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Residential Boilers


Stephen D. Gazo
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Hey guys, still going to school learning as much as I can cram into my head. How you all have time to work and interact here is beyond me, maybe next year when I have completed my HI course.

Here is my snag, I am writing my Electrical exam in about 2 weeks and have noticed more questions on Boilers for heating. I have worked on boilers, but they werent for heat. I would like to delve deeper in to the home boilers a little more, even though I may never see one here. I tried the library on this site but, its lacking a bit on the boilers stuff.

Any books or authors names would be great.

Steve

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Hey Mike and Terry,

I will talk with the commercial HVAC guys, they must still see boilers...I will go to the site you posted and dive in. The last boilers I worked on were for the Mobile Laundry Decontamination and Bath unit. You didnt need it for clothes but hot showers for soldiers,,you get it.

Talk when I can, thank you guys.

Steve

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Here's what I do. Barely adequate, I'm sure. I run across 4 types of residential boilers where I am.

Old-timers, fuelled by oil, with galvanized pipes and a radiator in every room. Usually, they are a closed system with an expansion tank hanging from joists or up in the attic. These are rare. I try to operate the thing and check for heat, check pressure gauges and feel the circulation pump to see if it's running. Check for rust stains, leaks, etc. Asbestos wrap around the boiler is typical,, so i mention that. I aways recommend a full checkup by a qualified heating contractor anyway.

Older condo buildings usually have been converted to natural gas. I operate the thermostat and check for heat. Try to get a look at the boiler downstairs but other than looking for rust and leaks, defer to Strata council and the management company.

Newer in-floor hydronic systems use either gas or electric boilers.

Use the laser thermometer on the floor at the start of the inspection, then after the boiler been turned up. I also check temp of the pipes at the manifold, comparing supply lines with returns, etc.

Gas boiler, check for ash and corrosion, then call for a heating contractor to service it. Electric, if it works, there's not much to service, eh? Check the breaker size and wire gauge.

BTW, this is just a primer. I'm no expert, and there is much to learn, but you just do what you can to find problems with the system, then call for a full service, unless the system is immaculate, which it rarely is. [:)]

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This Chromalox boiler was 35 yrs old, appeared to be working fine.

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Hey hey John from BC, thanx man. Nice second pic of the insulation xmas tree, I am feeling itchy just looking at it. Great tips and I have been reading a bit on point thermometers and TI cameras etc.

Steve

Here's what I do. Barely adequate, I'm sure. I run across 4 types of residential boilers where I am.

Old-timers, fuelled by oil, with galvanized pipes and a radiator in every room. Usually, they are a closed system with an expansion tank hanging from joists or up in the attic. These are rare. I try to operate the thing and check for heat, check pressure gauges and feel the circulation pump to see if it's running. Check for rust stains, leaks, etc. Asbestos wrap around the boiler is typical,, so i mention that. I aways recommend a full checkup by a qualified heating contractor anyway.

Older condo buildings usually have been converted to natural gas. I operate the thermostat and check for heat. Try to get a look at the boiler downstairs but other than looking for rust and leaks, defer to Strata council and the management company.

Newer in-floor hydronic systems use either gas or electric boilers.

Use the laser thermometer on the floor at the start of the inspection, then after the boiler been turned up. I also check temp of the pipes at the manifold, comparing supply lines with returns, etc.

Gas boiler, check for ash and corrosion, then call for a heating contractor to service it. Electric, if it works, there's not much to service, eh? Check the breaker size and wire gauge.

BTW, this is just a primer. I'm no expert, and there is much to learn, but you just do what you can to find problems with the system, then call for a full service, unless the system is immaculate, which it rarely is. [:)]

Click to Enlarge
tn_20108122416_boiler.jpg

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Click to Enlarge
tn_20108122444_boilervalves2.jpg

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This Chromalox boiler was 35 yrs old, appeared to be working fine.

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Nice second pic of the insulation xmas tree, I am feeling itchy just looking at it.

Don't worry, after you've done a few hundred attics and crawlspaces the feeling of fiberglass lodged in your skin and fiberglass dust behind your eyelids will be so much a part of everyday life that you'll hardly notice mosquito bites anymore.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Googling usually results in some good information on many different topics but I can't find even a single good treatise on residentials boilers for HI's. Even the TIJ library comes up empty. Who's a good writer and knowledgable on boilers?

Marc

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I laugh at mosquitoes, I am surrounded by three, lets call them hinterlands (swamps), in the spring the blood suckers are like vampires and then you spend the next month itchy and have an overdoese of anti-histamine running through your body. This being Aug I have not been affected by bites for some time. They still harrass me, but I no longer feel the itchy scratchy of the bite, kinda cool.

Thanx MIke

Nice second pic of the insulation xmas tree, I am feeling itchy just looking at it.

Don't worry, after you've done a few hundred attics and crawlspaces the feeling of fiberglass lodged in your skin and fiberglass dust behind your eyelids will be so much a part of everyday life that you'll hardly notice mosquito bites anymore.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Hey Mongo. Posted the right pic this time. The first boiler was a homemade unit, electric auxilary to a wood-fired boiler. Built by an old-timer, for sure. Don't worry, that's a one-of-a-kind.

The Chromalox boiler in the 3rd pic is one I see from time to time. Notice a pressure release valve on top. The second pic shows the controls for 3 thermostats in the lower left and and expansion tank above. Power supply is a fused disconnect, upper right.

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Here's a modern boiler system in a basement. The boiler is the white square box, natural gas unit, along with a gas-fired water heater. It looks complicated, but you can break it all down to individual components.

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This little electric unit is on a 70 amp breaker and heats about 2500 sq ft.

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The gizmos on the upper right receive input from 8 thermostats. Little green lights tell you if a thermostat is calling for heat. The gizmo opens a valve to let the red pumps push hot water through that loop.

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Here's a typical 15 yr old gas boiler. This one's in rough shape. I had no trouble calling for a gas tech to service it. Even so, it worked OK.

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This was a conversion, using the old pipes and radiators. The original boiler may have been oil-fired or a woodburner. They controlled the heat by turning taps off, unless the taps were seized up. One thermostat.

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Googling usually results in some good information on many different topics but I can't find even a single good treatise on residentials boilers for HI's. Even the TIJ library comes up empty. Who's a good writer and knowledgable on boilers?

Marc

That's 'cuz you aren't looking in the right places. Don Holohan is the guy behind HeatingHelp.com. His site is the same concept as TIJ except it's for heating guys. Go over there, click on resources in the menu bar and then click on Library and then put on 15 pots of coffee and order in a couple dozen pizzas and a gross of donuts and kick back.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I believe that I'd rather read something published in the last 20 years or so. Nearly all of this stuff dates back to my great grandfather's heyday.

Marc

I find old stuff like that fascinating (pre-nerd era publications?) [:-propell.

I have a particularly soft spot for Esso. May pop was insanely loyal to Esso.

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I believe that I'd rather read something published in the last 20 years or so. Nearly all of this stuff dates back to my great grandfather's heyday.

Marc

Well why didn't you say so? Google "John Siegenthaler boilers", load up your printer with paper and start printing.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Nice pics. I would not have pictured them to be so small and compact. I swear when we got old ticky started we always had an escape path, it made the most hair raising noise, and then smoothed out when it hit op temp.

The small distribution manifold is nice and looks like it was installed with some technical know-how.

Very nice, but why would you still need the hot water heater, couldnt that do water as well?

Here's a typical 15 yr old gas boiler. This one's in rough shape. I had no trouble calling for a gas tech to service it. Even so, it worked OK.

Click to Enlarge
tn_201081133051_boiler30.jpg

54.56 KB

Click to Enlarge
tn_20108113319_boiler31.jpg

58.84 KB

Click to Enlarge
tn_201081133131_boiler32.jpg

55.01 KB

This was a conversion, using the old pipes and radiators. The original boiler may have been oil-fired or a woodburner. They controlled the heat by turning taps off, unless the taps were seized up. One thermostat.

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I would not have pictured them to be so small and compact.

The small distribution manifold is nice and looks like it was installed with some technical know-how.

Very nice, but why would you still need the hot water heater, couldn't that do water as well?

I assume you're talking about the infloor Hydronic heat systems with wall-mounted boilers? They are a closed loop system which recirculates the water. A bit of makeup water can come in through a check valve to make up for losses, but that is all.

You probably wouldn't want to wash dishes or shower with that same water anyway, after it's been pumped around through your floors for a few days. [:-sour]

Demand water heaters for household use - that is another subject to study up on. With all the pros and cons, I still see mostly storage tank heaters.

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You probably wouldn't want to wash dishes or shower with that same water anyway, after it's been pumped around through your floors for a few days.

There is no difference in taste. Hydronic heating systems run off of water heaters are pretty common here and when properly installed there are no taste issues. The key thing with such systems is that they are equipped with a timer that automatically circulates the system at pre-programmed times of the day or night in order to prevent bacterial growth in the water that's in the heating loops.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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You probably wouldn't want to wash dishes or shower with that same water anyway, after it's been pumped around through your floors for a few days.

There is no difference in taste. Hydronic heating systems run off of water heaters are pretty common here and when properly installed there are no taste issues. The key thing with such systems is that they are equipped with a timer that automatically circulates the system at pre-programmed times of the day or night in order to prevent bacterial growth in the water that's in the heating loops.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

That's interesting and makes sense. I never see that here, but there are changes to the technology coming out all the time. I will have to watch for that.

Mongo, try Inspect-a-pedia for a bit of general boiler info.

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There is no difference in taste. Hydronic heating systems run off of water heaters are pretty common here and when properly installed there are no taste issues. The key thing with such systems is that they are equipped with a timer that automatically circulates the system at pre-programmed times of the day or night in order to prevent bacterial growth in the water that's in the heating loops.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Is that how an Apollo works? Yuck. In these parts we need at least single wall seperation between potable and heat transfer water, double wall if there is glycol in the mix.

Tom

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No, that's not how an Apollo works that's just the way a lot of them are set up in this area. We also have virtually identical systems without the timers where the only difference is a dictionary-sized plate-type heat exchanger a second circulator and an immersed coil water heater. Those are as the previous fellow described - completely isolated from the potable water.

I don't see what the big deal is; there really isn't a whole lot of difference between sending the water through a heating loop off to one side and sending it on a home run to a plumbing fixture; the route is just longer. One does have to ensure that the timer and circulator on the system is functioning properly so that water doesn't stagnate in the coils far from the potable water supply, became laden with bacteria that spreads to the system, but that's really not much different than when one has a long run of pipe to a sillcoci that never gets used; at least this system periodically cycles fresh water into the system before it ever has a chance to become laden with bacteria.

Let go of some of those preconceived notions once in a while; you might be surprised at how good some of these innovative new systems are.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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