Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

Coldest Day and rads wouldn't get hot

itzasean
itzasean Member Posts: 65
So I am planning for next year.. We had the coldest day of the year and my boiler was working non stop. I lowered the thermostat to give the boiler a break. ( big mistake). The house got cold and when I put the thermostat back up it was like none of the rads would heat up again. After that cold day and when the outside rose to normal low temps the system seemed to be working properly. Anyone have an idea what went wrong? I started to think that everyone in the neighborhood was using all there gas and my boiler wasn't get enough to run properly (if thats possible)?

Comments

  • Paul S_3
    Paul S_3 Member Posts: 1,257
    What type of system do you have? Steam or hot water?on very cold days its normal for the boiler to run like that....you do not have to give it a break....we would need alot more details to verify if you had an incoming gas pressure problem. How low did you put the thermostat?
    ASM Mechanical Company
    Located in Staten Island NY
    Servicing all 5 boroughs of NYC.
    347-692-4777
    [email protected]
    ASMHVACNYC.COM
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/asm-mechanical-company
  • itzasean
    itzasean Member Posts: 65
    Sorry Its a steam boiler and i probably shut it down for an hour or so but it was like negative 10 out . The basement was warm still so it wasnt like it was so cold down there the steam was turning into water before it had time to get to the rads?
  • Paul S_3
    Paul S_3 Member Posts: 1,257
    It could've been a bunch of things. The rads had to start heating otherwise the house wouldve got really cold. Have you had a maintenance done on the boiler? It could be a clogged pigtail, im just throwing ideas out there.do you have oil or gas?
    ASM Mechanical Company
    Located in Staten Island NY
    Servicing all 5 boroughs of NYC.
    347-692-4777
    ASMMECH[email protected]
    ASMHVACNYC.COM
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/asm-mechanical-company
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,863
    That's certainly possible, but it would be best to have a pro look things over. Where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,470
    By any chance MA?
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    A number of us here work to design systems which we hope will run 100% of the time on the coldest day of the year without sacrificing occupant comfort.

    If yours actually does that, you should consider yourself blessed.
    Paul S_3
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    Are your mains and Near Boiler Piping well insulated?
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
    GreenGene
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,001
    Did you talk to the neighbors about their heating systems abilities on those days. Low gas pressure is possible at a time like that.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,512
    Poor main venting could also cause a very slow recovery, by taking another hour to force the air out of the system through the small ports of the radiator vents
    Post some pictures of your boiler and its piping here for all to see.--NBC
  • GreenGene
    GreenGene Member Posts: 290
    You have opened Pandora's box.

    How old is the home and does it have any insulation?

    Have you ever had that cold a day before?

    Suffice to say that most steam systems are oversized however if it was sized properly there would have been a formula for x degrees outside and x degrees inside, in the NE it's usually 0 outside and 70 inside, once you are outside those numbers the system will not work and will lose ground.

    We are heat movers, heat moves from a warmer to a colder place, as it gets colder out more heat moves from inside to out, once you hit design equilibrium the unit would run constantly, below you lose ground and the home gets colder.

    Yes as it gets colder gas lines in the street can lose pressure and the gas co. may pump in air or LP gas to keep up with demand, any of that means the btu's your gas burner gets and puts out may falter.

    If your steam lines are not insulated insulate them all, they must insulated for the system to work.

    Insulate your home as much as you can, check the attic, if your attic is insulated up to the beams it's still not enough, the beams will transmit heat to the cold attic air, we call this a thermal bridge, add another 15" on top of the beams if possible to slow this, spray foam insulation is best but in an existing home is expensive.
  • GreenGene
    GreenGene Member Posts: 290
    When you said it was warm in the basement BINGO, your steam lines don't sound like they are insulated, many homes had asbestos insulation and there was a big craze to remove it, trouble is that's all they did, without insulation your steam will turn to condensate before it should.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,371
    May have been a gas supply issue. In years past, I know of neighborhoods that would have issues during really cold weather /peak usage times. Also might be gas control on your boiler. You can clock meter
    GreenGenePaul S_3
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,232
    We had one day in February when it was -10 in the morning and barely got above 0 by late afternoon, that's the coldest it's been here in decades (on the coast south of Boston). My boiler ran long and hard, if I had shut it off for an hour there is no doubt the house would have gotten very cool.

    In very cold weather my basement hovers in the mid 40's because all the piping is insulated with 1" fiberglass pipe insulation. It's an old drafty pit so I knew the steam pipes needed insulation.

    Insulate those pipes and start hunting for drafts, then insulate the attic and finally think about the walls.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • GreenGene
    GreenGene Member Posts: 290
    Yes, these days an old home with no insulation in the walls can be easily filled with little disruption with spray foam, professionally, you can't use the spray can stuff for an entire wall cavity but that will work for gaps.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,165
    GreenGene said:

    Yes, these days an old home with no insulation in the walls can be easily filled with little disruption with spray foam, professionally, you can't use the spray can stuff for an entire wall cavity but that will work for gaps.

    Just make sure when you are doing that that the insulation folks really know what they are doing. Depending on the wall construction, there is a very real risk of popping the plaster and sometimes the lathe off the interior walls as the foam expands.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    SWEIGreenGeneErin Holohan Haskell
  • GreenGene
    GreenGene Member Posts: 290
    Aye that's why you hire a licensed professional and make sure they have insurance.

    Murphy's Law
  • GreenGene
    GreenGene Member Posts: 290
    It's just amazing to me how many buildings in 2016 still have no insulation or very little.

    I was taking a course on Sustainability and started playing around with my house in the load calc program I had for it, adding the 15" in my attic on top of my beams cut my load by several thousand btu's and hour x 24 hours a day. I saw a huge difference in the summer and AC performance.
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,470
    "The house got cold and when I put the thermostat back up it was like none of the rads would heat up again"

    Can you clarify that a bit? Did the radiators not get hot? Or, did they get hot, but not produce enough heat to warm the house? Very important facts.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,985
    edited May 2016

    GreenGene said:

    Yes, these days an old home with no insulation in the walls can be easily filled with little disruption with spray foam, professionally, you can't use the spray can stuff for an entire wall cavity but that will work for gaps.

    Just make sure when you are doing that that the insulation folks really know what they are doing. Depending on the wall construction, there is a very real risk of popping the plaster and sometimes the lathe off the interior walls as the foam expands.
    Or if they have knob and tube wiring in use this could be extremely dangerous.

    I'm also unsure of the effects on buildings like mine that only have clap board, no sheathing.

    I wonder how many "licensed professionals" have filled walls and ceilings around K&T wiring over the past 30 years? :)

    I'm also trying to figure out how long it would take to get your money back after paying a contractor to fill all of your walls with spray foam. Can you imagine the bill?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • GreenGene
    GreenGene Member Posts: 290
    That depends Chris, on the price of fuel and how much they are wasting, we have to STOP thinking about the HVACR equipment and only the HVACR equipment and START thinking about the building as an entire entity.

    Windows are the biggest sham going, replacing windows will generally not give you the energy savings return because it's the gaps around the window that count and if they don't seal them the new windows are worthless, the gain between double and triple pane is negligible.

    The gain of insulating a non insulated home is huge, just look at it on a load calc program, change the parameters, add and take away insulation and remember that's btu's per hour that you are counteracting.

    Honestly it should be LAW that before any clown attempts to replace any HVACR equipment that the home have an Energy Audit and repaired and then the equipment sized for that new load, which will be smaller and less to buy and less to operate.
  • GreenGene
    GreenGene Member Posts: 290
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,985
    GreenGene said:

    That depends Chris, on the price of fuel and how much they are wasting, we have to STOP thinking about the HVACR equipment and only the HVACR equipment and START thinking about the building as an entire entity.

    Windows are the biggest sham going, replacing windows will generally not give you the energy savings return because it's the gaps around the window that count and if they don't seal them the new windows are worthless, the gain between double and triple pane is negligible.

    The gain of insulating a non insulated home is huge, just look at it on a load calc program, change the parameters, add and take away insulation and remember that's btu's per hour that you are counteracting.

    Honestly it should be LAW that before any clown attempts to replace any HVACR equipment that the home have an Energy Audit and repaired and then the equipment sized for that new load, which will be smaller and less to buy and less to operate.


    So you want to rip all of the radiators out on steam systems, by law, after forcing people to spend tens of thousands of dollars to insulate and seal up their houses?

    This may come as a surprise to you, but many cannot afford that.


    This thread has gone WAY off course.

    OP, please post pictures of your boiler, the piping around it, and any radiators you can get pictures of. We need to see pictures of what you're working with.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,001
    Knob & tube wiring is not the only type that can suffer from overheating.
    "Romex" from the 50's and into the 70's will overheat especially at ceiling light fixtures that often get over lamped for more light.

    I have pulled down light fixtures from both eras where the attic was blown with 15" insulation 10 to 20 years ago. The individual wire insulation (ie. black & white) would crumble in your hands.

    Many houses had all home runs in the attic lying on top of ceiling rafters. There would be a bundle of cables buried in the insulation and would concentrate the heat produced. Only in the last 10 years or so has this home run bundle be required to be separated and raised above the insulation. Even in the basement some AHJ allow only 4 cables thru each hole drilled, (no insulation anywhere near the cables).
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,001
    ChrisJ, I believe he is only referring to the heat source, boiler or furnace. If the rads are too big then they would simply not heat all the way across, but still heat the house.

    Yes, things getting off base here. We need pictures and an EDR survey would be helpful. As stated many times here there is seldom an undersized boiler installed.
    GreenGene
  • GreenGene
    GreenGene Member Posts: 290
    ChrisJ you're way off base, I never said that, I was talking about residential HVAC in general, there is no way anyone should replace a residential HVAC system without checking the home over for btu loss or gain and having the home improved, then do a load calc, they will then end up with a smaller unit which costs less to own and run.

    Steam is a little different, it really should be dialed in, a technician should watch the cycle and dial in the firing rate and pressure and I love steam, I would never endorse taking it out.
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,470
    How much should this LAW require the homeowner to spend? And who would be responsible for enforcement?
    Paul S_3
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,165
    My dear @GreenGene -- indeed, the checks you suggest are a very good idea. Converting them into a law? No. Just plain

    NO.

    To get back to the OP's concern. It isn't quite clear to me whether the system was unable to heat the radiators, or whether the radiators were hot, but were unable to heat the house. If @itzasean could answer that question, we could and would very happily suggest things for him or her to check and work on.

    @itzasean , are you still here? If so, could you provide a little more information?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England