Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This Old House, II

Heating.  Did I mention heating?

I got a full load of heating oil about two weeks ago.  First time in about a year, given the Doc's and my impecunious state.  Fired it up, cranked it up to 68 deg.  It kicked over and started running.  Lots of gurgling in the pipes.  Minimal heat downstairs, nothing on the second floor.  Time to punt.

Got into the library's on-line catalog, and found the Time-Life DIY series book on home heating and cooling.  Reserved it, picked it up, and read it.  It is an excellent reference (I ordered a copy from the Paper Back Swap Book Club), but of course, a bit generic.  So, back to the interweb... this time for the owner's manual for the boiler in the basement.  Which I now have in PDF format.  I love the internet, and Google is my friend.

The trouble shooting diagnostics pointed me to a low water situation.  I poked around and poked around, until I had the piping figured - input, output, and return.  I found the inlet valve, as well as the pressure regulator and the expansion tank.  Both inlet valves were open (two inlet valves - one at the top of the inlet stack, and another between the pressure reducing valve and the expansion tank.  I don't know.)  I fiddled and futzed, and finally realized that it didn't seem that any water was actually entering the system.  Just for grins, I rapped on the expansion tank.  I sounded resounding hollow, which I took to mean "empty".

So, I turned off the main inlet valve, and unscrewed the tank.  It weighed about what I expected an empty tank to weigh.  And no wonder!  The inlet was completely plugged with a tightly packed wad of rusty crud.  Just for fun, I turned the water back on.  Aaaand, still nothing.  So, I removed the pressure regulator.  It, too, was plugged with rusty crud, and when I opened the valve, water squirted out of the pipe at an angle, just like water squirts out of a hose when you have your thumb on it.

So that was how I spent my Friday.  Fortunately, it wasn't horrendously cold over the weekend, because I couldn't get replacement parts until Monday, when I got paid.  I went into York on my usual payday supply run, and picked up a new regulator and tank.  (Also got my new glasses, a pair of jeans, and dog food.  And beer.)

I got home, and went to work... I immediately noticed that the new valve wasn't configured quite like the old one.  That one had external thread for a coupling nut.  Mine had internal threads for a 1/2" nipple.  Sigh.

So, off to the local ACE I go.  I get the 1/2' female end piece, and happily return home.  I get the whole thing soldered together, and realize that there is no way to assemble it - all on the ends were threaded.  It seems the original coupling was there for a reason.  Duh.

All DIY home repair projects require (at least) three trips to the hardware store.  I got a coupling, plus fittings and pipe, and swung home.  This time for sure!

And it went together, and held water!!  It ran, and, when I finally went up to take a shower, the bathroom was warm!  Whoa.

However... the next morning, when I was in the bathroom again, I could hear water running.  The only open valves I knew of were the ones controlling water to the heater.  Yes, I had a bad feeling about that.  Turned out to be accurate, too.  There was about an inch of water on the basement floor.  I had work to do, so I turned off the valve, and went and did it, then stopped at ACE on the way home.  (Not a fourth trip - the first of what I expect will be another three.)

Figured I didn't need an $80.00 sump pump just yet, so I got a hand drill powered pump, rated and 150 gal./hour.  Worked great.  Turned the water back on, turned the furnace back on, and away it went.  I wisely checked back an hour or so later.  The water had risen a tad, so I turned it off, and called it a day.

When I checked this afternoon, the floor was 80% dry.  I turned the water back on, and let it run.  I then turned it off, and cranked the thermostat up so it would kick in.  I'm trying to figure out the circumstances of the leak - it it when the system is pressurized from the incoming pressure, or when it is hot and running?

I'm going to go check, and will pick up this thread later.

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