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Apollo Direct Vent Heating System


bussman
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My townhouse has an Apollo Direct Vent Heating System in it, replaced just over a year ago. My problem is that I cannot get consist Hot Water to the upstairs bathroom. One day I have hot water the next none. The shower and the sink have the same either hot or usually cold water. My HVAC installer claimed it was a 3/4" mixing valve that was faulty, Ive had a plumber examine the system and he said the mixing valve and the mix valve in the shower were performing correctly. Just curious to see if anyone has experience with this problem and if so, what was the fix. Thanks

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That's not being helpful, Richard.

I'd have a different plumber look at it. If the system is set up correctly and working OK to heat the house, but you're having inconsistent hot water issues it probably is a faulty mixing valve. I've heard the same complaint from folks who had hydro systems that were not Appolo units (Bio-Radiant). When they insisted that the plumber replace the mixing valve, all was well again.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Bussman,

Here's a little test you can do to help track down the problem. The next time you don't have hot water, go immediately to the water heater and put your hand on the outlet pipe at the top of the heater. If it's hot then the problem is likely the mixing valve. If the pipe is not hot then the problem is either the tank itself (not likely) or the heating system is pulling heat out of the tank more quickly than it can be replaced.

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" ... If the pipe is not hot then the problem is either the tank itself (not likely) or the heating system is pulling heat out of the tank more quickly than it can be replaced. ... "

I was thinking along those lines, too. Can the water heater keep up with the space-heating demands of the house? The biggest unit I see on the Apollo site puts out about 60,000 BTUs. That's not much for both heat and domestic hot water in a place where temps have been dropping into the teens and single digits.

Is this type of heating system common in your area? I never see 'em.

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My townhouse has an Apollo Direct Vent Heating System in it, replaced just over a year ago. My problem is that I cannot get consist Hot Water to the upstairs bathroom. One day I have hot water the next none. The shower and the sink have the same either hot or usually cold water.

Are you getting consistent hot water to the other bathroom and the kitchen? Or is this problem limited to the upstairs bathroom?

Did you have this problem before the system was replaced or is this a new problem?

My HVAC installer claimed it was a 3/4" mixing valve that was faulty, Ive had a plumber examine the system and he said the mixing valve and the mix valve in the shower were performing correctly.

Try Garet's test.

What temperature is your water heater set at?

What temperature is the mixing valve set at?

What's the BTU & gallon rating of your water heater?

How big is your townhome?

Are there units to either side of you?

How old is your townhome?

How much insulation is in the attic?

Do you have insulated windows?

Just curious to see if anyone has experience with this problem and if so, what was the fix. Thanks

My first guess is that your heating system is removing heat from the water heater tank faster than the water heater flame can replenish that heat. There are many things that might cause this. We need more information.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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In our climate (I see you're in Bartlett, IL), I've seen these systems work unsatisfactorily largely due to there being too much heat loss in the structure, i.e., it's a combination of things that are sucking too much heat out of the water heater for central heating, leaving you little to no hot water. Basically, what Jim's first guess is.

Are you noticing inadequate domestic hot water incidence coinciding with outside freezing temperature plunges?

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Thanks for all the responses, much appreciated. The problem has been consistant even with the new water heater. The day the plumber was checking the system he said the water temps were appropriate and correct. The first floor seems to be getting enough hot water at the bathroom sink and kitchen sink. I do feel that the heating element is stealing the hot water but I thought it was designed to do both (heat the house and produce hot water for bathing), Could this possibly be the best this system will do?? Would turning off the heat before a shower give enough water? Before I replaced the unit it seemed if I crank the heater in the early morning then shut it down or lowered it to 68 a half hour before I took a shower, it would give me enough hot water or at least hot water. Thanks again everyone for any and all suggestions.

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Thanks for all the responses, much appreciated. The problem has been consistant even with the new water heater. The day the plumber was checking the system he said the water temps were appropriate and correct.

What does that mean? For all we know, he might think that 120-degrees at the tank is correct. What are the temps?

The first floor seems to be getting enough hot water at the bathroom sink and kitchen sink.

That's odd. Did you point it out to the plumber?

I do feel that the heating element is stealing the hot water but I thought it was designed to do both (heat the house and produce hot water for bathing),

Yes, it's supposed to do both. But it has to be properly installed and adjusted to work as it should. That means that the water in the tank must never drop below 120-degrees.

Could this possibly be the best this system will do?? Would turning off the heat before a shower give enough water? Before I replaced the unit it seemed if I crank the heater in the early morning then shut it down or lowered it to 68 a half hour before I took a shower, it would give me enough hot water or at least hot water. Thanks again everyone for any and all suggestions.

Lowered it to 68? How high do you normally keep it?

The water heater should be able to completely recover in well under 30 minutes. As an experiment, try turning the heating system off or way down and leaving it that way for 30 minutes. You should then have plenty of hot water at all taps. If you don't, tell us the temperature of the water at the taps and at the tank.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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You lowered your heat to 68?[:-bigeyes Put on a sweater man! I have three radiant zones in my house; an in floor loop in the kitchen and baths set to 62 (two loops with balancing valves and one thermostat), cast iron radiators for the living areas set to 64, and more iron radiators in the bedrooms set to 66. The two degrees of seperation between zones is to ensure that they all have the potential to run, there are no barriers between zones like doors that I could close, just open archways and a stairway. The house is comfortable and on the odd occassion I feel cold I grab a sweater or sweatshirt, my 8 year old is almost always in a t shirt.

Your system is limited by the recovery rate and capacity of your water heater, and the high temperature you are trying to maintain and your other domestic usage has you at capacity before you shower. Lower the temp setting to the lowest you will feel comfortable (maybe start at 68) and then leave it there, radiant systems don't respond well to setting back temps (manual or automated). You could also take other conservation steps like washing clothes on warm or cold water settings, or only running the dishwasher when it is full. These small changes should get you a hot shower, if not then you have a bad tempering valve as others have said, or the heat exchanger flow rate and/or fan speed isn't configured correctly and is drawing heat out close to the water heater's capacity. One last thing before you grab that sweater, make sure the water heater is set to at least 140, the standard 120 setting would net you the same cold shower.

Tom

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make sure the water heater is set to at least 140, the standard 120 setting would net you the same cold shower.

Tom

Yeah, around here, those systems are utilizing 40,000 to 65,000 Btu/Hr heaters running between 140° and 160° for the heating and then one must go to the nearest hot water faucet, fill the sink and test it to make sure that the mixing valve is only allowing 120° water to reach the nearest fixture. Then, depending on how well the home and pipes are insulated, the temperature at the farthest fixture will be less than that.

If that's not going to be acceptable, one could go the extreme route by eliminating the mixing valve above the water heater and installing one at every bath and the kitchen, so that the 140° water makes it all the way to those fixtures and is mixed right there, in order to provide 120° at the tap.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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"The water heater should be able to completely recover in well under 30 minutes. As an experiment, try turning the heating system off or way down and leaving it that way for 30 minutes. You should then have plenty of hot water at all taps. If you don't, tell us the temperature of the water at the taps and at the tank"

First let me say that this is a 40 gallon system, as was the old one. Apollo Direct Vent Water Heater Model#A640YBDSL Serial#S0805F000250. I tried the above test, turn heater off for around 40 minutes then when to each water source. Results Kitchen Sink temperature was mid 90's, same with the bathroom sink (both downstairs, same floor as Water Heater), then went to the upstairs bathroom, sink was mid 90's and the shower almost hit 100. The heat was set a 70 degrees (which I know is warm, but the wife wins), but it is comfortable in the townhouse. Im so frustrated with this system. Should I just remove the mixing valve, its set at the hightest setting? Once again thanks to everyone for their input.

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"The water heater should be able to completely recover in well under 30 minutes. As an experiment, try turning the heating system off or way down and leaving it that way for 30 minutes. You should then have plenty of hot water at all taps. If you don't, tell us the temperature of the water at the taps and at the tank"

First let me say that this is a 40 gallon system, as was the old one. Apollo Direct Vent Water Heater Model#A640YBDSL Serial#S0805F000250. I tried the above test, turn heater off for around 40 minutes then when to each water source. Results Kitchen Sink temperature was mid 90's, same with the bathroom sink (both downstairs, same floor as Water Heater), then went to the upstairs bathroom, sink was mid 90's and the shower almost hit 100. The heat was set a 70 degrees (which I know is warm, but the wife wins), but it is comfortable in the townhouse. Im so frustrated with this system. Should I just remove the mixing valve, its set at the hightest setting? Once again thanks to everyone for their input.

Ok then, your tempering valve is kaplooey. Call a better plumber and figure out why.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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"The water heater should be able to completely recover in well under 30 minutes. As an experiment, try turning the heating system off or way down and leaving it that way for 30 minutes. You should then have plenty of hot water at all taps. If you don't, tell us the temperature of the water at the taps and at the tank"

First let me say that this is a 40 gallon system, as was the old one. Apollo Direct Vent Water Heater Model#A640YBDSL Serial#S0805F000250. I tried the above test, turn heater off for around 40 minutes then when to each water source. Results Kitchen Sink temperature was mid 90's, same with the bathroom sink (both downstairs, same floor as Water Heater), then went to the upstairs bathroom, sink was mid 90's and the shower almost hit 100. The heat was set a 70 degrees (which I know is warm, but the wife wins), but it is comfortable in the townhouse. Im so frustrated with this system. Should I just remove the mixing valve, its set at the hightest setting? Once again thanks to everyone for their input.

Ok then, your tempering valve is kaplooey. Call a better plumber and figure out why.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Jim can a tempering valve allow some hot or warm water some of the time and then just go cold? I was told it either works or doesn't. I forgot to mention the water off the water heater was plenty hot enough but I did not temp it. What would one expect to pay for such repair? Thanks again

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Ok then, your tempering valve is kaplooey. Call a better plumber and figure out why.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Jim can a tempering valve allow some hot or warm water some of the time and then just go cold? I was told it either works or doesn't. I forgot to mention the water off the water heater was plenty hot enough but I did not temp it.

Does the temperature fluctuate? The temps that you posted were fairly consistent.

A faulty tempering valve can do all sorts of things. The one thing it doesn't usually do is provide water that's too hot; it tends to fail in the safe mode - too cool. If, for example, you were to cut off the supply of cold water to the valve, it wouldn't let any hot water through either.

When you replaced the tank, did you also replace the tempering valve? If not, there might be debris in the valve that's preventing it from working properly.

Why did you replace the old tank? What it because of this problem?

What would one expect to pay for such repair? Thanks again

Time & materials. Figure about $80/hr for the plumber and about $50 for the valve.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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  • 2 weeks later...

Im sorry for the delayed response but I have news on my wonderful Apollo DirectVent Heating system. I did have a plumber replace the tempering valve on this system, which produced sufficient hot water (temps where correct) but later that day, luke warm water to the shower again. I may have to accept the fact that is the way the system works, which stinks. I am officially stumped. Thanks for all your help once again.

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Im sorry for the delayed response but I have news on my wonderful Apollo DirectVent Heating system. I did have a plumber replace the tempering valve on this system, which produced sufficient hot water (temps where correct) but later that day, luke warm water to the shower again. I may have to accept the fact that is the way the system works, which stinks. I am officially stumped. Thanks for all your help once again.

So after the new valve was installed everything was ok for a little while and then it went back to being exactly as it was before?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Here's what I would guess: When the water heater heats the water and it gets nice and hot everything is fine. As you heat the home you are cooling the hot water. The water heater just can't keep up. The original Apollo systems have a fast / high recovery rate water heater, usually at least 62000 BTU to keep up with the heat loss. This is the key, not the gallon capacity of the water heater but the recovery rate. What I see alot is the water heaters replaced with standard water heaters. Most people look a the gallon capacity and think "why should I spend twice as much on an Apollo water heater?"/ Without the high recovery rate you will need to do without hot water and during cold weather, without heat.

Somebody suggested going with a tankless which would work but would probably cost a fortune.

The Apollo systems kind of offered a 'free lunch' but as we all know, there is no such thing.

Think about it the 2 scenarios:

1) Heat the air with burning gas and distribute it with a blower through the home.

2) Heat water with gas. Pump it to a radiator. Blow cold air through the warm radiator with a blower and distribute it through the home.

Which do you think will be more efficient and cost effective?

What is the BTU rating of the water heater and what is the recovery rate?

My suggestion: Install a separate water heater for domestic hot water. It will cost way less than a new heating system. You can turn off the Apollo in the summer.

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Here's what I would guess: When the water heater heats the water and it gets nice and hot everything is fine. As you heat the home you are cooling the hot water. The water heater just can't keep up. The original Apollo systems have a fast / high recovery rate water heater, usually at least 62000 BTU to keep up with the heat loss. This is the key, not the gallon capacity of the water heater but the recovery rate. What I see alot is the water heaters replaced with standard water heaters. Most people look a the gallon capacity and think "why should I spend twice as much on an Apollo water heater?"/ Without the high recovery rate you will need to do without hot water and during cold weather, without heat.

Somebody suggested going with a tankless which would work but would probably cost a fortune.

The Apollo systems kind of offered a 'free lunch' but as we all know, there is no such thing.

Think about it the 2 scenarios:

1) Heat the air with burning gas and distribute it with a blower through the home.

2) Heat water with gas. Pump it to a radiator. Blow cold air through the warm radiator with a blower and distribute it through the home.

Which do you think will be more efficient and cost effective?

What is the BTU rating of the water heater and what is the recovery rate?

I agree with most of that. But earlier he said that when he turns off the heating system and leaves it off for 40 minutes, he still only gets lukewarm water to the taps.

What would cause that?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Hmmmm! I missed that.

My experience with tempering valves (on my solar system) is that they basically don't work like they should. That's the only answer I can come up with. I had to remove the stop on mine and crank it out a couple more turns to get hot water at the fixtures, however, I would never recommend anyone do that.

Jim I edited my post. This is what I would do:

Install a separate water heater for domestic hot water. It will cost way less than a new heating system. You can turn off the Apollo in the summer (and ditch all tempering valves).

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Install a separate water heater for domestic hot water. It will cost way less than a new heating system. You can turn off the Apollo in the summer (and ditch all tempering valves).

Thanks Richard, how did you set it all up? I may have to do this, thanks for any and all info.

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Tom, I have 2 flat collectors on the roof that circulate an anti freeze solution through a heat exchange type water heater. Basically a standard 80 (?) gallon Rheem with coils of copper tubing built in around the tank.

It is installed in series with my propane water heater. The solar heated water enters the cold side of the propane heater. There is a bypass valve to completely take the propane heater out of the loop for when the solar is kicking butt. A tempering valve is required by code as the pump will continue to circulate up to 160 degrees.

It's fairly simple but looks a bit Rube Goldberg-ish. I had it professionally installed and with all the credits it came to about $1200.

Bussman, Most of the Apollo's I have seen have the piping to the heat exchanger exposed at the water heater, usually with valves. This would make it easy to separate the domestic water from the heating system supply. If you install a separate water heater, you would just need to remove the output line from the water heater that supplies domestic hot water and hook it into the new water heater. You would obviously need cold supply to both water heaters. It should be an easy install for a plumber.

A 40 gallon would probably do it unless you have a huge bathtub or something.

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Thanks Richard. So, has it made a dent in your propane usage?

I have been pondering a bigger system with storage to essentially replace my DHW and provide some heat, around 50-60% solar fraction. While isolating my DHW from the rest of my fuel consumption I've come across some puzzling (and disturbing) numbers, DHW and heating consumption are identical at 615 therms per year each (isolation factors for the range and dryer not considered). It seems a DHW system will get me to a 40-50% solar fraction for far less money, effort, and Goldbergian complexity. Looks like I need to do more homework.

Tom

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