No heat on 1st floor - drain baseboards

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HereToLearn

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I am trying to figure out the best way to restore heat to my first floor. It is a two story split level home and the heat works great on the main floor as well as the 2nd. However, I've already bled out the small bleeder valves on the baseboards. I got a fair amount of air out of what I believe is the last (or 2nd to last technically) in the run. I only have 1 thermostat for the heat so the best I can tell is that I've got a single zone and hot water goes out in a single line, splits somewhere that I cannot see and returns separately from the upper floors versus the ground floor.

Are bleeder valves always located at the end of a pipe run and are the ones in my basement likely the last ones in the line?

I have considered draining the water out of the system but want to make sure I am doing it correctly. A friend suggested opening the valve and letting the existing water out while the system pumps new water in to replace it. It sounds like this would clear the air locks and restore warm water into the piping on the ground floor. I think this would be the capped valve with the red cap in the photos. It seems more likely this is the return side that feeds back into the furnace. However, i am not positive and do want to make any mistakes. There is also a drain valve located under the circulator but that is the lowest on the boiler and seems would drain the actual boiler which i do not believe i would want to do. So i think i need to screw a hose into the drain with the red valve and open it up while leaving the system on to replace the water i'm flushing. Does that sound right?

As best i can tell, city water comes in, goes through my hot water tank and then feeds into the water expansion tank. It then perhaps gets sent upstairs or possibly into the furnace. Although that last part doesnt make a whole lot of sense to me and it seems more likely it goes straight up through the system. And then the pipes behind feed return water through the circulator pump, through the boiler, then up and past the expansion tank into the home. You cannot see the pipe from behind the vent but that one goes up into the house and is the hottest. The pipe in the basement that is higher with the bleeder is also warm and i believe could be the return from the 2nd floor. This joins in with a lower pipe that is often cold but if I bleed it enough it becomes hot.

Any help is MUCH appreciated!

Boiler 6.jpg
Boiler 2.jpg
Boiler 1.jpg
Boiler 5.jpg
Boiler 4.jpg
Boiler 3.jpg
 

John Gayewski

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Is it possible to bypass the boiler? Meaning can you fill the piping seperately from the boiler? If so you could hook city water pressure to the piping and fill that way. That would get water into some of the harder to reach places.

If you have a parallel zone there should be valves to fill and bleed out seperately.
 

HereToLearn

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Last year (or the year prior) we were having issues with heat on the lower floor and had lots of noise/banging. Before I could address my wife had already called out a plumber who just bled the valves and the system returned to normal. Considering I have already done that, and restored a little heat in some areas with others remaining cold, I think perhaps there are larger air pockets that need to be flushed. I also know there could be other issues at play but wanted to at least try clearing out the existing line before I called anyone in to check the wide variety of other potentials.

I do not know of any other valves outside of the ones in the photos. There are bleeder valves located on all floors but nothing larger than that.

I'm also trying to figure out if the water flows from the baseboards into the circulator then into the furnace and up through the expansion tank and into the baseboards again. Or is it coming through the expansion tank, down through the furnace and out the circulator pump? It would seem like if I have correctly identified the return lines then those would feed into the circulator, into the furnace, up through the tank and then into the floors above to create a circuit. Assuming the water from the supply line would enter the expansion tank and then travel straight up to the upstairs, I think that would purge everything from the system and give me a fresh start if I opened the drain with the red valve?

I would not feel comfortable trying to bypass the boiler tbh. I just want to try and clear the line without cracking the boiler haha. If that doesnt work, I will be calling someone in and taking notes.
 

HereToLearn

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Is it possible to bypass the boiler? Meaning can you fill the piping seperately from the boiler? If so you could hook city water pressure to the piping and fill that way. That would get water into some of the harder to reach places.

If you have a parallel zone there should be valves to fill and bleed out seperately.
Sorry John, I misunderstood at first. I closed off the return to the boiler, opened the red gate valve to clear out the system and used the bell shaped fill override to refill everything with city pressure for a good 20 minutes to clear out any air pockets. Then I cranked up the thermostat to get it all circulating. Still no change unfortunately
 

Fitter30

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Take few pics of the boiler, expansion tank and piping. Pressure in the boiler and water temp. Turn boiler and pump off let system sit for 15 minutes see if you get any air. Turn system back on.
 
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John Gayewski

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Well with being there is going to be hard for someone to come up with a scheme to get you air pocket out. My question would also be how did you get air into your system? It should kick out air as it runs.

It sounds like whomever you hired last time got it done pretty easily you might want to just call them. And it sounds like you need better maintenence and or upkeep as this system should stay closed.
 

HereToLearn

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Take few pics of the boiler, expansion tank and piping. Pressure in the boiler and water temp. Turn boiler and pump off let system sit for 15 minutes see if you get any air. Turn system back on.
First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving to you both and your families! I truly wasn’t expecting a response today but had some time while the kids were eating breakfast.

My OP has a bunch of pictures of the piping and set up which I think I have a handle on now. However, I am adding some pictures of my gauges. First, while there is no call to heat. And then while it is running. Also, while I was refilling the system yesterday I kept a very close eye on pressure as I wanted to make sure the 30 psi valve didn’t pop and it stayed around 12 the entire time so I’m assuming that is what the full valve is set at.

Looks like it runs about 20 psi while it’s heating and circulating water and 0 when it’s not. Forgive the very stupid question, but that’s my problem huh? Some kind of leak whereby I’m not getting constant pressure to keep the water flowing continuously all the way through on the first floor?

I’m having issues adding photos bc they are too big on my phone but given the above, I doubt they’ll be necessary. If needed though I will transfer them to my work computer, compress and post.
 

John Gayewski

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There should be a constant pressure of around 12 to 15 psi. I'm guessing without being there to look at anything that there's a leak and your fill valve should be on to find it.
 

Fitter30

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There are two types of expansion tanks bladder and a plain steel. Plain steel is usually mounted in the rafters.Your one problem is that ur short of water and more than likely the either the plain steel is full of water or the bladder tank has failed. Bladder tank opposite of piping is a tire valve depress it and water comes out its bad has to be replaced. Plain steel need pics of the tank and if there is a shut off valve in piping going to tank.
 
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