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Bled all radiators twice and still air in the pipes!

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Connie_Q
Connie_Q Member Posts: 15
edited December 2020 in Plumbing
Hi all,

The building owner has had two HVAC folks come and according to them, they bled all radiators (supposedly) in an 1899 Brooklyn Brownstone to eliminate air from pipes in the wall that Garden apt tenant (me) is consistently hearing. It sounds like gushing, gurgling, and toilet bowl dripping sounds. The sounds ebb and flow but it is always constant when heat is on.

The first HVAC guy bled the radiators from the boiler and looked defeated after the sounds continued. Basically, he said it was beyond him. He left and that's the last we heard from him. He had 5 stars on Yelp.

The second guy bled all the radiators and this time suggested there was a problem with the expansion tank not working properly and that it's holding some air in it and the air and water are making weird noises together. According to him, it may be too small for the boiler  but he didn't sound reassuring. New expansion tank and some pipes= $$$$.

It is a two boiler system for a three story brownstone with a sub basement where the boiler is located. As the tenant, I don't have access to the boiler. No one can tell me clearly what the problem is. Either two, 5 star yelp plumbing and heating guys can't bleed radiators properly or problem is more complex than they let on or can articulate.

Can you please give me some advice on how I should be thinking through this issue and what questions you would ask of the next heating guy who may come over and try their luck? If you know any reliable technicians in NY, please advise! Please help!

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,657
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    As or heating pros in New York, try @JohnNY -- Gateway Plumbing.

    I suspect that just bleeding may not be enough -- it may need a thorough purge, which is a different beast -- or there may be other problems.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Connie_Q
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
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    Bleeding radiators removes air from the radiator, but if there's trapped air somewhere else in the system, it won't do any good.

    Power purging the entire system is what's recommended, but you have to have a certain valve/drain configuration.

    Demand access to the boiler room and take some pictures of the piping around the boiler.

    @JohnNY is a contractor that knows his stuff. Maybe he'll pipe in.
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
    Connie_Q
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,483
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    Is there a central air elimination device? There needs to be an auto vent to keep working after the purge. A power purge brings cold water with dissolved air. Heating the water drives air out, and the purger does the final removal.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,244
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    Bleeding radiators is what people do when they don't know what to do.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
    Classes
    SuperTechGrallertAlan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • Connie_Q
    Connie_Q Member Posts: 15
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    @hot_rod as far as I know there is no central air. No vents in my apt and none in the backyard
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,657
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    Connie_Q said:

    @hot_rod as far as I know there is no central air. No vents in my apt and none in the backyard

    He's referring to an air elimination device on the heating system plumbing -- it can be confusing.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
    edited December 2020
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    Yelp...****

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    Solid_Fuel_ManJohnNY
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,167
    edited December 2020
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    Connie_Q said:

    @hot_rod as far as I know there is no central air. No vents in my apt and none in the backyard

    Not Central Air (conditioning)

    Central or large main air elimination device, But Connie does not have access to the boiler room so he won't know the answer to that.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • Connie_Q
    Connie_Q Member Posts: 15
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    I'm not sure that exists. is that a problem for a power purge to be successful?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,657
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    Connie_Q said:

    I'm not sure that exists. is that a problem for a power purge to be successful?

    No -- but if there isn't one, then air may build up in the system again later.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    Yes. Purging wont eliminate all entertained air in a system, just the bubbles. 

    Engrained air comes out of the water as its heated, and will (should) be automatically vented through the boiler's main air purger. There are piping arrangements that can hinder this, and of course the automatic air vent can be fouled/missing/closed. 

    There are no air bleeders on your radiators? 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,399
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    What kind of radiators do you have? Standing cast iron? Baseboards? Panel rad's?

    Please post some pics.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Connie_Q
    Connie_Q Member Posts: 15
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  • Connie_Q
    Connie_Q Member Posts: 15
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    these can't help articulate the problem. And, no, there are no bleeders on the radiators. It's bigger than that. Water constantly flowing in pipes in walls (nonstop). I am the first person in 10 years, supposedly, to notice and complain about this. You should assume there has been air in the pipes for several years
  • Connie_Q
    Connie_Q Member Posts: 15
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    I feel like I'm living with the pipes
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,399
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    Unless you can get access or info about the boiler room, there's not much else that you can do or that we can recommend - other than getting the owner to find a good hydronic contractor.

    Try the contractor locator above.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    Just for clarification those are fin-tube baseboards. They generally have no bleeder as it's just a copper pipe with aluminum fins. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    Connie_Q
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 722
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    It's possible that the pump is too large and you're hearing the velocity noise but @Ironman is right, unless you can get into the boiler room, there's not much else you can do
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • Connie_Q
    Connie_Q Member Posts: 15
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    got it. I'm waiting for @JohnNY to get back to me so I have all the questions i need to make an informed request to the landlord. he is tired of throwing money at the problem after the first two hvac guys bled the radiators and couldn't solve the issue. and it doesn't appear the highest priority because i am the first person to complain, which i understand
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
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    You sound like a nice guy, but I would encourage you to be the squeaky wheel. Landlords have been known to forget about tenant's discomforts.
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
    Canucker
  • Connie_Q
    Connie_Q Member Posts: 15
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    ok, I think I'm going to get John Cataneo to do the job and he said he will fill the system and get rid of the sounds
    SuperTech
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,657
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    Connie_Q said:

    ok, I think I'm going to get John Cataneo to do the job and he said he will fill the system and get rid of the sounds

    Let me put it this way -- if he can't, I can't think of anyone else who could even get close.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Connie_QSuperTechCanuckerJohnNY
  • seattlepioneer
    seattlepioneer Member Posts: 6
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    <<The first HVAC guy bled the radiators from the boiler and looked defeated after the sounds continued. Basically, he said it was beyond him. He left and that's the last we heard from him. He had 5 stars on Yelp.>>

    Give the guy credit ----he was honest with you.

    After considering the issue for a long time, I finally dec ided what was most important when looking for a service provider of almost any kind.

    #1 Honesty
    #2 Competence

    There are lots of other things that are less important.

    Honesty is the MOST important!
    Solid_Fuel_ManGrallert
  • 136lin
    136lin Member Posts: 30
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    I believe it was Dan that taught: If you remove air from a radiator(s) and still get no heat, it is not air that is the problem. I have found the cause to be, among others, a worn out impeller on a circulator so that the it sounds like it is working but actually it is having little or no effect , or a water starved system due to a plugged PRV, water line , a plugged BFP or some other cause. Without access to the boiler room no one can diagnose the problem. I have seen hot water systems that turned themselves into steam systems due to not having sufficient water supply and no low water cutoffs.
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 670
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    I'm curious. How did the previous service people bleed the radiators. (convectors)? You mentioned that there are no vents on them. Sorry if this has been cover in this thread.
    Miss Hall's School service mechanic, greenhouse manager,teacher and dog walker
  • Connie_Q
    Connie_Q Member Posts: 15
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    @Grallert @Jamie Hall @Ironman @136lin @Alan (California Radiant) Forbes @hot_rod

    Thank you for all your insight. The problem has been ameliorated significantly and the water sounds in the pipes in walls are minimal compared to what they once wore.

    I never got the full brief of what was diagnosed and fixed but when I asked the guys what they did when they left, they said they had to install a brand new air vent for the boiler system because the previous one was completely shot. That's all i know but maybe it was that easy!
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes