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Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

Posted by wolfnj70 (My Page) on
Fri, Dec 31, 10 at 8:09

We've been days without heat so we really need help. We have oil and we get hot water so the water lines can't be frozen, but possibly the heat pipes are? We have thermostats upstairs and down and don't get heat on either floor. There's a Taco SR501 switching relay with power on and zone1 red. I threw the main red switch off and back on and it didn't help. It's making a sound like it's straining. We have pex pipes and nothing is insulated. The entire system is barely 3 years old. All I want to do is get the baseboard radiators to heat up. Do you think bleeding the furnace might help? Everything around the furnace is Taco brand.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

Does your oil furnace supply the hot water for the house? Is the oil burner firing? If you the answer is yes, then perhaps the circulator pump is not operating. This may be the straining sound you are hearing. It does not sound like bleeding the system is going to solve the issue.

No one is going to be able to diagnosis what is happening on this forum. Your best option is to call the installation contractor ASAP.


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

If you do have hot water, made by the boiler, we know that your aquastat and oil system is working. The water supply line for that hot water is not the same as the supply lines that go to the zones.

Since your house is 3 years old, I'll assume that the lines were properly laid and insulated.

Turn up the thermostat and put your ear tight against the circulator. You should hear it turning. You should feel hot water at least UP TO the circulator. unless it's on the return side. Follow the pipe out of the top of the boiler and see how far the hot water goes. It may be stopping at a device in the system and then I would suspect that device or whatever controls it.

Otherwise, you may have developed an air pocket, not too likely, that must be bled out.

Suspects are the aquastat, zone controller, bad thermostat, or even low pressure. You need at least 13# of pressure to circulate. Sometimes the water make-up valve is turned off and the boiler loses pressure. Bringing the pressure up will cause circulation again.


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

Thank you both for your swift replies. Baymee - it is safe to assume the lines were properly laid, but definitely not insulated. Our saving grace is that they are pex.

The home was built in 1880 but remodeled ("flipped") by a realtor who took every shortcut. We had a similar problem last winter albiet brief, which resolved itself. We assumed we had a freeze/block in the PEX line and thawed on its own. We should have learned a lesson and wrapped the pipes over the summer, but...didn't.

I don't remember it making the straining noises between firings that it is this year, but it may have been.
I think we may have another blockage in the PEX, we just can't find it. Some of the lines run very close to the outer edges of the house and we can't reach them. Odds are, that's where the issues are. (Isn't it always?)

Without insulated pipes, is it within reason this could be the problem again? Hubby knows how to bleed the furnace when we run out of oil but not how to bleed out air pockets. We have a guy coming up over the weekend who is going to help us fix it. I'm just impatient and cold and wanted to try to resolve it myself.

Other than manually feeling around for cold pipes, there is no trick to finding blockages like this, is there?


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

The weather in PA has greatly moderated in the last few days, so I don't suspect any frozen PEX lines.

Think of your heating loops as one big circle with a hose bib at the end of the loop before it enters back into the boiler. If I can do it, I always hook a garden hose to the hose bib and put the other end of the hose above the highest baseboard, like up in the gutter or out the window.

You can either use another hose and add water at the boiler drain valve, keeping it under 30# or use the water make-up override lever and force water out of the boiler, through the loop, and upward above the highest radiator. This forces all air out of the loop. Do each loop.

First of all, though, check the boiler pressure before doing anything. You may only need to bring the water up to 13# to solve this problem.


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

wolf

I am sorry for your troubles. wish I could help.

But I do not understand why a homeowner would be without heat for days and wait till NY's eve and a weekend to boot to try to get problem resolved from an internet forum. I would have been on the phone to installer way before now.

IMO


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

tigerdunes:
Here's why. My 41 y/o husband had a heart attack on 7/11/10. Long story short, he ended up losing his job on 10/29/10. I've been the sole provider for 2 months leading into the holidays and cold months. I'm just trying to hold onto my home, let alone be able to afford a contractor or repairman.

We have 8 kids ranging from 6 - 23 and have always used alternative heating when they are here (i.e. kerosene heaters on both ends of the first floor and oil filled electric radiators in the bedrooms) to keep the house warm, to spare our oil. (Trust me, the kids aren't ever cold). We would only turn the heat on in bursts as needed.

Being hubby is on blood thinners, he gets super cold, so bad it's painful. And this last time when we decided to turn it on, BAM, nothing happened. So yes, we've suffered like that bundled up like eskimos seeing our breath because we are broke. Reaching out on an internet forum was an act of desperation. And not that I expected help on NY Eve and a weekend, but I got help and I'm grateful to those who gave it.

I didn't expect to wake up today to criticism. I hope you took the time to critique everyone who asked for any kind of help yesterday and didn't just pick on me. You did help - You helped me feel horrible. "IMO". Happy New Year.


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

wolf

I don't think I was picking on you and am sorry for your circumstances, husband's health issues, and the problem with your heating system.

homeowners come on this forum asking for advice/opinions. many don't like what they hear.

but unless you are mechanically inclined and have some basic experience in HVAC and a system like yours, it is unlikely you can solve your problem on your own. you might check wiring in and around your system for anything loose.

my previous reply was not intended as criticism or being mean spirited.

hope you get your system back to running soon.

Good Luck!
IMO


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

I hope your husband praises God for a wife like you.

Did you check the boiler pressure?


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

baymee - Oh he does, trust me.
The PSI on the pressure gauge reads like 3#. That's both when it's quiet and when it's firing. The Zone 1 light went off and the straining noise stopped. I'm both happy and nervous about that. The power light is still on.
I have all the manuals out and we have a friend coming up tomorrow morning to make it work. I'm hopeful...
Thank you again for taking time during a holiday weekend to respond. It was warmer outside today than in. We joked we should have opened the windows. I'll keep you posted.

~Wendy


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

3 pounds is not enough. Raise it to 13 and maybe your problem will be solved. Look for a manual valve that would feed house cold water to one of the boiler lines. If you have auto feed, it's broken.

If you have a manual valve, just slightly crack it till the boiler reads 13# and then shut it off. If the valve seems defective, get a pro in there, don't move it.


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

baymee:

Did you ever hear the expression, "the dog did it"?
Well...I can only say that I'm super glad I came to the forum instead of calling in a contractor. As it happens, it seems our bumbling black lab who gets bored in the basement turned the water valve completely off. This valve feeds into an auto feed which shuts off at 15#. It wasn't getting anything. The whole system was empty, not frozen.

We slowly turned the valve back on and could hear the water refilling the entire system, and lo, the pressure began to rise, and the auto valve stopped at 15# just as it's designed to. And as if by magic, WE HAVE HEAT.

I think we're lucky we didn't suffer any damage i.e. burnouts with all that straining it seemed to be doing. We'll have to find a way to ensure that valve can't be moved by the dog, but at least we know now how this stuff all works.

You saved me a huge amount of potential embarrassment and money. If I could, I'd give you a big hug. Sometimes, it's just something simple. :o) All the best!!!!!

Wendy


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

Simple stuff first.


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

Glad to hear that you have heat, but now that you've solved one problem, you've uncovered another.

A system should not leak so much water that it is completely empty. Actually a system shouldn't leak any water at all. I've had the water fill valve shut off on my hot water boiler for the past 5+ years and have never had to add any water to the system.

By continually adding fresh oxygenated water to your system, you run the risk of rusting out the internals of the equipment leading to an early failure. Also there could be water damage in the area wherever all this water is leaking.

So, try to locate the leak and have it fixed. It will save headaches down the road.

(This is the reason I keep my auto fill valve closed. If my system ever develops a leak, I'll see the drop in pressure and know something's wrong. If the system keeps filling itself automatically, you'll never know there's a problem.)


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RE: Very cold in Pa, have hot water but no heat?

All very true.

It's unlikely the system was empty. It takes about a cup of water loss to bring the system down to zero pounds, or 3# as she said. It wasn't circulating for a few days, so I'm thinking small loss of water, but enough to stop circulation.

Still, it needs to be looked at.


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