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Hot Water Heater Problem

DebbieP
DebbieP Member Posts: 6
I have a PVCG series New Yorker Boiler (gas) and a Vaughn Top Performer Plus water heater (35 gal.). In April, the boiler and water heater stopped "talking" to each other. The thermostat on the water heater would call for hot water, but the boiler would not kick on unless I turned up the thermostat in the house.



My plumber came out and inspected/tested the components on both the boiler and water heater. He said that while the thermostat on the water heater and the ignition module on the boiler were working properly on their own, they weren't communicating. He got everything working and there was no problem with hot water for about 2 weeks. Then the problem started again, and the plumber returned and replaced both the TPI thermostat (water heater) and Honeywell ignition module (boiler).



Things were great for two months, but the problem has started happening once again. In order to have hot water, I have crank up the heat in the house for about 30 minutes. Since it's been in the 90s for the last week, this is not really an option. This morning (lukewarm shower), the indicator on the water heater was a steady blinking green, while there were no lights of any kind on the boiler. When the boiler is firing, there's a steady blinking green light on the ignition module.



Any ideas what could be going on? Both the boiler and water heater are about 4-5 years old. Thank you.

Comments

  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    Hi Debbie

    Are you turning the thermostat to "Heat Off" when you get hot water? Are you sure the boiler won't fire on a call for hot water, with the thermostat "On" or "Auto", without raising the temp on the thermostat. It may be wired incorrectly. Just a thought, not knowing how the system is wired, or plumbed.
  • DebbieP
    DebbieP Member Posts: 6
    Thanks, Paul

    My thermostat is the most basic Honeywell round "heat only" one. During the summer, I turn it way down. Until a few days ago the boiler was firing when the water heater was telling it to, with the thermostat set to 50.



    Don't know if this info makes any difference, but both the boiler and water heater are located in an empty, unfinished walk-out basement. I have a dehumidifier running 24/7 during the summer, and it keeps things pretty cool down there. Thanks again for your reply.
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    Attempt

    to follow the wiring back from the thermostat on the water heater. I suspect it goes to a switching relay, or zone control. Your flashing green light on the water heater means the unit is calling for hot water. The fact that the boiler will fire with the thermostat means the boiler is fine.
  • Plumdog_2
    Plumdog_2 Member Posts: 873
    Follow the pipes

    ...going to and from the waterheater and the boiler. It sounds like a zone valve (on the pipes somewhere) has an End Switch that is slowly but surely wearing out and does not make a good connection, and does not fire the boiler.
  • DebbieP
    DebbieP Member Posts: 6
    Argh

    Today, the sensor on the water heater is blinking a pattern of 'green-red-off' and is making a clicking noise. This is one of the parts my plumber replaced two months ago.



    At this point I'm not sure if I should look for a new plumber or if Vaughn water heaters & parts are just a POS.
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,330
    post a picture

    This sounds like a pretty simple problem. Can you post a picture of the piping and wiring between the water heater and the boiler. It sounds like what happens when a motor on a honeywell zone valve is going bad. It will open the valve but not far enough to close the end switch.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • DebbieP
    DebbieP Member Posts: 6
    Thanks, Zman & Plumdog

    Thank you so much for your replies. Here are photos of the boiler and water heater. The sensor on the water heater is now only calling for hot water (blinking green) - no blinking red is there currently - and I know that I'm going to have to turn on the heat if I want to take a warm shower tomorrow morning.



    PS: I emailed my plumber and he said the boiler computer control is failing. Does this sound right? Between service calls and replacement parts I think I could have bought a new water heater....



    Thank you again for everyone's help. It's much appreciated!
  • Plumdog_2
    Plumdog_2 Member Posts: 873
    I'll bet lunch...

    It's the end switch on that zone valve. The horizontal one. Two are vertical, one is horizontal,that is the one for the water heater. Do not buy "computer board". That boiler probably doesn't have one! Get somebody to check the horizontal zone valve. 
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,330
    I won't take the bet

    When the motor starts going on those valves, they will no longer trip the end switch inside. If you replace the power head on the zone valve you problem will be solved.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    Hi Debbie

    End switches on zone valves are used to ensure the valve is in the correct position. If the valve was closed and the boiler fired and the circulator tried to pump, it would probably destroy the circulator.See if there is someone close to your location by using the find a contractor section here. Your current plumber is clueless.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    first things first

    find someone who know what they are doing, and not gaining their knowledge at your expense. I would echo zone valve possibility. Could also be wiring
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    also looks like

    there is an intermittent water leak on the supply pipe. He must have missed that too I guess
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    Rats Nest

    With that rats nest of wiring, anything is possible. Using wire nuts to connect large and small gauge wires is asking for trouble. It's also very unprofessional looking, as you can see.The better way to do it would have been to use a zone valve control such as a Taco ZVC404 with priority for the hot water.
  • DebbieP
    DebbieP Member Posts: 6
    Thank you all

    Just a quick update that I have not had any problem with lack of hot water since July 23. As soon as it happens again (which should be 1-2 days since I probably jinxed myself by saying all is OK) I plan to call a plumber from the "find a contractor" section of this site...there's one less than 10 miles from me.
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,330
    Thanks for the follow up

    I absolutely think the issue is with the end switch on the DHW zone valve. You can slide the lever on those valves and tell if the valve is open. An open valve will slide with no resistance. If you valve is open and the boiler is not firing it is an end switch problem. I agree that the wiring is a bit on the ugly side. You may have a loose end switch wire. Next time it fails, try wiggling the groups of red wires. I am 99% sure a new zone valve will solve this. Be sure the contractor has one on his truck. 
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • DebbieP
    DebbieP Member Posts: 6
    And we have an answer!

    On Sunday night I started having a problem with hot water again, and a plumber came today. The motor on the horizontal zone valve was burned out. And it was burned out , said the plumber, because there's anti-freeze in the pipes....it gunked up the zone valve and is gunking up/corroding other components. I wasn't aware of this - the seller of the house didn't say anything about anti-freeze in the pipes when I purchased 18 months ago, and my former plumber didn't say anything (he was also here in Oct. 2011 to make sure the furnace/water heater were working properly prior to winter).



    Bottom line is that the components need to be replaced and a special yearly maintenance thing needs to be done for the anti-freeze.



    Thank you, everyone, for your great advice. While I'm not going to be thrilled when I see the estimate to replace components, I'm definitely happy with the new plumber.
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    Hi Debbie

    Glad to hear you finally have an answer. The price will be a bargain, compared to changing parts unnecessarily. Maybe you can work out a "plan of attack" to get everything straightened out. The plumber will let you know. Best Wishes......................Paul
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    anti freeze

    Hello  I hope the anti freeze was not added by the previous h/o without seeking a professional...I would be getting that looked into right away, problem being if any type of back-flow or cross connection should occur there could be issues unless the so called anti freeze is not of the correct type...Secondly that boiler and wiring is a mess, and unless its cleaned up your problems will continue....Send out a sample of your domestic water and get it checked , its a free service in some areas
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,330
    Poor design

    That honeywell valve has a very shot life expectancy. I am not convinced it is related to the antifreeze. With the number of cycles your dhw sees, I would plan on changing it every 3-5 years.

    Carl
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    davetrindle
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