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Single Inlet Hot Water Radiator?

diyJimdiyJim Member Posts: 10
So I recently purchased a home with a hot water boiler system. Many of the radiators only have one inlet to the radiator. They do have a supply and return pipe just both go to the same valve that them goes into the radiator. None of the radiator configured like this seem to get hot which makes sense to me as I can’t see how the water would be able to flow since only one entry/exit point. Attached is a photo.

Is this some sort of specialized valve or do I just need to extend the return to the other end of the radiator to allow for a path for flow?

Comments

  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,428
    Ohhhhh, you're in for a treat…
    diyJimkcoppJUGHNECanucker
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,428
    Start here, I think.
  • diyJimdiyJim Member Posts: 10
    > @ratio said:
    > Start here, I think.

    You sir are a genius. And I bet money that’s exactly what these are. And in fact Mark Honeywell was born twenty minutes south of where my home is. Doubtlessly they would have used his valves in this home that was built in 1900.

    Thank you so much.
  • diyJimdiyJim Member Posts: 10
    Do you think that since we are no longer on a gravity system and are using circulator pumps that is causing the malfunction or is something wrong with the valves? Seems odd so many of the radiators would be non functional from bad valves.
  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 3,497
    How long ago was the boiler replaced/ converted to a forced flow system? Was any work done to the system since you have been there?
    Gravity flow systems can get messed up pretty quick if you don't follow some rules.
    Biggest mistake is over pumping they system w/ too big a circulator...
  • diyJimdiyJim Member Posts: 10
    > @kcopp said:
    > How long ago was the boiler replaced/ converted to a forced flow system? Was any work done to the system since you have been there?
    > Gravity flow systems can get messed up pretty quick if you don't follow some rules.
    > Biggest mistake is over pumping they system w/ too big a circulator...

    At least five years ago. Way before my time. We just moved in a month ago. Only work I had done was having the local hvac folks come by and check the system out. They were perplexed by the unique valve as I was. So don’t think they are experts. My understanding is they did not do the install.

    Not sure what to do now. Given my home is in Wabash County I hate to lose the history of the Honeywell Valves. But I also would like all my radiators to work.

    Anyone know any radiator pros in Northern or Central Indiana?
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,041
    edited June 27
    I would pull one valve out and see whats wrong with it, probably stuck.

    If you can't fix the valves do not toss the radiators there are ways to make them work without those valves if need be.

    Are these on the first floor, second floor and is the piping exposed in the basement?

    @diyjim Check "find a contractor" on this site"
    diyJim
  • diyJimdiyJim Member Posts: 10
    > @EBEBRATT-Ed said:
    > I would pull one valve out and see whats wrong with it, probably stuck.
    >
    > If you can't fix the valves do not toss the radiators there are ways to make them work without those valves if need be.
    >
    > Are these on the first floor, second floor and is the piping exposed in the basement?

    First floor and second floor. Piping is exposed in basement.

    And definitely not getting rid of the radiators. Assumed although maybe wrongly that if we have to lose the valves we could just extend the return pipe to the opposite end of radiator and put in a new exit there. They have a cap in them now so wouldn’t see a problem but no expert here.

    It’s nine radiators with these valves that don’t work. Makes it hard for me to believe it’s the valve in all of them but maybe.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,847
    Those valves are, when you really look at how they are put together, pretty darn close to bulletproof. However, they can get stuck. But like anything mechanical that age, they can also be unstuck, though it may take some patience -- and a very good mechanic. The average modern plumber or HVAC person is going to be clueless -- no blame to them.

    It will be well worth the effort to work on them. The first thing to do is to check and see if, in fact, they can be turned -- it's only a quarter turn, mind.

    And the second thing will be to check and see if the circulation is properly balanced. As has been noted, these were used on gravity flow systems, and when those are converted to forced -- pumped -- flow, very bad things can happen unless the job is done with great care. There are a really good HVAC person, knowledgeable in hot water heating, can help by going over the system and making sure that it is at least vaguely properly balanced.
    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
  • diyJimdiyJim Member Posts: 10

    Those valves are, when you really look at how they are put together, pretty darn close to bulletproof. However, they can get stuck. But like anything mechanical that age, they can also be unstuck, though it may take some patience -- and a very good mechanic. The average modern plumber or HVAC person is going to be clueless -- no blame to them.

    It will be well worth the effort to work on them. The first thing to do is to check and see if, in fact, they can be turned -- it's only a quarter turn, mind.

    And the second thing will be to check and see if the circulation is properly balanced. As has been noted, these were used on gravity flow systems, and when those are converted to forced -- pumped -- flow, very bad things can happen unless the job is done with great care. There are a really good HVAC person, knowledgeable in hot water heating, can help by going over the system and making sure that it is at least vaguely properly balanced.

    Much appreciated. I am working on finding a capable havoc company right now. I have at least located one know that knows what the valves are. So thats a start.

    Most of the valves do seem to turn and when they ar turned to the off position you can tell they allow flow because the return pipe will get hot. When they are directing flow into the radiators though the radiators do not get hot and the return stays cool.

    Hopefully can get this sorted out before winter and without breaking the bank. HAHA
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,847
    edited June 27
    If they turn and the flow changes or temperature changes -- they aren't broken. Hooray! What you are describing sounds to me like a classic balancing problem -- and they can be a bit tricky to balance, since their resistance to flow is very different from a "normal" radiator. If your HVAC person even knows they exist, you are several steps ahead of the game, and he or she may be able to fix the balance problem (the bottom line translation -- the flow from the boiler is going somewhere else all the time, and not enough water is going to them to heat the radiator when the radiator is turned on. Not really a mystery...) which can be fixed. Find out where the flow is going, and discourage it -- and encourage it to go where you want it.
    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
  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 3,497
    Do you have pictures of the boiler and the piping around it?
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,041
    @diyJim

    The radiators could simply be air bound. No need to run a pipe to the other end of the radiator. You can do it with a double tapped bushing and make the supply and return at the same end. But depending how the system is piped you may need other changes. Best bet is get the valves working if possible
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,428
    diyJim said:

    Much appreciated. I am working on finding a capable havoc company right now. I have at least located one know that knows what the valves are. So thats a start.

    LOL'd!
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,313
    It would be a win if you can rebuild those valves and keep them leak free.

    If not there are conversion valves. This valve would allow for thermostatic valves to control individual radiators. And at some point it could be repiped with small diameter pex lines.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,896
    As ED said, you could just be air bound.
    If you show pressure on the boiler gauge and if your water fill valve is on you could open your air bleeders with the system off. If you get a lot of air out of them, the water fill valve should add water to the system automatically.
  • diyJimdiyJim Member Posts: 10
    > @JUGHNE said:
    > As ED said, you could just be air bound.
    > If you show pressure on the boiler gauge and if your water fill valve is on you could open your air bleeders with the system off. If you get a lot of air out of them, the water fill valve should add water to the system automatically.

    We have bled the radiators and didn’t seem to get much of any air from them. Bled probably a gallon or more of water from each plus five gallons at the return by the boiler.

    Even after bleeding hvac guy seemed to think we were still having flow issues at the boiler on the return side.

    Hopefully can get a more experienced company to come out and give me an opinion.
  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 3,497
    I don't think you have an air issue...
    One version of a Gravity hot water system actually had air in the top of the radiators for expansion purposes.
    Ill ask again... got pictures of the boiler and the near boiler piping...?
    Canucker
  • diyJimdiyJim Member Posts: 10
    > @kcopp said:
    > I don't think you have an air issue...
    > One version of a Gravity hot water system actually had air in the top of the radiators for expansion purposes.
    > Ill ask again... got pictures of the boiler and the near boiler piping...?

    Apologies for the delay.

    Here is what I got.
  • Bill_17Bill_17 Member Posts: 65
    edited July 1
    I am not going to comment on the boiler piping because it is hard to see the scope of the piping. But, gravity systems hold a high volume of water and always take a very long time to warm, they rarely get very hot unless running constantly due to extreme cold weather. You said that when the valves were in bypass mode that the return pipe got hot but when open to the radiators, the radiators did not get hot....but did they (slowly) begin to warm? Being late June, I suspect the system somehow made it through the winter. As the new owner, how long did you run the system (boiler), did the near boiler piping get warm (or hot), it is possible you need to wait hours for the system to warm as it is a high water content/high mass system. Things to consider in addition to what's been previously posted.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,896
    If I read above correctly, the rads with the Unique valve would not heat. But the standard connected rads do heat.

    My best guess is that it is a piping/flow problem and the valves are OK.

    As an easy experiment you could throttle the output (only) of the system pump with a valve to slow down the flow to see if rads heat better.

    The pump near the tank is mounted with the shaft vertically, the shaft should be horizontal with J-box on top. Don't know if this affects your situation.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,847
    I still think that it's a balance problem between the radiators with the Unique valves and the others. It really doesn't take much flow in a pipe to get it very warm -- but that same flow, diverted into a radiator, will hardly make any difference at all.

    Can you try this? Close or almost close the valves on all the conventional radiators and open a couple of the Unique valves, then run the pump and the boiler. Patience. And see if the radiators then get warm. Sort of the bigger hammer approach. If they do, the problem becomes one of balancing the flow between the conventional radiators and the ones with the Unique valve.
    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
    Grallert
  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 3,497
    Thanks for the pix.
    Its hard to tell from them what's what.
    That being said I cant see a boiler/ primary loop for that boiler.
    It looks like a Weil Ultra.
    Systems like that do take a good long time to heat as @Bill_17 stated.
    The boiler also should have an outdoor sensor hooked into it to adjust the boiler water temperature based on the outside temperature. It should be on the North side of the home.
    Furthermore the thermostat should be set to 1 temperature and left alone for the heating season.
    if you could get pix further away that would help us.
    TY, kevin

  • diyJimdiyJim Member Posts: 10
    Some more pictures. Ran for several hours. All piping was hot hot. I did actually try closing all the standard radiators with the inlet and outlet piping and still has issues with the unique valve radiators getting hot. I suspect like you all have said it is a balance issue and potentially a piping issue.

    Just to be clear on the unique valve radiators, is I close the valve so that water is diverted to flow directly from supply to return both supply and return are extremely hot once system is warmed up. Once I open the valve to divert the flow from supply into the radiator the return starts to cool off and the supply stays hot but the radiator doesn’t get hot. You can tell it’s getting warmer but even after waiting an hour or more it is not hot just a little warmer. I have also tried bleeding the radiator while supply is entering and there is good pressure and no air. I imagine if I let it bleed for long enough that would let hot water in and it would be hot hot but then would still not transfer.

    Really appreciate all the help. I feel far more confident we can get this resolved and we aren’t in for big issues.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,896
    One thing noticed in your last pictures is that your tees on the primary/secondary set up are a long ways apart.

    Previously mentioned the shaft orientation of one pump.

    Do you have more than one zone....there are 2 pumps on the secondary?

    Then are there zone valves or flow/check valves on those 2 zones?
  • diyJimdiyJim Member Posts: 10
    All one zone as far as I’m aware. To be honest I have a very hard time understanding the flow of this system. Doesn’t make logical sense to me but sure of assume that I just don’t understand because not a plumber. The vertical pump is on the return side or at least seems to be based on the directional markers on expansion tank and other regulators.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,896
    Usually one Tstat per zone.
    With a pump or zone valve per zone.

    It looks like you have a boiler pump on the left top of the boiler pushing into the boiler.

    Then a water heater pump that is off to the left of boiler.
    But then there are 2 pumps at the ceiling area??
    There is also an aquastat electric control strapped to one of the copper pipes??

    Most old gravity systems had 4 pipe connected to the boiler.
    2 supply's on the top and 2 returns to the bottom.

    Those pipes might be 3-4" for the supplies and maybe reduced one size for the returns.....IIRC.
    Those may have been mis-connected or crossed.

    Just info for your boiler person.

    Also there is the book "How Come" by Dan Holohan that is a great read. It explains gravity and your HW unique valves.
    kcoppdiyJim
  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 572
    edited July 3
    @JUGHNE mentioned 2 things that may need more explanation.
    First is the pump orientation

    This illustrates what JUGHNE means by the pump orientation. the pump on the right is how one of your pumps is installed. this is not the best choice. The motor shaft is verticle. Since this is a water-cooled pump and the water temperature can be upwards to 200°F, this configuration allows for air to trap at the top of the pump housing. this can overheat the pump motor windings.

    The left and middle configuration will allow for the removal of more air from the pump housing.

    The second mention of 2 returns and 2 supplies on the original heater.
    Here are some illustrations that may help you understand the system as it has progressed over the years.


    This is like the original heater (see the 2 large diameter supply and 2 large diameter return pipes)

    As the system became more modern, oil or gas heat with a thermostat was introduced. In some systems, The on-off cycle of the burner caused over-heating some rooms and under-heating others.
    To add a circulator pump the 2 returns were piped together with smaller pipes. Pumped water will move faster than gravity flow so the pipes can be smaller

    There may have been other boilers installed between the one you now have and the original. This may account for several illogical piping designs. Sometimes the fitting you want is not available at the supply house when you are doing the job, or some guys ate just lazy. So you never know why some things are done that way

  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 572
    edited July 3
    here are 3 of the 7 possible piping designs that the installer may have used

    This is what is called primary /secondary piping. this allows the boiler to maintain a minimum flow rate required for operation with a short circuit with a "Boiler Pump" and the system pump takes the heated water from the boiler loop as needed.


    This configuration includes the water heater. the control in the boiler will make a decision to pump heat to the tank or the house based upon the room thermostat and the tank thermostat. if you have more than one room thermostat there is optional sone illustrated with zone valves. You don't appear to have zone valves so if you have only one thermostat this is your design, Just omit the dotted line option and zone valves #13.



    This illustrates additional zones using pumps. since there is an additional pump you may have this configuration. look at the wire from the 2 System Pumps to see where they get their power from. A picture of that location will help. With the wiring cover off so we can see the connections.
  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 572
    So here are your pumps that I'm calling system pumps.

  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 572
    edited July 3
    Slowing down pump speed. may help


    diyJim
  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 572
    edited July 3
    Finally, I do not recommend using this boiler system for any frying operation what so ever. The temperatures are not the same and the boiler water is not approved for foodservice application.
    Besides, oil and water don't mix
    kcoppSuperTechdiyJim
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,847
    And be patient! This type of system -- and radiator -- is intended to be on, and left on, pretty much all the time...
    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
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