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1970's zone valve stuck open. Heat is always on.

coonmanx
coonmanx Member Posts: 16
So I live in an apartment built right around 1971 or so. Heat is via a boiler system. My apartment has a zone valve that is apparently stuck in the open position so that when the boiler is running the heat just stays on and does not turn off at all. Needless to say we had to sleep with the windows open last night. I will post a couple of photos of the valve. It is not quite the same as the one in my last place, which was easy to tell if it were open or closed. I am finding no information about this particluar valve and whether or not it is even wired correctly. The apartment manager lied to me saying that once it comes on it stays on. I think this is because they just don't want to fix it. I know how basic these systems are and that it is not working correctly.

Comments

  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    The second photo shows a lever that locks in either position, towards the wall or away from it. I have no problem with manually shutting the valve if necessary. But when I moved it from the "by the wall" position to the "away from the wall" position there seemed to be no change at all. Can it be broken inside and permanently stuck in the open position? BTW, it locks into position at both ends of the lever's travel. Also I have no idea whether or not the wiring is correct at all. There seems to be one wire that should maybe be hooked up but is not.
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,457
    If it is a typical Honeywell style, and I believe it is, then if the lever moves both ways easily, then it is open. If you can figure out which wires on that control are the power wires, then you can take one off and see if it closes. If it closes, it is a thermostat or wiring issue. If not, then it is stuck open and will need replacement.
    Rick
    coonmanx
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16

    If it is a typical Honeywell style, and I believe it is, then if the lever moves both ways easily, then it is open. If you can figure out which wires on that control are the power wires, then you can take one off and see if it closes. If it closes, it is a thermostat or wiring issue. If not, then it is stuck open and will need replacement.
    Rick

    Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately I can not tell which wire is which and the lettering on it is no help at all. The switch on the thermostat is set to off and also to the lowest temperature. So it should not be receiving any signal to open at all. I will look at it again and see if I can figure out at least what colors the attached wires are. The apartment manager lied to me and said that it only comes on and does not go off. If that is the case then why do I have a thermostat and zone valve that supposedly control it? LOL.

    Also I turned off the isolation valves on both ends and it still seems to be staying warm. Maybe those isolation valves are not closing properly either. It should not work at all if there is no hot water circulating through it at all.
    ronbugg
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,945
    You may have a flow-control valve issue at the boiler.
    It may very well be the zone valve, but it may just be the flow control valve.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,632
    We could probably help you with what the letters mean or you could find the model and find the manual for it. It may be power open-power close or may have been broken for a long time or a lot of other possibilities. A look under the cover could help too.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,121
    looks  like an old White Rogers valve. Possibly more info under the cover if you remove good chance the valve is stuck. The lever can force it open but cannot force it close, the spring needs to do that
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    EdTheHeaterManronbugg
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,830
    I agree with @hot_rod. One observation I have is, that looks like it is installed inside the baseboard radiator cover. This was done in many apartment complexes in the 1970s. Are you the owner of the entire building? or is this just your apartment or condo and someone else takes care of the boiler room?

    That said, Until you can get it fixed you can cut down on the amount of heat output by closing the damper on the baseboard radiators or putting aluminum foil over the opening to stop the air circulation thru the radiator.
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    I have a feeling that this may be the original valve from 1971 in there. What concerns me is that the apartment manager described this system as a "Direct boiler system", which makes zero sense. Why is there a thermostat on the wall and a zone valve in the pipe if they do nothing at all. Just for looks? That makes no sense.

    I got home and the apartment was at 76 degrees. I had to open the windows and run the air conditioner. This in winter. Not to mention that the heating bill is going to be bigger since the heat appears to be on 24/7. If the boiler is supposed to kick on when the outside temperature gets below 40 degrees then surely it should kick off when it is above 40 degrees, which it was today. Yet the pipe was hot all day. And the hallway was hot when I arrived to the building this evening.

    I was assuming that if the lever locks to one side then it would be locking in the "on" position and if it is in the opposite position then it would be locking in the "off" or closed position. Maybe I am wrong about that. I cannot see any writing on that side of the valve so I am not sure. Tomorrow I think I might have to have a conversation with the apartment manager to determine if she has any idea why the system is not functioning as it is designed. Maybe they know that the valves are not working and they don't want to spend the money to get them fixed. I just don't know...
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    hot_rod said:

    looks  like an old White Rogers valve. Possibly more info under the cover if you remove good chance the valve is stuck. The lever can force it open but cannot force it close, the spring needs to do that

    Definitely a White Rodgers valve. I was trying to see if I could get the cover off and saw the "WR" sticker on top of it.
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 912
    edited December 2021
    @op Your state code or local regulations governing rental housing probably specify both a minimum and maximum room temperature for heating. It might be worth your time to investigate this.

    Managers of rental housing can become surprisingly motivated to fix things when an informed tenant knows the regulations and mentions contacting the building authorities.

    Bburd
    Rich_49MikeAmann
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,060
    If the hallway is commons/public area, and not in your apartment, then the entire building may have problems.
    What is going on with the neighbors?
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,844
    Opening a window to maintain a temperature is not an issue today.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,830
    pecmsg said:
    Opening a window to maintain a temperature is not an issue today.
    Unless you live next to a factory or construction site. LOL
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    bburd said:

    @op Your state code or local regulations governing rental housing probably specify both a minimum and maximum room temperature for heating. It might be worth your time to investigate this.

    Managers of rental housing can become surprisingly motivated to fix things when an informed tenant knows the regulations and mentions contacting the building authorities.

    I will research it some more but did not see anything about a max temp and doubt that 76 degrees would qualify for that. It is just uncomfortable. Tried to run the AC last night but the fan on the unit sounded horrible.
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    pecmsg said:

    Opening a window to maintain a temperature is not an issue today.

    Not if you live across from a convenience store where people make loud noises night and day...
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    My question is this...

    How can the copper pipe still be hot if both isolation valves are closed so that no water can circulate? Also is the zone valve on the end where the hot water enters or exits?
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,121
    Some heat will move by conduction thru the copper pipe, or the iso valves are not bubble free tight
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    coonmanx
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    Just wanted to post up as much information as possible. I saw that there were three wires hooked up to the valve but actually only two are connected to anything. The other one has been cut. So one green wire on one end and one brown wire on the other end. Maybe they switched wires at some point in time to a different color. Red and white are both cut and go nowhere. Maybe those wires don't reach all of the way to the thermostat and that is why they decided to run the valve open all of the time.

    This seems like a case where they just didn't want to do the proper maintenance so they rigged it to work but not correctly.
    MikeAmann
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    Am I correct in assuming that no power to the valve means that it should be in the closed position? I disconnected the green wire from the valve.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,632
    Generally but it depends on the specific model of valve. Most residential valves are power open, self closing. Some valves are normally open, power close, some are power open, power close.
    coonmanx
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,121
    When you see more than 2 wires in a zone valve it usually indicates an end switch was used. So when the valve powers open it turns on a boiler or pump. Could be the switch went bad at some point and was disconnected. A look inside could determine if it has an end switch
    I think you are due for a valve replacement and a pro to figure out how the control logic was originally configured.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    mattmia2
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    Well anyway... With my zone completely not connected to the system at all the temperatures were better today as it was a cold day here. Last night I kept the window cracked open and this morning it was actually a bit chilly in my bedroom. Felt great. Tonight it is cold enough that we can probably keep the windows closed as well. Current temperature is a reasonable 73 degrees inside the apartment.

    It's just crazy that the slumlord decided that the easiest thing to do was to just have all of the valves wide open so that individual apartments have zero control over the heat. I guess when you just don't want to actually fix things so that they work correctly. LOL.
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    hot_rod said:

    When you see more than 2 wires in a zone valve it usually indicates an end switch was used. So when the valve powers open it turns on a boiler or pump. Could be the switch went bad at some point and was disconnected. A look inside could determine if it has an end switch
    I think you are due for a valve replacement and a pro to figure out how the control logic was originally configured.

    Yeah, only two wires connected to that valve and now only one as I disconnected one of them. No big deal. I know where it goes and how to put it back on. Also "due for a valve replacement" does not mean that this landlord would actually do that. They seem to be a bit on the slumlord side...
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    Thanks everyone for helping me figure out what was going on. I just didn't expect things to be rigged like they are but I guess as long as there is heat of some sort they can get by with it like that. I will just keep my zone turned off completely all winter and use a couple of space heaters if it gets really cold.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,632
    You could get a cheap thermostat and wire it in series with the existing wiring,
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    mattmia2 said:

    You could get a cheap thermostat and wire it in series with the existing wiring,

    How would I know if it is the thermostat or the valve that is bad? In other words if I used a multimeter to check for voltage on those two wires, what should I be seeing. Does the valve operate on a DC current? I could test by turning the heat to the "On" position on the thermostat, setting the temp to above room temperature and then checking for voltage on those two wires. But I am not sure what I should be seeing.

    Of course if I did that and I got no voltage at the end of the two wires then it would either indicate a bad thermostat or bad wires. If I get proper voltage then it would indicate a bad valve.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,632
    I thought you said it closed when you disconnected the wire? You should see 24 vac between the wires with the t-stat calling and about 0 with the t-stat off assuming it is a normally closed valve.
  • coonmanx
    coonmanx Member Posts: 16
    mattmia2 said:

    I thought you said it closed when you disconnected the wire? You should see 24 vac between the wires with the t-stat calling and about 0 with the t-stat off assuming it is a normally closed valve.

    I actually have no idea if that valve is closed or not. I do know that my zone is not working since I closed the isolation valves on each end.
  • kl80
    kl80 Member Posts: 1
    Hi guys, I know it’s been a long time since somebody has update this thread. I live in a condo and went through hell trying to figure out what was wrong with my heating system. It is forced hot water that was plumbed By a moron hack. Anyway, I found out that we use in normally open valve. This means that 90% of the thermostats out there will not properly work. I had to wire mine to the AC side of the thermostat to make it work correctly. They do make other types, but they’re hard to come by. It may be a case with the thermostat is not being properly powered therefore the valve is defaulting to its open position causing you to have heat all the time. 
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,632
    you could wire the thermostat to a relay and the valve to the normally closed contacts of the relay.
    MikeAmann