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It must have been that way for YEARS!!

Timco Member Posts: 3,026
Post your best story that follows the thread title!

Mine is from today. A very old 3-stage B&G, retired and on the floor where it fell. A huge Grundfos bronze circ now hooked up, smoking hot and making funny sound. This is for a DHW recirc loop. That 3-stage must have been changed a few times. So the complaint is no hot water (takes forever) at the kitchen taps, all on one side of the building. I feel the pipes on both sides of the circ and tank side is hot, building side is cold. Remove the circ, no water from building side. Must have a rust clog? Tons of rust, circ is full and all near piping. Must be on track! Still no flow, pipe just disappears into the wall. I chip away at the old plaster that sealed the wall up and find an original (1909) gate valve and weighted check. THE GATE VALVE IS IN THE CLOSED POSITION!! It must have been that way for 20? 30? 40+ years? I can just see the last few guys..."bigger pump, give it a while." "it will heat up in a few hours" Problem is now fixed, happy occupants. Never worked better!

Just a guy running some pipes.


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,515
    I've seen that too

    but the valves in question were in plain sight. Had to bang on them to get them to open, that's how long they'd been shut. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,485
    gate valve stories

    my experience has been that the gates of the gate valve can get unhooked from their carrier, and thus remain closed. i prefer ball valves for that reason.--nbc
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 2,655
    good find

    Good find Tim.Great investigation work ,theres always great satisfaction in getting some thing fixed correctly.I recently found a mis installed check valve on a gravity recir line where the home had been completly re piped from brass /galv to copper about 20 years ago . The complaint was they where always running outta hot water .Traced out the lines and found a swing check in the cieling installed in the wrong direction and wrong location so i removed it and installed the return line into the bottom of the hot water heater with a new check valve and  purged it .Now they don,t wait for hot water and they don.t run out due to cold water by pass .Seems some times you have to search around to find the original issue to solve a promblem .Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Non rising stem gate valves....

    I had a job about 20 years ago in a hotel in Anaheim, CA. I was called in to address efficiency issues, and while there, I ran into a customer in the pub, and he was from Australia. I asked him about his stay, if he was enjoying it, and he said "I'd be a lot better off if I could get a hot shower, mate...."

    In the course of discussion, I inquired what wing he was staying in, and when I queried the chief engineer of the hotel, he said "We've NEVER been able to get and keep hot water in that part of the hotel!"

    Further investigation determined that they had to replace the circ return serving that section of the hotel about once a year...That was my first clue.

    Further investigation determined that everyone and their brother had been in and had attempted to rectify the situation and that it had been that way since the property was opened in 1970. After looking at the building plans, I spotted a set of valves, located in a remote storage area.

    We went into the storage area, and when I turned the non rising stem gate valve on the hot water main, it just spun, and spun, and spun, and never stopped. Seems the gates had fallen off of the stem. It was around 3:00 PM when we discovered it, so using 2 way radios, we coordinated an impromptu emergency shut down of the DHW system, pulled the bonnet off the valve, extracted the fallen gate, reassembled the bonnet and turned the hot water back on (total down time around 10 minutes) turned it back on, and had hot water everywhere!

    I ran into the Aussie in the pub again that night and asked him if he'd had a hot shower, and he bought me a drink!

    It had been that way from day 1...

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Steve Whitbeck
    Steve Whitbeck Member Posts: 669
    20 years

    about 15 years ago I got a poor heat call on a very cold day,

    Building was on slab about 150 ft long with the boiler room in the middle. one story flat roof.

    The boiler was hot and the pumps were running. I couldnt find anything wrong. SO I started to look over the installation.

    When I got there I saw the two flow controls (weighted checks)- So I thought maybe one was stuck. At this time I realize the flow controls are installed backwards. Someone had installed zone valves so the flow controls wern't needed. I removed the top cap and pulled the guts.

    After assembly and turning the system back on I heard solder balls roll down the pipes back to the boiler.

    This system never did flow properly.
  • Brad White
    Brad White Member Posts: 2,393
    edited April 2011
    Small Hospital in NE

    had an issue from their last major renovation, they could not get enough air down to the cafeteria. We were called in to investigate and design a supplemental system to cool the dining area.  They had suffered for about eight years by the time they asked us to take a look. The momentum and solution seemed to be a foregone conclusion. I set forth to do my field work.

    It was August and steamy (for us). I noticed that the volunteer information desk staff, the loveliest grandmothers on the planet, were bundled in their cardigans. Normally not an issue but here it was, August. I went over to inquire and sure enough, dang, it was cold there.

    I asked the facilities director for a ladder, lifted a ceiling tile and "whoosh!", a cloud of dust like you read about. Lawrence of Arabia was about to emerge.  Turns out that eight years earlier, in the haste of completion, the tin-knockers had cut out the hole for an 18x18 access door in a medium pressure duct and never installed it. The access door was there, atop the ceiling grid, wrapped in plastic and cardboard, ready to go, a few feet from the open hole. Just so close. 

    We had it installed and, after a rush of dust blowing out the diffusers,  the cafeteria needed no supplemental AC; they had all of the supply air they could use and other areas benefited also. The VAV system fan volume finally could "track" duct static pressure and slowed down. My boss was not entirely happy about losing a design job but we looked better than we otherwise would have, saving them untold thousands.
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"

    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • Tom Blackwell_2
    Tom Blackwell_2 Member Posts: 126

    I have , on more than one occasion, after being called in to see why an area is too hot in the summer, found the AHU fan running backwards. One instance, on an Army base had been that way for 15 years. Another favorite is swapped zone thermostats, and in one case found the temperature controllers for a hot/cold deck multizone unit swapped. Some of the worst are when the facility contracts with the temperature controls vendor for a lump sum service contract. In this scenario, any work that gets done costs the contractor money-so they just don't maintain anything. I fear that troubleshooting skills are going to die with my generation....
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,515
    I've found

    Tekmar sensors wired to the wrong controls, outdoor sensors hooked to indoor sensor terminals.......... the list goes on.

    You can't fix stupid!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,026
    How true

    Sometimes I find the most obvious issues with larger systems and like my original post, just need to take the TIME to follow a pipe, and invest in the proper tools to find the real problem. Troubleshooting is a skill that is quickly steam heat. All it took was chipping away a little plaster to follow a pipe, yet someone changed that pump 3 or more times and could not have given the customer any performance for what they were charged with a closed valve. Just sad....but it makes me look great!
    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • Steve Whitbeck
    Steve Whitbeck Member Posts: 669
    three years

    Went on a call for poor heat. Two other service guys from where I worked couldn't find anything wrong.

    Long story short the furnace was overheating and shutting off on limit.

    Ductwork was properly installed and of proper size.

    Couldn't get hardly any airflow.

    Pulled the blower to look inside the furnace, that is when I found that the blower wheel was installed backwards and the motor was installed on the wrong side of the blower housing.

    The furnace was installed three years before and it was the factory motor.

    The holes wern't threaded on the Right side of the blower.
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