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Troubleshooting baseboard problems

benito Member Posts: 3
Hi all,
I'm writing in hope of some advice--I know nearly nothing about this, but I'm reasonably handy and would like to avoid paying several hundred dollars if I can fix it myself. But rather than go through the whole thing right away, I'll just give the basics. Baseboard heat in a cheaply built condo. 8 separate radiators (not sure if they're called that in these systems) in 4 rooms/2 bathrooms with one Taco valve. We've had problems getting heat to the whole unit before but recently we lost heat entirely. After poking about a bit I noticed one of the wires connecting to the thermostat (I think) was broken so I stripped the end and reconnected it. It worked for a bit then stopped. I checked all the other connections and ended up putting the lever on Open, and the main pipe was hot for a while but it never really reached the whole house, and after a few hours the pipe cooled down again.
I know this isn't a whole lot of information, so I'll just start with one question: if the lever is set to Open, should the pipe stay hot, or is there anything that would stop it? Or does that mean the valve is malfunctioning?
I realize this is probably a jumble of nonsense, so I will do my best to clarify anything if it would help, and I thank anyone in advance for any advice or help.

Thank you


  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    Can you post photos of what you are describing?
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
    Especially pictures of the "open lever"
    I presume this is hot water heat?--NBC
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    I'm sure everybody is wondering why you have a zone valve on what seems to be a single zone system? Is there another for an indirect water heater? Things to check....
    1. Is the circulator running?
    2. Is the zone valve open? Bypass it.
    3. Purge any air from the system. This can be tricky with baseboards if not set up correctly, to do so. There should be valves to isolate the boiler from the system. Then you use 2 garden hoses...one feeding water at city pressure through the system, and one out on the lawn. The boiler will not handle city pressure, that's why it must be isolated.
  • benito
    benito Member Posts: 3
    Sorry, got busy. Thanks for your responses. Can't say I understand everything, but I'm trying. I will say that the heat keeps cycling on and off, so I'm guessing the problem is just that it will take a few cycles to bring the whole unit up to a state where a decent temperature can be maintained.
    And Paul, from what little I know (which, again, is very little), it seemed weird to me too that this would be used here, and it was another of my questions. (a third question was why there is no wire attached to the third terminal, but I'll save that until it comes up). I'll attach a pic so you guys can tell me what I'm most likely misunderstanding :)

    Again, thanks for the responses and attempts to guide this noob through the thicket.
  • Eric_32
    Eric_32 Member Posts: 267
    That 3rd terminal along with the 2nd one on the zone valve are to send the signal back to the boiler to turn on... "the end switch" So your's isn't being used. That means the boiler operation is not controlled by that zone valve, which most of the time it would be.

    I would be looking at a inoperable circulator pump as the possible cause of your no heat next. Testing it for 120-volt power when it should be running. Sometimes you can feel the vibration of the motor running, sometimes it's too tough to tell..

    If you have shut offs on both sides of the pump. You can close them, pull the pump out and run the system, looking at the impeller of the pump and see if it spins.
  • David Sutton_6
    David Sutton_6 Member Posts: 1,079
    willing to bet you have a central boiler that feed more than one condo, the circ is at the boiler and each unit has its own zone, you only have 2 wire to open and close and the circ runs constant or on a outdoor reset, the boiler maybe having the problem not your unit.
  • benito
    benito Member Posts: 3
    You guys are awesome! David, I thought that might be the situation, and Eric, I don't even know where the circulator pump is, but I'm pretty sure it's not in the unit. Again, it seems to be working now, leading me to think that the broken wire may have been the problem and I just needed to give it more time. However, I haven't tried setting it back to auto yet so we'll see. Is there anything bad/dangerous about leaving the valve on open for a while?
    Thanks again!
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,433
    Adding all this up... I come to the conclusion that since you are a condo, and do not have a boiler of your own, that there is indeed a central boiler, probably running on an outdoor reset. If your thermostat calls for heat, the only thing it does is open your own units control valve -- the one you've been playing with -- and, if the boiler is running and its circulator is running, you get heat. Otherwise, not.

    It's probably running more or less as it is set up to do -- which is not to say that that's the way I would have set it up, but if I'm right it was cheap... and works, pretty much most of the time.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England