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taco zone relay constant hum sound

someone
someone Member Posts: 12
I had an oil boiler installed n my being-built home. It came with a "taco" brand zone relay box. This has a constant electrical hum sound.



We have the same one in our current house and it also hums all the time. I had an electrician look at it and he wasn't able to make the hum go away.



I am going to have my plumber switch it out for a non humming one. I am Extremely noise sensitive and like quiet and this kind of sound drives me nuts,

What are some other brands of zone relay boxes, what is their actual name (zone relay boxes?), and where can I find another one?

My heating contractor who installed it said they don't have any other kind that he knows of, but someone said there are other kinds.



also how do I know if it will hum or not and can I do anything to stop the hum on the one I have?

Comments

  • Harvey Ramer
    Harvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,217
    A Hummdinger

    The hum most likely comes from the transformer inside the zone control. The hum could be cause by several different things.

    Low input voltage

    Overload on the output

    Failing or weak insulation on the coil windings in the transformer



    Transformers are rated in VA (volt amps) For instance a 40va 24volt transformer will have a 1.67 amp capacity. A Taco Heat Motor zone valve uses .9 amps.



    A standard Taco Zone controller uses a 40VA transformer up to the 4-zone module then they switch to an 80VA.



    I'm not sure why that is?



    Harvey 

  • someone
    someone Member Posts: 12
    l

    Thank you Harvey. Sorry I don't quite get it-- is it something I can make go away and if so is it an electrician or a plumber to do it, and what would they do? thank you
  • Harvey Ramer
    Harvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,217
    New one.

    Best bet is to exchange it. But you have to make sure the one you get is properly sized.



    How many zone valves do you have and what kind are they? If you don't know take a picture. As a matter of fact take a couple. We like looking at boiler pictures.



    Harvey

  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Hummers:

    I've seen very few Taco zone valve controller boxes that didn't hum. The best solution for eliminating the hum (or at least improving it) was to put some round rubber vibration dampers on the screws that mount it. I use a big fat rubber washer on the back to the wood framing and a tapered faucet washer with a small washer to isolate the screw from the metal of the controller base.

    I think that the transformer in a Taco 4-zone controller is a 60 VA transformer. A 40 VA transformer will only open 3 valves at one time. If you add one more on a 40 VA transformer, three will open at one time, and whatever one calls after whichever the first 3 will not open until one of the first three closes.

    Transformers hum. Stand under a power pole  with transformers mounted on them.
  • Harvey Ramer
    Harvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,217
    Ice

    They use a 40VA up to 4 zones and then switch to 80VA. I just checked and the new one are the same way.



    I have had some real hummers and some that didn't make a sound. It usually had to do with the quality of the transformer windings and insulation or low voltage or overloading the outputs. I'm not talking Taco specific.



    Harvey

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,851
    In fact, sad to say,

    all transformers hum.  So do all other devices with windings (for the musically inclined, it's a B natural in the USA and Canada).  Some are more audible than others -- even with supposedly identical devices.



    Anti-vibration mounts as icesailor suggests can help.  Other than that, if you are very sensitive to the hum the only solution is to keep changing out units until you find the quietest one.  Which is NOT something I would do under warranty, as it is not a fault.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Transformers & Wax Motor Valves:

    """ They use a 40VA up to 4 zones and then switch to 80VA. I just checked and the new one are the same way. """

     

    Interesting they say and do that. For as long as I installed Taco wax motor zone valves, they always say on the box that you can't use more than 3 valves on a 40 VA transformers. They used to offer a 60 VA transformer for 4 valves. They stopped listing it. We always used at least two for a 4 or more valve installation.

    I've always said that one of the reasons they came out with the multi zone valve controllers was the difficulty most electricians had in wiring the valves.



    I'm not an electro-weenie. I know that a 40 VA transformer wouldn't operate 4 valves at the same time. Those electro-weenies must have figured out a way to make it work.
  • Harvey Ramer
    Harvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,217
    Not sure Ice

    I don't know why they use the 40VA. Wilo does the same thing. I'm sure the electro-weenies have it all figured out.



    I'm not an electro-weenie either. Every time I think I know a little of something about it, I promptly get put in my place. Haha So it goes.



    Harvey

  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,665
    sad to say, all transformers hum.

    They do not have to hum. But when they are built to sell for low prices, they will.

    Most cheap transformers designed to run at power line frequencies are copper coils around a steel core. The core is made up of laminations of stamped steel sheets.These sheets are lacquered so as to be electrically isolated from one another. If the right grade of steel is used, their magnetostrictive properties are very small and they produce little or no noise. Magnetostriction is the name for a material changing size in the presence of a magnetic field. So if they pick the best grade of steel, there should be next to no hum.



    I have a stereo power amplifier that went another way. Instead of using the laminated steel sheets, they used a ferrite magnetic core. It is pretty easy to use the right composition of ferrite practically eliminate magnetostriction, and thus eliminate the hum. But winding a ferrite core is more labor intensive (read: costly) than pushing in the steel laminations. So you will never get a quiet transformer. But you could if there were sufficient demand to pay for it.
  • someone
    someone Member Posts: 12
    l

    Thanks for all the helpful responses so far. I have to say I am not knowledgeable at all about these things and just had to google transformer to even know what that is.



    To that end- all I know about the taco is that I think it has something to do with the two heating zones in the house. (there are two now and there may be three if we finish the basement).



    Is the only reason the taco is there is to do something about the zones? If I only had one heating zone would it not need that?



    ICesaoilr- I am glad there is a concrete suggestion about something I could do- I can pass that along. Would it be an electrician who would do that thing you suggested to makeit quieter? how much quieter will it be?



    Is the transformer part of the thing and something tat could be switched out for a quieter one? If so how would I go about that? thanks

    I will also be asking another post here about soundproofing my boiler room.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,851
    Well, Jean

    you are right -- in the extreme, a transformer (or relay) with a ferrite closed circuit core designed for no magnetostriction and ribbon wound to prevent any movement of the coils won't hum.  Quite true. 



    My stereo amp does not have such a transformer, sadly, and if I lean down over it -- three inches away -- and everything else is quiet I can hear the hum.



    But I don't have the money to pay for a better one...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,665
    But I don't have the money to pay for a better one...

    The funny thing about that toroidal ferrite core transformer in my stereo amplifier is that they make a big deal at how much better sound it delivers because of that transformer.



    But that fancy transformer is the power transformer, not in the output (it is not a vacuum tube amplifier and does not require an output transformer for each channel). It very probably has much less leakage of magnetic flux, and may well not hum. But other than that, I do not see why they make such a big point of it.



    Now I do not know what kind of transformer Taco uses in its relay boxen, but it does not look like a toroidal ferrite core one. But would the majority of customers pay the extra cost of a ferrite core transformer? I very much doubt it.
  • Mechanic's stethoscope

    If you can get a cheap one of these (harbor freight?), you could try to find the source of the most objectionable part of the noise, and maybe we can think of a workaround.

    Just touch the rod to all parts of the boiler while it is running and see if you recognize a certain vibration as one which carries into the living space up stairs

    There are many posts here about noise, so you are not the only one who wants quiet enjoyment.--NBC
  • MikeG
    MikeG Member Posts: 162
    Relocate the relay

    Is it possible to relocate the Taco relay to a different location to isolate the noise? Is there a remote location where the noise is not noticeable.  It should be just a matter of extending wiring.  If everything is finished that adds complexity obviously.  Then mount it as Ice suggested.  I have the six zone Taco relay for circulators.  I don't really detect any hum, but then again mine is in a separate mechanical room. Just a thought. 
  • Joe Mattiello
    Joe Mattiello Member Posts: 605
    Taco control

    Good morning

    I can tell you quickly how to eliminate the noisy transformer; I will replace it with a new one under the factory warranty.  I am sorry about the inconvenience, and totally understand about your need for quiet.  This sort of thing is not normal, but certainly possible.  By you expressing yourself, enables the manufacturer to prevent what happened to you, to happen to someone else.

    If you provide a part number, which is located on the Green cover of the relay, I will send out a replacement transformer/s.   Approximately 1 year ago, we changed vendors, because the transformers were not within the noise tolerance dictated by engineering.  I am not sure which product you have, so I’m trying to be more general.   

    Please give me a call at 401-942-8000, and I'll take care of it for you.  I am confident you will be satisfied with the replacement transformer. 
    Joe Mattiello
    N. E. Regional Manger, Commercial Products
    Taco Comfort Solutions
    Brenda_2
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    6 zone circulator relays:

    6 zone circulators don't require the VA Amps "Nuts" that are required to open 6 wax motor zone valves. But require the largest VA transformers to operate the largest potential load.
  • Harvey Ramer
    Harvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,217
    Joe

    That was very good of you!

    It just goes to show what a good company Taco is and how they care about their customers.



    Harvey

  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,470
    Choices

    We see complaints here, all the time. One of the only manufacturers that will always respond to a complaint, and go "above and beyond" to make it right, and do the right thing, is Taco. Joe, you and your company are to be commended. Here's to a U.S. manufacturer that cares!
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,269
    Amen.

    Joe always makes me smile. 
    Retired and loving it.
  • someone
    someone Member Posts: 12
    l

    Thank you. I am new to this forum and not sure of the protocol in responding to Joe- Thank you Joe for offering to replace the transformer. I will speak to my plumber about what you have said.



    If others say there will be a constant hum no matter what because of the nature of the transformer, what can I expect will be different with the replacement part?

    Also, would it be done by a plumber or electrician?

    thank you
  • Harvey Ramer
    Harvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,217
    Someone

    Joe works for Taco, the company that made your zone control.



    Absolutely give him a call on the number he provided. He will let you know exactly what to do.



    He is a good man.





    Harvey

  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,470
    someone

    Joe is from Taco, the manufacturer of the relay. If he says you will not have a problem with the replacement, trust him, and give him a call.
  • someone
    someone Member Posts: 12
    l

    Okay that sounds good. Thank you, Joe. I or my plumber will contact you.
  • Nik
    Nik Member Posts: 3
    I was delighted to find this thread as I had the same issue. The bedroom that shares a wall with the boiler room is virtually unusable because of the constant humming of the controller transformers.

    Unfortunately, I found Taco technical support to be terrible and totally unsympathetic. The only fact the rep seemed to care about was the date code so that he could say the product was no longer under warranty. No acknowledgement of the issue of a bad lot or how to best address the noise.

    The best I got was a part number for the transformer and a phone number where I could call to find out where to buy it. He couldn't even give me a cost for the item.

    I left Joe a voicemail but never got a return phone call.

    I have never dealt with Taco before but my limited experience is not consistent with what others have commented about the quality of the company support.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,190
    A decade ago you could go down to radio shack and buy a 2A 24vac transformer for under $10 and have someone install it for you - problem solved. That option is gone now, you are at the mercy of folks who will do anything to save a nickle - customer be damned.

    BTW I very much doubt anybody is using a ferrite core for a power supply UNLESS is is in a class D amplifier. Some folks are using tapewound toroids which use silcon stell instead of laminations.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Brenda_2
    Brenda_2 Member Posts: 4

    Taco control

    Good morning

    I can tell you quickly how to eliminate the noisy transformer; I will replace it with a new one under the factory warranty.  I am sorry about the inconvenience, and totally understand about your need for quiet.  This sort of thing is not normal, but certainly possible.  By you expressing yourself, enables the manufacturer to prevent what happened to you, to happen to someone else.

    If you provide a part number, which is located on the Green cover of the relay, I will send out a replacement transformer/s.   Approximately 1 year ago, we changed vendors, because the transformers were not within the noise tolerance dictated by engineering.  I am not sure which product you have, so I’m trying to be more general.   

    Please give me a call at 401-942-8000, and I'll take care of it for you.  I am confident you will be satisfied with the replacement transformer. 

    Taco control

    Good morning

    I can tell you quickly how to eliminate the noisy transformer; I will replace it with a new one under the factory warranty.  I am sorry about the inconvenience, and totally understand about your need for quiet.  This sort of thing is not normal, but certainly possible.  By you expressing yourself, enables the manufacturer to prevent what happened to you, to happen to someone else.

    If you provide a part number, which is located on the Green cover of the relay, I will send out a replacement transformer/s.   Approximately 1 year ago, we changed vendors, because the transformers were not within the noise tolerance dictated by engineering.  I am not sure which product you have, so I’m trying to be more general.   

    Please give me a call at 401-942-8000, and I'll take care of it for you.  I am confident you will be satisfied with the replacement transformer. 

  • Brenda_2
    Brenda_2 Member Posts: 4
    Lot's of great info here... and I thought I was crazy to google Taco control Box humming! I just had a new boiler installed and am a little annoyed with the control box humming! I Might try Joe Mattiello's # to see if he can help!
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