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Upstairs heat not working properly

tonemantoneman Member Posts: 7
I live in a one story house with a basement. Both my main floor and basement have separate thermostats. The basement thermostat works great, the upstairs one not so much. I can set the thermostat above the current temperature, and my heater will turn on, but it won't do much when the outside temperature is mildly cold or lower. It will just keep running and won't make much heat. My baseboards won't get very warm. In order to get my upstairs to a comfortable temperature when it is very cold outside, I have to turn my basement thermostat up well beyond what should be necessary to "help" the upstairs thermostat. When I turn my basement thermostat on, the baseboards upstairs will get hot.


  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 14,791
    Presumably hot water heat? Can you provide more of a description? Particularly how the two zones are controlled -- valves? Separate pumps? How is the piping arranged?

    While you are assembling that information, presumably there is an expansion tank and a pressure gauge -- what does the pressure gauge read?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.
    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • tonemantoneman Member Posts: 7
    I have gas heat. I have no idea about my setup, I have not had any experts look at it. I have very little money and was hoping for an easy fix.
  • NY_RobNY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    A no cost fix would be to vacuum/brush out the fin-tube sections of each upstairs radiator (if you have fin-tube baseboard).
    It's amazing how much dust, etc... collects over time between the plates and obstructs convection.
    delta T
  • tonemantoneman Member Posts: 7
    Thank you NY_Rob.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,861
    Posting pictures of the boiler and piping in the basement would do the most for you right now. Pictures from far back to include all piping. Some from different angles.

    There are a lot of eyes here that would look and give you advice for free.
  • tonemantoneman Member Posts: 7
    Here are some photos that I took of my heater. I also have a third floor/attic with it's own thermostat. The third floor thermostat also works properly.

  • IronmanIronman Member Posts: 6,142
    edited November 2016
    Your pics helped some, but a lot of details are still missing.

    What the pressure reading on the boiler gauge? I don't see it in you pics; it may be inside the boiler cabinet.

    If the gauge is reading 15 psi or above, then I would suspect that you have a problem with the circulator pump or the pump relay or thermostat.

    I think you're gonna need a pro.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,861
    From what I gather you have 3 separate wall thermostats.
    That usually means you have 3 electrically controlled zone valves on 3 pipes that open when called by one of the thermostats.

    Or you have 3 separate pumps that the T-stats control.
    I can see a large red pump (B&G 100) and a small green pump, (maybe Taco). Is there a 3rd pump we don't see. Or are there some electric zone valves on pipes we don't see.
  • tonemantoneman Member Posts: 7
    Ironman, here is the gauge. It is reading 20 psi. Jughne, here are two photos from the other side. There are three pumps. The two small green ones do say Taco. One of them is marked "attic", the other two are not marked. I assume the big red one is for the main floor, and the other small green one is for the basement. There is also a tiny green device that is also made by Taco.

  • SteamSteam Member Posts: 45
    Above the B&G (red pump), there is a red handled valve that looks closed. Is there a reason it is in the closed position?
  • tonemantoneman Member Posts: 7
    Yes steam. I closed it before I took the photo. It is normally in the open position. I closed it to see if it would do anything. It is open now.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,861
    If you operate each T-stat separately you could ID which pump goes where. They are all quiet, but you can feel them run. The big red one has a coupler between the motor and pump, you can see it run.
  • tonemantoneman Member Posts: 7
    In the second photo that I posted even though it is blurry(sorry), you'll notice four boxes(Junction boxes?). The one with the black switch on it is an on/off switch. There are two black boxes and one silver one. The one black box says basement. On the other black box you can see had something written on it and it was partially smudged out and Attic was written below that; what was smudged out you can still make out and it used to be main floor. I can only conclude that my house originally had only a basement and a main floor, with just the two black boxes, and later the third floor/attic was added. Whoever reconfigured the heater to provide heat to the attic; instead of simply adding a junction box for the attic, rerouted the box that used to go to the main floor to the attic, and added the silver box for the main floor. I think this must be where to problem is, that something went wrong in this setup.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,861
    So the main floor wall T-stat will only turn on the boiler fire but not the pump?
    The other two working t-stats turn on the boiler fire and their respective pumps?

    If so then that pump has failed or it's relay for that zone has failed.

    Caution!!...........The main switch may not shut off all power to all parts of the heating system.......if you consider looking inside the relay boxes.........

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