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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Danbury Connecticut
    Posts
    17
    Hello Folks! I just bought a new house with a not so new oil fired boiler / radiator water heating system.

    Its a 2200 sq ft house that’s about 20 years old. Its in Connecticut so the winter isnt that bad. Not like Vermont or anything. The boiler is original and is a Slantfin. It has a thankless water heater coil thingamabob and it has three heating zones.

    My issues with this beast are many and its not even cold out yet!

    Can someone tell me what they think would be the best plan of action for this beast? Should I replace it or is it worth fixing up? It looks to be in decent shape. How long do these things last? What about the watter heater, is it probably on its last legs? I would hate to dump money into this to find I need a new one in two years anyways. Would a new one be more efficient and perhaps quieter? Could I add on one of those stainless steel water tanks and toss the tankless coil?

    Anyhow, here is my list of problems that I have noticed. (I wish people would maintain these things).

    1: The pressure relief valve is dripping. Not a lot but enough to have caused mould up the wall in front of the boiler. I put a bucket in front and get about two quarts a day out of it. The Boiler pressure is 15 psi and temp seems to hover around 200.

    2: There is no thermostatic mixer valve on it and as a result my shave in the morning is fairly luxurious. Nothing like some 200 degree water in the basin for that spa effect. However, I dont want to know what happens to laundry exposed to this.

    3: Some of the radiators make a LOT of ticking noises.. Like a frigging machine gun only quieter).. tick tick tick tick pop! This goes on about ten minutes then the cool down cycle then ... it can drive one nuts if you are trying to sleep.

    4: One of the zone valves leaks when it comes on. Not much but enough to make the floor wet underneath.

    5: The oil pump.. Man! When it kicks on the lights dim and it is noisy. Almost as noisy as an older forced air furnace.

    6: Relay Chatter - Once in a while, when the oil pump is coming on, you can hear a relay chatter a bit before it closes and you hear the oil pump fire up. Not sure what that might be.

    7: Once in a while, the pump seems to come on for like 2 seconds and then go off. Then about two minutes later it will come on and run the water temperature up and shut off normally.

    Please help!

    [Edited by chocfull-o-nuts on 10-31-2005 at 03:39 PM]

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,171
    Originally posted by chocfull-o-nuts




    1: The pressure relief valve is dripping. Not a lot but enough to have caused mould up the wall in front of the boiler. I put a bucket in front and get about two quarts a day out of it. The Boiler pressure is 15 psi and temp seems to hover around 200.

    Relief valve just needs changed, also expansion tank should be checked.


    2: There is no thermostatic mixer valve on it and as a result my shave in the morning is fairly luxurious. Nothing like some 200 degree water in the basin for that spa effect. However, I dont want to know what happens to laundry exposed to this.

    Have a indirect water heater installed, and don't use the tankless any more.


    3: Some of the radiators make a LOT of ticking noises.. Like a frigging machine gun only quieter).. tick tick tick tick pop! This goes on about ten minutes then the cool down cycle then ... it can drive one nuts if you are trying to sleep.

    Ticking noise from radiators? Sounds like you have copper baseboard, once the water temp is lower that will minimize, its not the old boiler doing that.


    4: One of the zone valves leaks when it comes on. Not much but enough to make the floor wet underneath.

    Needs rebuilt weather you get a new boiler or keep the old one.



    5: The oil pump.. Man! When it kicks on the lights dim and it is noisy. Almost as noisy as an older forced air furnace.

    Lights dimming, may be other trouble, as in electric run to the boiler.

    6: Relay Chatter - Once in a while, when the oil pump is coming on, you can hear a relay chatter a bit before it closes and you hear the oil pump fire up. Not sure what that might be.

    could be electrical trouble, out side of the boiler.

    7: Once in a while, the pump seems to come on for like 2 seconds and then go off. Then about two minutes later it will come on and run the water temperature up and shut off normally.

    Are the zone valves TACO? If they are are one is miss wired, it could cause this.

    Please help!

    [Edited by chocfull-o-nuts on 10-31-2005 at 03:39 PM]

    Cast Iron boilers last along time, NOEL, a Slantfin rep can tell you more about your boiler if you post the mod number.

    30, 40 plus years for a CI boiler.

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Danbury Connecticut
    Posts
    17
    Thanks for the reply :-) I will pursue some of these suggestions with my heating guy, as soon as I can get a hold of him.

    I really like the idea of an indirect water heater. Im really short on space for it though. Is one of these thermostatic valves worthwhile? Or, on the back side of the boiler I have about 28" of clearance, do I need all that clearance on the back side of the boiler? It looks like that side has no components that need regular access.

    Thanks again!

    Oh, and the zone valves are honeywell not taco. It only leaks when it is open. I guess I just need to have that replaced or rebuilt.



    [Edited by chocfull-o-nuts on 11-01-2005 at 09:54 AM]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    24
    Based on all those questions, it sounds like you need a professional (or two) to take a qualified look. There are safety issues here as well, so if you don't know what you are doing, get help. If you're just curious, you might find additional info at heatinghelp.com, those guys do more with boilers. I think if the big pieces are ok (likely imo), you can probably get by for several years just fixing up what you have. By all means fix all the damn leaks ! I personally don't like a thankless water heater (heh heh), if you're boiler has the capacity look at indirect, otherwise look at a separate DHW heater. 200 degrees is way too hot from a safety standpoint (got kids?). Ticking noise is expansion, you can try to isolate it, or run longer duration at lower temps to reduce the extreme temp cycling. Lights dimming is electrical, sounds like a long branch circuit. Consider a separate circuit if you think it's a problem. As far as noisy, those oil fired burners do tend to be noisy. BTW, is Connecticut weather that different from Vermont?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Danbury Connecticut
    Posts
    17
    Oh, Im getting a pro to do the work. I have no desire to be peed on with fire. I have not had much luck with contractors so thats why I tend to at least scope things out so I have some idea as to what they are suposed to do.

    For example, you mentioned the capacity of the boiler, noone has asked me that, they just quote the price on the install. Then what, If I dont have enough capacity do they sell me a bigger boiler?

    And nope, no kids in the house but the previous owners had two young children, I dont know how they lived with this.

    Re, the weather.

    Yes, In southern Connecticut we are warmed by L.I. Sound.. very often we get rain here when upstate it is snowing. Last year no snow untill January. Kind of strange weather really.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,171
    The contractors that were already there may have already checked your boiler capacity.



    What mod number is your boiler.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Danbury Connecticut
    Posts
    17
    Well, I looked at it last night and made a mental note of it but somehow, I forgot what it was. Its a Slant Fin Liberty, circa 1985 the plate also said BTU was 117 / 131,000 depending on the fuel type.. well, it could have been 117 / 134 I forget that too. I think it was D50.. Ill look again tonight.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    654
    Originally posted by chocfull-o-nuts

    1: The pressure relief valve is dripping. Not a lot but enough to have caused mould up the wall in front of the boiler. I put a bucket in front and get about two quarts a day out of it. The Boiler pressure is 15 psi and temp seems to hover around 200.
    Most Slant/Fin boilers blow their relief valves, especially the smaller size boilers, when equipped with a tankless HW coil. Those little boilers love to 'temperature stack' since their aquastat settings are high in order for the small capacity boiler to supply sufficient domestic hot water. So, the easy remedy is to turn down the temperatures and hope hot water capacity isn't sacrificed too bad. This is not a knock on Slant/Fin, as their boilers are quite good, they just have this inherent 'uniqueness' to them!

    Originally posted by chocfull-o-nuts

    2: There is no thermostatic mixer valve on it and as a result my shave in the morning is fairly luxurious. Nothing like some 200 degree water in the basin for that spa effect. However, I dont want to know what happens to laundry exposed to this.
    Really hot water (scalding that is) makes for hurtful shaving as you know, but makes the washing machine wash better....all at the sacrifice of boiler efficiency though. Code should state an anti-scald valve (aka: tempering valve) is necessary nowadays....probably not when your boiler was installed however.

    Originally posted by chocfull-o-nuts

    3: Some of the radiators make a LOT of ticking noises.. Like a frigging machine gun only quieter).. tick tick tick tick pop! This goes on about ten minutes then the cool down cycle then ... it can drive one nuts if you are trying to sleep.
    The boiler is stacking too high, makes the heating system really loud. Some noise is nearly impossible to eliminate if copper pipes touch ANYTHING wood. When that occurs, noise happens when the copper pipe expands when really hot water flows thru it. Again, turn down the aquastat settings and the system should get quieter.

    Originally posted by chocfull-o-nuts

    4: One of the zone valves leaks when it comes on. Not much but enough to make the floor wet underneath.
    That's no good, remember if water leaks out, air will get in. So leaks make the system eventually go airbound, which means when you need the boiler the most, it won't be there for you....Murphy's Law at its best. Get it fixed.

    Originally posted by chocfull-o-nuts

    5: The oil pump.. Man! When it kicks on the lights dim and it is noisy. Almost as noisy as an older forced air furnace.
    Sounds like an electrical problem unrelated to the boiler. Oil burners (the 'pump' as you describe it) do not draw much current, maybe the equivalent of a 100 watt light bulb or so.

    Originally posted by chocfull-o-nuts

    6: Relay Chatter - Once in a while, when the oil pump is coming on, you can hear a relay chatter a bit before it closes and you hear the oil pump fire up. Not sure what that might be.
    Get it fixed...sounds like a bad relay in the primary control or the thermostat or the aquastat is no good. Running any boiler with a known problem is foolish.

    Originally posted by chocfull-o-nuts


    7: Once in a while, the pump seems to come on for like 2 seconds and then go off. Then about two minutes later it will come on and run the water temperature up and shut off normally.
    Same response to #6, you got a bad relay somewhere or similar.

    Originally posted by chocfull-o-nuts
    Please help!
    Call a reputable oil company, any good tech can fix your easy problems.




    [Edited by casturbo on 11-02-2005 at 12:24 PM]

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    483
    Both beenthere and casturbo have given excellent advice as usual. I own my own oil heating business here in Maine, one man shop. All of the problems you have described are very fixable without putting in a new boiler. Relief valves do sometimes fail to seal properly and should be replaced with the exact same capacity when they do leak. Try to find a good oil technician in your area, they do exist A good technician should be able to get things fixed pretty quickly, have them clean and tune the boiler while they are there. At the very least they should replace the fuel filter, change nozzle, check the electrodes and replace if worn, clean the flue ways and flue pipe, vacuum out the combustion chamber, fire up boiler and perform efficiency test, adjust air shutter until correct combustion is achieved, test safeties and wipe down unit. Slant fins are a great but sometimes finicky boiler to tune, they tend to soot up easily if the combustion is off a little, the tight passageways that makes them efficient contributes to this effect. I put a Slant/Fin boiler in my house last year, very little if any soot after one year of heating. Hope this helps to shed some light on your problems.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Danbury Connecticut
    Posts
    17
    beenthere, it is a MODEL # L30FT


    And everyone else, thanks so much for the information! I am trying to get someone to come and look at it. Everyones very busy this time of year I guess..

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Danbury Connecticut
    Posts
    17
    Well, Time for an update. I have had two visits from my Heatco.

    The first guy replaced the leaky zone valve, the pressure relief valve, and the silver thing on top of the expansion tank. He claimed that the water temperature guage on the side of the boiler was not correct and he said the system was operating normally. I have no reference for normal but I am starting to see why the Forced air guys sometimes look at the hydronic guys like they are from another planet.

    Anyhow.. the system seemed to be fine for a while. I measured the water temperature at the tap from the tankless coil it was about 150 degrees, whould go down to 135 or so then back up to 150.. 150 was max so Im thinking the boiler guage is off and the hot water is something I can deal with for now.

    Then a big water hammer noise that I hadnt heard before! I looked at the boiler pressure and it was up to 17 psi. on my faulty guage. It had always been 12 - 14 or so before and the temperature guage was really high! I bled off a bit of water by closing the return, opening the bleeder and operating the zone valve but that fix was temporary and the pressure went right back to 17.

    The next morning I heard a number of water hammers and bangs throughout the day and later in the day the pressure had reached 30 and SWOOSH! Well, you know what happens at 30. My new pressure valve got a good workout. So off goes the boiler, on goes the hot water taps.. Opened the pressure releif and took out a few buckets.. then I called the heatco.

    New Tech guy this time. He runs it up.. pressure goes to 15.. he says this is normal.. He tested the pressure, watched it cycle a few times, Bled off some water and said I should replace the guage because otherwise he cant see if the aquastat is working right. He rotated the regulator valve adjuster thing about one turn and then he left. Much like the Cat in the Hat I thought.

    Well, this morning, once again loud banging noises when the zone valve shut off. Hissy boiler.. presure up to about 17.. I bled a bit of water out of one of the zones and this time I got a fair amount of air. I then shut it off and came in to work.

    I have a feeling the first tech may have opened the intake regulator valve a bit too far. I am going to try and adjust it down a bit to see if this helps. If not, My understanding is that it could be the tankless coil leaking or a faulty regulator valve.

    I guess if my home fix does not work I will have to find a good sheet metal guy.






    [Edited by chocfull-o-nuts on 11-08-2005 at 01:41 PM]

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
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    68,171
    I just am not sure what silver thing is on top of your expansion tank.
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    2,666
    The silver thing is the hyvent. It is what bleeds air out of the system automatically.
    From what you describe it is pretty typical of a 20 year old system to have a bunch of electo mechanical devices to need replacing.
    Aside from that the water issue is pretty easy to fix, but unfortunately some techs don't want to spend enough time on the job to solve it.
    I would have them see if the expansion tank needs replacing and replace the tridicator gauge (pressure gauge), and make sure the air is out of the system. The hyvent can't get rid of all of it if it needs major purging. And make sure the temperature settings are low enough on the aquastat(180-190 on the high limit is usually enough). The Honeywell aquastats tend to get out of calibration on the temperature settings after they get 8 to 10 years old. Sometimes on 20 year old aquastats, the setting for hi limit is 140 and won't shut off until the water gets 200 or more. If this is the case it needs replacing. Also the aquastat short cycles like you said it should be replaced, its a nuisance. If the primary control is chattering (old relay type) this can be checked out fairly easily as well.
    The water part should take a couple of hours. Do they have to haul buckets of water or is their a sump pump that they can run a hose to? The aquastat and primary control should take a little over an hour to replace both.
    Also that domestic hot water is too hot. You might think about having a tempering valve installed if there isn't one already.
    Indirect storage tanks are nice but I wouldn't put one too close to the boiler. If you can put one in there you don't want to make it impossible to service the boiler or indirect tank.

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