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Cool New Tool (ME)

TGO_7 Member Posts: 23
I have been following this tread and the subject of automatic feed valves for a while. Our host Dan is of the opion that a feed valve should not be left on, and some manufacters agree. Others say the valve must be left on. I know from my own experiance that systems continue to vent air for a long, long time after the inital fill and purge out, and if there is no make up you will be getting a call back for gurgling or no heat. I would like to know if anyone has tried the following set up. Install a regular steel expansion tank connected to either an air scoop, or a microbubble air eliminator. Use an airtrol fitting and proper piping to keep the tank from getting waterlogged. It would seem to me that a fixed amount of air and water is in the system on start up,and any air that comes out of solution would wind up in the expantion tank (where it belongs) and the system volume and therefore pressure would remain the same. I know there may be tiny amounts of water lost from gaskets and valve packings, but would it amount to enough to cause operational problems between annual service? Has anyone tried this? Any reason it would not work?


  • Mark Eatherton1
    Mark Eatherton1 Member Posts: 2,542
    Possible insurance savings here for plumbing/HVAC contractors

    I received an e-mail last week from a gentleman promoting a new product for monitoring pressurized lines on new construction sites. Its a small pressure monitor with a loud audible alarm attached.

    Say for example, you install a new radiant floor heating system in a new home and someone nails one of your lines. You don't know about it until you come back to set finish trim, and the only way you can find it is to fill the system and follow the water damage back to the breached tube. With this fellows idea, as soon as the tube looses pressure, the alarm goes off and you can find it before the final coat of paint has been laid.

    Check it out at www.innovativehandtools.com

    I'm going to check with my insurance company to see if this would qualify us for a possble discount for proactive thinking.

    What do you think Wallies?


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  • Paul_6
    Paul_6 Member Posts: 88
    I could see

    where that could be use full. I have held my breath on a few occasions watching masons pour cement over a 30 or40 thousand square foot floor. that would seem to at least give you something other than a pressure gauge that you have to look at from half a building away through binoculars, while 65 cement trucks line up outside.

  • Insurance claims...

    affect us all, as an industry. I recently had a 2 year old soldered joint cut loose on a job I personally soldered 2 years ago. It was in a weekend home. Less than 1/16th inch pisser at 12 PSI, for who knows how long (up to 5 days) and I'm still waiting for the final estimates. An insurance claim for sure. I'm guessing $30 k worth of damage. Amazing how much damage 12 PSI of water can do...

    I'm seriously considering adopting a new company wide policy. No more make ups to a continuous water supply. We install a PIG (Pressure Induction Gizmo) to maintian pressure on the system, install a low water fuel cut off (already doing that) and install some type of device as an annunciator whenever the water pressure drops too low.

    Maybe this is the ticket.

    In any case, we as an industry need to do something to keep our costs sa a whole down, and every little bit helps.

    I'm open to suggestions (except for taking a soldering class, which I already TEACH)



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  • Mike Kraft
    Mike Kraft Member Posts: 406

    Thats a real bad feeling.Nice to see your a man who accepts and admits to not being perfect:)I mean that too!The work we do has so much liability.Nothing can be taken for granted.So many things can happen with fire and water......good and bad.

  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    I have gone

    to non automatic fill systems. B&G Guard dogs, and of course flow switches on low mass and electric. I use hydronic conditioners in all my non glycoled systems now. If the system needs to have fluid added I want to find out why and make sure the conditioner is still in spec.

    Be prepared, however for some return calls as some systems seem to want to burp a little as soon as you turn your back! Air purgers seem to trickle on ocassion also.

    www.axiomind.com has some slick looking hydronic system feeders available. A must for large glycoled systems, in my opinion.

    hot rod

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  • David Van Wickler
    David Van Wickler Member Posts: 35
    Make water and pressure reducing valves

    Anybody who leaves the pressure reducing valve "on" or "live" is asking for trouble. I can't count as high as the number of snow melt systems I have seen and heard of freezing, even tho' "I had a 50/50 solution in those pipes".

    I NEVER give out a piping diagram with a reducing valve in snow melt or glycol based systems.

    In typical hydronic systems I will runthe fill pressure up to 15-20 psi. Yeah I know all about expansion tank squeezage but these tanks are 40% oversizedto begin with so a little pressure in the 'ol bladder isn't gonna' kill it.

    Close the ball valve to the pressure reducing valve and remve the handle. Any left over air will be absorbed and the excessive pressure will make up the difference.

    For Snow Melt;

    I do include a low limit and a flow switch - with a time delay relay. If the flow switch isn't energized in 3 minutes and an alarm sounds. I have a company in PA build the pump control panel with the PLC programmed right in. This prevent a dry fire - which may not happen if the boiler is in the basement and the snow melt is above the boiler. But the system could spring a leak and cause the pump to cavitate and produce a no flow condition which could create problems for the pump - and for melting snow!

  • Mike Kraft
    Mike Kraft Member Posts: 406
    Hey Hot Rod

    How you been?:)When you do a clean and fill where are disposing of the liquids?Are you using the Guard Dog RB24 or the line voltage model?And one more.......The axiom feeders.....have you used em?Do you use glycol only when needed or do you add for a "cleaner" system?

  • Lotsa cool tools!

    Gonna cover some ground here!
    Mark, we only use hydrostatic testing; the TiteCheck seems to be designed for air, but it may work on both. We find hydrostatic testing finds small leaks faster.

    We used to make our own gadget, (pressure switch, green OK lamp, battery, flashing red light and small alarm horn, in a nice box connected to pressure gauge, hose bibb and air valve (just for topping off pressures if house pressure too low)but........most of our leaks came from carpenters or flooring contractors with nail guns. Since we charge $ 90 per repair (in our contract) for disincentive and risk, no one wants to cop to a problem. If there was a leak and the alarm went off, if they found a switch they turned it off, if not, a few good hammer blows would. Quit using them.

    Now we leave water pressure at 100+ psi, so that they get drenched and find it hard to pretend they did not make the leak. We find our best tool to be a large handful of paper signs we put on windows, floors and walls warning of pipe in the walls and floors, warning of a $ 90. plus travel repair cost, and giving our phone number. It seems to help.

    Mark, what is a "pressure induction gizmo"? Is that a hand pump for cranking up the pressure? Know of any small, inexpensive positive displacement pressurization pumps for this? Hand cranking can take a long time.

    We have a long running debate about make-up water valves. We use a B&G B-3, typically, but sentiment is running the other way. In San Francisco and a few other pockets, we have to use double-back flow preventers, with labor and profit, about $ 500 each, plus Annual Inspection by city certified inspectors at $ 100/year. In SF, we are going to start leaving off make-up. We just changed the system in our office to remove makeup, install pressure-switch with relay cut of the system and to turn on Alert light. We like David's method, overpressurize, let air absorbtion bring the pressure back down. Since we are using (flexible) plastic pipe, we are exploring eliminating the expansion tank, especially for systems not encased in concrete.

    Hot Rod, we always use our home-make glycol mix/fill system with a cheap submersible pump and some washing machine hoses, I like the Axiom device; another slick tool. By the way, when not using glycol, what do you use for water conditioning? Is it only used on cast-iron boilers? Why do you use conditioner?

    David, cool idea. By PLC are you referring to Power Line Carrier of an alarm condition? We use PLC's for a variety of purposes; want to start using them with a autodialer to let us know there is a problem before the owner knows! By the way, on Snow Melt we also never use make-up devices; leaking glycol can be a real mess, especially in larger systems in high-glycol-percent cold climates.

    Did I forget any questions in this thread?

  • Michael...

    Jeeze, where do I begin. The P.I.G. is an extra expansion tank that is pressurized to around 40 PSI on the air, and 70 PSI on the water side, and has a pressure reducing valve on its outlet to maintain pressure on closed loop systems during initial air elimination. It basically eliminates the need for a back flow preventor (no physical connections to the potable water system) and guarantees YOUR being needed in the mechanical room annualy (as opposed to the backflow prevention tester) to make sure that things are hunky dory.

    As for hydrostatic testing, I wish I could, but due to a lack of heat and major presence of freezing conditions, we can't afford to do hydrostatic testing. Hence the need for air testing and alarms etc. Remember, not everyine gets to see the mild cliamte that you do.

    You are correct, nothing is fool proof, but it is an effort and a step in the right direction. Have your insurance costs increased yet???

    In addition to the PIG, you'll need to add a low water cut off device, backed up by a low pressure cutoff device, AND the annunciator.

    Your $ warning of $90.00 is low. We threaten $150.00 and that's not enough. HR also uses the NOTICE method. Our problem is that the signs would have to be in 3 or 4 foreign languages. Not enough paper, not enough time.

    Wouldn't it be great if all the trades just owed up to their mistakes and took responsibility for their actions.. Dream on dude, dream on...

    As for hand pumps, I use a hand pump provided to my by my chemical supplier (Silver King), it is a tube in a tube pump with each stroke hand pump. I use a WW Graingers pump for filling glycol systems, with a capability of 4 gpm AT 20 FEET OF HEAD. I've written articles on filling glycol systems. Do a Google search with my name and Glycol and you will find them.

    I'm not sure about HR, but we use Hydronic Conditoner #10 by Silver King.

    I agree with you on snowmelt systems, NO MAKE UP!!! You don't know you've got a problem until its too late, and the system is already ice locked (A.K.A. frozen). Seen that too many times to remember, hated seeing it every time. Also hated telling the owner the bad news.

    Did I forget anything? If I did, you can bug ME this coming weekend person. See you then.

    Heres a picture of a 14er directly behind the Target store we're putting the snowmelt into. Can you imagine being up there???


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  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    My thoughts

    I use glycol only when absoutely necessary, and never more than 35%. Glycol like soaps or detergents makes water "wetter" so to speak. As a result it seems to spring leaks often a years later! If you use it be sure to monitor it at least yearly, and like DVW noted stay away from fill systems connected to water! Doen't even leave a hose connection for someone to add water.

    If you do you will find out about the "thaw meister" that ME recently posted :)

    I am using a brand new conditioner that is just hitting the market, You will see it at the REX show this year. The chemists spent a year blending, and testing a product that is safe for virtually any component you will come across in a hydronic system. Including aluminum which poses quite a challange for treatments. With the rapid acceptence of PAP and some aluminum block boilers out there, be careful.

    Here is what the hydronic conditioners will do for you. Or your system :) They have ingredients that will scavange O2, buffer ph, lock up hardness, and contain film providers to coat and protect your copper components. This is VERY important if you are using soap type cleaners, as you should, to remove oils and fluxes, etc. These cleaners will leave copper clean and shiney. Very subseptiable (sp) to attack from the water if the ph is off a tad. The film providers will also coat the cast iron boilers and pump volutes to protect them.

    The cleaners I use are EPA tested. Really a strong soap product, once they have "done their thing" cutting grease and oils they are pretty benign. The EPA watches this stuff closely. Hense the phospate free TSP you see on the shelves these days :)

    I like the 120 volt Guard Dogs as I protect the entire system, pumps and all, by wiring the "dog" first in line from the 120 volt circuit.

    I have not used an Axiom. I recieved the binder a while ago and it looks well built. The diaphram pump make sense to me for low fluid conditions in the fill tank. I hadn't considered that.

    I really don't do much snow melt this far south in Missouri. An occasional small commercial application. All of these have had maintenance staffs that monitor the systems on a daily basis. Some years the snowmelt systems around here don't even fire up! Fine by me, as they consume large quantities of precious resources :)

    hot rod

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  • I, like you...

    am only human. I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else.

    Like my dad used to say, "Theres only two people on the face of this Earth that don't have leaks, people who don't solder, and plumbers that lie..."

    To err is human, to err without proper insurance is foolish.


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