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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Sask,Canda
    Posts
    77

    Some Educated Guidance Please

    Hello my name in Ned. I live in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada. I am a third year plumbing apprecntice. I work for a plumbing, heating and electrical company. The community is approx. 2000 people so there is only one other company in the community that does the same work as us. My journeyman is a journeyman that is never on site or in the field. He just hands you a work order and tells you to go figure it out yourself. I know that, that is not the correct way to learn but it is all that I have at this time. Our company hired a new journeyman who appeared to be alot better but then his past caught up to him and we learned that he had a major crack habit and has been awol for several months. So I am all along once again....

    Here is what I am facing. We install several Armstong furnaces. Most installs work out well with no call backs. We have a few that are just killing us will call backs. They all seem to be issuses with pressure switches. Or so it appears. The one that is hurting the most right now will run for a week and then shut down. The code on the boards says pressure switch. Cycle the power and the furnace will run again for days or even weeks. I have checked venting and have found nothing. Pressure switch tests fine with a multimeter and I have even changed the pressure switch 2 times (doing as I was told). On the older style Armstrongs we have piped the condensate with a tee and and vent and everything has been fine. On this neweer Armstrong the installation manual calls for the condensate trap. My journeyman (old school) told me the traps are a waste of time and to pipe them the way we do the other furnaces. So on this one that is what was done. Not sure where to turn anymore. My journeyman now figures it is the board and wants to change that out. I do not want to become a "parts changer". I want to become a proper troubleshooter.

    I am not asking for someone to spoon feed me any answers as I want to learn and figure this stuff out. Just not sure where to turn for help anymore. I Feel lost and out of control now. I have read several post and feel that the knowledge of this fourm is second to none and would love a teacher/mentor like some of the people here.

    Thanks in advance....Ned

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada Occupation:Interprovincial Plumber, Commercial Gasfitter Interests:
    Posts
    2,414
    How far north? You need to get your hands on a magnahelic or manometer and check the pressures. Talk to your rep, he should be able to help.
    I love my job, but paydays Thursday

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Sask,Canda
    Posts
    77
    La Ronge... We have a manometer. I have never seen it used or used it on anything but a gas valve. When sent out to the said furnace early last week with a Cleveland pressure switch in hand I grabbed the manometer off my journeymans desk. He asked me what I was doing and when I told him he made comment that I did not need it. Just uses the little Allen key, if the furnace runs proper it is good. So I left the building....sad but very true.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Sask,Canda
    Posts
    77
    First thing this morning I asked if we heard anything from the customer over the weekend. The answer was no. Then this evening I got a text from the boss saying the customer just called and informed him that when he got home from work tonight there was once again no heat. So if I can find one of those traps in the shop tomorrow (journeyman threw them in the garbage...his comment...they should reduce the price of there furnaces and leave these parts out...I wonder how much they cost to make anyway). I will install it and see what happens. If I can get the manometer off his desk without to many questions I will take it for the truck ride as well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    1,835
    The older Armstrong units were likely internally trapped.
    Install a trap if the mfg. instructs you to do so.
    You don't want flu gases escaping into the drain line.
    Depending on where the unit is located, you may need to install heat tape on the trap and line.
    "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing" Socrates

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Western, KY
    Posts
    3,253
    Quote Originally Posted by Ned355 View Post
    First thing this morning I asked if we heard anything from the customer over the weekend. The answer was no. Then this evening I got a text from the boss saying the customer just called and informed him that when he got home from work tonight there was once again no heat. So if I can find one of those traps in the shop tomorrow (journeyman threw them in the garbage...his comment...they should reduce the price of there furnaces and leave these parts out...I wonder how much they cost to make anyway). I will install it and see what happens. If I can get the manometer off his desk without to many questions I will take it for the truck ride as well.
    Sent you an email

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Sask,Canda
    Posts
    77
    Received your email...thank you.

    Was back out to the house today and installed the trap on the condensate drain. Put the manometer on that replacement Cleveland pressure switched. Adjusted the pressure a bit. Then put the furnace through its paced. Everything seems to be function as normal but that part is nothing new. Ran it through some 0.5 degrees Celsius cycles just to see how it cycled. Then let is buck her buck until I got the stat from 16.0 degrees Celsius to 21.5 degrees Celsius. Seemed to function as it should. Today is not as cold as it has been (with the windchill it is has -38 degrees Celsius) but it is still rather cold. So now we wait again....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    1,145
    I have no advice to offer on this repair. Just wanted to say, job well done. Your journeyman sounds like a real joker. Keep your attitude of troubleshooting, not part swapping. It wont be long until YOU are the one guys are calling for advice. Good luck.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Posts
    1,516
    You sound like you're sharper than your Journeyman. The thing i remember most about my apprenticeship, was taking the installation manuals home at night, or at least to my truck, and reading them during lunch or breaks. I too had to work and get my training with an older guy that we called "The Animal." He was very unorthidoxed (sp) in his work habits and usually drank his lunch. Arguing with him about setting up and starting up all the new-fangled equipment was totally futile. But,,,if I read the instructions, I would have a better knowledge of what was going on with the performance and operation of the equipment. I used to go back to jobs and hang gauges and run performance tests on some startups, on my own. Never got caught doing these checks, but found out a lot of information that was never revealed to the "Animal." For instance he always installed A/C-Heat Pump coils in the return of all furnaces, whether electric, gas or oil. Told me it was easier. When I asked him about premature heat exchanger failure,he just gave me a blank stare, and told me that it made more money for the company replacing failed furnaces.
    One way to outthink people is to make them think you think. They'll think you're not really thinking what you're trying to get them to think you think...........

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    1,829
    Ned, one possibility that was causing your pressure switch trips was the lack of the trap in the condensate line. The inducer pulls through the heat exchanger, creating a negative. This negative pull can hold water back in the secondary hx and cause nuisance pressure switch trips by partially restricting the passages through the secondary with condensate. Also, have you verified that the venting is sized in accordance with the install instructions? If it is borderline and you have troubles again, maybe you should look at upsizing the venting. Keep up the good attitude and you will go far. Tell your journeyman to suck a fart or buy your own manometer and/or magnehelic gauge.
    A Veteran is a person, who at some point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for payment up to and including their life.
    Gene Castagnetti-Director of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Sask,Canda
    Posts
    77
    It seems like I have learned more from reading posts and trying different things on my own than from my journeyman. I will not bash him to badly as he is my journeyman and I hate to be to disrespectful. I just want to learn... I am also in a funky spot as my brother-in-law is the owner of the company. We have had it out on many occasions and it has really hurt our relationship outside of work. He ran a very successful (still does) electrical company but saw that opportunity to to grow the business and jumped into the plumbing, heating and air conditioning business. Hired himself a journeyman and has been fumbling along since. I won't even get into the a/c issues as I will save that for our cooling season. We had an a/c guy but they let him go and then informed me that I was the new a/c guy. Nothing like being thrown into the fire. I am sure it is a good way to learn but man oh man I made (and will continue, just as long as they are not the same) mistakes. Thank goodness for this forum.... There is so much information on this forum that up until this post I never thought I would have to ask a question. It is just getting to the point of being very frustrated.

    I turn 40 in February and my wife asked me what I wanted....a manometer made the top of the list so here is hoping. If not, I will get one ordered the day after my birthday. Just hate to spoil it for her is she already ordered me one.

    Not sure what it is, maybe the extreme cold but I am dealing with one furnace and rtu after another right now (not to mention the 3 frozen up houses - no heat in crawl spaces and heat tape either not working or unplugged) . I think I have learned more in the last couple of weeks than ever. With the exception of the big boss (who is never on tools anymore) and our book keeper every employee within our company are further north doing 2 fire halls and 14 houses (both electrical & mechanical). So I am the only guy in town currently. Some stuff is tough to do along, especially when you are unsure and second guess yourself. It will come in time but I am sure but that does not help the customers that are my firsts for some thing. I am sure that many of you out there have had to deal with similar issues.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    1,145
    Quote Originally Posted by Ned355 View Post
    It will come in time but I am sure but that does not help the customers that are my firsts for some thing. I am sure that many of you out there have had to deal with similar issues.
    Just to let you know, all of us still from time to time come across our "firsts". That is the beauty of doing what we do, one never stops learning.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    469
    I use to have 2 lye where im from as a aprentice once I tell them they reply "can u score ?????" Be careful he might c this an Off with your Head Krc??? hell of a drug and Slander Killss
    Customer is alWays opposite of Left

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