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What's wrong with this picture?

I moved into a house with an existing radiant heating system installed. The Navien Combiner's-boiler was being used for heat and domestic hot water, but for some strange reason the domestic hot water out was piped into another gas hot water heater, and then the house. Clearly, somebody 'fixed' something.
I split the system so the boiler was just heating the floor, and everything was fine until the boiler started leaking.

In an effort to same some money and simplify the system, I decided to install a simply water heater.

Important note: I have no idea what I am doing.

The water heater is installed, and purged of air, and turned on. Hot water is going to the floor sytem, but there are some nagging concerts.

Is this supposed to be a closed system? should the cold water in be off, as in the photo? there was a control wire from the transformer for the pump to the Navien control board. 24v I think. Now it's just disconnected the recirculating pump runs continuous. Is that bad? I will put up pictures of the before and after. The heating water out is the connection on the far left of the Navien.

Also, when using a hot water heater like this, do I have to worry about air rising to the top of the tank, and then making the pump lose it's prime? What about water replenishing?

There is a lot I need to learn.

Comments

  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,419
    Stop what you are doing and call a professional.
    kcoppJUGHNERich_49oldgit
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,495
    edited December 2019
    Just connect this pipe to this pipe and that wire to that wire. Everyone will probably be ok. For liability purposes, I must be clear that sarcasm was intended
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,996
    That system is not piped close to correct.
    Please bring in a professional familiar w. your system.
    This didn't show up as an issue when the house was inspected before you bought it?
    Is this installed in a garage? Is the air for combustion being drawn in from the garage?
  • Leon82
    Leon82 Member Posts: 684
    The exhaust has a leak
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,817
    Two single sentences in your post say a lot:
    "I have no idea what I am doing"
    "I have a lot to learn"

    The best advice given by GroundUp: Call a Pro.
  • RobertsBrown
    RobertsBrown Member Posts: 7
    Ok, I do know a little bit. First of all, the exhaust does not have a leak. It's PVC all the way out, through a galvey collar pipe and rain skirt.
    As it turns out, the incoming cold water needs to be open to keep system pressure and flow correct.

    It's currently working as hoped. There is a local thermostat in the basement that controls a flow valve at the start of the distribution system for the multi-zone floor installation. I have nothing that informs the heater to start and stop, as the combiner's-boiler did, so I am guessing that temperature control needs to be set at the water heater by trial and error.

    We live far from town, and I have tried for over 2 years to get a 'professional' out here to inspect and repair the system. The closest I got was a tech from the actual company that installed the system, and he offered to change out the boiler with an identical unit for all the money. Except that that model was discontinued, and he could not explain what the components were or did. There are at least: Check valves, pressure switches, over-pressure release valves, and expansion tanks, but why they are set up the way they are set up....well, he had no answers.

    I am on my own here, and it's very cold in the basement. I have no choice but to make this work.

    This installation is in an attached garage. combustion air is garage ambient, just like the furnace on the other end of the garage. The piping feeds to a basement on floor below that has no other heat source, and relies on warm floors to create convection air movement for ventilation to the floors above that are connected by an open spiral staircase.

    It would be very helpful if someone looking at this could identify and explain the components and layout logic. In the meantime, hot stuff is flowing to the cold stuff and nothing is leaking or on fire. And the canary is still breathing.
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,996
    Start w/ the install manual.
    I am sure that will show you how they want it to be installed.
    If its not there then look online...
    DZoro
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,421
    @RobertsBrown , where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • RobertsBrown
    RobertsBrown Member Posts: 7
    Hi Steamhead,
    I am east of Seattle, WA about 2 hours. Just in the hills of Snohomish county at the base of the Cascade mountains.

    Or, as we say, "in the sticks".
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,421
    I've been to that area- beautiful country.

    C'mon, there has to be someone in that area...............
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • RobertsBrown
    RobertsBrown Member Posts: 7
    It's a boom town these days, and the best guys are doing new construction for millionaires. Not being one of those, it's hard to get much attention. It was very hard to get someone out here, and they saw (correctly) a messy installation/modification that they didn't want to deal with.
    In the end, it's only plumbing...not exactly all that hard to sort out after all.
  • Icarus
    Icarus Member Posts: 143
    What is the gas line to the Navian? It looks like sweated copper?

    I also can’t figure out the tank and the Navian? Amongst other things, this is a pretty “rustic” installation. The “quality” of the soldering, along with the rust and water stains in multiple places, along with an aversion to uni-strut is pretty striking.

    Icarus
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,705
    It looks like the gas is black iron from below. I assume that started out with a conventional boiler. Not any explinati ok n of the dhw that I can come up with that makes sense
  • RobertsBrown
    RobertsBrown Member Posts: 7
    Good point on the uni-strut. i had not considered that.
    The gas line is yellow plastic covered aluminum, which seems to be what they do out here. The lines on the right are cold in and domestic potable hot out. The next two over are heating out and return. It is weird. Homeowners to strange things for strange reasons.
    This summer I will likely strip this wall and relocate this to the interior wall that is 30' closer to the heating loop. Hey, I didn't do this, I just bought it. Now it's up to me to sanitize and economize.
  • DZoro
    DZoro Member Posts: 1,048
    @kcopp gave you good advise.
    Installers and home owners alike MUST read and follow to a tee the owners manual. Hey they even have pictures, so grab the manual, pic out a picture that suits your needs best and build from there!
    IMHO this really should be done via a professional, but if you can follow directions, then you at least have a chance to get it done.
    Everything you currently have is just parts to re-use during a re-build.
    I can't tell what model the Navien is.
    Use the water heater to heat your domestic hot water only.
    Use the Navien to heat the radiant only.
    If the Navien is a true domestic and radiant model, once again follow the manual and proceed with caution.
    D
  • Icarus
    Icarus Member Posts: 143
    I know about the gas line flex...it is what it is connected to. In the picture it looks like copper, but may be black iron? (Which would be proper for WA code.). What I can’t figure out is why in one picture I see a water tank, and in the other I see a car?
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,817
    It is before and after.
    The yellow is CSST gas pipe.

    He should move the car out and present a picture showing all the piping on the wall, IMO.
  • Icarus
    Icarus Member Posts: 143
    After re reading the OP I now understand...you have taken out the Navian. Still a basket of snakes.... I assume that you are not mixing the “boiler “ (radiant) water with the domestic water? That is a real no-no. Proper back flow protection is a must. Not being able to see the entire plumbing layout, I see no b ack flow valving.

    Icarus
  • RobertsBrown
    RobertsBrown Member Posts: 7
    Sorry about the confusion. The Navien is dead and gone, the other picture is the 'after' photo. The water tank is for heating only. The domestic water supply is completely separate.
    The gas pipe is black iron coming in, per code, with condensate drops and etc.
    I will get some better pictures to put up.
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,419
    So you now have two tank water heaters- one serving the radiant and one serving the domestic water? Right? I think I misunderstood the original post, sorry about that. A tank water heater can run radiant heat if it needs to, although it's quite inefficient and doesn't meet code if applicable. You have no connection between the domestic water and radiant tank hopefully, or at least a backflow preventer if you do.
  • JackW
    JackW Member Posts: 197
    @RobertsBrown If you are looking to redo your closed system look at how I did mine, might give you some ideas. It's under JackW "GPM, Is this going to be a problem". I don't know how big your system is, mine is a two zone system. Please keep in mind this is a "closed" system only. Good luck.