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Did my contractor screw up?

Halbert
Halbert Member Posts: 15
Yesterday my HVAC contractor converted my oil fired hot water baseboard system to natural gas. As part of the project, they recommended adding a buffer tank to prevent short cycling. The house has 3 hot water circuits, one large one for the first floor, and two small ones for two upstairs bedrooms.


The left the original circulator pump (on the right side of the picture) and repiped to feed to the buffer tank. Then they added a second circulator pump (between the buffer tank and the boiler), that is piped to the return side of the boiler.

Shouldn't the new circulator be on the 'house' side to circulate the buffer tank up to the heating circuits?

Comments

  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,054
    That's a mess. Please tell me you haven't paid him yet.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting
    Plumbing in NYC or in NJ.
    Take his class.
    Ironman
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,434
    It looks like it might be piped in a way that works, hard to tell from the picture. The piping work is unsupported and very ugly. If someone were to need to service or replace your hot water heater, would that be possible?
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    mattmia2Ironmankcopp
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,896
    JohnNY said:

    That's a mess. Please tell me you haven't paid him yet.

    It used to be really easy to change that water heater.................
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    JohnNY
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,142
    looks awful!. like turning a monkey loose with a propress gun
    mattmia2Ironman
  • MaxMercy
    MaxMercy Member Posts: 334
    Zman said:

    If someone were to need to service or replace your hot water heater, would that be possible?

    Sure - by cutting out the buffer tank..

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 4,977
    edited April 2022
    I have seen this before. I just have one question... How did Curly get out of there? Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk
    Edward Young Retired HVAC Contractor & HYDRONICIAN Services first oil burner at age 16 P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    IronmanMaxMercyZman
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,570


    A true Train wreck!
    EdTheHeaterManIronman
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 7,191
    Zman said:

    It looks like it might be piped in a way that works, hard to tell from the picture. The piping work is unsupported and very ugly. If someone were to need to service or replace your hot water heater, would that be possible?

    Even lighting it would be a bit of a challenge.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,076
    There should be one circulator on the boiler side and one on the house side.

    The way it is now, both are on the boiler side.


    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 7,191
    3 more pictures, one a little further back so we can see where the piping up top goes and one of the top half and one of the bottom half would help a lot. Force it to use the flash or to spot meter on the dark spot to the left of the boiler on the bottom half picture.

    I can't tell where the pipe at the bottom right of the buffer tank with the circulator goes, it could be pumping out of the return manifold from the system.
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,927
    edited April 2022
    Using a ball valve for a boiler bypass is a poor choice because of the low valve authority. Regulation starts a a 90% + closed position.

    I'm not against a buffer tank. I would like to see a closer pic of the piping connections to and from the boiler and tank and heating sys. It seems to me to be improperly connected, I don't know. I really like those pics that you can click on and expand the view. How do you do that?
  • Yeah, I see two pumps on the boiler side and none on the system side. But some more pictures where pipes cross could change the story.
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 18,224
    The pump on the boiler is flowing up to the top left of the tank? Then a pump on the lower right port?
    If so I don't see a pump for the left side, distribution, from the tank? More pics might help trace piping, or a drawing.

    Copper work is a bit free-form :)


    A buffer adds volume to the system which can be a good thing. It can also keep the boiler in condensing mode for longer periods on start up. Keep an eye on how long it takes for the return to the boiler to get above 130F. Ideally in under 10 minutes.

    I assume the aquastat in the buffer controls the boiler? So the tank is maintained hot? Might insulate the piping, unless the heat is useful in the location?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • pell
    pell Member Posts: 16
    I hope the boiler is not condensing, going into that single wall smoke pipe into the masonry chimney along with the HW tank.
  • Halbert
    Halbert Member Posts: 15
    OK, first, thanks for the couple of responses that actually answered my question: yes, both pumps are on the boiler/buffer circuit.

    To answer a few of the other comments:
    1. I asked them about the hot water heater location (which they also installed as part of the fuel oil/ng conversion): there is plenty of room between the boiler and the wall to pull out the hot water heater. There is NOT enough room between the boiler and the wall for the buffer tank and associated piping.
    2. It's not a condensing boiler
    3. The pipe work above the boiler was not installed by this contractor. The job was to replace the fuel oil burner with a ng burner, install the gas piping and manifold from the new meter, and a new ng water heater. The boiler was not replaced due to budget constraints.
    4. I note that of the 14 comments, only 2 actually answered the question within the OP: Am I right that they put the new circulation pump in the wrong place? We are working on finding a mutually agreeable date to have the installer come back and get it right. Fortunately, the overnight lows here for the next week are upper 40's-low 50's, and highs generally in the 60's, so it's manageable.
    5. The buffer tank was recommended during the bidding/quoting process. This is the ONLY contractor (of 3) who noted how fast the fuel oil burner was cycling when they were there during the visit, and the only one who commented that short cycling was a bad thing. Contractor 1 insisted that I had to replace the boiler (and spend a lot more than I had budgeted) with a super-high efficiency unit), and Contractor 3 was on site for literally 10 minutes and never asked question1 about how the system was working for us. So Contractor 2 got the job because he asked (a) "how's it working to keep you warm now?" and (b) said "we can make it work better by putting in a buffer tank". The fact that his installer messed up is, at the moment less important to me than his willingness to admit that they did, in fact screw up and they will fix it.

    So, as a homeowner who knows relatively little about hot water heating systems, I'd suggest to you contractors who do home systems, always remember that homeowners in particular have to deal with the system that is there when they move in, and asking 'how is it working?' is a way to get a new customer--and then, if there is a problem after a major change being willing to fix it ASAP is a way to keep the customer--keep the snark at a minimum. I wish I could have gutted the entire thing up to the baseboard circuits--but I couldn't. Maybe next year.
    mattmia2
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 18,224
    edited April 2022
    With the limited view from your one pic, yes it appears to be mis-piped. I'd be surprised if you get much if any heat flowing out to the zones as piped.

    The drawing that Bob posted up a few, clearly shows the correct boiler/ buffer piping. You need one pump on the boiler circuit, another on the distribution. No ifs, ands, or buts.

    The expansion tank would serve the system better if installed at the buffer tank also, as long as someone will be redoing the piping.

    I applaud the contractor for suggesting the buffer to address that concern.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 713
    The best way to keep a customer is to install the heating system correctly. At least that's what i was taught. no call back mode
    GGrossSTEAM DOCTOR
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,927
    I always tell my customers, " Satisfaction guaranteed, but, pleez, don't be too hard to satisfy."
    STEAM DOCTOREdTheHeaterMan
  • Halbert
    Halbert Member Posts: 15

    I always tell my customers, " Satisfaction guaranteed, but, pleez, don't be too hard to satisfy."

    I doubt asking them to make sure it's installed correctly isn't being too hard to satisfy.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,896
    edited April 2022
    Halbert said:
    I always tell my customers, " Satisfaction guaranteed, but, pleez, don't be too hard to satisfy."
    I doubt asking them to make sure it's installed correctly isn't being too hard to satisfy.
    It is for some people.

    But it is still a legitimate request.  When you hire someone to do a job for payment it is expected to be done correctly.


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 18,224
    The fix could be as simple as 4 press couplings. Cut the pump and iso valves out of the tank on the right, move it over to the left side, upper tank connection. plenty of space to do that.
    Not a pretty fix, but....
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Ironman
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,570
    hot_rod said:

    The fix could be as simple as 4 press couplings. Cut the pump and iso valves out of the tank on the right, move it over to the left side, upper tank connection. plenty of space to do that.
    Not a pretty fix, but....

    At least throw in a few hangers while your there! Not much you can do about the pipes not being Plumb and level without a lot more work!
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 713
    Am i the only one that think this guys is disrespecting the contractors on this site? He is on a site that has probably the most knowledge contractors in the business and is offering free advice and your telling them to keep the snark down and telling us how to act because you have a system that not only doesn't work but the installation lacks any quality. and your not suppose to comment on the obvious because he's getting butt hurt.

    just a bit of advice, halbert. have a little respect for the contractors on this site. these are some of the smartest guys in the business. including some that are known around the country due to their expertise in the field. they have been in the trenches. they put the work in. and i know because of how hard it is to get this knowledge. AND THEY OFFER IT FREE. that takes a lot. i can guarantee you that most of these guys, me included don't just go home and start drinking beer watching tv (only the really, really smart ones can do that, lol). We research and more research because that what it takes to get to this level.


    STEAM DOCTORMaxMercy
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,896
    pedmec said:
    Am i the only one that think this guys is disrespecting the contractors on this site? He is on a site that has probably the most knowledge contractors in the business and is offering free advice and your telling them to keep the snark down and telling us how to act because you have a system that not only doesn't work but the installation lacks any quality. and your not suppose to comment on the obvious because he's getting butt hurt. just a bit of advice, halbert. have a little respect for the contractors on this site. these are some of the smartest guys in the business. including some that are known around the country due to their expertise in the field. they have been in the trenches. they put the work in. and i know because of how hard it is to get this knowledge. AND THEY OFFER IT FREE. that takes a lot. i can guarantee you that most of these guys, me included don't just go home and start drinking beer watching tv (only the really, really smart ones can do that, lol). We research and more research because that what it takes to get to this level.
    I missed that response.....

    We get a lot of that on here unfortunately.
    People come on here and demand answers like we owe them.

    I don't get it.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 18,224
    It's tough to tell the difference between disrespectful and humor or younger generation communication style, sometimes.

    Folks often arrive at HH because they are frustrated and having problems, so I tend to cut them some slack.

    Spend some hours manning a tech support phone line if you want to get your feathers ruffled :)

    No one calls because they are happy and everything is fine with their system or product.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    rick in AlaskaEdTheHeaterMan
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,570
    Halbert said:

    I always tell my customers, " Satisfaction guaranteed, but, pleez, don't be too hard to satisfy."

    I doubt asking them to make sure it's installed correctly isn't being too hard to satisfy.
    Thats because the good contractors KNOW what has to be done! Yours obviously didn't.
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 713
    I hear ya hot_rod. just frustrating. I honestly don't know anybody on these pages personally but viewing the replies i know there are very exceptional contractors on here and i have have the utmost respect for them. you don't get this much knowledge just working an 8 hour shift. Lots of hard work after hours. And they are all giving there time on this site for free.
  • Halbert
    Halbert Member Posts: 15
    The good news is--they came back today, moved the pump to the correct location, purged and refilled the system, and we're all good. Same two installers. Thanks for the input.

    This house has another issue, that is a topic for another post.
    STEAM DOCTOREdTheHeaterMan
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 4,977
    edited April 2022
    Halbert said:

    The good news is--they came back today, moved the pump to the correct location, purged and refilled the system, and we're all good. Same two installers. Thanks for the input.

    This house has another issue, that is a topic for another post.

    I understand the frustration with this post @pedmec. There are 8 comments that offered no assistance (I'm included in the unhelpful comments). @Ironman was number 9 comment and the first to answer the original question was about the circulator being on the wrong side of the system. Also @Halbert was kind enough to post a thank you and a final conclusion that the contractor corrected the mistake. How many posters never let us know if we helped them or not.

    Thanks for ignoring the first nine posts and for allowing someone to actually give you an answer and for your final successful reply.



    Edward Young Retired HVAC Contractor & HYDRONICIAN Services first oil burner at age 16 P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    STEAM DOCTOR
  • Halbert
    Halbert Member Posts: 15
    ED, Thanks for grasping my initial frustration. To be fair, the guys that came today--with a boss--were falling all over themselves with apology. Hotrod's fix--with some hanger strap--is in fact what they did. The boss said "I wish you'd had the budget for a complete new install so we could have ripped all that crazy pipe out and redone it. "

    I'm learning more about how these systems work than maybe I really wanted to know. :)
    EdTheHeaterManZman
  • Halbert
    Halbert Member Posts: 15
    Update: After the fix, we've had some chilly nights (a couple down near freezing), and the system is working great. I note one interesting thing--I don't know why, but the revamped system is quieter. Much less popping and creaking of the baseboards.

    To answer one of the earlier questions, the boiler aquastat is controlling the hot water temperature, the thermostat on the buffer tank is set to maintain a minimum (120F) water temp in the buffer tank through a priority switch.

    So, even with the irritation of the conversion not going perfectly, this customer is happy. My neighbors on both sides have asked what the digging outside was all about, and with the local price of FO around $5, I have a feeling we may see more of this activity in the area. The only additional issue is the appliance repair shop is having trouble getting the parts needed to convert the propane cooking range to NG, so that's not done yet...but the NG pipe is run to the kitchen and capped for now.

    BTW, I'm in Bucks Cty (north of Philly) PA. It's weird, PECO is not super outspoken and big on advertising that NG is a thing around here.

    For the rest of the technical side, it is a Trane boiler, with a new Carlin gas burner, and Taco circ pumps, zone valves, and control box. As I learned from a second question I posted, the first floor of the house is piped as a monoflow system with 2 circuits and a single zone valve on the return. The two large 2nd floor rooms are fed straight through the baseboards, each with it's own tstat and zone valve on the return lines.