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Need help understanding what my system does

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janwalker47
janwalker47 Member Posts: 24
Three months ago, a local contractor replaced my ailing boiler and all the controls. The new installation is still not properly balanced. I am losing sleep, money, and patience as the contractor has been unresponsive. This is a complex three story home with multiple types of heating load. Gas-fired hot-water for radiant (slab and staple-up), TRV loops, standard old baseboard fin-and-tube, DHW, and a hot tub. Five thermostats and three loads without thermostats. They installed a Lochinvar Knight fire tube boiler, Viega pumps with ODR, Grundfos Alpha circulators, some Taco boxes. Building36 thermostats. Very pretty. One zone is too hot (last thermostat call for heat was in February), one has never gotten to heat (Runtal/trv), one is always right, and others have varied unpredictably. A real Goldilocks situation.

I love this website and I've learned a lot but I'm tired of trying to understand it all by myself. I want to get a diagram of the installed system, showing the make/model of each component, how they are connected, and what controls what. The boiler rep was here today and suggested that "the wiring diagram on the website" was all I needed to see. A friend suggested I should hire a mechanical engineer? Is that the right specialty field? How do I find someone in my area who will have the expertise to prepare the diagram and write an interpretation of it to say whether this design is adequate for the property or needs revision? Cambridge, MA. Many thanks for your help in finding appropriate expertise.

Comments

  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,766
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    You do not need to hire a mechanical engineer , unless of course you want a worse , less understandable problem . I looked in the Find a Contractor section with a 30 mile radius from 3 Cambridge zip codes and found

    Milne Plumbing and Heating
    Bob Gagnon plumbing and Heating
    Cahill Plumbing and Heating
    New England Steam Works .

    Any of these 4 should be able to address your issues . I do not know anything about others that appear there
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
    Zman
  • the_donut
    the_donut Member Posts: 374
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    Let us know how it was resolved, tons of possible issues with such a complex system.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,076
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    I would agree with Rich concerning the engineer.
    Not only add to confusion but he would probably tell you need a bigger boiler.......what size do you have BTY?

    In the meantime just be sure you are not overheating your PEX tubing.
  • SuperJ
    SuperJ Member Posts: 609
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    Getting a reputable pro is probably the best bet, but we are a curious bunch here. Can you post some pictures or diagrams of what you know at least? Maybe particularly to do with the too cold and too hot zones.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
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    But, there are a few good engineers, who are qualified to look at your job and make suggestions. Bradford E. White is one out of Boston that I'm aware of. But for the most part, I agree with Rich in that if you can get a good experienced contractor out there, you'd be better off.

    ME

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    Rich_49kcoppPeter_26delta T
  • janwalker47
    janwalker47 Member Posts: 24
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    Thank you for your responses - helpful already. I do understand the dangers of getting "an expert" but really some independent expertise is probably going to be necessary.

    Unlikely to be told I need a bigger boiler; the last two projects did that already. This one is 195K btuh and is using 17% more gas than the same months last year.

    What are the heat specifications for pex? This is alarming because, if the display screen is to be believed, it is sending 150+ degree water under my wood floor. (I do know better than to just believe a display screen because it has numbers on it but this is what was showing.) Is the heat damage immediate or does it accumulate over time? Here are some shots of various displays, one shows the two Viega units with some from the boiler display. The one with the red background is driving the staple-up for the wood floors; the light background is for the basement slab (setpoint is 60).




    FYI they installed the boiler without an ODR, putting the ODRs on the Viegas. (I believe they were back today adding a third ODR but haven't monitored the results of that yet.)

    The rep told me today that the DHW was "on an aquastat" but I didn't get to find out enough more to understand how that might relate to seeing 165 degree water come out of the kitchen tap.

    I do think a good engineer might help me understand what kind of case I need to make to whom in order to get this (re-)designed correctly. Thanks-
    Peter_26
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,766
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    Call the gentlemen listed tomorrow morning and see who may be able to help you
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
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    An engineer probably will have never had enough experience with these systems to make recommendations as to how yours could be properly installed. Call one or several of the names listed, and rest assured they know what to do.—NBC
  • janwalker47
    janwalker47 Member Posts: 24
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    I'm trying to find information on the companies that have been suggested here. Is "Bradford E White" the nationwide water heater company or a specific person? Thanks.
  • janwalker47
    janwalker47 Member Posts: 24
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    Just so I know how to scale my level of urgency. How would you respond to a customer who reported 165 degree water coming out of a tap?
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,336
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    Hello, It looks like scalding time is a half second or less. If there are any children around, this could become a nightmare pretty fast. It would go to the top of my list. :o

    Yours, Larry
    ps, just yesterday had a call... 190* from the tap! Scary stuff.
    pps. Bradford E White is a person, and a good one!
    Peter_26
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,573
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    Rich said:

    You do not need to hire a mechanical engineer , unless of course you want a worse , less understandable problem . I looked in the Find a Contractor section with a 30 mile radius from 3 Cambridge zip codes and found

    Milne Plumbing and Heating
    Bob Gagnon plumbing and Heating
    Cahill Plumbing and Heating
    New England Steam Works .

    Any of these 4 should be able to address your issues . I do not know anything about others that appear there

    I would take this recommendation or Bradford E White. I don't know him but anyone that Mark or Larry would recommend is Gold.

    I little while back someone made the comment "He is a great plumber and fabricator, but he doesn't understand systems" I think it was an important distinction.

    You need someone who understands systems and now. 165 DHW is a very big deal
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,260
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    There are certainly engineers that know and even own hydronic systems.

    I can't imagine many pursue these problematic jobs especially if or when when legal issues get involved :)

    A few posters here have been "expert witnesses" it can be a frustrating way to make $$.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Rich_49
  • janwalker47
    janwalker47 Member Posts: 24
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    Thank you. Took awhile to find the person as opposed to the water heater manufacturer of the same name :p Now trying to get in touch. I appreciate your assistance and all the great discussions on this site. Cheers-
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,624
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    I am sure Brad White could recommend a contractor if he is not interested in looking at the problem
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,442
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    There are engineers and engineers. I don't know Mr. White personally, but if @Mark Eatherton will vouch for him, that's good enough for me.

    There are times when you do need a really good engineer, as opposed to a really good tech. (or, better, in addition to) -- not so much to understand and fix the problems, but to be able to document them for all and sundry -- like the initial installers or the manufacturers or, God forbid, a court.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Peter_26
  • janwalker47
    janwalker47 Member Posts: 24
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    Yes. I hope we aren't headed for the "God forbid" department. But I do want documentation ultimately for what's there. That's the right word. Because it is complicated and I don't yet believe what I've been told! They are installing a Con-X-US board. We'll see I guess whether that gives any better information. For sure it will have more information but whether reports are spurious or not has been really hard to determine so far.
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,766
    edited April 2018
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    hot rod said:

    There are certainly engineers that know and even own hydronic systems.

    I can't imagine many pursue these problematic jobs especially if or when when legal issues get involved :)

    A few posters here have been "expert witnesses" it can be a frustrating way to make $$.

    Sounding like it would be a good candidate for at least one Glitch / fix segment . Possibly a few
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • Brad White
    Brad White Member Posts: 2,398
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    Hi Guys and Girls!
    It has been a while. Jan did get in touch with me and I will see what I can do. She mentioned this thread as background and you know I love a challenge.

    Thank you, especially Mark E. and Larry W., Zman and Rich H. for the kind words, confidence and references!

    Let's see where this goes.

    Cheers!
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"



    -Ernie White, my Dad
    ZmanCanuckerRich_49
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
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    Just like the old days, with you on board!--NBC