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New Homeowner: 1895 House, Stinky Rads, Unbalance Heat, 1000 Questions

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SENorthEast1895er
SENorthEast1895er Member Posts: 83
edited January 2023 in THE MAIN WALL
I have a few problems and gobs of questions, but first, here's an image of our furnace setup with some labels, as well as suggested piping from our furnace manufacturer.

https://imgur.com/a/kc4xa07

The furnace is a Munckin 140M furnace with Cast Iron Radiators. 140k BTUs/hr. House is 3 floor, 2700 sq. ft. 1895 house in the south-eastern part of Northeast US.

First Problem/Question

Previous owner had the radiators pulled, sandblasted, and painted with some expensive, durable, and high-quality paint. That was two full winters ago, and they're still off-gassing when the radiators get really hot. High-Quality paint, but it's for Marine/Industrial use.

Using an IR thermometer and reading off of the off-white painted radiators (emissivity issues? don't know how accurate these temps are), radiators measuring 120 degrees didn't stink. Radiators measuring 130 degrees did. (It's a little hard to really get a read on if it's a specific radiator, or what, due to the impossibility of balancing the system (more on that below)). It is quiet obvious, though, that it only stinks when the radiators are bringing rooms up to temp in the AM or before return from work/school (so, you can only smell the off-gassing when they're working hard).

Here's the paint: Sherwin-Williams Acrolon 218
(yes, it's expensive, but that is the paint used. I have extra cans of it in the basement. And the former owner is a good friend).

I'm seriously considering pulling them all out and getting them sandblasted again due to the stink.

I was advised by a layman to avoid that hassle and fiddle with things so that the radiators run longer, but not as hot. Is this idea feasible? I'm concerned we'll drop too many BTUs to heat the house and that the gas bill will skyrocket.

Any advice on this front? I've got a toddler and it smells like a chemical factory sometimes

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Second Problem/Question:

a.) There are no lockshieds on any radiators in this house. Manual values on all radiators. It is my understanding that it is impossible to balance the radiators without lockshields. Is this correct? (if so, that kinda answers my question)

The house is split into two "zones"; the front "zone" is the three rooms in the front of the house (front rooms on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floors), and the rear zone is the 6 rooms and bathroom in the back of the house (2 rooms, 1 bath on each floor). Note that these are not zones in that they can each call for heat independently; they're both on the same thermostat and you simply try to get the front and back of the house to be the same temp by guessing at how far to close the return valve of the front zone (see pictures in album).

So, what ends up happening is heat is incredibly uneven. Too cold in the front? It's probably too hot in the back, then. Open the return valve a bit, and the situation flips. Adjacent rooms will have 5+ degrees difference in temperature.

(note that fiddling with this also makes any attempts to understand how temperature effects off-gassing, as radiators that were getting hot now aren't, and the stink seems to move around. But sometimes, it seems like the stink disapears after a radiator is hot for a while. But I also know (because I was renting this place before buying it) that the heat was run hot the previous years and there is still the off gassing).

I'm guessing the only solution for this is to put on some lockshields, correct? So I can properly balance the system.

EDIT: I've also been told that my system could be piped more efficiently, and that this may help the problem. The suggestions usually involve installing more pumps or replacing valves with pumps. If you could take a look at the piping system and let me know, I'd appreciate it.

When doing so, let me know if the valve that controls the hot water return into the furnace needs to be open (located off of the first T after the pump) . I've been advised that the location of the 1 pump and that return valve means that a lot of hot water is just getting pumped right back into the radiator.

The previous owner said that this was because this particular furnace doesn't like cold starts. I also think he mentioned at some time that it increases the efficiency of the furnace. But that seems.... kinda odd...

Can I safely close that valve and will it improve the efficiency of my system, both in terms of gas usage and hot water circulation (since the pump won't be just pumping water right back into the furnace)?

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Third Idea/Question

I'm pretty handy, and would love to properly zone this house. From watching a "This Old House" video, it looks pretty simple (all radiators have the same return ; I'd disconnect the cast iron return pipes in the basement, then put in some Pex-al-pex conectors and connect that to a manifold. And then call a boiler tech to come out and pipe the manifolds into the furnace.

It would be easy to do this in a two-zone system (zone 1; first floor. zone 2: floors 2 & 3), as I wouldn't need to get into any walls for that.

Am I off my rocker in thinking I can manage this (I'm very handy)? My only concerns are:

- uncertainty as to pipe diameter requirements for proper flow
- unable to google where to get a manifold, so unsure what the materials cost would be
- dealing with big-**** cast iron pipes (hire some muscle, probably)

Any help/guidance would be great
---------------------------

Last Question:

Where can I get
- locksheilds
- thermostatic radiator valves & knobs
How much should I expect to pay and what are my options in the US?

Searching "best TRVs" turns up a UK article with 20-30 pound TRVs, but at SupplyHouse.com, they start at $60 (and they don't seem to carry lockshields). With my diamter pipe, I'm looking at $120 per radiator just for the TRV (no cover, no lockshield) if SupplyHouse.com is the place to beat.
---------------------------------

EDIT: Actual Last Questions

\

We have a very efficient furnace. Previous owner (who did not purchase the furnace) said that the loop running the

Thanks for your help

Comments

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,157
    edited January 2023
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    Can't help with off gassing. Can help with temperature imbalance.
    If you are the handy DIY kind of person, Purchase Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRV). You must replace the Spud that is in the radiator with the spud that coms with the valve, so get a Spud wrench too.

    Go to the coldest room and install the thermostat. That will make the boiler operate until that room is comfortable. Set the TRVs to make each individual room comfortable. That will cause the heater water to stop flowing in the radiators of the overheated rooms. That way there will be more heat available for the colder rooms. The coldest room will then get warm faster and the thermostat will shut down the boiler sooner saving on fuel cost.

    I did this for a little old lady in Cape May NJ who rented rooms to Coast Guard officers. Her fuel bill was reduced by more than 1/2. We are talking thousands. The oil man was not happy with me, the customer was thrilled. And all the rooms were comfortable. Those who liked it a little warmer were able to dial the temperature a little warmer, those that liked to sleep in the cooler room, were able to turn that radiator temperature lower.

    I had to convince the oil man that the customer was going to switch to Gas heat, so 1/2 the oil was better than no oil at all.
    https://www.supplyhouse.com/Honeywell-Home-V110E1012-3-4-Angle-Valve-for-High-Capacity-Radiator
    https://www.supplyhouse.com/Honeywell-Home-T104A1040-High-Capacity-Thermostatic-Radiator-Actuator-Integral-Sensor

    Edward Young Retired

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

    rockandroller
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,157
    edited January 2023
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    As far as Stinky rads.

    The smell is gone or less as the temperature is lower, then perhaps outdoor reset will help.

    The Cape May Lady saved even more when I added an outdoor reset boiler control. The system temperature is lower than a standard OFF/ON boiler limit control. as the outside temperature drops the rooms need more heat. so the boiler temperature is permitted to go higher. As the outside temperature is warmer, The boiler temperature is not permitted to go higher. This will change the overall highest temperature the radiators will receive. It may even be low enough to eliminate the odor year round.

    You will need to stop night setback with this system, as there is greater savings with outdoor reset than there is with night setback, and temperature recovery time is much longer.

    An other Idea for this spring/summer

    To get the off gassing to stop completely, perhaps you could do one room at a time in the summer and run the temperature to 200° for 24 hours with that room's window open. Your outdoor reset control will never let the water temperature go that high during normal operation. https://www.supplyhouse.com/Tekmar-256-Boiler-Control-One-Stage-Boiler-4150000-p
    Just a thought.

    Edward Young Retired

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

    rockandroller
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,567
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    Wonderful paint. Not, unhappily, intended for that application, but it will get there... eventually. Assuming it was mixed and catalyzed correctly. @EdTheHeaterMan 's suggestion of running the temperature right up as high as you can get it for at least 24 hours may help.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • SENorthEast1895er
    SENorthEast1895er Member Posts: 83
    edited January 2023
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    Ok, I'm assuming the Boiler Control you listed will work with my boiler, correct? I assume most residential boilers are single-stage.

    Although I'm a little confused how (occasionally) letting the boiler run hotter would reduce off-gassing. Or are you saying that there's a chance it will run cooler, so that's the benefit?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,567
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    It's not a matter of running hot occasionally. It's a matter of running it hot enough, long enough, to complete the cure. That's great paint, but it can take upwards of three months to cure completely at room temperature, and until it is fully cured any time it is warmed up -- pretty much at all -- it's going to outgas some. This is not a problem in the intended uses -- which are all exterior -- but it is a problem in interior use.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,157
    edited January 2023
    Options

    Ok, I'm assuming the Boiler Control you listed will work with my boiler, correct? I assume most residential boilers are single-stage. I think so. What model is your boiler
    I'm not sure if Munchkin is a variable input boiler of an on/off single stage


    Although I'm a little confused how (occasionally) letting the boiler run hotter would reduce off-gassing. Or are you saying that there's a chance it will run cooler, so that's the benefit?


    If you happen to set the thermostat back overnight, then you turn the thermostat to your daytime temperature in the morning, and the outdoor temperature is very cold. (all three happen at once) then the boiler will run for a very long cycle. Maybe 45 minutes to 1 hour and a half for example. The boiler temperature will operate at the high limit of 180° or 200° for a significant amount of that time. That will make the radiators hot for longer time periods.

    If you add an outdoor reset control to your boiler, there is a chance the boiler temperature will never get to 160° even on the coldest outdoor temperatures. That is how the outdoor reset might help with the problem. Stop night setbacks, and operate at a lower temperature.

    Edward Young Retired

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

  • SENorthEast1895er
    SENorthEast1895er Member Posts: 83
    edited January 2023
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    Problem is, The paint has been for 2.5 years (not months) and still off-gasses when hot. Not sure why... I'm a bit worried it wasn't mixed properly.

    I've got a Speed heater infrared paint striper that I'm going to try to cure the radiators with (400 degrees, but with the heat sink of the radiator, it doesn't get hot enough to strip). Will try the heat in the spring if necessary.

    Right now I have my boiler to turn on at 4:30 am to get up from 62 to 65 by 6:30. But, again, with how crappy the controls are here, hard for me to say what is actually happening.

    This page says that my furnace is Modulating; I assume that's the same as variable: https://www.ferguson.com/product/htp-munchkin-140-mbh-stainless-steel-natural-gas-high-efficiency-boiler-h140m/_/R-1639094
  • SENorthEast1895er
    SENorthEast1895er Member Posts: 83
    edited January 2023
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    EDIT: never mind, found the manual. will hopefully just be back here to thank you all in a few days.

    Ok, i bought an outdoor reset control, did a Manual J, and figured out everything i though i needed to know. I bought this Munchkin Vision 1 outdoor sensor, because it was cheap (don’t want to be shelling out too much for this old Munchkin 140m) and was apparently made by my manufacturer, so i don’t have to worry about compatibility woes.

    Problem is, i can’t figure out how to connect it to my 925 controller. And this thing is older than youtube. I must be a buffoon, because i haven’t found anything about hook it it up in the manual, either.

    And the manual’s only word on setting up the bison system is: Indirect Setting (Vision System Only)… press Program again and you will see de and an alternative value of 119

    I’m guessing i probably should’ve just checked to see if the $150 eye kat was compatible…

    it doesn’t help that vision 1 seems to refer to both the outdoor reset capabilities and the ability to send hotter hot water to a water tank.
  • SENorthEast1895er
    SENorthEast1895er Member Posts: 83
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    Am i going to need to take off panels for this? The vision manual seems to be obvious enough:


    but that doesn’t really look like the front of my 140M. And I’m always expecting someone to have made a really janky install in this house.


  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,095
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    Did you remove the "hood", 2 screws on the lower bottom?

    Terminal blocks on the left side.
    SENorthEast1895er