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Help with new installed radiant floor system that isnt working

Carrin
Carrin Member Posts: 36
Our builder hired someone to intstall a new boiler and radiant floor heat in the basment slab and in the floor of the addition above. The boiler is Buderus and the tubing is wirsbo pex. These seem like good names. They started (ie fired up) the system over a week ago. On these cold days the temperature of the slab is at 37 degrees and the room at 40. At night it has gone as low as 33 degrees. I am concerned because now all the plumbing in the addition has water in it because the boiler needs the water on. I dont want the pipes to freeze. They have come out twice in response to my calls but afterwards we see little improvement. I know that its is hard to provide any help to us without more info but I do not understand this system much. The copper pipes near the manifolds are nearly cool today. No noticeable heat when touching the tubes in the ceiling. Before they showed up the copper pipes were somewhat warm but the house still cold. I dont see how this is an improvement. The room temperature is still the same. Is there any type of diagram that would help explain the set up of pipes surrounding the boiler. The connections between the "in" and "out" seem confusing to me and I dont understand their purpose. What should we do?
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Comments

  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928


    Is the addition complete or just an uninsulated shell?
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36
    photos

    These are a few pictures of the system
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36


    It is insulated but no sheetrock yet. No insulation in the floor under the radiant heat yet. The heating guy said the upstairs probably wont get warm until the insulation is in. But nothing is warm yet.
  • Dave_22
    Dave_22 Member Posts: 232


    It's hard to say-but it look like you have some type of primary/secondary piping arrangement. I think the device above the primary pump appears to be a mixing valve to inject the right amount of hot water to the zone above. It may not be opening which would just circulate zone water around in a circle and not let hot water in. If it's not a mixing valve, then I don't know why the ball valve behind it is open. I would get who ever installed it- it looks like there are quite a few valves closed in your pictures. Maybe one of them should be closed. Tough to say by the pictures.
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36


    They were here this afternoon to fix it. As far as I can tell by touching the pipes it seems even worse. Those three green things are labled circulators. One is a dead-end right now until the radiators in the 2nd floor are put in after the drywall. As I look at the layout it looks to me as if the water is circulation just around the boiler. Is there a reason to do this -- have the in and out attached? Sorry I dont know what I am talking about here -- I am just trying to figure out something I have no knowledge of. I just want enough heat so the pipes dont freeze. The heating guy said they would check up on this on Monday.
  • Tony_8
    Tony_8 Member Posts: 608
    It looks like

    A basic misunderstanding of primary/secondary piping. Close spaced tees that aren't. Injection (?) piping that isn't.

    After viewing all three pictures to draw a conclusion, I would say they have "issues" to resolve. Re-piping is in your future, IMO.

    MAYBE, that ball valve on the left could be closed more to increase flow to the secondary loop (your floors), but it would be only a VERY TEMPORARY "fix".
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36


    What is the purpose or what is primary/secondary piping? And injection piping (is that what these circulation pumps are supposed to be doing?) is what?

    Are you implying that the system will not work as it is configured? Are the people doing this capable of fixing it or do they know what they are doing? How can we understand this enough to know how to resolve it? We have not paid for any of this so far since all payments are through our contractor. I don know if he has paid them. Should we hire someone else to look at this? I am going to be sick if I have to deal with another problem like this. I guess I want to know if I should just trust that they will work things out or perhaps gain enough understanding of this to determine if they know what they are doing.
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36


    What is the purpose or what is primary/secondary piping? And injection piping (is that what these circulation pumps are supposed to be doing?) is what?

    Are you implying that the system will not work as it is configured? Are the people doing this capable of fixing it or do they know what they are doing? How can we understand this enough to know how to resolve it? We have not paid for any of this so far since all payments are through our contractor. I dont know if he has paid them. Should we hire someone else to look at this? I am going to be sick if I have to deal with another problem like this. I guess I want to know if I should just trust that they will work things out or perhaps gain enough understanding of this to determine if they know what they are doing.
  • Robert O'Connor_7
    Robert O'Connor_7 Member Posts: 688
    Carrin

    What State is this job in?

    Robert O'Connor/NJ
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36


    We are in North central Mass. close to the NH border.
  • A.J.
    A.J. Member Posts: 257
    Primary/secondary

    is a easy way to hydrolicly seperate heating circuits,among other things. see if you have any flow though the zone by measuring temp. differance between supply and return.I'm not sure by the pictures that he was trying to do with that piping so you might want to bring in the boiler or tubing rep.to go over the install.
    P.S. look for a 20deg. diff if your circulating.

    Kupet'z Plb & Htg
  • Ray Landry
    Ray Landry Member Posts: 203


    Carrin where exactly in MA are you? The company I work for covers a large chunk of the state. We pretty much install buderus boilers and wirsbo radiant systems exclusively; So we are very knowladgable when it comes to these systems. If you are out of our service area there are plenty of other contractors in MA that can help you. Milne p&h, patriot hvac, gary wallace just to name a few. Your system definetly needs HELP! It's tough to tell from the shots but I can definetly say it's an extremely messed up attempt at p/s piping.
  • Ray Landry
    Ray Landry Member Posts: 203


    Primary secondary (in simple terms) keeps a constant flow from that first green pump (off the supply) to the copper pipe (return) to prevent damage to the boiler block. It's overkill on this setup imho because the buderus g215 can take return temps down to 104 degrees, and even then with the way the return on 215 is designed, it 'injects' the cold return temps into the hot boiler water so that even on a low temp system (radiant) such as yours the need for primary secondary is eliminated. This job looks like a great place for a buderus mixing station, elimination of the primary secondary piping setup, and a little better piping plan
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36


    I would like to think that the people hired to do this know what they are doing and that the system just needs a little adjustment. We have been patient with this but now feel a little doubt about this. Before we make any change we need to know what we are up against. I do not want to alienate them completely -- as I said they have not been paid and stupidly we do not know how much they expect to get paid. This is partially the fault of our contractor and his not listening to our request to meet and go over things. We are still trying to resolve an issue with the insulation and how it was installed. We are close to getting this resolved. But the heating problems are obviously an even larger problem if the system is not done correctly. If we could get someone to look at the system and advise us maybe that would be the best option. Do you think we need to go to this step? Or should we wait and see what they do? The guy did say maybe they would put in a larger circulation pump. But I don t see how it is circulating at all.
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    wow ...

    may i say there are lots of variables in what i am looking at ....i think like this...start at the boiler, go to the next set of pipes ,then to the next set of pipes...for now..i would invest in a cheap washing machine hose or two...go over to the wirsbo headers and hook one to the other with the hose ..open the valve...no matter what...there has got to be heat there in order for anything to even be getting warm comming or going... hook the return to the supply side...of the pump feeding that, (next...if it doesnt get warm then nothings telling it to motivate...to that point ..)next go back to the boiler hook the hose bib on the boiler drain to a drain near the pump off the boiler ..if you dont have heat in any of the three stations
    either the boilers down or the controls are not all logically arranged.
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    there is no real big concerne ....

    it wont freeze ...probably they dont want anyone freaking with it until they are finished...and maybe its a survival sorta deal for them...you have lotsa bucks tied into this that much we can all see, barring nothing being actually wrong,it may just be on freeze protection until they are reasonably sure they are finished with the job....some guys do this so that novices wont be able to steal thier job for a song...i would liken it to a journeyman framer doing some rather fancy layout for a flying Knee brace Known basically only to himself and if you dont know what he knows it sorta wont fly:) and if you do know what he knows, you know ,it wont "Fly"*~/:) its a spiritual thing...
  • John Abbott
    John Abbott Member Posts: 356
    Bad piping

    The piping is definitely screwed up and imo the installers don't understand the basics of primary/secondary and hydraulic circuits.The workmanship is just ok but not a hack job so I think they tried.
    It is hard to troubleshoot a system with out being on the job but I will offer my opinion based on what I see in the pictures.There will be a lot of repiping involved.In picture #3 it looks like a 1" loop with some sort of either P/S or mains system either direct or reverse return I can't see the return connection. If it is a mains system it MIGHT work if it is supposed to be P/S I doubt it I can't see any way that a flow is going to be induced in the loops.I think that the system is salvageable and was installed by well meaning but inexperienced and or untrained people.Radiant heat is wonderful heat but needs to be installed by qualified people.If after three tries the contractor can't get it to work it is obvious to me he is in over his head. I would advise getting a profesional in your area to correct the problems.

    John
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36


    I went down this morning and drew up a sketch of the system. I left out some of the drainage points though. And there are 2 electrical devices that I dont know what they are. One is the black box you can see in the original photos. The other is labeled motoized valve. I just dont understand why the "circuits" are connected the way they are. Why is the outgoing connected to the incoming?
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36


    The guys who worked on this appeared to be following a diagram from a manual. I assumed it was a Buderus manual but Im not sure. They havent left anything for us to look at even though I requested the manual. I believe this is their business during the winter months and they have another summer business. They have a nice big truck with their equiptment inside but no business cards and I dont know what their business is called. The Dad seems like a nice guy and the son and helpers do seem a bit young probably just out of school. The fact is that it is very difficult to get someone to come in and install a system like this during the busy winter months. We just went with what our contractor recommended because we felt that maybe he could get this done sooner.
  • eleft_4
    eleft_4 Member Posts: 509
    Close 3/4 or more

    The return from the manifolds is re-circulating.
  • John Felciano
    John Felciano Member Posts: 411
    OMG

    What a mess!

    Contact your builder and tell him you want it fixed and that your not paying him untill it's working properly.

    Your system is beyond help here,you need someone to look at your system who knows radiant heat and can help straighten it out.I have serious doubts if the installing contractor has the ibility to get it done correctly.

    I'm sorry to be so harsh,But these are the kind of jobs that give radiant heat a bad name.
  • Floyd_7
    Floyd_7 Member Posts: 136
    I agree......

    It's quite apparent that these guys are in way over their heads..... have them come to the wall and watch a while to see what a system like that should look like.
    Do a find a pro.. search here and see if there is someone close that can get you fix up......

    Floyd
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36


    I closed this valve and now the pipes going out to the manifolds are starting to warm up. Hopefully this will bring up the temps a bit so we dont have to worry about frozen pipes. The plumbing I am worrying about has nothing to do with the heating its the roughed in plumbing for our kitchen. I suppose the slab tubes could freeze but I assume that even a little circulation would prevent this. The regular plumbing has no circulation and is closer to the walls (even though they are insulated). Thank you for your help with this. I guess the next step is finding someone qualified to look at this system. Im not looking forward to this.
  • John Abbott
    John Abbott Member Posts: 356
    How far from the N.H. border are you

    > I closed this valve and now the pipes going out

    > to the manifolds are starting to warm up.

    > Hopefully this will bring up the temps a bit so

    > we dont have to worry about frozen pipes. The

    > plumbing I am worrying about has nothing to do

    > with the heating its the roughed in plumbing for

    > our kitchen. I suppose the slab tubes could

    > freeze but I assume that even a little

    > circulation would prevent this. The regular

    > plumbing has no circulation and is closer to the

    > walls (even though they are insulated). Thank

    > you for your help with this. I guess the next

    > step is finding someone qualified to look at this

    > system. Im not looking forward to this.



  • John Abbott
    John Abbott Member Posts: 356
    You should.........

    be able to find someone in the "find a profesional" section of this site.If you can't I can probably get you a referal.I am in central NH and do not service that area but I know a lot of people in the business and should be able to find someone.It is in everyones best interest to get this system up and running to its full potential as soon as possible.Please feel free to contact me by private email if you like.

    John
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36
    Closing the valve

    Well I closed that one valve as someone suggested and now the pipes near the manifold are warm. Initially the slab temp dropped from 38 to 33 for some reason (the LCD on the display thermostat is screwed up so I dont fully trust this device). The return temperature monitor on the return pipe has dropped to just above 40 degrees. The outgoing is about 120. The slab indicator on the thermostat went back to 38 now. If I feel the pipes going toward the boiler on that return it appears that the cold water is not going forward. The other valve coming from the outgoing circuit that was half open lets the warm water go back into the boiler. I guess this is good since 40 degrees is probably too cold to go into the boiler. Maybe I shouldnt touch this any further. I just dont think the water is circulating.
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36
    Closing the valve

    Well I closed that one valve as someone suggested and now the pipes near the manifold are warm. Initially the slab temp dropped from 38 to 33 for some reason (the LCD on the display thermostat is screwed up so I dont fully trust this device). The return temperature monitor on the return pipe has dropped to just above 40 degrees. The outgoing is about 120. The slab indicator on the thermostat went back to 38 now. If I feel the pipes going toward the boiler on that return it appears that the cold water is not going forward. The other valve coming from the outgoing circuit that was half open lets the warm water go back into the boiler. I guess this is good since 40 degrees is probably too cold to go into the boiler. Maybe I shouldnt touch this any further. I just dont think the water is circulating. But the last thing I want is to mess up the Buderus.
  • Mark Eatherton1
    Mark Eatherton1 Member Posts: 2,542
    Whadda mess...

    Kudos to you for finding this web site. Attached find a picture of a "temporairy" fix. It will get heat pumped out to hte building to keep it from freezing. It will expose the boiler to temps lower that it should be, but its only temporairy and no permenant damage will occur.

    I've been dealing in Buderus for a long time, and that doesn't even look close to anything I've ever seen. I suspect that this is a first for your fitter, and he's in way over his head. It's going to be tough getting him to admit that, but if he aknowledges that fact, and is willing to recieve help, I'm sure we can get him through this.

    If he's unwilling to admit this, it's time to find a new contractor.

    I'm headed up to a friends cabin in the snowy mountains of Colorado for lunch, and won't be back until late this afternoon. When I return, I can generate a simple sketch that will get your system back into shape.

    Questions for you.

    What all is this trying to carry. You've told us about the RFH. and the panel radiators. Is it also slated to do DHW? Any other loads it will be trying to satisfy?

    How many zones of RFH?

    We WILL get you resolution...

    ME
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    Good thinking....

    the valve you have closed seems to bring the water temp up to about 120F...then it has a means of attaining full temp and full flow. now the flow thru the manifols connected to the loops of wirsbo could need to be ballanced also,for example the flow might have a huge delta T as your seeing buh unless the loop lengths are such the flow is near minimal ,it would more likely be the mani fold itself isnt balanced...it is realatively simple yet is something you would want some one with tools to do...while i am not enamoured with this lay out or eye appeal it would be a system that could be made to work were it inherited...like i said earlier the guy may indeed have a plan that he is certain will work ...i would give the boiler waters and headder waters choises to mix up and indeed he has done that,i would probably use a few thermal traps or checks at least and arrange the pieces a bit easier to grasp on first perusal...it isnt that the system is without some degree of merit ,perhaps you will let him read the posts and he may contact any of us by a post or e-mail and or if he figures he fully understands what is going on with his designe he may feel somewhat slighted at that ...however , if there is something especially crafty in this designe i would like to hear the reasoning behind it as i am sure any reasonable man would.
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36


    The guy who runs this is probably in his 50s and I dont know how long he has been doing this. He does have a license in MA though. I think the father designed and the son and assistant set it up. I do know that the father has a bad temper because at one point there was at a least an hours worth of cursing going on in the basement. I was too scared to go down there and am a bit intimidated by him now. Sounded as if he was yelling that the son had screwed something up. But what I dont know.

    I am not sure on the zones. Though I did request that we have several. Eventually we should hook up a hot water heater to this. And also run hot water over to the older part of the house for a hydro-air system. Then we could remove our old FHA furnace and electric hot water heater. Once the drywall etc is up two "radiator" type units will be added upstairs in the addition. Another radiator will be put thru the wall into our bedroom (in the older part of the house). We hope to remove a huge air duct that is going thu the attic space into our room. It only heats the ceiling and causes problems with icedams.

    So we still have a lot of work to do on this and this might be enough to find someone to come over here. The difficult part will be dealing with pay for the work and materials done so far. Since we dont know what the cost is or should be this will be the tricky part. I dont want them overcharging us just because their ticked off at us. And I certainly dont like paying for something that doesnt work. But bein g fair is as important as not being screwed by them! Trying to work this out when you have no clue is not going to be easy.

    I looked for the list of professionals on this site but all are at least an hours worth of driving away from us. Is it typical for people to travel such distances. Anyone recommend someone closer (Townsend MA).
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    i type slow and draw stuff pretty slow too...

    however as you can see at least three or four of us have said the same thing...the flow needs to be proven ...first off the bat....then it needs to be balanced Hydronically...then the control needs to be proven ....and it needs to be logically arranged....
    the valve That says BV is some what a governing factor,and so is the bypass ball valve in the flow after the pump as it would balance the return water temp the boiler sees...that valve like i say woul also need to be almost closed...and the way you could tell how much would be to have a sensor or gauge set up after it and on the boiler return after the "T" in the return ...how the guy intends to balance this would be interesting....
  • eleft_4
    eleft_4 Member Posts: 509


    Simple Primary/Secondary photo to show the water flow, this is variable speed injection with out door reset. Tekmar 365 control
  • eleft_4
    eleft_4 Member Posts: 509


    Simple Primary/Secondary photo to show the water flow, this is variable speed injection with out door reset. Tekmar 365 control.
  • S Davis
    S Davis Member Posts: 491
    Valve

    If you close that valve all the way you are running low temp floor water through the boiler possibly causing a condencing problem in the boiler!!

    S Davis

    Apex Radiant Heating
  • Rick M.
    Rick M. Member Posts: 1
    Heating problem

    Carrin,
    I am a heating contractor listed on find a professional. Punch in 02346 and we are listed first. I am from Pepperell and have family in Townsend. I am travelling to Pepperell next weekend the 19th to visit family, I would be willing to stop in and offer you some advise. I specialize in Buderus and Wirsbo installations. I agree with the other post, these guys are in over there head. The system can be fixed with some changes in the piping.
    Good luck,
    Rick M.

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36


    That would be great. I will contact you via email and perhaps we can work something out time-wise. The kids have a few activities during the day on Sat. but I think we could work around these.
  • Mark Eatherton1
    Mark Eatherton1 Member Posts: 2,542
    Stacey...

    See the blue box on top of the boiler. Thats a Buderus 2107 control. Provided that it is properly connected and set up, the boiler will not condense. Even if it does, it's no big deal. This is only a temporairy fix to keep this persons plumbing and heating system from freezing. Not the best fix, but in an emergency, it'll have to do.

    Thanks for pointing it out tho...

    ME
  • Carrin
    Carrin Member Posts: 36
    Closing down the valves

    I did close off the valves. At first I did this by small amounts but saw no overall effect on the system. Once they were all closed off the heat definetly moved out towards the manifolds. The return temp dropped to above 40 degrees. This worried me a bit. The slab temp dropped initially to 33 and then back to 38. I opened one of the valves a small amount so that some hot water circulates back to the boiler. But it cant be opened very much before circulation stops in the cold return. The room temp has gone up to 48 and the slab is at 46. The return temp is up to 60 now. There is some fluctuation when the boiler goes on though. The boiler seems to draw more water then and the water going in is more of the cold return water. I guess the boiler is pumping the water at that time? I hope that this cold water doesnt do too much harm. But things are getting warmer little by little.

    Is there any way my husband and I can learn more about how these should be designed so we dont end up in the same situation again? We obviously dont want to have to know enough to build it but just to understand the basic principles. By looking at the current setup I couldnt see how it could work. But we have no clue how it should be set up.

    We also need to think about what we will do when/if we find someone to fix the system. How do we go about figuring what we should pay the first guys? Any suggestions on how we can be fair about this.
  • Mark Eatherton1
    Mark Eatherton1 Member Posts: 2,542
    A fix...

    Carrin, Attached is a drawing I've prepared for your system. It makes a lot of assumptions that MUST be verified by a qualified technician on site. I made the drawing assuming that the pumps that were installed are properly sized for the applications they're being applied to. I am also assuming that your 2107 control has a mixing card as a part of the configuration. Only a qualified pair of eyes in the field can verify this.

    Your boiler control comes with a pre programmed selection of 105 degrees F. for boiler protection. What this means, is that until the boiler temperature is above 105 degrees F, the main circulator is shut off. With the other pumps running, this element may have been bypassed, but as I said in a previous thread, beings as it is only temporairy, very little if ANY damage will be done to the vessel. I've exposed that particular brand of boiler to MUCH worse conditions than yours is seeing.:-)

    Now, as for your predicament, you need to get the builder involved as soon as possible. He's YOUR primary person of responsibility. Tell him you've consulted with some experts in this field, and they advised you to seek another professional opinion as to the system design and installation.

    You shouldn't have to contact the hydronic contractor, you didn't hire him. The GC did and it's HIS responsibility to insure that you get the product that you paid for, that product being comfort and reliability.

    That being said, provided that the REST of the system is deemed adequate by another professional, you are obligated to pay for work that has been done and will work correctly.

    As for the near boiler piping, I feel that you owe the contractor for the materials, provided that your "other" expert is comfortable with the choice and sizing and application. If your expert says that the pumps chosen are wrong, then you don't owe them for them either. You DO have to give them the product back if it's deemed unfit for the application, but you DON't have to pay for the labor that they instilled in getting those pumps installed. As for the pipes, valves and fittings, if I were your expert, I'd probably suggest SawZall surgery. For me to attempt to salvage the other persons pipes, it would probably cost YOU more money than it might save.

    As for the fathers abusive language in your home, I'd also mention that to your GC. His subs are a reflection of him and his company. You're only as good as the company you keep.

    I feel real sorry for the installers son. What a rotten way to go through life, living with the threat of your fathers wrath if you make a mistake. I guess I was fortunate to have a good father that SHOWED me what he wanted done first, and was understanding if I made a mistake, and allowed me to correct that mistake so I wouldn't make it again in the future. I feel VERY fortunate in that respect.

    Hang in there, and please report back when things are corrected. Feel free to continue to ask questions, and if the installer would like to learn more, have him drop by this site. We do not believe in teaching by intimidation.

    ME
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    What you have is Forced flow...

    that isnt a highly desierable condition...because that doesnt do much of anything to save you a dime...so,...i would be inclined to suggest that you made some simple adjustments and have some form of heat presently buh that you find that you would like to have it work properly...and ask what might the current cost of the work and materials be and would he object to letting someone else put the finishing touches on the work... that way the guy isnt tore up over it you may be fairly certain he will be faily willing to be All out,and would realize that the remainder of the work has costs associated with it and will be inclined to adjust his billing to allow for it... thats just a suggestion...i am sure that there are indeed others ..:)
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