Cleaning up Dad's Boiler Issues...

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Toolslinger

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Please bear with me on this while I try to get it right...

Here's the back story.
My father built a great house, pretty much by himself. This is no shack, it's a gorgeous A-Frame tucked in the woods, with all custom woodwork. Took him 25 years to get it done. While a mechanical engineer, he wasn't a plumber, or electrician, and always thought he was the smartest guy in the room. On top of that, he really liked to do things to the max...

So, what I have now (inherited it a year ago) is a 3 BR, 2 Bath, 2 Story plus boiler room, elevated house. It's got 6 heating zones on the hydronic system. It doesn't need 6, but that's what it has, and I'm not ripping open walls to change piping... The system is filled with a propoleyne glycol mix, and there's no fill line from the domestic side. The expansion tank is a plain steel unit, so no bladder to fail.

The problem is this... It was originally plumbed with B&G 100 series circulators on the retun side of the zones. Over time 3 of 6 of them failed for reasons I do not know. He replaced those 3 with Taco 007 units, 1 with IFC. Unfortunatly, either age, or hubris got to him, and he failed to pay attention to the arrows on the pumps. So the B&Gs are pumping down, and the Tacos are pumping up, fighting each other if multiple zones kick on at once. I found this because yet another B&G unit has failed (actually a few years ago), and I want to replace that to get heat back to my utility room.

2023-09-25 08.57.51.jpg


Don't mind those drip pans, the purge valves all need new washers that I will be putting in.

Ok, so I know I can in theory rotate the motor, and pump casing on the Tacos. I've got the replacement seals for that, and for the flanges. He used the 2 bolt flange gaskets for some reason, but I've got both those, and the rings that Taco uses for reinstall, I'll take a good long look at the flange faces before I make the call. I went so far as to pick up additional circulators in case something goes wrong during the flipping process. I know how to add the glycol mix back to the system/purge it, and I know I have to burp the Taco with the IFC (purge valves are on the wrong side of the circulators for IFC install, so I'll have to crack the flange).

I'm hazy on the expansion tank. I'll be starting at 0 psi when I fill the system, and I guess while filling/purging, I'm going to develop something like the typical 12 psi im used to from my last house just by pumping the fluid to the top point in the system. Or am I going to get 0 psi from the fill, and then just hit the tank with 12 psi of compressed air? Tag hanging on the tank from him indicated he was running it around 18 psi, so I guess I'd be shooting for that number rather than 12.

The system is overly complicated for what the house needs, but it works. Hell it has worked for a number of years with the backwards Tacos. That's most likely because it really only calls for heat from 2 or 3 zones, and that keeps the house comfortable.

Long term, this boiler is on the back side of its life. Probably another 5 years, and I'll be looking for a replacement. At that point, I'll sort out some of the, let's say unique, aspects of the system. I got to rebuild the whole heating system in my last house as a result of some real hack putting that thing in. I'm not really looking forward to this process, but it needs to be done. When the next boiler goes in, I'll likely hire that out. I can sweat pipe as needed, but pro's are pro's, and I can't hold a candle to them...
 

Toolslinger

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And, it's doneish...
Day one was flipping the Tacos, replacing the bad B&G, and generally a good deal of cursing.
Day two was mostly filling/purging the system, and chasing some drips from the flanges. Discovered that the valve at the top of the system, in the attic, was no good. Only valve in the whole system that was sweat in rather than threaded. Perfect... Left the system open overnight.
Day 3 had me going through the stock of sweat fittings, and valves on hand. Found what I needed, and managed to get that replaced. Purged everything. Pump took the system to 12 psi. That's about 7' more of head than I need since the last radiator is 7' below that valve I replaced.
I was wrong on the tag on the tank. It was at 15psi. That lines up with what I've read, assuming right around 27' of head in the system, and then an extra 3psi to cover circulator differential.

I've got a drip here and there on the old ball valves (no packing nuts, hoping they might settle down a bit with some heat). I also have a drip on the 2 B&G's that I didn't replace. Everything new seems to be ok. Used the Taco gaskets, not the flat red ones. It's sitting overnight at 12psi, and if that's good, I'll bump it to 15, and heat it up. It's going to have a couple drips until I get back to warm weather. I can live with that. Next year, I think that whole manifold is going to get a rebuild. B&Gs will go away. Purge valves will be below the Tacos, so I can run IFC's in all the zones. Might move the non IFC Taco's to the two zones with serious heat loss, since a little non-pumped circulation isn't going to cause issues there. The flanges are in tough shape. I'm real happy they seem to be holding. I was concerned I was going to have to replace them to get a seal, and end up struggling to get replacement the same height as what I have. They'll go when I redo it for sure. I think they're on their 3rd boiler (my father was never one to throw out anything, and I mean anything)... They don't owe us anything at this point...
 
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Fitter30

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