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Problem with Hydronic Baseboard system

Emily24
Emily24 Member Posts: 7
Hi, In December we bought a house in NYC. It has hydronic baseboard heat. The heat was costing a fortune in gas and the 1st floor was cold (sometimes below 50) while the 2nd and 3rd floors were usually a bit too warm. We had five different HVAC companies come and they flushed the system and looked things over... fixed a few little things, but nothing made a difference. Anyway... I was just looking things over myself and I see that there is a short, 6 foot section at the return on the 1st floor, where the pipe is reduced from 3/4" to 1/2". I'm thinking that this could seriously increase the pressure on the 1st floor so the water can't move through easily. I attached a picture and I'm just wondering if I might be correct about this. I hope I can find an HVAC person who can solve this problem, but am looking for clues to point them in the right direction...

Thank you for any advice you may have!

Comments

  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,964
    Did you try one of the people on this site that are in NYC?
    Some very bright people.
    Regarding reducing, I would say right off the bat...it depends.

    But basic troubleshooting would be to look at the entire system, make sure it's designed correctly-room by room heat loss. It's possible there is a bad zone valve, bad/wrong circulator, bad/no balancing valves, etc.
    Maybe even point a thermal imaging camera around to see if there aren't any major air leakage.
    steve
  • RomanP
    RomanP Member Posts: 102
    edited June 2018
    Yep, heat loss, near boiler piping( undersized circulator/s), undersized baseboards, uneven loops, lack of insulation in walls, set supply temp... etc

    It could also be a complete mess of the piping by original “installer”. Regular tees on the lines that go god knows where...

    Where in NYC?
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,786
    Heating costs are mostly related to the building shell and/ or occupancy use. How well is the building insulated and sealed?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • rbeck
    rbeck Member Posts: 56
    If you have a thermostat in an area that never satisfies you will have a constant demand on the boiler. What type of boiler is there?
  • Emily24
    Emily24 Member Posts: 7
    Thanks for the comments! I do plan to use one of the companies that are recommended on this site. Probably getting someone here who really understands how the systems work will make the difference. We are located in the Bronx, Bedford Park. It is a peerless boiler and only 7 years old. The house does have insulation, but it is probably not enough in areas... We've been adding insulation.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,366
    If you could post several pics of the boiler and it's near piping, pumps, controls, etc., that would help us see what you've got. Don't get too close when taking them; we need more of a panorama.

    But I concur with what's been already said: get one of the men that's listed on the contractor locator on site to come out. There's only a limited amount of info that can be gleaned over the net.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 1,979
    Emily24 said:

    Thanks for the comments! I do plan to use one of the companies that are recommended on this site. Probably getting someone here who really understands how the systems work will make the difference. We are located in the Bronx, Bedford Park. It is a peerless boiler and only 7 years old. The house does have insulation, but it is probably not enough in areas... We've been adding insulation.

    I see an Over-sized Boiler

    along with other issues
  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 986
    Is there an air vent on that 1/2 pipe? If not, it is air clogged.
  • Emily24
    Emily24 Member Posts: 7
    definitely no air vent
  • Emily24
    Emily24 Member Posts: 7
    I'm adding some pictures of the set-up. I am so curious to know what you think, as I've been reading about hydronic baseboard and trying to understand how it works. I know that I need to just get someone really knowledgeable out here, but while we are saving up money for the next couple of months, I'd love to know what you think, because I'm just really curious about it! The house is about 2000 sq ft, so the boiler may be oversized at 140k btu.
  • Emily24
    Emily24 Member Posts: 7
    There are two circulators, which I've heard mixed things about and I'm also curious about....
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,786
    A heat load calculation, room by room is an important first step. without a load calc any information offered for sizing is a wild guess. I'd suspect an oversized boiler.

    If you want to try your hand at this, here is an ap.

    http://www.slantfin.com/slantfin-heat-loss-calculator/

    Remember Slant Fin when you consider upgrading.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,786
    And another load calc from US Boiler
    http://www.usboiler.net/heat-loss-calculator.html
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Emily24
    Emily24 Member Posts: 7
    there is not an air vent on the 1/2" pipe
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,786
    There is an air purger above the boiler, but for some reason two circulator pumps?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 3,917
    The 2 circulators is odd. Is the lower one even wired? And its an IFC (internal flow check).
    It seems like 3 split loops for one zone. How many heat thermostats in the house? Zone valves somewhere?
    Can't tell for sure, but it looks like the near boiler piping is all 3/4". That's not good.
    There is an air eliminator on the scoop, but looks ready for replacement.
    If the house is in fact one zone, and its piped one loop per floor, it can be changed to three zones.
    It might need wireless thermostats though.
  • RomanP
    RomanP Member Posts: 102
    edited June 2018
    Off the bat. Looks like supply header is 3/4” which should flow 4 gpms under normal condition which is good for 40000 btus only.
    Second, don’t see any zone valves or other circulators. Single circulator on supply, pumps the shorter loops, hence uneven heat( some rooms are hot some are cold)
    Feed and air separator need to be else where
    That’s an easy fix

    This boiler room needs a skilled/knowledgeable specialist and a sawzall.

    1. Heat loss( if the boiler is oversized, derate it)
    2. Repipe supply and return headers based on heat loss calcs
    3. Id go with 3 separate circulators and a taco box ( some guys prefer single circ and 3 zone valves)
    4. Use good air separator on supply and connect feed to it along with expansion tank
    5. Double up on safeties. ( latest code in NYC calls for 2 LWCO(one with manual reset), and 2 aquastats ( one with manual reset))
    6. Replace gas cock with approved full port ball valve
    7. Get rid of circulator on return does nothing but creates a pressure drop
    8. Enjoy your proper heating system


    I might be available, although Bronx is a bit out of the way. I’m almost every day in the city. Or choose good guys from contractors list on this site.

    Good luck!
    Emily24
  • RomanP
    RomanP Member Posts: 102
    edited June 2018
    The scary part is that 5 HVAC contractors looked at this, did things to it and couldn’t solve the problem :smiley:

    @Emily24 how many thermostats are in the house right now?
  • Emily24
    Emily24 Member Posts: 7
    Wow, thanks for all of the comments. RomanP, thanks for the list! We currently have one thermostat, on the first floor. We'd like to have the system zoned as well, as the basement is heated, although it isn't being used as living space and the attic is way too warm. So, we are likely wasting a lot of heat in those areas. Can I get your info? We aren't planning to do the work until August, but it would be great to have your contact info.
  • RomanP
    RomanP Member Posts: 102
    edited June 2018
    With thermostat located on the 1st floor( coldest floor) it definitely looks like imbalance situation. There might be few options to get this system to work right.

    I messaged you my contact info

    Thanks!
  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 986
    If there is no air vent on the 1/2pipe, it is air clogged! No heat!
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