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different amps

mwilco
mwilco Member Posts: 9
From homeowner: new boiler installation is drawing "different amps" from old boiler, now cannot turn heat down at night. Is this fixable? if so, how? or did I get the wrong boiler? Thank you. If possible reply to [email protected] because I'm not sure how to use this forum. Thanks again.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,858
    edited April 30
    First, a word on using the HeatingHelp forum. You can send personal (that is, not posted) notes to individuals if you wish through HeatingHelp. Just click on the person's username and you will get an option to click on Message. That's how most of us send personal messages. You can also be notified in your e-mail when someone replies to one of your posts, that works like this:
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    The advantage of going through the Wall itself is that you will get to see everyone's responses -- so I recommend just checking back on the Wall from time to time to see what's been happening.

    Now. Several questions at least arise in my mind from your post. First, and really important, what kind of boiler is this we are dealing with here? Oil or gas fired? Electric? For hot water heat or steam or forced air? And what do you mean by "different amps"? Different amps going to the boiler itself? Or different amps going to a control?

    Then the second set of questions. You say you cannot turn the heat down at night. How is the boiler controlled? And how is whether the boiler is heating the structure controlled? Not the same question at all. Is there a space heating thermostat in the structure? What, if anything, does it do?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    PC7060Erin Holohan Haskell
  • mwilco
    mwilco Member Posts: 9
    edited May 1
    Thanks for reply! Answers: Gas-fired Buderus GC144US/CA 18-32kW. For hot water radiators plus a few baseboard heaters. Steam vs. forced air, don't know. "Different amps" was relayed to me most recently by the install manager (one of multiple techs over the past 2-1/2 months), no idea what that means; he sent the owner to calibrate the thermostats and adjust their heat anticipators. Heat has always been controlled by the thermostats. Sorry, don't even understand next questions. I'm a 76-y-o female w/o knowledge of (or indeed interest in) boilers. After so many different interventions and different stories as to what's wrong and what's needed to complete the new boiler installation so that the house gets even heat and is controllable -- including one tech who speculated the system needed another $ worth of work after the initial $ -- I'm beginning to suspect there's an incompatibility between the new stuff and my 100-y-o house. Is that possible? Wrong boiler? Or is there a fix? I used to turn the thermostat down to 60 at night and it was 60 in the morning. During this strange period, it's been up to 78. Do I need to get another outfit in for another opinion? Would that be trustworthy? RG&E sent me a notice I used more gas this March than last year (same person in house, same habits). Very suspicious and confused. This is a highly respected company in our area. (But anybody can goof.) Thanks for any help.
  • mwilco
    mwilco Member Posts: 9
    P.S. - Sorry, should have mentioned, house is a two-family and it's zoned. Four zones. All four zone valves were replaced during the new install and reportedly are working the way they should be.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,008
    What kind of thermostats are they, are they digital or setback types or are they analog thermostat where you set a lever or dial? It sounds like they screwed up the control wiring with the new boiler and need to get a competent tech to fix it. Also possible they screwed up the boiler piping so the zone valves don't actually turn off the zones when they are closed.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,470
    @mwilco , where are you located? We might know someone who can help straighten this out...........
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,014
    @mwilco

    Check 'find a contractor" on this site and post your location someone may have a recommendation on who can help you.
    ratio
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,858
    We sympathize -- and rather suspect you are being taken advantage of. And I very much hope that when you tell us where you are, we can recommend someone whom we trust to come and straighten this out for you.

    OK That said. What is supposed to happen -- and it is something you can check on yourself (disregard the comment about different amps -- that's pure garbage). You mention zone valves. You say they are reportedly working the way they should be. They aren't. They should be connected to the thermostats so that when a thermostat is calling for heat -- turned up -- in a zone, that zone valve opens and hot water is pumped through the radiation. When the thermostat is turned back down -- way down -- that zone valve should close and the radiators should cool off. If that's not happening something is wrong with the wiring between the thermostats and the zone valves and with whatever powers the zone valves -- or, if the thermostats were replaced, the thermostats themselves -- or, just possibly, the way the wiring was connected to the zone valves. This is not something which is difficult to trouble shoot, nor is it something which is difficult to fix. Provided you get someone who actually knows enough to do it.

    And it has nothing to do with either your house or the boiler or the compatibility between the two. While the choice of new boiler may not have been the best choice, it's there and it is nothing more (nor less) than a heat source. It is, however, quite possible that its controls -- or its piping connections to the house -- aren't correctly done either. Again, this is not something which a good technician would have trouble either diagnosing or fixing. Provided again that you get someone who actually knows enough to do it.

    I very much hope that we can recommend someone...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • mwilco
    mwilco Member Posts: 9
    Thank you everyone who has replied! I'm in Upstate New York -- East Rochester specifically. Three thermostats are old Honeywells (not digital). One is a new Honeywell that looks like the old ones but -- the person here yesterday informed me -- actually digital inside. (?). Will look forward to any recommendations you guys have. Thank you so much! Glad I found this site.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,317
    The old round Honeywell thermostats have an adjustable heat anticipator.
    The amp setting of the thermostat must match the amp draw of the load (probably zone valve) it is controlling.

    Heat anticipators are very old school and most young people don't know about them.
    If the adjustment is way off or the anticipator damaged then heat control will be very skewed.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,858
    Well, that might explain the "different amps" comment. Sort of. But do try my test. Turn the thermostat all the way up. Does the zone turn on? Do the radiators get hot? If so, good. Now turn it all the way down. Does the zone turn off and the radiators cool off? If so, very good indeed.

    Now. If that is all the case, what you need is some patience. As @JUGHNE said, the old Honeywell round thermostats have an adjustable heat anticipator. I'm not at all sure that you want to try adjusting it -- though it isn't that hard to do. If you do, you don't need any fancy tools or meters or anything -- just patience. Send either @JUGHNE or me a personal message and we can guide you through the process. If you don't want to do it yourself, but have a friend or a handyman (or woman!) who wants to give it a shot, we can help them, too.

    If you encounter someone who wants that $3,000 to fix it, or suggests that you might need a different boiler, show them the door. They are -- not too put to fine a point on it -- crooks trying to take advantage of your quite understandable lack of knowledge. and there are very few critters lower than that.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    mattmia2EdTheHeaterMan
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,002
    Amen Brother Jamie!
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,008
    I would go a step further and see if a different zone gets hot and cold as you adjust your thermostat all the way up and all the way down.
  • mwilco
    mwilco Member Posts: 9
    Okay, well, some things to try. However, I've been driving myself batty turning things up and down (even keeping a written journal). Confusing because the zones were leaking into each other for quite a while before new ones were installed so there was no consistency to any of it. And with four -- running back and forth, up and down (house is divided) for weeks.... They did not balance the radiators (does no one know how to do this?) so that complicates results. (Sidebar: one year a handyman showed up for another job, saw the radiators, eyes lit up, said he knew how to balance them. Did he! Had the best heat ever that winter. He went round and round to the radiators, back and again, like tuning a piano). Anyway, now outdoor temp is getting warm so that makes it -- different than if it were February (I think). But the main thing is, why won't zone 1 turn down at night? No one has an answer.
    I've been trying to educate myself by reading online. One site said you don't want to mess with the heat anticipators too much because it could cause the boiler to cycle on and off too much. Also read that a too-large boiler will cycle on and off too much -- either way, it wastes fuel and isn't something you want to be happening. This is supposed to be an energy-efficient boiler. (But this last is perhaps all off-base? a little learning can be dangerous.)
    I wouldn't know if the VALVE is on or off. Only if the radiator is hot or not.
    Best outcome would be, suggest an old-school handyman like that guy who knew how to adjust a hot water radiator system?
    I don't believe this company is deliberately trying to scam me (maybe one of them), they're trying their best, but their expertise is in the newest equipment, maybe they're a little lost with old stuff.
    I don't think I'll try adjusting the anticipators -- not because I lack patience. (No one can believe I'm still negotiating with my company, that I haven't abandoned them.) But I'm just not sure changing those settings won't upset how the other components operate. Just don't know enough. Sorry, this isn't well composed. Hope it makes sense. Thanks again to all who have spent time (are spending time?), it's appreciated!
  • mwilco
    mwilco Member Posts: 9
    p.s. - Actually I'm still keeping a journal -- thermostat settings/temp readings different times of day, especially night setting/A.M. read. It's inconsistent, no pattern I can yet discern. Probably because outdoor temps are fluctuating so much now.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,858
    It all does make sense. On the anticipators -- I wouldn't worry too much about them. They probably aren't quite right, but being somewhat off isn't going to keep a zone from turning off. Leave them be! At least for the moment.

    And they won't affect -- at least not much -- the way the boiler runs (they would -- if you had one thermostat which directly controlled the boiler, but you don't).

    On Zone 1, though, do I take it that the radiators simply stay nice and toasty pretty much regardless of what you do to that thermostat? Is that, by any chance, the newer digital round thermostat, rather than the old ones?

    A bit of explanation here -- all a thermostat like the ones you have is is a switch, really. It's either on -- calling for heat -- or off. If it's on, the zone valve is supposed to open. If it's off, the zone valve is supposed to close (stepping a bit aside here, the zone valves -- and maybe some other controls -- in their turn control the boiler but don't worry about that for the moment). So -- if that thermostat isn't controlling the zone valve -- opening it or closing it -- there really are only four possibilities: the thermostat itself is defective and stuck on (unlikely with the old ones, possible with the digital one); the base for the thermostat is miswired (this would only apply if it were a new installation), the zone valve itself is miswired, or the wires between the thermostat and the zone valve are shorted together (again, an aside --- if someone got fancy when they installed the new boiler and put in a zone control panel, there are several other things which could be wrong)l Diagnosing this isn't hard -- for someone who will take the time (20 minutes or so) to do it.

    I like your old time handyman. Sounds like the sort of person you need...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • mwilco
    mwilco Member Posts: 9
    The zone 1 thermostat is not the new one. Dave (last guy here) said it was right on, also my assessment. Holds at 72 during the day just fine. (Probably goes higher just fine.) Turned down to 60, or off completely, stays at 70. This has been the one consistent problem since the new boiler installation.
    I read online about balancing radiators. (It's there! Why does absolutely everyone give a puzzled expression.) Seems to have to do with use of a thermometer and stop watch -- actually measuring timing, temp of inflow pipe and return pipe. No one has copped to this at all. Online says must be done after new installation.
    Anyway, yes -- if anyone in my area happens to read this, I would be thrilled and delighted to have you call: (585) 363-2155.
    Thanks again for hard thinking going on! I would like to pay my company the balance but reluctant until I know this is all working okay. Btw, it's a small unprepossessing cottage BUT eligible for the National Historic Register and has local Landmark credential, much beloved, I want it to be happy.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,858
    Rochester, NY. Eastern part. Oh dear -- I at least don't have a handy correspondent in the area. Anyone out there?

    Balancing hot water radiators isn't all that hard. Sometimes. It depends very much, though, on exactly how they are piped. Some piping arrangements are almost trivial. Some are, frankly, quite impossible.

    I'm still puzzled by that one zone that won't cool off. Is it possible for you to verify that that valve is responding to the thermostat? If the thermostat is turned well down, the pipe associated with the valve should be no warmer than cool...

    Pursuing National Historic Register status does take some time and effort, but in my humble opinion is well worth the effort involved. I'll be happy to comment further on that for you, if you like (all three of the properties which I currently care for are listed).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,008



    I'm still puzzled by that one zone that won't cool off. Is it possible for you to verify that that valve is responding to the thermostat? If the thermostat is turned well down, the pipe associated with the valve should be no warmer than cool...

    I would start by turning all of the thermostats down all the way, wait for all of the system to cool, go to each radiator in the entire system and verify that it is cool, then i would turn up one of the other t-stats all the way and see which radiators heat. I would turn that t-stat down all the way and turn another that is not in the problem zone up and see which radiators heat. I would repeat for the 3rd. Take good notes of which radiator heats for each. I'm betting either the t-stat wiring or some of the piping for zones got swapped.
  • mwilco
    mwilco Member Posts: 9
    I think I've been doing something similar to what you've suggested. Originally complicated by the fact that the zones were leaky, and differently leaky on different days. Now with the warm weather I think that complicates things, too. Maybe it's partly because the insulation is really different in different areas of the house.
    The techs (many of them) all have insisted the valves are working properly.
    I guess even if it's warm out, if a t-stat is turned up very high, that area should heat. (They do but not the same from day to day.) There are 7 radiators on zone 1 (some up/some downstairs); there are baseboards + 1 radiator on zones 2, 3 and 4 -- every one of which heat differently at different times/days/outdoor temps because they're not balanced. I'm pretty familiar with my house, and how it used to heat, and I've been trying to understand this, but remain confused. Really hoping someone shows up to take it in hand eventually. This may not get fully operational and consistent until next winter. (I'm not the party who kept delaying response since February, the company did.)
    Oh, about the zone valve panel -- don't believe there is one.
    The zone valve arrangement for zone 1 does look different than the others to me but the techs say it's fine. It has a green wire; the other three do not have that extra wire that is green. It has an old-looking covered wire that's shredded from age in places, very dusty, seeming to be interrelated, but can't tell if it's part of it or just left in place. The guys say it's perfectly fine.
    Re: the historic preservation -- was gung-ho some years ago, have all the materials, interviewed the necessary people, our rep from Washington visited & approved, lost momentum; just need to buckle down and do it. Whole neighborhood of these little cottages is eligible as a group. The house has been in my family 50 years, I'm merely hanging in to pass it down.
    Tomorrow will try the turn off/turn each one on. Will post if any result. Thanks!
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,477
    Maybe the local plumbing supply house would know who is old-school enough to know what to do to iron this system out. Even a retired tech could do this, and enjoy being helpful.—NBC
  • mwilco
    mwilco Member Posts: 9
    Update. The company sent "two of the best boiler guys in the country." They spent the morning, diagnosis -- hot water is backing up due to gravity. Installed a check valve to prevent back-up. Result: two upstairs radiator have NO heat whatsoever; up is like walking into a meat freezer. Downstairs remains the same comfortable daytime 70. Prior to the new boiler install, up & down heated evenly.
    I've reported in (with my heat journal), am awaiting their response.
    Good idea about retired tech -- or just someone else. But they've tried so hard, I feel somewhat beholden. Very stressful situation.
    I would like them to remove the check valve. It doesn't really make sense that a new boiler installation in a small cottage-type home would have gravity problems, does it?
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,477
    edited May 11
    No-ditch the check valve and check the boiler pressure (ounces with a low pressure gauge).
    for every ounce of pressure, the water in the wet returns will rise 1.75 inches.
    look for a booklet on here, called “the color of steam”.
    it gives details on typical piping arrangements, written so clearly that even those techs could understand it!
    get a gauge and have them put it on next to the pressuretrol.—NBC 
    found it:
    https://www.peerlessboilers.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/OnePipeSteam.pdf
    They and Slant/Fin have produced the most useful literature/software!!
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,008
    Some good pictures of your boiler and the piping would help. With zone valves you shouldn't get ghost flow either from gravity or from the force of the other zone but it is possible to pipe things improperly and cause flow in the section with the closed zone valve.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,141
    edited May 11

    No-ditch the check valve and check the boiler pressure (ounces with a low pressure gauge).
    for every ounce of pressure, the water in the wet returns will rise 1.75 inches.
    look for a booklet on here, called “the color of steam”.
    it gives details on typical piping arrangements, written so clearly that even those techs could understand it!
    get a gauge and have them put it on next to the pressuretrol.—NBC 
    found it:
    https://www.peerlessboilers.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/OnePipeSteam.pdf

    They and Slant/Fin have produced the most useful literature/software!!
    I think this is a water boiler with zone valves Nick. This comment does not apply to @mwilco's query. But I like the book you posted. I believe Peerless also has a book The Color of Water. Do you have the link to that one too?

    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,477
    Quite right, and I think the "Color of Water" is in the same part of the Peerless website.
    I saw the mention of a check valve, without reading the beginning, and thought of the knucklehead cure for steam over pressure-put a check valve on the wet return!--NBC
    mattmia2
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