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Boiler Zoning

 
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Old 11-25-2018, 01:16 PM   #1
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Boiler Zoning


I want to change my present multi loop single zone to a 5 or 6 zone system.
I have done a lot of work on this 115 year old system myself and feel I am completely capable and would also rather do this myself. Only exception would be gas lines.

The original system was gravity fed.
It now has a circulator on this 1981 Weil 150000 btu. With my background in maintenance and electrical I was able to figure out ( 3 years ago when we bought the house) that the poorly maintained system was not working right because the pressure gauge and expansion tank were shot.
I replaced several areas of black with ball valves, new pipe and drains.

The original " manifolds" consist of a large sediment bowl that is fed by a 1.5" black line from the boiler that is threaded to a 6" pipe which then branches out to several smaller pipes(most are 1.5") on either side of this bowl.
The return is similar.
None of the old gate valves work, which is why I went further down the line and replaced sections of black.
Wish I had known about pex al pex back then!

Now that I've replaced so much of this in the basement and see that any pipes going to rads are in very good condition, I was thinking I would like to cut off the old manifold system and replace it with a zone valve controller wit


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Old 11-25-2018, 01:49 PM   #2
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Re: Boiler Zoning


I think you are ignoring about 120 years of technology/experience of Steam or Hot water, I couldn't tell, single pipe gravity feed????


Example, you install 6 zone valves, one zone that needs about 15 KBtus of heat is on, your boiler kicks on for about 2 minutes, shut down then zone x trip on and so forth

I am thinking pretty noisy blowing 115 KBtus of heat through 1/6 the radiators....

If you love your family, GET pro help.

why not fix the old valves so you adjust the legacy system, and or a high / low boiler.

Ceiling fans(large-slow) in the public areas might improve average comfort levels.

A whole house fresh air heat exchanger to lower in door air pollution?

1981 was 37 years ago, it is getting time for a New high efficiency whatever, maybe using a rebate scheme...

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Old 11-25-2018, 02:49 PM   #3
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Re: Boiler Zoning


Thanks. I didn't get to finish what I started writing. Somehow this sent!

I understand the need for a newer boiler. The biggest reason I want one is because this one was poorly maintained has leaks and I'm sure from what I can see th old cast exchanger is on its last legs. It was originally a gravity system bit now has a circulator which I replaced with a slightly larger one.

This is a 150000 btu pilot fired Weil. Still works fine. There are only 2 heating contractors here. One of them quoted me 12 grand to put in a new triangle tube. I understand the mod cons and simply do not want one. I calculated the amount I would save on fuel and it's just not worth it. IMO. Biggest reason I want a new one is so I won't have to worry about failure. This is a 2129 Sq. Ft. 2 story brick house with 40 windows and little insulation. I live in Canada where for 6 months of the year it gets in the minus 30 range and with all I've done here my 1 year natural gas was under 1400 bucks. When i moved in it was over 2 grand and there was almost no heat on the second floor.Even if my bill goes down by half which i cant see, that boiler likely would not ever pay for itself.

I will definitely have a contractor come in to assess this as long as they aren't going to insist on putting in a mod con! I've worked with boilers up to 1 million btu and prefer the simplicity of non mod con boilers.
I understand what you are saying about getting someone in here and will do that, but I had someone come in and put a gas line in for our stove and when he saw all the work I did on these old pipes he asked me why I even called him in to do that gas line. I just won't play with that!
So I understand the firing and short cycling you are talking about. When we moved in I had a local contractor come in to inspect and clean this thing because I'm not a pro and wanted to make sure it was safe. I'm glad I did because it turned out the chimney liner was rotted out and needed to be replaced. I had them do that and it cost me around 2 grand. I don't really want that going down the toilet. That's just how I think.
After they were done the boiler cycled all the time and there was no heat on the second floor. Turned out the pressure gauge was wrong and the expansion ta.nk was gone. I replaced those along with several lengths of pipe to which I added drains and valves. I also moved a rad that fed 2 more upstairs. To do that I had to replumb everything there. There are now two new lines that feed the rads upstairs which added about 40 extra feet of 1.5" black. I also picked up 5 cast baseboard rads which I tapped and hooked up to the new 1.5" lines these are in random cold.spots connected with 3/4" lines. It all works awesome and the licensed gas guy told.me I did a fantastic job and that had they done all I did it would easily have cost over 6 grand. I did it for about 1000.
Another thing I did to stop short cycling was to increase the high limit on the boiler. It's around 180 now and he told me it was just fine there.

My gas bill dropped substantially from the work I did 2 years ago and the rads don't need bleeding anymore but I check them before winter to be sure.
So I do huge amounts of research before attempting anything. I did an extremely detailed whole house evaluation and was told it was very well done.
Again I do understand what you are saying about the short cycling. That is part of the reason I am here. It's part of my research and this is exactly the type of thing I need to hear. I am aware that there are ways to prevent that from happening but I only started thinking about doing this a few days ago.
So far what I picture is the 1.5" output running to an off the shelf manifold, with individual circulators on each line and probably a Taco zone controller and one way valves to stop hot water bleeding. Main reason for this is I want to add a dhw storage tank as well. That electric one is getting old and sucks energy like crazy!
I've looked at how all of these are done and I am not one bit afraid to do this myself, but I will not attempt it until I have turned every stone. That would be foolish to say the least!
I very much appreciate your opinions. Thank you kindly!
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Old 11-25-2018, 04:21 PM   #4
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Re: Boiler Zoning


Another way I see this is all of those old.valves are corroded and threaded into groups of reducers that would likely be impossible and extremely difficult to replace.
A lot of the old piping beyond the manifold has been replaced. My brain envisions cutting out the pipes and old manifolds up to where the new pipework is and replacing it with pex al pex or copper. I would have to rip the whole house apart to get the old pipes out of the walls and ceilings. From the few heat stops I've changed at rads it looks like all the old pipes in the floors and walls are still in really good shape so I see no point in tearing the whole house apart to change them.
I picture this. Cut off or unthread (or both)as I've done several times , but instead of running back to the old feed and return system, replace that old stuff with new manifolds and instead of using black do it with copper or pex al pex?
Once everything is pressurized and has at least one circulator on the system (,as it does now) I can't see how it wouldn't work? From how is see this all I would be doing is taking the 1.5" feed and return and splitting it into separate loops. That's how it is now the only difference is that all of the loops run off the "manifold" with tees. The whole system is run by one circulator and I simply throttle back the heat stops at the rad to control the temp. So maybe just to simplify another option could be to run a simple pex copper manifold (like I did for all the water lines) and throttle them mechanically ( with the inclusion of a suitable mixing system of course)?
The main reason I want this done is because when those old valves do start to leak, I will have no choice but to shut the whole system down in order to repair. That's the main reason I started putting valves in to begin with. There were almost no unions at all anywhere and all valves are shot, but there are lots of both now! I had no choice but to add ball valves after the manifold in order to work on rads and changing even one of them on that old manifold is next to impossible.

This is part of the reason I see running circulators for separate zones?
To me it seems that appropriately sized circulators on separate zones would give the needed flow?
Example.
I have two large rads at the front of the house. After calculating needed btu and flow etc I would loop the two together as one zone which would be operated by its own circulator on the return. There would be one way (possibly thermostatic) valve to prevent hot water bleeding in the summer. Yes I know it's not quite that simple but it's a starting point.
In the end I do know this. This old stuff has to go eventually. I would rather do this right and do it myself and have it all in place for someone to hook up a nice new boiler for me!
I've worked with radiant floor heat with a two stage boiler and mixing system so I'm somewhat familiar with how it works. Zones were controlled by a zone controller and boiler controller. I did that maintenance job for almost 3 years and was in fact in charge of maintenance at that welding, sandblasting and coatings shop. I have no formal training but was moved to said position because I could fix almost anything and proved that.

Am I way off base so far?
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Old 11-25-2018, 09:00 PM   #5
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Re: Boiler Zoning


Buy this book
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pum...han/1006039956
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Old 11-26-2018, 02:57 PM   #6
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Re: Boiler Zoning


Don't forget to take the heat output of the large black pipes into consideration,

The smaller higher R-value of the smaller diameter plastic pipe will radiate less heat, You might need a NEW radiator in the basement, especially if you enclose the boiler in a fire resistant walled room (and ceiling!)(and fire rated door/frame) don't forget the boiler room window/ explosion vent for gas/steam burst events. And to provide out side air for safe more efficient operation
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Old 11-26-2018, 03:48 PM   #7
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Re: Boiler Zoning


Well thanks.
The basement in this old house will not be finished. Ceilings are just over 6' high (high ceilings for a house built in 1904!)so it's strictly for mechanical.
There is no cold air intake right now but the basement leaks like crazy.
The basement is 42'× about 35' and separated into a few rooms. The boiler sits just outside the old coal room. The original chute and cover plate are still there, insulated and plugged of course. As well I was not aware of any need for an explosion proof room. It was never mentioned to me!
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Old 11-26-2018, 04:16 PM   #8
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Re: Boiler Zoning


Thanks!
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Old 11-26-2018, 09:38 PM   #9
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Re: Boiler Zoning


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirkhj View Post
Well thanks.
The basement in this old house will not be finished. Ceilings are just over 6' high (high ceilings for a house built in 1904!)so it's strictly for mechanical.
I have bumped my head in more than a few homes that ended up with 7'-6" or better ceiling height when we got done with it.

As far as your zoning issue. I can tell you my experience.

My home is a split level type house and has 3 heated levels, they were all on one thermostat, when called for heat each zone was feed with hot water regardless of the need in that area.

I had balancing valves for the system, probably something like you have now.

I installed zone valves and additional thermostats for each of the piped areas.
lowest level is basement and has no heat, but the boiler is down there and keeps things toasty.

At grade level is mostly pass through area but also has my office, keep temp low unless needed.

Mid level is our living room, dining area and kitchen, setback type thermostat, cuts back to 62 degrees during the day, bumps back up to 70 in the evening, back to 62 at night, comes back on in the morning.

Upper level is bedrooms and bath, stays off all day, brings the temp up some in the evening, cuts back overnight so it not too hot to sleep.

I probably cut my fuel use in half by adding the zone valves and additional thermostats.

Not knowing your particular circumstance, I can't tell you what to do, but for me, heating the entire house when no one is in the area made no sense.

Zone that place out how is best for you, you'll save money in the short and long term.

I'll add, I have one circulater pump and things work just fine.
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Old 11-26-2018, 10:16 PM   #10
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Re: Boiler Zoning


I think I have a similar situation. When you say balancing valves did you mean the heat stops at the rads(is that correct terminology?) All of my heat right now is on one therm and I simply close up those valves at the rads to gain some control of the output, but would much rather control them the way you have done yours.

I thought about the single circulator as opposed to individual ones for each zone and at this point I don't really know where to go with this yet.
I'm getting that book. That's for sure!

I've also been thinking about that short cycling that would happen if I had circulators on each zone. Guess that could happen with one circulator as well since each zone will still be thermostatically controlled. In my eyes the advantage could be better flow control but I could be wrong!

Seems to me I still have to find a way around that but I would still need to replace that old manifold system.
I'll try to post a pic soon. It's a sight and likely won't make much sense in pics because it's so jumbled together!

The lack of unions is unreal. It must have been really hard to thread pipe back then. I have sections of pipe over 20' long. They threaded almost everything straight up from the boiler to the rads! All I could do was cut off the pipes, unthread the sections, then get new pipe made and add unions, drains(tees)and ball valves. That's where I want to start connecting from a new manifold and can't see any other way this could be done. I also see no point in removing what I've done. Might as well leave the ball valves and drain tees I put in where they are but some of them are over 10' from the boiler. Only place I could get at to fit them in!

Appreciate the feed back!
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Old 11-26-2018, 10:37 PM   #11
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Re: Boiler Zoning


Hmmmm. Can't change my avatar or see a way to post pics.
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Old 11-26-2018, 10:56 PM   #12
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Re: Boiler Zoning


Your system is probably a lot more complicated than mine. I have hot water baseboard heat so no radiators.

My balancing valves essentially adjusted for the "work" needed to push the hot water to the third level as opposed the the lower level. Higher elevation the valve was opened more that the lower elevation in order to push the water up instead of circulating only on the lowest level.
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Old 11-27-2018, 05:57 AM   #13
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Re: Boiler Zoning


Essentially I have done the same thing I believe. Difference being I have throttled back all the rads on the second floor at the rads. The heat from the main floor balances heat to the second floor, but that requires constant manual adjustments. Needless to say temps in rooms not occupied are often much higher than need be.

Picture this.

There is a 1.5" output line that feeds from the boiler to a 16"×6" diameter vertical sediment bowl at just below the midpoint. It is simply a pipe with a " bowl " welded to the bottom. Literally. The output line from the boiler is also welded to this pipe, and this is where one of the only two unions and one of the two working gate valves exist! Boiler output shutoff valve. No working shutoffs were beyond that point, but there is now!

This sediment bowl has no provision to drain and no valve on it. There is the one working 1.5" gate valve on the feed line to this bowl. This pipe/ bowl combo thing is then threaded at the top into a 6" horizontal pipe tee fitting that has many reducers on it. (So I could disconnect the boiler from the manifold but from that point would have to unthread everything else to get at a valve.)

On either end of this horizontal 6"tee there are 6"-5" reducers, then 5"- 4".and so on.

At the end of the 4" reducers are 3" tees (which are on both ends of the 6" tee) there is another group of reducers to 2"or 1.5" lines.
3 of these lines have 1" lines further upstream that feed certain rads on the second floor.

This is where the old gate valves start, right after all of these reducers and there are no unions or even couplers around and none of these valves work. Permanently stuck open. Some of these loop feeds and returns didn't even have valves on them, which meant draining multiple zones to repair anything, and that took a lot of work due to the absence of unions. Had to cut the pipes, have new ones cut and threaded and add unions and couplers and such or unthread from the boiler output all the way up. Not an option! Nice thing about this was all the new Npt stuff threaded right in!


Basically if I were to cut off the"manifold" I would have 6 either 2 or 1.5" open ended separate loop feeds. The return is the same.
Get all that? Lol.

The whole system is pressurized by a reducing valve from the incoming cold water line. It is set at approx 12 psig, which by doing the elevation math is a bit higher than needed but it seems to like being there better than the 10 or 11 psi it should be. If i remember right at less than 10 psi the highest point rads start to drain. I have no leaks now and this is year 3. None of the rad bleeders had air in them this year and adjusting the rads to control heat in rooms has been reduced but is still inefficient and a pain.

Yes I need help but it's not getting worse. Lol
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Old 11-28-2018, 09:56 PM   #14
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Re: Boiler Zoning


Starting to lean towards constant circulation with trvs. Pump away from expansion. Simple manifolds with ball valve shut offs. Add an indirect and cast CGa or CGI.
Feed back on the GV90+?
Nearest floor drain is in another room at least 20' from the boiler. Chimney liner is only 3 years old. Not really interested in a mod con. It would take 15 years for pay back

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