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Are Watts relief valves low quality? Are there replacements that are better quality?

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rccrfan
rccrfan Member Posts: 51
edited February 2020 in THE MAIN WALL
The oil fired Buderus with indirect is about 4 years old and I have noticed that there are several drops in the plastic catch tray I keep under the drain pipe (just to monitor any potential issues). The boiler is near my washer and dryer so I am routinely in the area doing laundry, etc. so it's easy to glance at it. I am seeing a coupe drops of water from time to time in the catch tray.

It is by no means a puddle or anything even requiring a bucket. Even a small bathroom sippy cup wouldn't even be necessary- it's that insignificant.

I checked the expansion tank (Amtrol EX-30) pressure with a tire gauge and it is still at the factory set 12-13psi. There were some water droplets that came out of the Schrader valve when checking the pressure. The boiler is in the basement and its gets to 65 degrees in winter down there maybe that and the hot water on the top half on the bladder may be causing some internal condensation droplets to form in the lower half of the tank?

Do you think it is just internal condensation? The tap sounds being what you would expect and the psi on the boiler gauge at 15psi, I am led to believe that it is just a weeping relief valve that I need to replace vs the expansion tank.

My question is, are there better quality relief valves than Watts? It seems premature to weep at 4 years old to me. I know the boiler is running at 15psi and the expansion tank (Amtrol EX-30) sounds hollow when I tap on the bottom half below the weld, and the top sounds solid. The top half is warm/hot to the touch and the bottom is cold.


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Comments

  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,186
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    There is nothing wrong with the Watts valve, just about every boiler I see has one. I'd be more inclined to think that there might be something wrong with your boiler setup and piping. Perhaps the expansion tank is not sized correctly? Did you remove the tank to check the charge? Did you check to see if your tridicator gauge is functioning correctly? Check it with a working gauge when the boiler is cold, then when it is at high limit. Post some pictures of your boiler and piping, it would be a big help with assisting you.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,430
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    Watts valves have been in the past at least among the best and most reliable out there. That said, they sometimes do fail to seat fully (any relief valve will) if they have opened, particularly if they only open a little bit. Try opening it fully with the control lever -- don't need to flush much -- and then letting it snap closed (don't ease it closed).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    The tire pressure gauge is an Accurite that I used on my car , it is working correctly. The system has been trouble free for 4 years- no droplets of water, no heating or hot water issues, the high limit is 180, the low limit is 160 with a 10degree diff. Its a Honeywell aqua stat. As cheap as a new relief valve is, I may just try replacing it with a new one this summer. If Watts are decent then thats what I will get. Thanks


  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
    edited February 2020
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    I just tried the "open and snap back" suggestion and used a clean container to catch the water. There were some black specks in the water. Nothing excessive.

    I did notice that some water came out around where the lever goes into the valve body on top. Just a little. Is this normal?

    If it is the valve, I am going to use replacing it as an opportunity to install copper on it instead of the PVC they used on it that has been bugging me since day 1.

    I will give it a day today and see if I get the droplets and get back to you. Thank you.
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,186
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    I would just double check the boiler pressure with a gauge for water. And it doesn't matter what type of gauge you use on the expansion tank, it has to be removed from boiler or else you are not reading the correct pressure in the bladder.
    You have to remember that the pressure relief valve is a primary safety device, don't just replace it without making sure that you don't have other problems.
    GroundUp
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,805
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    You can upgrade to a 174

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    rick in Alaska
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    I understand. If I am taking the tank down to test it then I’m just gonna replace it as well as the relief valve at that point. I priced out both for less than $80 in supply house. For now though, I’m not gonna bother mess with it. It’s 10 outside.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,883
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    rccrfan said:



    I checked the expansion tank (Amtrol EX-30) pressure with a tire gauge and it is still at the factory set 12-13psi. There were some water droplets that came out of the Schrader valve when checking the pressure. The boiler is in the basement and its gets to 65 degrees in winter down there maybe that and the hot water on the top half on the bladder may be causing some internal condensation droplets to form in the lower half of the tank?


    This is concerning!
    Was there pressure on the system while checking the bladder pressure?
    STEVEusaPA
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
    edited February 2020
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    Yes the heat is on I’m not sure if the circulator was running though. I wasn’t aware that the tank needs to be removed for measuring the psi so my test was not accurate anyway.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
    edited February 2020
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    "...I checked the expansion tank (Amtrol EX-30) pressure with a tire gauge and it is still at the factory set 12-13psi. There were some water droplets that came out of the Schrader valve when checking the pressure..."

    If you got water out of your shrader valve, the tank has failed.
    When you replace it, add one of these for easy future isolation, checking, replacing.



    Also, from your relief valve you need piping down to within 6" (I think) of the floor.


    Edit: seems @pecmsg & myself were typing at the same time.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    pecmsgmattmia2SuperTech
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
    edited February 2020
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    That looks like a nice setup to install. There is a drain pipe down to 6” above the floor. But it’s pvc and I wanted to replace it with copper anyway.

    If the expansion tank has failed or is failing, wouldn’t the boiler gauge be reading higher than the 15 psi I am seeing? Or has the tank bladder not failed completely and filled with enough water (yet)?

    It’s disappointing to see a relatively young tank in need of replacing.
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,924
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    I bought a batch of Watts 30# relief valves about 2 years ago and every single one of them was dripping from new. Prior to that had not had any issue, but since then switched to Zurn and Apollo and have never had another problem either.
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    I was looking at the Apollo but couldn’t cross reference with my Watts. I’ve never heard of Zurn.

    It looks like this springtime I am going to just replace the tank as well as the valve.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,738
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    Maybe I missed it, but did you look at the boiler gauge pressure cold and when it was hot? If the tank has failed or lost its charge the boiler will be at 12 psig or whatever the pressure reducing valve is set to cold and will climb to the relief valve setting when it heats up.
  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,808
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    The Watts 335 valves don't reseat very well after opening. The 174s, as mentioned above, are a very good upgrade.
    Steve Minnich
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,614
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    @rccrfan

    Nothing is as good a quality as it used to be.

    I would upgrade to apollo or the watts 174


    I would shut the burner down and let the water cool to 100 or so then fire her up and get it to 180.

    It's normal to see pressure rise from cold to hot say from 12-15 to 22 or so. If the pressure flies up the tank could be bad. Water coming out of the test port is concerning.

    It's also possible that your tank is undersized which will act the same as a bad tank. If you remove the tank to test the pressure, I would install a ball valve between the tank and the system and also between the new ball valve and the expansion tank install a tee with a drain valve or a pipe plug in the tee. This way in the future you can check the tank air side pressure without removing the tank
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    The boiler ranges from 15-16 psi on the gauge that is mounted on the supply side. It’s too cold to shut the boiler off today but I will have to try the suggestions. Thank you.
    mattmia2
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    It’s around 16psi when things are cranking heat and hot water and then maybe when it’s idle and in standby probably 15psi - never less
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,738
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    Is it still dripping while it is at 15-16 psig?
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    Only those droplets In the other picture.

    Come to think of it, the droplets started after they installed the liner the other day and the old flue was in the area of the relief valve so I am thinking they bumped into it. I don't recall droplets before they did the liner. The plastic tray I keep under the relief drain pipe was dusty.
    mattmia2SuperTech
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    mattmia2 said:

    Maybe I missed it, but did you look at the boiler gauge pressure cold and when it was hot? If the tank has failed or lost its charge the boiler will be at 12 psig or whatever the pressure reducing valve is set to cold and will climb to the relief valve setting when it heats up.

    It never gets over 16 psi when hot, and certainty nowhere near the 30psi rating of the relief valve.
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,186
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    I bet you are correct about them bumping into the relief valve. I've done this before....😉
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    SuperTech said:

    I bet you are correct about them bumping into the relief valve. I've done this before....😉

    Hopefully, and hopefully it stops weeping. However I am now concerned about the when I checked the pressure. Maybe its just internal condensation. The boiler room is chilly.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,738
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    If the diaphragm isn't leaking it would have had to have been put in with the air that it was charged with, either very warm, humid air or a slug of water from a compressor that wasn't kept drained.

    i would charge it properly and keep an eye on it to see if you get any more water.
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    I was looking and there are 2 shut offs after the air scoop for the baseboards and before the air scoop there is another shut off. Seeing that they were generous with shut offs when they installed it I may save the money and remove this tank and drain the water from the Schaefer valve and then recharge it to 12 psi. The current reading is 13.5psi but that’s not a proper reading because the tank is still installed.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,738
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    With it on the system the pressure should be the same as the system pressure. If it is less then it isn't doing anything, it is full of as much water as it can hold. you can remove it and see if it holds air pressure. If the diaphragm has any appreciable leak it won't hold pressure on the air side.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,254
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    My favorite relief valve, B&G 790
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,614
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    @rccrfan

    Just for fun I would get a pressure gauge and stick it on a drain valve or somewhere on the system just to double check the gauge on the boiler. They do go bad. You could be at 25-30 psi and not know it.

    They make pressure test gauges that fit a garden hose thread or you can just buy a gauge and get some fittings at the big box store
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    Can I place the gauge on the boiler drain? The only other drains are one on the indirect's return to boiler, and another on the boiler's supply to the Indirect.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,738
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    Any one of those would work
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    Does this one look ok? I like the more incremental lines vs the ones that go in increments of 5.

    https://www.amazon.com/Charman-Manufacturing-Pressure-Female-Thread/dp/B081TQ6GKX/ref=pd_ybh_a_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=DEW5CVBGCN5JWKRC8F78

    Also, is it ok that the water is hot? The gauges all seem garden hose rated. I don't want to break the thing or have an inaccurate reading.

    The local Home Depot and Lowes have slim selections. Thank you.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,614
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    @rccrfan

    Thats fine but it would be better if you could find a 0-30psi or 0-60 psi gage.

    With the 0-160 you will be down on the low end.......those sold with the fitting attached are ment for city water pressure. It just won't be very accurate at 10-20 psi
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    Do you have any suggestions or a link to one? I don't want to end up with the wrong gauge and chasing ghosts. Thank you.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,254
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    You can buy the pieces to build a boiler specific test gauge, a low pressure gauge.

    Most True Value and box stores have the parts, some automotive suppliers also. Or a plumbing wholesaler.

    A female garden hose swivel fitting, 1/4" coupling and gauge would be all you need. I added a tee and schrader valve to use for adding pressure.

    A 30 lb gauge is adequate, you may need to go to a plumbing supplier for a large face gauge like this.

    Take this pic with you to get all the pieces, they may have different sizes and you would need a reducer or bushing.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
    edited February 2020
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    @rccrfan

    Nothing is as good a quality as it used to be.

    I would upgrade to apollo or the watts 174


    I would shut the burner down and let the water cool to 100 or so then fire her up and get it to 180.

    It's normal to see pressure rise from cold to hot say from 12-15 to 22 or so. If the pressure flies up the tank could be bad. Water coming out of the test port is concerning.

    It's also possible that your tank is undersized which will act the same as a bad tank. If you remove the tank to test the pressure, I would install a ball valve between the tank and the system and also between the new ball valve and the expansion tank install a tee with a drain valve or a pipe plug in the tee. This way in the future you can check the tank air side pressure without removing the tank

    Would you happen to know a part number for the Watts 174 that would be a direct replacement for my Watts? I found several 174A but they're all female and I would like to avoid adding a male to male length of pipe to make it fit- more leak points.

    I found this Apollo which is my size but the BTU is higher than my Watts, which I presume is ok as long as I don't go under the existing BTU rating.

    https://www.supplyhouse.com/Apollo-Valves-1040705-3-4-MNPT-x-3-4-FNPT-RVW10-535000-BTU-Bronze-Relief-Valve-30-psi Thank you.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,254
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    That Apollo should work
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
    edited February 2020
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    Thats what I will end up buying. I don't understand that if the Apollo is better why it's $16 and the 335-M2 Watts is $33.
    The 174 looks like it needs a male piece to fit because my boiler connection is female and I don't want another piece of pipe.

    Oatey looks like good pipe dope unless you guys think otherwise. Plus its readily available at Lowe's

    My 30+ year old pipe dope looks like its bad.


  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    Teflon tape works too.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,186
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    Teflon tape is definitely suitable. Why not just buy an inexpensive 3/4" NPT coupling to install the valve of your choice? The relief valve and the boiler will not be affected by another fitting, it certainly isn't "a piece of pipe".