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Having some heating problems

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Febtober
Febtober Member Posts: 6
I have a two story house with two heating zones, one for the upstairs, and one for downstairs. It utilizes baseboard heat powered by a gas boiler.

Earleir today, I noticed it was very cold downstairs, and the baseboards were cold, even though the target temp on the thermostat was well above the current room temp. Upstairs everything was fine.

The zone control valves are Honeywell V8043E1020. When I push the lever for the downstairs zone valve to lock it in the manually open position, there is no resistance on the lever and it just swings loosely back and forth and cannot lock into the notch for a manual opening.

System pressure is 20psi and its heated to an appropriate temperature.

I don't know much about heating systems and not really sure what's going on, but figured I'd check here first before calling out a professional.

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  • Docfletcher
    Docfletcher Member Posts: 487
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    I'm not a pro, sounds like the zone valve is stuck in the open position so water should flow. You might have air in that zone preventing flow. You might try locating the air bleeder at the end of baseboard and bleed some air out.

    If that zone has it's own circulator be sure it is working.
  • Febtober
    Febtober Member Posts: 6
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    The baseboards don't have air bleeders on them.

    I'm not sure how to determine if there's a circulator for the zone, or how to check if it's working properly.
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 670
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    You likely have one calculator that moves water for both zones and two zone valves that allow that water into each zone. Does your first floor zone pass through any hidden spaces like under doors or through crawl spaces? Anywhere it could have frozen? Does the pipe feel warm after the zone valve and how far after? There is a good chance that it is simply air bound and will need to be purged of air. Pictures of the zone valve and the piping around it as well as the return end or that zone would be helpful.
    Miss Hall's School service mechanic, greenhouse manager,teacher and dog walker
  • Febtober
    Febtober Member Posts: 6
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    Thanks, I'll take some pictures when I get home later.

    Although going off of memory from last night, the pipe is hot for about six inches right after the zone valve, the warm for another six inches, then cold after that.
  • Febtober
    Febtober Member Posts: 6
    edited January 2019
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    So I just got done replacing the zone valve motor, which didn't fix anything.

    Here's a picture of the issue: http://imgur.com/gallery/XnnOheM

    The zone valve at the top is for the second floor, which is fine. It's hot to the touch all throughout its length. The zone valve on the right is for the first floor, which is where the issue is. The pipe is hot for a few inches past the valve, until around that elbow joint where it turns downward. It's cold from there on.

    This system only has one circulating pump, so I'm pretty sure it's working, since the other zone is getting heat.

    Still not sure what's going on.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,083
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    I don't know your location but I'm sure it is safe to say that you live where there has been a forecast for very cold temperatures? You probably have a frozen pipe.
    You should check for cold spots or areas of cold affecting the down stairs zone.
    Do the pipes for this zone run through a basement or garage area? Is there cold air getting to that zone at a small part of the zone?
    Consider putting glycol in the system to help prevent freeze ups in the future.
    There are a few different ways to get heat to that zone.
    Try to find a source of cold to the zone and eliminate it.
    Then, if it is frozen, let us know and we can probably talk you threw it. ??




  • DZoro
    DZoro Member Posts: 1,048
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    Being there was no resistance with the valve lever is a indication the valve is energized and open. Start following the piping and locate cold areas, and warm those places up safely. Hair dryer will work, this will take some time.
    Any areas below 32* you will need to keep warm until water is flowing again.
    D
    Intplm.
  • Febtober
    Febtober Member Posts: 6
    edited January 2019
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    Welp, things went from bad to worse in the ol' Febtober household overnight.

    So as mentioned, yesterday I replaced the zone valve motor, which had no effect. So the next thing I tried was bleeding the lines after it was suggested that air in the pipes could be causing a blockage. The pipes clang and bang loudly when the heat kicks in even under normal circumstances, so I figured it would be a good idea to do this regardless.

    The instructions I followed said to shut off the valve on the return pipe that's just after the spigot, then open the spigot and let the water drain into a bucket. There are my return pipes. The one at the bottom which has the water hose connected to it is for the downstairs zone, which is the one I'm having the issue with. Then there's another spigot right above that in the center of the picture, then in the top left of the picture is a third spigot.

    I am curious why I have 3 sets of valves and spigots if I only have two zones of heat? Anyway, I decided just to go ahead and purge all of them while I was at it. With the top two zones, I shut the valve off, then let the water drain via the spigot. There was tons of air in both lines. Also, the air never stopped coming out. I drained out six full 5 gallon buckets from each zone and air was still coming out. Is that normal?

    Also, when I went to drain the bottom-most pipe (for the first floor), no water would flow from the spigot while the valve was closed. The valve had to be in the open position for water to drain. The instructions specifically said the valve is supposed to be shut, and indeed it was shut for the other two zones. I don't know if that's important or not.

    After draining six full buckets from each zone, and still having air come out, it was getting late and I called it quits. I started the system back up, but still was not receiving any heat downstairs. I had to get to bed, and figured I'd tackle it again later today.

    So this morning I wake up and can hear water running through pipes, which is odd. I get downstairs and can hear hissing and gurgling coming from the area of the baseboard behind a couch, which is... odd. Then I notice my socks are soaked through, because surprise, the whole carpet down there is soaked. Apparently somewhere in the baseboard sprung a leak and had been leaking water for a while. I didn't have time to move the couch to take a look at it, but I shut the valve in the utility room which stopped it.

    At least the water that was coming leaking out was hot..... I guess that's a silver lining?

    We have had below freezing temperatures here (Long Island, NY), but as far as I can tell, the pipes never exit the house. From the boiler in the utility room, they go down into the ground. I'm not sure where they come back up, but I guess it's where the baseboard starts on the other side of the wall. The utility room stays warm since that's where the boiler is, and even without heat, the downstairs never dropped below the low 50's.

    I'll move the couch when I get home later to get a better view of what's going on back there, but I think I may just end up calling a plumber. I can't figure out what's going on.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,083
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    Seems that you have thawed or partially thawed your zone . This also exposed a frozen pipe that had burst. The ice melted in the zone while you purged.
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 670
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    Well that's terrible news. At least it sounds like an easy repair for your service guy or gal. After the repair is completed the you'll purge as you have but keep in mind that you'll some pressure on the boiler to really force the air through the zone. Not much but about 20psi or so. Keep it below 30. Keep an eye on the gauge.
    Good luck.
    Miss Hall's School service mechanic, greenhouse manager,teacher and dog walker
  • Febtober
    Febtober Member Posts: 6
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    Well I'm $400 lighter now, but it's all fixed. Thanks for everyone's help.

    The plumber that did the repair said either the pipes froze on their own (I kinda doubt it, because we keep the heat set at 60, and we had much colder days last year without issue), or that the zone valve failed, which caused the pipe to freeze since water wasn't circulating.
  • ch4man
    ch4man Member Posts: 296
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    so after $400 the plumber didnt even check to see if the zone valve works?

    i'd say his job is not complete. is that zone heating properly?
    if so, look for cold outside air drafts
    Intplm.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,083
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    As a precaution. Add some non toxic antifreeze to your boiler.
    DZoro