Help...Anyone know anything about boilers?

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by maplesky7, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. maplesky7

    maplesky7 Flock Mistress

    Jun 14, 2008
    N. IL.
    I really have some time with my boiler each year.

    I have an old house with a new addition. There's one room upstairs on the north west corner in particular that always has problems...poor insulation....but I have opened the crawl spaces, as instructed to allow heat in, and I have set up a small radiator to heat the space as well.

    Currently I have 3 controls, 1 continual loop--so no zones, each motor seems to be running. The flame is mostly blue (did i hear that is bad and my boiler is on it's way out?) I have the controls set at 70* upstairs is showing 66*, north downstairs is showing 67*, and south side is showing 54*.

    Last year I invested filling my pipes with the antifreeze agent. I checked lines...don't seem to notice any air.

    The downstairs south side has a few lines that are cold. I cranked one therm. way up to see the boiler kick on and it did after a few minutes.

    I know I was told to put straw around my outside of my house, I have yet to do that this year. Since I have no natural barriers to the winds coming from the west. And it was to drop to 8* tonight outside.

    I have 2 new motors last year out of the 3 for the pumps.

    The pressure holds at what I thought I remembered good....something under 20? but more than 15? I was told my boiler is a big boiler for the house even though the house is big. It has long runs.

    I had 2 frozen pipes last year in the corner upstairs room and I'd like to prevent that this year. I was told to pile in the insulation R-19. And maybe even get that electrical tape where I can plug in that certain section when I know the temp is going to drop down to 0*.

    My husband is serving in Iraq.

    I have a service plan with my gas co. I pay a little extra a month to buy their service last year they were out here SO many times...bleeding air, checking pumps... I will call them in a couple of hours so it will be on the normal schedule and not the extra money for off hour emergency calls. As long as my bill is under $300 per each call....I don't get charges any extra. And I have had to call up to 2x in one day, so it's really been a life saver. Praise God.

    I am planning to call the contractor from church to ask him to help with that corner room and a farmer to help deliver some straw.

    The other thing is...the old addition has the cast iron big wide pipes and then goes from that to smaller copper pipes in the new addition. I was told that is sometimes problematic.

    Any suggestions?

    I have NO real spending cash. And I've got 2 little girls to keep warm. I need my heat.

  2. HennysMom

    HennysMom Keeper of the Tiara

    ouch - old boilers can be problematic as you said, I feel for you.

    I just watched a show about this on DIY and This Old House - and it had to do with the retrofitting of the old pipes (large) onto newer smaller copper pipes. Maybe on the site it will tell you something ?

    I would agree to wrap the pipes with foam pipe insulation, we have all of ours wrapped and they are PVC pipes but they used to be copper before they changed them. It does help them from freezing. I'd also use the shrink wrap plastic on your windows if you dont have double insulated pane windows - for less than $7.00 you can insulate 2 large windows and it saves alot in your heating loss. If you dont have insulation under your home, you can go get the foil/bubble wrap insulation (online is the cheapest price...i need to find the site, for less than 300.00 you can do 700 sqft) as long as you have a 1/4 in. air gap, it will do the same insulating rating as R21 *doubled*, for attic, but the cost is MUCH less than fiberglass.

    Let me see if I can find the site for you.

    ETA: Here you go:

    is what we plan on using under our house and in the attic and garage. Its less costly than fiberglass thats wrapped in plastic and easier to install for us.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2008
  3. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

    Apr 6, 2007
    Heat the cold room with a 1500 watt electric radiator heater. It sounds
    like you have a combination of things causing your problem.
    It will cost a little more in electricity but should help in the meanwhile.

    Going from small diameter copper pipes from large cast iron reduces the
    flow rate and will reduce heating the the cold room.

    You should have a blue flame in the boiler.

    It sounds to me like insulation, new radiators, and flow regulators on all
    three lines to balance the flow is needed.

    Oh, and put on a sweater. [​IMG]
  4. maplesky7

    maplesky7 Flock Mistress

    Jun 14, 2008
    N. IL.
    I put on a mickey mouse zippered hoodie.

    Ok, so now the south end downstairs is at 56*.

    Service guys coming at 2-6 pm.

    Contractor from church going to come over and look at that upstairs room. Though with that space's nice and toasty. Heats running upstairs. I can't run two space heaters upstairs without tripping the it is nice for once that the upstairs is running warm....although it's not up to set temp. because that's where our bedrooms are.

    The north end, newer addition is running but not up to set temp.

    The south end has several cold lines....trying to figure out where to put my other space heater for maximum efficiency. Thinking there has to be a line downstairs that is frozen but where? And then if I put it in the room I think it may be in...I don't want it to get warm and make the therm. not call for heat...but I'm gonna go ahead and plug it in along that outside wall where I think it's froze anyway.

    Have an old farmer man coming later today to put straw in front of the house.

    Well, my kids are no longer puking but I feel like I could today. Isn't it all just lovely?

    If we finish decorating our Christmas tree while we wait for think it'll make us merrier?


    oh yeah...questions for you two:

    hennysmom....this insulation? What do you mean do I get it under the slab? Is that what you are saying.

    OH and my house is a 1 1/2 cape cod it has slanted roof. The slant part where the pipes run seem to be inaddequetly insulated as well as the house itself....I can feel with a hard wind, air coming through my sockets.

    and they do pvc pipe now for boilers? not metal? I didn't know that.

    This boiler was put in in the 80's.

    PC....what do you mean I need new radiators? I have 2 of the short tall the old section I have the ? stone/masonary kind along the walls and in the new addition I have the metal ones along the wall. Or are those baseboards? No, they are radiators, right? The pipe is behind them...

    and what's a flow regulator?

    and for ? I forget my sq. footage....close to 3000 I think...or was that including the garage and woodshop? i looking at a fairly hefty price tag to do what you say?
  5. HennysMom

    HennysMom Keeper of the Tiara

    No, sorry - I was referring to MY pipes being PVC and that I wrap them to keep them from freezing - but prior to having PVC pipes, ours were copper as well. They cant do PVC pipes for a boiler, no they'd melt [​IMG] But you can still wrap all your pipes, that'd be smart in the areas that are colder.

    As for the slab - you have no crawl space at all? I wasnt aware of what kind of house you were in - but if you have any type of access that you can get underneath your house, yes, you can put this insulation up underneath of it and it helps with heating and cooling. Also with the attic area. If you look at the website I gave you, it'll show you how it works. If you feel wind coming in from the sockets (I'm guessing you're talking about where you plug things in..right?) you can purchase little foam insulation cut outs that are designed to go RIGHT BEHIND them - already cut out - and they just pop right in [​IMG] just screw the plate right on top of it and there ya go! Its better than using the spray foam insulation because that way if there's an issue down the road you dont have to cut thru the foam to get to wiring.
  6. maplesky7

    maplesky7 Flock Mistress

    Jun 14, 2008
    N. IL.
    oh cool...I didn't know about the inserts.

    Good thing i only did that spray stuff to one plugger inner.

    That's my technical term...plugger inner. crawl space for me...slab.

    I think most of my pipes are wrapped? Some may have to be re-wrapped?? I don't many workers in and out last year...I have no idea.

    Then between 2 guys...that were supposed to help because they know my one followed through. When I called the church guy...he was like, oh geez, I thought you were getting someone over the summer for that? But I'll see what I can do. WERE my someone. Oh well...just deal, huh?

    holding at 56*

    I could always bring my 20 chickens in and we could all huddle together.

    ah forget it...I don't have any chicken diapers.

  7. maplesky7

    maplesky7 Flock Mistress

    Jun 14, 2008
    N. IL.
    Contractor came and took a broom and crammed insulation in the one corner where you could see a small space by the sophet. And essentially said...this old house has sucky insulation...ok, my words and not his. Without gutting her down....not much one can do.

    But just like henny's mom said about checking for This old House episodes for ideas....i do remember seeing a This Old house episode where they opened up a section of outside and got that squirty insulation in there. Don't know how much that would be...more than likely with the size of this arm and a leg.

    So the boiler guy comes out and does a little bleeding....everythings running. The anti-freeze he said will help it. Yah? Then stop lettin some escape!!! ha ha.

    So my house is like 2 additions onto a hundred year old house and it runs kind of different. I have the 3 thermostats right? But the south end does not heat the room it's in...that room is heated by the upstairs...well, we just figured that out. So I am to keep the south end therm up the highest to call for heat in the south end, then the upstiars the second highest, and the north end (above the boiler and smaller room) the coolest. That way the heat is forced to the south end, then to the upstairs, and then to the north end.

    What is happening is since it is one continual loop and poorly is cooling way down before it finishes the loop. And there in the attic are pipes that loose a LOT of heat and are not wrapped/insulated, so wrap those.

    And for whatever reason yet still a mystery to everyone is why the formal dining where the therm. for the south is....gets no heat....

    2 summers ago I had my old man plumber take the valve off and make sure it wasn't corroded on the off position and it wasn't. Pipes were drained and refilled.

    I have my service people do a clean and check each fall. So that's good. And this guy says my boiler is big for the space (gas robber--high bills) but works and didn't think it looked like I only had 2-3 more years on it...according to this other co. So that's a relief.

    So the pipes go from the north basement (the 1980's addition) and split...some go upstairs and some go to the south and some go right above the basement the north. Then since I have a slab everythings in the wall or the upstairs crawl spaces and attic.

    It gets a bit perplexing guessing where they are coming and going from but NOW I think I finally understand.

    I've maintained this baby for 5 years now and if anyone had a problem...I am pretty confident that I could go to their house and do what these repair men do. I follow them around and then my daughters follow us around with their mini flashlights in hand...all eager to point into cubbies and "help." What a team.

    Still waiting for the temp.'s to climb...especially in this room...brrrr! Therm says: 60*

    So it's climbed 4* since he left about an hour ago.

  8. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    We've got a boiler & low pressure system. This is the first winter (knock on wood) that we haven't had problems with it. I've spent thousands on it. A year ago I paid to replace the pump. It went out again. DBF threw his hands up and replaced it (it's under the house, which makes it hard to work on). The previous repair person hadn't replaced the housing, just the pump, AND installed it upside down!!! No wonder it died after a year.

    This boiler is just 10 years old or so.

    DBF - gosh I love that man - replaced every working part on the boiler and had someone out to check his work. It passed muster and has worked great this year.

    The kicker is that it's a new-ish side-venting boiler and could have been installed on the back porch rather than under the house. People don't want to work on it due to its location in the crawl space. [​IMG]

    I feel your boiler pain!!
  9. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

    Apr 6, 2007
    [​IMG] I wish I could see the house myself. While I was there I would clean
    out some pipes. [​IMG]
  10. maplesky7

    maplesky7 Flock Mistress

    Jun 14, 2008
    N. IL.
    house faces west

    north > south
    _ ^_ ^ __^_ ^______l l
    l_l l_l l_l l_l l l
    __________________l l
    l ----- l l ----- l l
    l ----- l [ ] l ----- l l
    ____ __l__[ ]_l______l__l


    east bed (3rd drmr) (4th drmr) (no dormer)
    stairs bedroom bedroom playroom/attic

    west bed
    (cold one^ 1st & 2nd dormer on left)


    downstairs from left:

    (back door) guest bath master
    east family mud/laundry 1/2 bath office
    stairs (up and basement)
    west dining bar/kitchen formal dining library
    (front door)

    the back of the house looks like this:

    ____ _______
    l * L l__[P]____l G B M l
    l L Ml B O H l
    l D K FD LIBRY *l
    -----------------[ ]------------
    (3 season )

    * woodburner/ fireplace
    L living room
    P back porch
    G Guest room
    B bathroom
    M master
    Ml mud/laundry
    o office
    h hall
    d dining
    formal dining
    3 season porch

    there pc....

    oh and only basement under the living/dining room addition

    so see the FD is the one with a therm. but that radiator is not working and this guy thinks it actually comes from a pipe from the upstairs...makes's not connecting pipes to the library...must be in that partition wall?

    that's my house.

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