as described above to minimally shut off



    when it hits 140. As described to me, it will be shutting off "dry" at that



    point.

    ==========================================

    My specialty is condensing modulating boilers, I see those boilers condensing



    at outlet water temperatures 140-150F, I see acidic water leaking from drain



    pipe, and I do belive my own eyes.

    ==================================================



    I haven't checked it often, but when I have, the difference in temp between



    return and supply is usually around 10-15 degrees. We did get an IR temp gun



    near the end of the season, but I don't think I tried it on this



    differential.

    Grennady, not sure what you are referring to regarding a white plume. Can



    you explain more and what I should be looking for?

    ==============================

    water vapor is a product of combustion, and in cold air vapor condenses,



    visually it looks as white plum. If condensation is happening outside of



    chimney, then this plum looks detached from the chimney outlet, if



    condensation is happening inside of the chimney, then plum is attaqched to



    chimney outlet.

    ==========================================







    12) So, I'm not sure if we have a condensation issue or not, and if we do,



    isn't Gennady referring to a potential problem further up the line, as in the



    chimney? And if that is the case, wouldn't we have the same issue, but maybe



    more of it with a cooler condensing boiler?

    BTW, the big duct pipe coming out of the boiler and going to the chimney is



    sloped downward a bit just before it turns and runs into the chimney. It has



    been patched at some point in the past, but not recently. Might this be



    intentional to collect any condensate?

    ===========================================

    Back pitch of breeching is against the code, and when it is nessecary , then it will be engineered chimney, and must be designed and filed according proper process.

    ========================



    If condensation is a problem, please point me in the right direction.



    ========================

    proper near boiler piping and control is the right thing to do

    ========================================================





    17) The cool line is an ongoing mystery, especially since it used to be



    overheated a number of years ago.

    =================================================

    Probably some coontractor shut off the valve and then sheetrocked the it in the wall during renovation.

    ================================





    18) We have two B&G 2.5 inch booster pumps hooked up in parallel. For



    years, but some time ago, both were run simulataneously. That hasn't been



    the case for the last 3-4 years, and, in fact, we found out one of the pumps



    was shot this winter. We replaced it. During one of the cold spells, we ran



    both pumps to see if it made a difference on the cold line of apartments.



    Hardly any difference was noted.

    ============================================

    only one pump has to run at the time, second pump is a back up. Have your super alternate those pumps every week or install auto alternator.





    21) Biggest mystery is that cold line, and why it would have flipped from an



    overheated line, say, a decade ago, to one that is so cold that you can see



    your breath in there.

    =================================================

    Probably some coontractor shut off the valve and then sheetrocked the it in the wall during renovation.

    ================================





    23) Mark and Gennady, my gut feel is that we should get everything balanced



    and everyone comfortable first and then look at other stuff like EMS and



    insulating the roof, etc. Does that make any sense?



    ========================================

    Insulating the roof must be a #1 priority, it is a biggest loser.

    Balancing and near boiler piping is second inline.





    This is my opinion
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Savings feedback

    Gennady,

    Thanks for the insights.  Here's some feedback/comments:

    1)  For HDD, I use the website you mentioned.  We started off with the Hunter College site to get some urban feel for the effect of buildings, but that site went down.  Then went to an east side site, and that went down.  Have gone to Central Park because it almost certainly is not going to go down, and it has deep data.  We also have access to a HDD expert.

    2) The HT box controls both the boiler and the pump.  The pump runs continously 24/7 unless the outdoor temp gets 2 degrees above the ODR temp setting.  If the 2 degree threshold is crossed, both the boiler and the pump shut off, but the pump is set to run for a half hour before it shuts down.

    Not sure what you mean, but the system temp is compared to the outdoor thermometer reading and is used to turn the boiler on or off.  The system temp is measure by a strap on themometer about 5-6 feet down the output pipe after it exits the boiler.

    Boiler is set up for plain vanilla operation.  I'm not completely clear on the p/s loop stuff, but it basically is a pipe comes out of the boiler, splits in half at a Tee, each side of which goes to an identical B&G pump, the pump outputs rejoin at a Tee, and the 2.5 inch pipe disappears into the ceiling.  Nothing terribly sophisticated.  Can't remember if I mentioned it, but we used to have a mixing valve on the boiler.  It was ripped out in 1998 when the current boiler was installed. 

    We experimented with the 1:1 E curve, the 1:1.25 D curve, and the 1:1.5 C curve, progressively as the winter got colder.

    No calculations, but tried to set it at the lowest possible temp without complaints.  We stopped when a complaint was received and backed up a step or two.  Complaints almost always came from the cold apartment line and the one cold duplex on the first floor.

     

    Incidentally, the outdoor thermometer is attached to the outside wall of that 1st floor cold duplex.

     

    If we do TRVs, we will not be doing it on all radiators.  North side of the building has bypass piping and ball valves -- no real need for TRV except for convenience.  Southside does not have bypass piping and much less control over their heat.  We may limit TRV on this first round to the hot line.  Nothing to be gained at this point to install them on the cold line.

    6)  Gennady, are you kidding on the 180 degree temp?  We'll have a sauna or a roast in the building at that operating parameter if it is only 50 degrees outside.  What is your rationale for this?

    When it gets cold outside, the boiler does get up into these temperature ranges and even higher, but not when it is mild outside.

    Are you sure it is the 140 inlet temp that matters?  Would Smith agree with that?

    7)  The managing agent is another very long story entirely for another day, but, yes, a lot of smoke and mirrors.  He was supposedly the engineer of record when the Smith boiler was installed. 

    Thanks for confirming the pipe insulation.  Board president and I will probably be starting on it next weekend.  AEA requires 2 inches on the boiler to qualify for the $ 2 linear foot subsidy (used to be $ 5 but was reduced to $ 2 a few weeks ago).  Is this overkill?  If 1 inch is very effective, we might be just skip the subsidy.

    10)  Right now, I'm more or less fulfiling the role of super.  We have a part time female porter with no mechanical skills, and used to have a part time super who was a former contractor.  He was the one who replaced the PRV valve, but pretty much skated on the rest of it.  He moved on to a good postion at a high-rise luxury building.  We stll have him on call for emergencies.

     

    11)  Gennady, are you referring to gas boilers, oil boilers, or both?  You mentioned 140 degree output temp here, but 140 degree inlet temp earlier.  Can you clarify?  Where are you seeing the condensation?

    I'm a bit confused.  My limited understanding is that condensing boilers are designed to operate at much lower temps, and with the expectation that there will be condensation.  At what temp do you think a condensing boiler should be operated at?  I'm not sure I see the point of investing in a condensing boiler if it going to be running at 140 or 150 degrees.

    Okay on the plume.  We'll have to wait until winter, and I'll take a look.

    Don't mean to sound defensive here, but what you are saying regarding condensation is completely contradictory to what I've been told by both Smith and others for a NG boiler. 

      

    Is the acidic water you are referring to coming from the stack?  Were there other problems with the stack?  How long a run from the boiler to the chimney?  In our case, we're probably talking a couple of feet. 

     

    21)  As Cardinal O'Connor would have said, it's a mystery.  I doubt anything was sheetrocked in during the gut rehab of the '80's.  We'll start insulating in the basement and see where it goes.

    23)  I would have thought so, too, about the roof, but a study from Columbia pooh-poohed that.  As I think they probably correctly said more or less, we can insulate the roof and create a bubble of hot air at the top of a multi-story building, but until we figure out how to transport that hot air to the lower floors where it is needed, we don't it as being a good investment.  Others have said, yes, top floor gets hotter, they open their windows, chimney/stack effect increases, and lower floors get colder.

    And when I spoke with an AEA engineer, he sort of said the same thing:  won't be a silver bullet if you've already made a lot of progress elsewhere, the building will heat up faster and cool down slower, but will still balancing problems if they haven't already been addressed.

    Seems to me for the upcoming season, our best bets are to 1) insulate pipes, 2) install TRV on at least the hot line, 3) IR gun study on the cold duplex apt on the first floor, 4)  trace boiler output to the cold line as best we can this year, which may not be very far if we don't open big chunks of some ceiling.

     

    I agree with you Gennady, the problems on the cold line of apts feels like a mechancial problem, but we're stumped thus far.

     

    So, what do you think, is EMS a waste of time and money at this point?  As the board president keeps suggesting, we've got other low-hanging fruit to take care of first.

    Many thanks,

    Crunch





     
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Savings feedback

    Gennady,

    Thanks for the insights.  Here's some feedback/comments:

    1)  For HDD, I use the website you mentioned.  We started off with the Hunter College site to get some urban feel for the effect of buildings, but that site went down.  Then went to an east side site, and that went down.  Have gone to Central Park because it almost certainly is not going to go down, and it has deep data.  We also have access to a HDD expert.

    2) The HT box controls both the boiler and the pump.  The pump runs continously 24/7 unless the outdoor temp gets 2 degrees above the ODR temp setting.  If the 2 degree threshold is crossed, both the boiler and the pump shut off, but the pump is set to run for a half hour before it shuts down.

    Not sure what you mean, but the system temp is compared to the outdoor thermometer reading and is used to turn the boiler on or off.  The system temp is measure by a strap on themometer about 5-6 feet down the output pipe after it exits the boiler.

    Boiler is set up for plain vanilla operation.  I'm not completely clear on the p/s loop stuff, but it basically is a pipe comes out of the boiler, splits in half at a Tee, each side of which goes to an identical B&G pump, the pump outputs rejoin at a Tee, and the 2.5 inch pipe disappears into the ceiling.  Nothing terribly sophisticated.  Can't remember if I mentioned it, but we used to have a mixing valve on the boiler.  It was ripped out in 1998 when the current boiler was installed. 

    We experimented with the 1:1 E curve, the 1:1.25 D curve, and the 1:1.5 C curve, progressively as the winter got colder.

    No calculations, but tried to set it at the lowest possible temp without complaints.  We stopped when a complaint was received and backed up a step or two.  Complaints almost always came from the cold apartment line and the one cold duplex on the first floor.

     

    Incidentally, the outdoor thermometer is attached to the outside wall of that 1st floor cold duplex.

     

    If we do TRVs, we will not be doing it on all radiators.  North side of the building has bypass piping and ball valves -- no real need for TRV except for convenience.  Southside does not have bypass piping and much less control over their heat.  We may limit TRV on this first round to the hot line.  Nothing to be gained at this point to install them on the cold line.

    6)  Gennady, are you kidding on the 180 degree temp?  We'll have a sauna or a roast in the building at that operating parameter if it is only 50 degrees outside.  What is your rationale for this?

    When it gets cold outside, the boiler does get up into these temperature ranges and even higher, but not when it is mild outside.

    Are you sure it is the 140 inlet temp that matters?  Would Smith agree with that?

    7)  The managing agent is another very long story entirely for another day, but, yes, a lot of smoke and mirrors.  He was supposedly the engineer of record when the Smith boiler was installed. 

    Thanks for confirming the pipe insulation.  Board president and I will probably be starting on it next weekend.  AEA requires 2 inches on the boiler to qualify for the $ 2 linear foot subsidy (used to be $ 5 but was reduced to $ 2 a few weeks ago).  Is this overkill?  If 1 inch is very effective, we might be just skip the subsidy.

    10)  Right now, I'm more or less fulfiling the role of super.  We have a part time female porter with no mechanical skills, and used to have a part time super who was a former contractor.  He was the one who replaced the PRV valve, but pretty much skated on the rest of it.  He moved on to a good postion at a high-rise luxury building.  We stll have him on call for emergencies.

     

    11)  Gennady, are you referring to gas boilers, oil boilers, or both?  You mentioned 140 degree output temp here, but 140 degree inlet temp earlier.  Can you clarify?  Where are you seeing the condensation?

    I'm a bit confused.  My limited understanding is that condensing boilers are designed to operate at much lower temps, and with the expectation that there will be condensation.  At what temp do you think a condensing boiler should be operated at?  I'm not sure I see the point of investing in a condensing boiler if it going to be running at 140 or 150 degrees.

    Okay on the plume.  We'll have to wait until winter, and I'll take a look.

    Don't mean to sound defensive here, but what you are saying regarding condensation is completely contradictory to what I've been told by both Smith and others for a NG boiler. 

      

    Is the acidic water you are referring to coming from the stack?  Were there other problems with the stack?  How long a run from the boiler to the chimney?  In our case, we're probably talking a couple of feet. 

     

    21)  As Cardinal O'Connor would have said, it's a mystery.  I doubt anything was sheetrocked in during the gut rehab of the '80's.  We'll start insulating in the basement and see where it goes.

    23)  I would have thought so, too, about the roof, but a study from Columbia pooh-poohed that.  As I think they probably correctly said more or less, we can insulate the roof and create a bubble of hot air at the top of a multi-story building, but until we figure out how to transport that hot air to the lower floors where it is needed, we don't it as being a good investment.  Others have said, yes, top floor gets hotter, they open their windows, chimney/stack effect increases, and lower floors get colder.

    And when I spoke with an AEA engineer, he sort of said the same thing:  won't be a silver bullet if you've already made a lot of progress elsewhere, the building will heat up faster and cool down slower, but will still balancing problems if they haven't already been addressed.

    Seems to me for the upcoming season, our best bets are to 1) insulate pipes, 2) install TRV on at least the hot line, 3) IR gun study on the cold duplex apt on the first floor, 4)  trace boiler output to the cold line as best we can this year, which may not be very far if we don't open big chunks of some ceiling.

     

    I agree with you Gennady, the problems on the cold line of apts feels like a mechancial problem, but we're stumped thus far.

     

    So, what do you think, is EMS a waste of time and money at this point?  As the board president keeps suggesting, we've got other low-hanging fruit to take care of first.

    Many thanks,

    Crunch





     
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    edited July 2012
    controls

    2) The HT box controls both the boiler and the pump. The pump runs



    continously 24/7 unless the outdoor temp gets 2 degrees above the ODR temp



    setting. If the 2 degree threshold is crossed, both the boiler and the pump



    shut off, but the pump is set to run for a half hour before it shuts down.

    Not sure what you mean, but the system temp is compared to the outdoor



    thermometer reading and is used to turn the boiler on or off. The system



    temp is measure by a strap on themometer about 5-6 feet down the output pipe



    after it exits the boiler.

    Boiler is set up for plain vanilla operation. I'm not completely clear on



    the p/s loop stuff, but it basically is a pipe comes out of the boiler,



    splits in half at a Tee, each side of which goes to an identical B&G pump,



    the pump outputs rejoin at a Tee, and the 2.5 inch pipe disappears into the



    ceiling. Nothing terribly sophisticated. Can't remember if I mentioned it,



    but we used to have a mixing valve on the boiler. It was ripped out in 1998



    when the current boiler was installed.



    =====================================================

    Whoever removed this mixing valve in the past did you a disservice. Tt was a



    diverter valve, it controlled flow of the water trough boiler bypass.Ask you



    managing agent at this time , why they went with lowest bidder.



    =====================================================









    We experimented with the 1:1 E curve, the 1:1.25 D curve, and the 1:1.5 C



    curve, progressively as the winter got colder.

    No calculations, but tried to set it at the lowest possible temp without



    complaints. We stopped when a complaint was received and backed up a step or



    two. Complaints almost always came from the cold apartment line and the one



    cold duplex on the first floor.

    ===========================================

    it is either balancing issue or they removed or blocked radiators with



    furniture, ot broke radiator valve. those valves are balancing valves, and



    they had a stops. if this valve gets turned with force , then stops get



    broken and valve just rotating when you turn it.

    ============================================













    Incidentally, the outdoor thermometer is attached to the outside wall of that



    1st floor cold duplex.



    ===============================================

    Do you mean outdoor sensor? if yes, outdoor sensor has certain rules for



    mounting location

    =====================================================









    If we do TRVs, we will not be doing it on all radiators. North side of the



    building has bypass piping and ball valves -- no real need for TRV except for



    convenience. Southside does not have bypass piping and much less control



    over their heat. We may limit TRV on this first round to the hot line.



    Nothing to be gained at this point to install them on the cold line.

    ======================================================

    It makes sense

    =====================================================







    6) Gennady, are you kidding on the 180 degree temp? We'll have a sauna or a



    roast in the building at that operating parameter if it is only 50 degrees



    outside. What is your rationale for this?

    When it gets cold outside, the boiler does get up into these temperature



    ranges and even higher, but not when it is mild outside.

    Are you sure it is the 140 inlet temp that matters? Would Smith agree with



    that?

    ============================================================

    Whith how your piping is done now you cannot do outdoor reset. You utilizing



    control (heattimer HRW) in wrong application. In your application you cannot



    do ODR. This might be the reason for your boilers failures. I will attach



    hand sketch for one of proper applications and photos of how it actually



    looks. see pictures.

    =================================================================

    before



    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-qJjk8VFmXKw/TyygwHycDII/AAAAAAAABvs/OggoBeFxd1w/s288/2012-02-02_12-15-13_861.jpg



    after







    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-rYErul9oYsw/T7_g_aUdqOI/AAAAAAAAEhc/9L5puVF9J_8/s288/2012-05-25_15-43-31_707.jpg



    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NVnPj3bGDHg/T7_hHfvidEI/AAAAAAAAEhk/rjOk1yWn814/s288/2012-05-25_15-43-36_569.jpg





    this is one of ways to organize flow for ODR (P/S)



    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-cNGt-_IN-WA/UALsMsGWzAI/AAAAAAAAGiM/-SAj0j99GVo/s144/2012-07-15_12-12-43_647.jpg





    7) The managing agent is another very long story entirely for another day,



    but, yes, a lot of smoke and mirrors. He was supposedly the engineer of



    record when the Smith boiler was installed.

    ====================================================================

    He should know better.

    ====================================================================











    Thanks for confirming the pipe insulation. Board president and I will



    probably be starting on it next weekend. AEA requires 2 inches on the boiler



    to qualify for the $ 2 linear foot subsidy (used to be $ 5 but was reduced to



    $ 2 a few weeks ago). Is this overkill? If 1 inch is very effective, we



    might be just skip the subsidy.

    ===============================================================

    1" thickness is enough for hot water. if you look at the tables after 1"



    insulation becomes useless.

    ===============================================================











    11) Gennady, are you referring to gas boilers, oil boilers, or both? You



    mentioned 140 degree output temp here, but 140 degree inlet temp earlier.



    Can you clarify? Where are you seeing the condensation?

    ===========================================================

    Fuel type does not matter.When we replace leaking sections, we see acidic



    corrosion damage on the top of last sections, where flue pipe connects

    ===========================================================









    I'm a bit confused. My limited understanding is that condensing boilers are



    designed to operate at much lower temps, and with the expectation that there



    will be condensation. At what temp do you think a condensing boiler should



    be operated at?

    ==========================================================

    it is not about any temperature, it is about temperatures of water at boiler



    inlet and combustion gases at outlet of the boiler, where coldest water meets



    coldest gases, where overcooling of combustion gases produce condensation.

    =============================================================







    I'm not sure I see the point of investing in a condensing boiler if it going



    to be running at 140 or 150 degrees.

    =======================================================

    see above

    ======================================================













    Okay on the plume. We'll have to wait until winter, and I'll take a look.

    Don't mean to sound defensive here, but what you are saying regarding



    condensation is completely contradictory to what I've been told by both Smith



    and others for a NG boiler.

    ===============================================================

    Heating industry is developing at amazing pace today, and all those people



    fell behind.

    ===============================================================









    Is the acidic water you are referring to coming from the stack? Were there



    other problems with the stack? How long a run from the boiler to the



    chimney? In our case, we're probably talking a couple of feet.

    =============================================================

    acidic water is leaking inside the boiler on gas side of the sections, and



    evaporates and acid stays as a dust, and every cycle it buids up and getting



    wet, eating trough gaskets and cast iron.

    =============================================================









    23) I would have thought so, too, about the roof, but a study from Columbia



    pooh-poohed that. As I think they probably correctly said more or less, we



    can insulate the roof and create a bubble of hot air at the top of a



    multi-story building, but until we figure out how to transport that hot air



    to the lower floors where it is needed, we don't it as being a good



    investment. Others have said, yes, top floor gets hotter, they open their



    windows, chimney/stack effect increases, and lower floors get colder.

    And when I spoke with an AEA engineer, he sort of said the same thing: won't



    be a silver bullet if you've already made a lot of progress elsewhere, the



    building will heat up faster and cool down slower, but will still balancing



    problems if they haven't already been addressed.

    ===========================================================

    This is funniest thing I heard recently. What those people offer to you is to



    regulate indoor comfort by opening windows? Where you getting those people?

    What is your goal, if you want to conserve energy, is to reduce heat loss



    trough the roof, walls, windows, infiltrations and so on. What you absolutely



    must do is to insulate the roof, and cut water flow trough top floor



    radiators (install TRV with bypasses), this way you will cut losses and cut



    heat emission. It will cut your heating bills at least 15%.

    =============================================================











    Seems to me for the upcoming season, our best bets are to

    1) insulate pipes,

    =======================================================

    Agree

    =======================================================









    2) install TRV on at least the hot line,

    =========================================================

    Agree

    =========================================================











    So, what do you think, is EMS a waste of time and money at this point? As



    the board president keeps suggesting, we've got other low-hanging fruit to



    take care of first.

    ===========================================================

    As you have heattimer, it is as good as other controls. I would not install



    it in first place, but you already have it. If you need ODR, you have to



    repipe boiler.

    =============================================================
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    ODR

    Gennady,

    Not following on ODR.  We've had ODR since at least 2008.  No thermostats in the building, just an outdoor thermostat mounted on the side of the building.  Boiler fires and shuts off based on what the HT box is calculating for the temp being read at the outdoor thermometer and the curve that we've set the HT box at.  What else would we need to do?  BTW, our chimney is inside the building, sort of in the middle of the layout.  

    Nice job on the insulation!  As newbies, we'll see how close we can come to it.  Do you recommend the 2" that AEA requires for boiler piping?

    Crunch
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    edited July 2012
    ODR

    We've had ODR since at least 2008. No thermostats in the building, just an outdoor thermostat mounted on the side of the building. Boiler fires and shuts off based on what the HT box is calculating for the temp being read at the outdoor thermometer and the curve that we've set the HT box at. What else would we need to do?

    ==================================================

    Problem with ODR is that boiler outlet temperature is getting too low, and inlet even lower, and you put boiler in condensing mode. you have to decouple boiler from the system.

    as an example if boiler outlet temperature is 140F, the if delta T on boiler is 15F, your boiler inlet temperature will be 125F, and it will condense. What you have to do is install either diverter valve, 3 or 4 ways, or Primary Secondary piping, Also please see my hand sketch in earlier post. ODR can be done, but it has to be done the right way. and not in a way damaging boiler.

    ==========================================================



    BTW, our chimney is inside the building, sort of in the middle of the layout.

    Nice job on the insulation! As newbies, we'll see how close we can come to it. Do you recommend the 2" that AEA requires for boiler piping?

    =======================================================

    on hot water 1" is enough. if you check insulation tables excessive insulation will be not effective.

    ===================================================



    this is just my personal opinion.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    edited July 2012
    3 boiler replacements eh...

    That's NOT normal. And, it could be tied to the way that it is incorrectly piped as Gennady has pointed out. It would be nice if there were a report telling what method of failure caused their demise.



    As for the application of condensing boiler, even in situations where the boiler is at 180 degrees F for design condition, the building STILL saw a 30% reduction in energy consumption. Absolutely worthwhile in my professional opinion.



    As for other things, yes to low hanging fruit, including TRV's, which should address your other imbalance issues. As for the "cold" units, that line may either be closed off by an added valve someplace, or air bound, both of which will cause flow to cease.



    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.
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    3 boilers

    Gennady,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    You are exactly correct.  When the weather is mild, the boiler inlet water gets down to 125, which triggers the firing of the boiler.  Boiler shuts off dry at 140, as per Smith and others.  Where and when exactly is the condensation occuring?

    Nothing is going to be condensing until the burner fires, correct?  And when it fires up to 140 that will dry out any condensation, right?

    I may be missing something, but I'm having a hard time understanding how the boiler condenses just because the inlet water temp is, say, 130 when the burner isn't firing.  There is no gas going up the flue at that point, correct?  Isn't it correct that there would be nothing to condense?

    Crunch
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Yup, 3 of them

    Mark,

    Yes, we started off with a Weil in 1985, went to a Burnham, and now have a Smith manufactured and installed in 1998.  No reports, no history, nobody knows nothing.  Which is ironic since the current managing agent was the engineer of record who oversaw the 1998 installation.  The only specific thing I was able to find was some language on the 1998 invoice indicating that the boiler company doing the work ripped out a mixing valve that had been in place up until then.

    Probably the same lack of real maintenance that has been going on for years.

    As far as our piping goes, very plain vanilla at this point.  No mixing valve, no p/s that I know of.  The only slight complication is the parallel piping for the two B&G booster pumps.  We have a very old B&G air separator, dating to 1985, that looks like an oversized watermelon.  Would some pictures help?

    We've talked about putting in a mixing valve controlled by the HT box, but I'm not convinced it is really necessary unless we want to circulate water at a temp lower than 125 when it is really mild.  125 seems to work.

    Mark, not following you on what is absolutely worthwhile.  Replacing the current boiler with a condensing version?  If we had unlimited funds, we'd certainly be interested, but we have to pick the lower hanging fruit first that will give us a faster payback.  As Gennady probably knows, RE taxes are killing us in Manhattan, and we're counting our pennies pretty closely.

    The funny thing on the cold line is that there was heat coming out of the radiators last winter -- I actually checked the apartments and no dead radiators -- but it just wasn't enough.  And we bled the apartment on the top of the line -- no effect.  Is it possible for air blocks to only partially reduce the heat?  Not something we've focused much on.

    Thanks,

    Crunch

     
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,787
    Stop Condensing

    Crunch,

    Gennady and Mark are dead on. You have to stop condensing your boiler! You may be saving some energy at these settings but you are destroying your boiler.

    You have proven that your building can run at lower temps. How about installing a smaller condensing boiler for the moderate outdoor temp days, leaving your monster to heat on the colder days. Your EMS box could control the two. Check out this http://www.pugetsoundashrae.org/PDF_files/TEGALanders.pdf

    Carl
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Condensing?

    Carl,

    Thanks, but I don't understand how we are condensing the boiler.  Can someone please explain in detail how that is occuring and where?

    Smith, the manufacturer of the boiler, said we are fine as long as we are shutting off at 140 degrees.  We're natural gas and I understand 140 degrees is a bit on the high side for a dry shut off.  Chimney is inside the building and "warm".

    No room for a 2nd boiler, even if we wanted one.  Boiler room is a very tight NYC space.

    Crunch
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    timing

    Carl, Gennady, and Mark,

    I should add that during the mild parts of the season when the boiler is operating at minimal levels, it takes the burner about 9 minutes to take the output supply water temp from 125 to 140.  At the relatively mild outdoor temps, the burner fires about once every 50 minutes or so, call it one cycle per hour.

    Isn't it correct that any condensation would have to form in those 9 minutes of firing, but that any condensation thus formed will be evaporated almost immediately since the boiler shuts off "dry"?

    Crunch
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Condensation production...

    Having a discharge temperature of 140 degrees F means that the return temperature is BELOW the dew point, and that the condensation IS occurring. The accepted industry standard is a RETURN temperature above 140 degrees F, not a SUPPLY temperature above 140 in order to avoid condensation production.



    The condensate clings to the pins and sections of the boiler, causing acidic degradation of the metal. Tell tale signs include a white powdery substance on the sections as well as a white fur on the joints of the flue pipe.



    The further away from the dew point you are, the better as it pertains to life expectancy.



    Also, as it pertains to boiler failures, it might not only be condensate that is causing the boilers early demise, but it can also be thermal shock, and thermal stress caused by the burner being much larger than it need be,which is pretty typical of commercial installations.



    And yes, converting to a mod con is what I referenced as being worth while.



    Too many variables to try and track at one point in time, but the one thing that is guaranteed is that on the lower end of operation, you ARE condensing flue gas. It is virtually impossible to not do so when operating a surface at less than 140 degrees F.



    EVERY boiler that is a cold start boiler will condense on its way from cold start to running temperature. It's just a matter of how often, and how long it is in the condensing mode, along with the type and thickness of the materials that dictate life expectancy.



    The missing 3 way valve may have been there to provide condensate protection for the appliance. The sad thing is, if you install a 3 way or 4 way or variable speed injection system to increase the life expectancy of the existing boiler, and decide later to go condensing, the investment you just made in anti-condensing equipment will be for naught. You DON'T need to protect the condensing boiler from condensation production. In fact you WANT it to condense, resulting in higher thermal efficiencies.



    In regards to air binding and water flow, yes it is possible to have a partially blocked radiator and or main that could vary the flow of water to the zones.



    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.
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Condensation?

    Mark,

    I understrand everything you just said, but, forgive me, am still not convinced it is correct. 

    What exactly is condensing?  Has to be flue gas, right?  If that flue gas condenses for the 9 minutes the burner is firing up to 140, doesn't that condensate evaporate and become irrelevant?

    I just re-checked the Smith installation manual.  For systems operating at 20 degree delta and on an oil burner, the minimum supply output temp is speced at 140; for gas burner, it is 149 degrees.  No mention at all of return temp other than the implied temp via delta T.

    Last fall, I confirmed with them 140 degrees supply for a gas burner will be fine.  I'm re-confirming now.

    I'm not trying to be smart aleck here, but I do want to understand with crystal clear clarity what the situation is before we spend money and increase the discomfort in the building by raising the minimum temps.  Last winter was the first winter in 20+ years that a significant chunk of the building was not overheated.  

    Pretty sure we don't have a thermal shock issue.  That was my first concern initially and was getting a delta T of no more than 15 degrees when I checked it, which was very early on and not much since.  Also pretty sure we're not oversized -- it gets chilly in the building when it is cold outside, and boiler runs all the time, then.  Also, I believe the original spec from architect's 1985 plans is roughly the same as what we have now.

    Later in your post you indicate we are condensing flue gas, which I presume is sometime in that 9 minute window when the burner fires each hour.  But doesn't it evaporate almost immediately and go up the chimney when the boiler hits 140 degrees plus?

    How critical is a 9 minute window in terms of condensation production?  Maybe it is actually more like 5 or 6 minutes that it is actually less than, say, 137 degrees dewpoint. 

    Got it on the mixing valve, and I'm sure that's why the old one was there.  As I indicated previously, though, doesn't seem to be any need for it now unless there is a problem with condensation.

    BTW, when we have the service company come out and clean the tubes etc on the boiler later this summer or fall, they will notice any evidence of condensation, correct?  I should be there, correct? Anything specific to look for?  I've never seen the inside of a boiler, so please tell me what I need to look for.

    Good to know on the partial air blockage on the radiators.  That's the first comment anyone has made on that issue that seems plausible.  Very unlikely a contractor did anything on the line, but who knows.

    We did bleed the top of that line, but maybe we need to do it at each apartment on the line.

    Thanks,

    Crunch
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,787
    Science

    Crunch,

    Unless your boiler has some sort of device to prevent sub 130-140 degree water from returning, You are condensing. This condensate is very acidic and will coat the boiler and flue parts.Even if the vapor evaporates the acid remains. I attached a document to my previous post that explains this well.

    Some manufactures provide a thermostatic bipass to keep the return temps high.  but most count on the designer to deal with this.

    I can see this is a tough one for you to get your head around, but it is real science and something most heating professionals know.

    Does it seem strange to anyone that you are on boiler 3 talking about boiler 4, when you should be on boiler 1 talking about boiler 2. Something is not right.

    Pictures of you boiler piping would certainly help us help you.

    Carl
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Science

    ZMan,

    Thanks, but, again, I'm not sure you have this correct.  I've had a bellyfull of so-called heating professionals that don't have the foggiest idea of what they are talking about.  Hope you are not one of them.

    Had one here a few days ago who had no idea what I was referring to regarding the bypass piping required for TRVs for a single pipe system, with serially connected radiators on one pipe.  He was totally clueless and made exactly the wrong recommendation. 

    Run into this all the time, even amongst licensed folk.  Please forgive the candor, but the lack of accurate on-the-ground knowledge in your industry is pretty pathetic.  And financially dangerous to the consumer.  Seems to be only a couple of people in the entire country who really know what they are talking about.  The rest are ......

    My background is actually in science, including organic chem.  I looked at your attachment and didn't find anything particularly useful or illuminating.  ZMan, when are we condensing?  Please, how many minutes out of an hour?

    And, please, what happens to sulphufic acid when it evaporates? Do you know that the corrosive acid remains on the metal, or are you guessing?  Do you know that it didn't evaporate and go up the chimney, or are you guessing?

    Are we at least getting to the point scientifcally that you acknowledge that something is evaporating at or before shut off in the scenario I described, and it is just a question of what?

    Why would Smith specifically state a supply temp spec in their manual? Are they not so capable?  I'd post that page of their installation manual here, but it is a secure file and I can't do it.

    Not hard to get my head around this at all.  Just not seeing good science from you or Mark or Gennady, and I'm not going to spend any building money on it until you can explain it better and provide better evidence.  I'm all ears if you have something that makes sense.  Not hearing good sense so far.

    I gave you a few facts:  9 minutes out of every hour wherein the boiler fires to go from 125 to 140 output temp, which almost certainly is the same or nearly the same as return temps at cut off.  The delta T is very minimal at those outdoor temps.  In that scenario, please explain where all this condensation is coming from that we should be so worried about, including the evaporation, if there is actually any condensation in that limited time frame.

    My guess is that we're on boiler # 3 because of complete and toal mismanagement, long before I was in the building, not for any other reason.  One way or another, the mismanagement is going to stop.  Your input in that effort is welcome, but it has to be scientifically correct.

    Strictly speaking from a logical perspective, not sure what the boiler number has to do with the condensation problem, and question why you are bringing it up?  Does the fact that we are on boiler # 3 mean that we condensing way too much and are "burning" up our boilers, in your estimation?  I point out to you that I have no idea how they were operating the boilers back then, which could have been condensing all the time for all I know, but am completely focused on how it is operating now.

    You don't know me, but if you did, the boiler # 3 issue you raised would be viewed as irrelevant.  For the current scenario, I'm basically interested in your background in condensation chemistry, particularly the chemstry of H2SO4 in boilers. 

    Let's get back to the 9 minute window.  Are you a chemist?  Do you know for sure what that drop of consensate looks like if and when it forms from the flue gases, and do you know what will be left of it when the boiler shuts off dry?   

    Seems to me that the best advice you could give me is to tell me what to look for in terms of condensate when they're here to clean the boiler later this summer.  If there are signs of it, maybe you're right.  If there aren't, maybe you're wrong. 

    Thanks for the honest feedback.  I truly appreciate it.  Way too many posers in your industry.

    If you have on-the-ground experience that I'm not appreciating, please, let's hear it with all the details. 

    Crunch
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Science

    ZMan,

    Thanks, but, again, I'm not sure you have this correct.  I've had a bellyfull of so-called heating professionals that don't have the foggiest idea of what they are talking about.  Hope you are not one of them.

    Had one here a few days ago who had no idea what I was referring to regarding the bypass piping required for TRVs for a single pipe system, with serially connected radiators on one pipe.  He was totally clueless and made exactly the wrong recommendation. 

    Run into this all the time, even amongst licensed folk.  Please forgive the candor, but the lack of accurate on-the-ground knowledge in your industry is pretty pathetic.  And financially dangerous to the consumer.  Seems to be only a couple of people in the entire country who really know what they are talking about.  The rest are ......

    My background is actually in science, including organic chem.  I looked at your attachment and didn't find anything particularly useful or illuminating.  ZMan, when are we condensing?  Please, how many minutes out of an hour?

    And, please, what happens to sulphufic acid when it evaporates? Do you know that the corrosive acid remains on the metal, or are you guessing?  Do you know that it didn't evaporate and go up the chimney, or are you guessing?

    Are we at least getting to the point scientifcally that you acknowledge that something is evaporating at or before shut off in the scenario I described, and it is just a question of what?

    Why would Smith specifically state a supply temp spec in their manual? Are they not so capable?  I'd post that page of their installation manual here, but it is a secure file and I can't do it.

    Not hard to get my head around this at all.  Just not seeing good science from you or Mark or Gennady, and I'm not going to spend any building money on it until you can explain it better and provide better evidence.  I'm all ears if you have something that makes sense.  Not hearing good sense so far.

    I gave you a few facts:  9 minutes out of every hour wherein the boiler fires to go from 125 to 140 output temp, which almost certainly is the same or nearly the same as return temps at cut off.  The delta T is very minimal at those outdoor temps.  In that scenario, please explain where all this condensation is coming from that we should be so worried about, including the evaporation, if there is actually any condensation in that limited time frame.

    My guess is that we're on boiler # 3 because of complete and toal mismanagement, long before I was in the building, not for any other reason.  One way or another, the mismanagement is going to stop.  Your input in that effort is welcome, but it has to be scientifically correct.

    Strictly speaking from a logical perspective, not sure what the boiler number has to do with the condensation problem, and question why you are bringing it up?  Does the fact that we are on boiler # 3 mean that we condensing way too much and are "burning" up our boilers, in your estimation?  I point out to you that I have no idea how they were operating the boilers back then, which could have been condensing all the time for all I know, but am completely focused on how it is operating now.

    You don't know me, but if you did, the boiler # 3 issue you raised would be viewed as irrelevant.  For the current scenario, I'm basically interested in your background in condensation chemistry, particularly the chemstry of H2SO4 in boilers. 

    Let's get back to the 9 minute window.  Are you a chemist?  Do you know for sure what that drop of consensate looks like if and when it forms from the flue gases, and do you know what will be left of it when the boiler shuts off dry?   

    Seems to me that the best advice you could give me is to tell me what to look for in terms of condensate when they're here to clean the boiler later this summer.  If there are signs of it, maybe you're right.  If there aren't, maybe you're wrong. 

    Thanks for the honest feedback.  I truly appreciate it.  Way too many posers in your industry.

    If you have on-the-ground experience that I'm not appreciating, please, let's hear it with all the details. 

    Crunch
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    edited July 2012
    SCIENCE

    deleted
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    edited July 2012
    duplicate

    duplicate
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,787
    edited July 2012
    Read

    Crunch,

    I would suggest you read "Modern Hydronic Heating" by John Siegenthaler. John is one of the sharpest Engineers in our business. His credentials are absolutely irrefutable.

    When you are finished you will know how to separate the "posers" from the qualified. You will hopefully laugh at how ridiculous this discussion is.

    Best of luck,

    Carl
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    A fact?

    Gennady,

    Not meant to be an insult, it's a fact.  Of the people I have come in contact with over the last year or so, the vast majority of them, nearly all of them, in fact, were pretty clueless, including some big names in plumbing and heating in Manhattan.  For example, a big name plumber who didn't know what a boiler loop was and wanted to do TRVs instead.  A boiler engineer who wanted to convert us to steam via some exchange box on our existing hot water boiler.  Don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that these guys are nuts. 

    The guy that was here a couple of days ago is from a competitor of yours and an AEA contractor.  A pretty big name but had never seen the bypass piping I have in my apartment.

    From my perspective as a consumer, there seem to be very few professionals out there who really know what they're doing, and you have to be very careful before you part with your dollars.

    Crunch
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Some times you just have to ask yourself...

    What's in it for me?



    You came here seeking advice, and were given advice from some of the smartest people in the hydronic heating business. Solid advice that has been proven over time. And now you want to dispute that advice? Scientifically?



    Why would WE want to give YOU bad advice? I've only been doing this for 36 years. Others who have responded have been doing it even longer. Does real world experience have any sway with you?



    What is in it for the boiler manufacturer? If he tells you something that is right on the edge of condensation production, and the vessel fails, what's in it for THEM? A boiler sale?



    Just guessing here, but I'd bet if you read further into the O&M manual, under the warranty section, failure due to condensing is probably NOT covered under their warranty...



    Quit quibbling over the nano science of acid production, and either address a known deficiency of your system (too low of an operating temperature) or set up a new boiler that can handle the production of condensation.



    No one here has any dog in this fight, other than yourself. We are citing industry standards here, not something we pulled out of our collective butts. You have the option of not listening to the advice being given to you, and eventually seeing the demise of your boiler, or you can take recommended actions to increase the life expectancy of the boiler. As previously pointed out, the damage may have already been done, and throwing good money after bad is not a good thing to do. And other than visual verification of the condensation corrosion, there really isn't an easy means of being able to estimate the remaining life expectancy of your appliance. If it is a fire tube boiler, you are dealing with steel, which has less resistance to the corrosive tendencies of condensate than does cast iron. And if the steel pipes are not in too bad a shape, they can be tested electronically (Ex$pen$ive) but is only as accurate as they equipment operator. This test is only valid for round pipes, and won't work on cast iron sections.



    We are MORE than happy to help people out based on our experience and established industry standards, but when people start questioning those recommendations, it causes us to withdraw, and let the consumer make their own decision, right wrong or indifferent. None of us are chemical engineers here. We are practicing mechanics in the field. We are quoting things that were dictated to us by the scientific community (dew points and condensation of flue products for example).



    None of us has ever seen your project, and none of us has any vested monetary interest. Our only interest is in seeing you do "the right thing" and avoiding as many potential issues as you can.



    I understand your frustration with all of the people out there who claim to know their stuff. But you must admit that the advice you have received here is fairly consistent. Raise the operating temperature of the boiler and avoid short life expectancy, and install (pick a method) some means of being able to control the supply water temperature going to the heat emitters. Or, do nothing other than what you've done and have been doing, and see how long your boiler lasts.



    Trust me. I make a living following up after the "posers".



    It's your call...



    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.
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Siegenthaler

    Thanks for the reference, Carl.  I've actually seen some snippets of his book on Google.  I'd also like to get some of Dan's books.  Qualified in Manhattan at a reasonable price is hard to find.

    An issue I have is that I shouldn't have to be doing any of this and spending time reading books about it, as fascinating as it is.  But the folks who are supposed to be keeping an eye on it have not been, with near disastrous results.  Don't know if I mentioned it already, but we replaced the expansion tank, the backflow preventer, and the pressure reducing valve all at about the same time last winter, all of which were probably shot for years, and which no one had noticed or said anything about.  The expansion tank was full of water.

    Waiting to hear back from the Smith engineering department.

    Crunch
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    edited July 2012
    Reasonable price

    As a matter of fact, I usually refuse to even come up to see apartment buildings with problems, unless substantial fee is paid for investigation, reports and calculations. And few of prospective customers agree. 99% of apartment building in NYC have serious issues with their heating systems, and removal of those issues can run in tens of thousands of dollars. Good working heating system is an expensive system, and people looking for affordable professionals usually end up as you did, with dying boiler and broken heating system. Free cheese only in a mouse trap. You are dealing with boiler changers, not a heating professionals, and being a licensed engineer or plumber does not make one heating professional. I gave up NYSERDA. AEA, BPI and so on accreditation and membership, because it attracts wrong customer base, and just wastes my time. Their contractors are not my competitors. I have no competitors. My prices probably doubles theirs, and our work on the boilers and heating systems probably doubles theirs as well in amount of labor and materials, and we have completely different customer base.
  • Crunch
    Crunch Member Posts: 62
    Yes, but

    Mark,

    I have received contradictory advice from a couple of people who are probably as capable as you are and have as much experience.  That advice is that condensation is not much of a concern if the boiler is shutting off dry.  That makes a whole lot of sense to me.

     

    One group or the other is wrong.  How am I supposed to make that determination as to which group has it right?

     

    Can you tell me why shutting off dry after 9 minutes of firing is not going to minimize the condensation?  I'm not hearing that.

     

    Also, can you please tell me what to look for in terms of condensation when the service company is here to clean the boiler.

    I appreciate your help and everybody else's, but it does me no good at all if it is the wrong advice.  As Gennady was hinting at, you sort of get what you pay for here on these forums.

    Thanks,

    Crunch
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Just because you can't see it doesn't mean its not happening...

    This is basic physics were talking about here.



    The contractors who tell you it is not a problem are wrong. Plain and simple. All the talk in the world can not overcome basic physics. Do yourself a favor. Google "minimum recommended return water temperatures for cast iron boilers" . I did, and the results came back as I told you, return water temperatures above 140 degrees F.



    In fact, one of the respondents was from here at The Wall, and he works for Smith Boiler, and his recommendation was to keep returns above 140 degrees F.



    If ANY part of the boilers cast iron sections are below 140 degrees F, then you are NOT shutting off "dry", which is a term I have never even heard of, and bear in mind, I've only been doing this for 36 years... How do you KNOW you're shutting off dry?



    You aren't hearing what YOU want to hear, and I have no control over that. You're not listening and believing what everyone here has told you either. Again, ask yourself why anyone here would tell you something that is not true? Especially 3 or 4 of us saying the exact same thing. I've already told you what to look for in the way of corrosion residuals. In my experience, it can and will occur just about anywhere in the vertical profile of the boiler, not just on the bottom of the combustion chamber, but more likely in the upper reaches, away from the radiant energy of the burner assembly.



    As for getting what you pay for, I'd be glad to come out and do an analysis on your system. I only charge $150.00 per hour for legal consultation on research and reporting, and if it goes to the point where I am being deposed or have to testify, it goes to $300.00 and hour, plus travel expenses. Let me know when you want me to come out and charge you for the same thing I am offering to you for free, if it makes you feel better....



    I'm estimating a need for about $5,000 worth of my services, and that will not include expenses nor testimony/deposition. And I GUARANTEE my work.



    Let me know so I can work you into my busy schedule.



    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.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Speak with Guy Wollard...

    I think he's one of their technical trainers. He's also been around boilers as long as I have. Assuming he's still there...



    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.
This discussion has been closed.