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Mystery Solved WW

Wayco Wayne_2
Wayco Wayne_2 Member Posts: 2,476
I have had a recurring problem with my own heat. I installed a Munchkin with a buffer tank. It serves a snow melt, a hydro coil and several radiant floors. Almost every night for several weeks I have been awakened by cold air blowing down on my head while I lay in bed. I put on a robe and drag myself downstairs where the same thing happened every time. I go down in the basement and walk into the mechanical room. I can hear the blower going and I grab the pipe going to the heating coil in the duct work. It's always cold. I then walk across the room to check the boiler and as I arrive in front of it, I hear a relay click from the controls and the boiler fires up and starts working. I sit and watch as the system works perfectly. I then go back to bed and in the morning it is blowing cold again. I go down and the same thing happens. It's almost as if the boiler sees me and says, "uh oh, Wayne's here we better get to work," and then proceeds to work perfectly. I've checked and rechecked everything in my wiring and controls, and have been stymied. Last night came the break through. Believe it or not I brought a flashlight to bed and when the heat blew cold again, I snuck downstairs using the flashlight. I'm glad no one was around to see me sneaking up on my boiler in the dark because they might have called the men from the Funny Farm. But it worked. I snuck into the boiler room and felt the pipe. It was, of course cold again. I walked over to the boiler and the controls were dead. No power to them. The the realization struck me like a hot kiss at the end of a wet fist. The power to the controls to my boiler were somehow wired into my basement lights switch. Every night when I chased my kids to bed and turned off the lights I was turning off my boiler controls. When I came downstairs and turned on the lights to check the heat, the time delays of the controls were done processing, it was just enough time for me to walk down the steps and into the boiler room and walk up to the boiler, where it would click and seemingly say hello by turning on right in front of me. I'm quite ammused. I'm a trained professional I swear to God. I really am. :P WW

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  • Mark Eatherton1
    Mark Eatherton1 Member Posts: 2,542
    Now THAT'S what I call

    Total Energy Management...

    Are you the kind of person that tries opening the refrigerator door real slooow to see if the light stays on inside when the doors closed? I did as a kid. Didn't take me long to catch on.

    I had a customer once who complained that her heating system didn't work at night. When I'd get there everything would be fine. This went on for quite some time. Finally, when she called me at home and complained, I told her not to touch ANYTHING. I showed up and found a quartz halogen pole lamp parked in front of and below the thermostat. When I asked her about it, she said she moved it away everytime I came to check the system so I could get to the thermostat without interference...

    Then there was the lady with the computer screen directly below her thermostat. System worked great until she turned her PC on...

    Good Sleuthing Wayne, ya gotta be sneaky with them there Mucnhkins. They KNOW what you're thinking...

  • Floyd_7
    Floyd_7 Member Posts: 136
    Your a real MAN!!!!!


    Takes some pretty broad shoudlers to admit to somethng like that!!!! Thanks for being so honest, though.... makes us all realize that we are just humans in a imperfect world and that we all have those brain farts and do stupid stuff sometimes....

    Can you imagine if that was someone elses house and one of your employee's had done that causing maybe how many trips to figger it out???

    Thanks for sharing..

  • Boiler Guy
    Boiler Guy Member Posts: 585
    The realy BIG ???

    So .... did you actually figure out HOW you made that minor miscalculation? Probably talking to the kids while working, huh. Are you a successful multi-tasker? Way to go Boiler Sleuth.
  • Jon_2
    Jon_2 Member Posts: 109
    Same same

    Had a customer in one of my brother's rentals who was all ways complaining about the heat. When I got there, 30 mile drive, they had the stat to 60 on the gravity furnace with the propeller fan upgrade. Checked everything, everything was old but still worked well. They called me back there at least 5 times. Finally told my brother(lives down the street) to go there as soon they call me about no heat and make sure they don't touch anything. He got there within a minute and made sure they did not touch anything. I got there 30 minutes later, the stat was set at 50 degrees and the furnace ductwork was just barely warm. The problem was that the stat was 5 ft away from the huge floor register with a sectioned open room divider between the register and it. Asked them if the stat was all ways set at 50 degrees, Yes, was the answer. Hell, no wonder the fan never ran. The furnace fired up and gravity fed up the 24" duct to the register, fan would start and stat felt the heat and shut down. Strange people, makes 90 grand a year and wife at home with 2 rugrats and she keeps the stat at 50 degrees. Moved the thermostat 20 ft. away in a hallway. Explained why the fan did not run and the move of the stat will fix the problem. Felt sorry for those poor kids.....
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,352

    Your not the only one. I've been in my house 19 years and just realized all 8 of my venturi tees are installed backwards.

    I had a commercial job once with a Power Flame gas/oil burner. They had flame failures all the time. At that time we were the Power Flame reps and couldn't keep thing running. It was embarrassing. I sent my best guy on it and he went through the burner several times. Ran it on Gas- oil it did didn't matter it locked out all the time. Finally I went down and spent most of a day on it and couldn't find anything (didn't think I would my best guy was on it). We even told them not to touch it-don't reset it call us. We would go in hook up meters etc reset ran like a clock.

    I went there early one morning and pulled up a chair and sat in the boiler room. Thermostat pulls in an RA89A relay to start the burner.

    Finally while sitting there I herd the boiler start-stop and then go through a normal startup Something was making the RA89A chatter or pull in and out. I went upstairs and looked at the stat. It was mounted on a wall next to the ladies room. Whenever a bunch of them went in and out the slamming door would make the mecury stat do the hoochie coochie and chatter the relay sometimes causing the burner to lock out. Moved the stat and never went back.

    We never found it on a no heat call because when we got there the building was cold. The mecury was tipped enough so that you could slam the door all day and not have a problem.

    A lesson to all of us. You do have to "sneek" up on them to find the problem sometimes.

  • jeff_51
    jeff_51 Member Posts: 545
    had one like that

    back about twenty yrs ago when we were just starting to get the houses real tight. Had a cust who lived out of town and we had done a summer home for him. The alarm kept going off on low temp. I would get there and the furnace would be running fine. Yes the house was cold but system running. We would go through everything and all would be fine. This happened several times (I even got arrested once by the sheriff when we set off the alarm. Anyhow, after several trips (job was a good 30 min away) we finally pulled up a bucket and just sat and watched, Sure enough as many have prolly surmized, we hadn't run in makeup air ( wasn't required yet in those days) and we were using up all the 02, the burner would get nice and fuzzy and whallaa. when we came in the door, of course we reintroduced 02 into the house, Our mindset was a little differant in those days, especially since most of the houses we were working on were pre wwII and back to the 1850's. Too tight was NEVER a problem in those houses.
  • Wayco Wayne_2
    Wayco Wayne_2 Member Posts: 2,476
    Good stories all

    Thanks for sharing. I could write a book on things like this that I've seen, though seldom in my own house. One of my favorite stories was shared by someone on The Wall several years back. It was an A/C system on a boat that kept having compressor failures. Long story short, the culprit was a mercury bulb thermostat. Think about it. What happens to the sytem when the boat leaves port and hits some waves. On/off/on/off/on/off. Still makes me laugh. WW

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  • Boiler Guy
    Boiler Guy Member Posts: 585
    How about

    a $125 24VAC programmable stat in a $250K Motorhome. The owner was TOTALLY convinced by Home Desparados he could save money; they just couldn't figure out why his system would only start when he "tapped" the thermostat. AC & DC voltage are NOT interchangable. DOH
  • Ed Goldner, NJ
    Ed Goldner, NJ Member Posts: 25
    lonely boiler

    Good Story. They ought to have a " Things not to do Wall" I think almost everyone could post a " don't attempt this yourself...it takes a trained professional" story.
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