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Small Cape style home with heating issue

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Hey All! I've heard great things about this site & a few friends thought maybe someone here could help me with my issue. So here goes.

I live in the Boston area and much like the rest of the country we've been in a deep freeze for the past two weeks. I live in a Cape style home. A few years ago we put in a new furnace. I'm not too familiar with the different types but it runs on gas and there is hot water that runs in our heating pipes.

The first & second floors are on two separate zones. The first floor works fine. The second floor does not seem to be working correctly. Now here's the weird part. It was below 10 degrees for a week & it didn't work. It hit 30 on Wednesday & the heat started working! Yesterday was bitter cold and it's not working again. We don't have much money so we've been avoiding calling a plumber. I have 3 kids, not to mention my wife and I who have been freezing at night & forced to sleep down stairs.

With my limited knowledge I tried bleeding the pipes but there was no air. I went to the basement to feel the pipes and coming off the furnace is hot, but when it travels about 1 foot away it starts to get cold. The return line is also cold.

So anyone have any ideas? I can take pics and post them if that would help.

Thank you for reading!

Comments

  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,399
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    Pics please, of the boiler, its near piping, pumps and controls. Try and get as much of it in each pic as possible.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • kevink1955
    kevink1955 Member Posts: 88
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    Since it works when it's above 30 degrees I wonder if you have a pipe that is freezing. Has anything been done to the house or plumbing that might be exposing the pipes to cold??
    mbarnsteinCanucker
  • mbarnstein
    mbarnstein Member Posts: 7
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    ok so here are some pics. the white circle shows the point where it starts to go cold. the LCD & gauge seem to be reading ok.





  • mbarnstein
    mbarnstein Member Posts: 7
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    @kevink1955 no nothing. it's cold in the basement but again, the bottom floor works fine. If the top floor was freezing up wouldn't the first floor as well?
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,716
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    and a pic of the LEDs on top of the Taco box,
    are all the zone circs running ?
    known to beat dead horses
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,655
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    The top floor is a separate zone? I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the top floor was frozen somewhere from your description. You wouldn't think a heating pipe could, but they can -- and do.

    Not much you can do in this miserable weather, unless you can trace where the pipes are and see if you can figure out where it might be frozen. It could be any short length running up an outside wall, or in a crawl space (perhaps under the eaves somewhere).

    Now -- when you do get it running again, do not use a setback at night so long as the weather is this cold! What happens is that when the setback starts in the evening the boiler is off for maybe a couple of hours, and the circulation stops -- and the pipes freeze.

    You may also be able to change a setting on the controller so that you have constant circulation in the heating pipes (circulating pumps always running) and the boiler only on when you need heat. That will help, too.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Mike
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,399
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    If that pipe is run in an outside wall, eave, attic, etc, it could very well be frozen. Don't be fooled into thinking that if there's a blockage it must be at the point where the pipe feels cooler - not so.

    Could be air, a bad circulator, bad thermostat, etc.

    Check and see if the red light for that zone is lit on the Taco control panel.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    mbarnsteinCanucker
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
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    If the upstairs zone runs along an outside wall, it may well be frozen.

    Too bad the installer didn't place bleed valves on the supply and return loops... would be super easy to determine if the zone was frozen :s
  • mbarnstein
    mbarnstein Member Posts: 7
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    @Jamie Hall yes the up stairs is a separate zone. The heat has been on for about a week & is constantly circulating and IS flowing through the pipes and base boards, I can feel it. So I don't think it's frozen.

    here's an odd question to anyone out there. if I put a space heater down in the basement to maybe warm up the area, do you think that would help?
  • mbarnstein
    mbarnstein Member Posts: 7
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    @NY_Rob he did install valves. all are running fine, no air, just water coming out.
  • mbarnstein
    mbarnstein Member Posts: 7
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    @Ironman the power light is green, zone 1 & zone 2 lights are both red.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,655
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    @Jamie Hall yes the up stairs is a separate zone. The heat has been on for about a week & is constantly circulating and IS flowing through the pipes and base boards, I can feel it. So I don't think it's frozen.
    ...

    In your first post you say " I went to the basement to feel the pipes and coming off the furnace is hot, but when it travels about 1 foot away it starts to get cold. The return line is also cold. ". If that is true, then you have no circulation, and if the pipes you are feeling are feeding that upstairs zone, that means that that zone has no circulation. Not sure what you are hearing...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    mbarnstein
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,399
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    But you have three zones. Which zone is that pump on?
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    mbarnstein
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
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    @NY_Rob he did install valves. all are running fine, no air, just water coming out.

    This is a shutoff/isolation valve with drain....
    You put one at the beginning of the loop and one at the end of the loop. Makes isolating/draining/filling/purging zones super simple.

    https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.supplyhouse.com/images/products/zoom/40613-3.jpg




    Right now you have standard valves that will shut off flow... but that's about it, no way to drain, fill or purge with those valves. There's also no way to see if your zone is frozen with your current valves. With the valve shown above, just unscrew the cap and crack the small lever a bit.. if water gushes out... you're not frozen. Takes 2 seconds with the correct valves.
    mbarnstein
  • mbarnstein
    mbarnstein Member Posts: 7
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    @Ironman there are only two. The one on the left goes up stairs, the one in the middle is the first floor and the one on the right feeds the hot water tank.

    @NY_Rob ok my mistake. Shows how much I know. What I was referring to is on the side for the radiators. There is a little valve that you can open with a screwdriver to let air out it there is any.

    Everyone, thank you so much for all of your help! I'm really surprised & grateful for all your replies :)
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
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    Well, you're in luck as a thaw is coming to the northeast after tomorrow, mid 40's by Wed :)

    Were you using thermostat setback on that upstairs zone?