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Old 01-13-2013, 04:55 AM   #1
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


I have a Munchkin T80M Boiler, a Taco ZVC404 zone valve control, and Uponor A4024F zone valves. The system is 3 years old. All three zones have baseboard heat. Not all the baseboard registers in zone 1 seem to be heating. Zone 2 does not seem to be heating. Zone 3 is barely heating. All three Uponor A4024F zone valves appear to be opening and closing.

The boiler min and max temperatures are 150-180 degrees. The temperature gauge on the outgoing pipe reaches 135 degrees.

The indicator lights on the Taco ZVC404 appear to be working correctly when the thermostat and zone valves are activated for each of the three zones.

I thought I would start troubleshooting zone 2 first. The valve for zone 2 reads 130 Ohms for the yellow pair of wires and 1 Ohm for the orange pair. When the thermostat calls for heat, voltage is between 0.01 and 0.08 volts for the yellow pair. The orange pair is 3.2 volts with the multitester @ 200m VDC. With the thermostat off, the terminals for the thermostat read between -0.01 and 0.03 volts.

Or, do I need a service tech?

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Old 01-13-2013, 05:51 AM   #2
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


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Originally Posted by dd30 View Post
I have a Munchkin T80M Boiler, a Taco ZVC404 zone valve control, and Uponor A4024F zone valves. The system is 3 years old. All three zones have baseboard heat. Not all the baseboard registers in zone 1 seem to be heating. Zone 2 does not seem to be heating. Zone 3 is barely heating. All three Uponor A4024F zone valves appear to be opening and closing.

The boiler min and max temperatures are 150-180 degrees. The temperature gauge on the outgoing pipe reaches 135 degrees.

The indicator lights on the Taco ZVC404 appear to be working correctly when the thermostat and zone valves are activated for each of the three zones.

I thought I would start troubleshooting zone 2 first. The valve for zone 2 reads 130 Ohms for the yellow pair of wires and 1 Ohm for the orange pair. When the thermostat calls for heat, voltage is between 0.01 and 0.08 volts for the yellow pair. The orange pair is 3.2 volts with the multitester @ 200m VDC. With the thermostat off, the terminals for the thermostat read between -0.01 and 0.03 volts.

Or, do I need a service tech?
Well the first thing i would do is going down to crawlspace and make sure copper pipe to baseboard isn't leaking somewhere. If circulator pump is working and zones are opening you should be getting flow. You said temp is 135. I think tech time. Do you have bleeders screws on each baseboard? If so go and lightly open with scat key and see if water comes out. All my copper base board has a bleeder screw on the end of each. Its for taking airout of system.

It kind of sounds like your not getting water from boiler to zones.

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Old 01-13-2013, 04:56 PM   #3
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


I have a basement and pex piping. All the lines are behind drywall. There do not appear to be any leaks. The baseboards do not have bleeders.

I bled each of the zones at the boiler. It's a little better in that a couple of the baseboards that were not getting heat are. I think there is still some air in the system and will try bleeding it again.

I think bleeding the system puts me on the right track. I'll get a tech to look at the temperature. Thanks.
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Old 01-13-2013, 05:27 PM   #4
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


Your meter should have been set to A/C not DC.

Do you hear air/water moving in the zones.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:02 PM   #5
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


Measuring A/C worked better

With the thermostats off, there are 25 volts for each. When on, there are 0 volts.

With each of the three thermostats on, there are 25 volts across each pair of yellow wires and 0 across each orange pair.

With each of the three thermostats off, there are 0 volts across each pair of yellow wires and 0 volts across each pair of orange wires.

I do not hear any air/water moving when listening to baseboards in any of the zones.

After bleeding the system:

Zone 1: about half of the baseboards are heating

Zone 2: all the baseboards are heating, but not the same

Zone 3: all the baseboards are heating, but not the same
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:27 PM   #6
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


Where are the orange wires connect to. What terminals on teh zone panel.
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Old 01-13-2013, 11:00 PM   #7
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


I'm a little confused. You say your boiler temp is max 180 but you are only reading 135 at pipe going out to the zones? Baseboards are not going to put out much heat if any at that low of a beginning temperature.

If the zones are each individually piped in series (one baseboard after another) each section of baseboard will strip off heat and by the time you get to the last one there won't be enough left to do any good.

I'd suggest starting with one zone, make sure the other 2 stay off for the entire time. Turn up the thermostat enough so it won't turn off. Run it this way for at least 10 minutes. What's the beginning temperature of this loop? What's the ending temperature of this loop? You should have no more than 20 degrees of difference between the supply and return at the boiler. If you have more, it's a circulation problem. Not enough flow through the loop.

If you do this for each of the three zones by themselves and find less than a 20 degree drop on each then turn all three on and measure again.

This of course is assuming that you prove all controls are working as they should be.
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Old 01-14-2013, 06:39 PM   #8
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


Each zone valve control of the Taco ZVC404 has 4 terminals: The yellow wire terminals are for the motor. The orange wire terminals are for the end switch.

Last edited by dd30; 01-14-2013 at 10:23 PM.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:25 AM   #9
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


old_squid,

The 1 inch outgoing pipe from the boiler has a combination temperature/pressure gauge. There are no gauges on the pex lines going to the individual zones. The boiler's controller indicates there is a 2 degree difference between the outgoing and return. I turned off zones 2 and 3. There was no noticeable improvement in zone 1.

In monitoring the boiler's controller during one heating cycle tonight, the boiler heated to 166 degrees, even though the set point is 180 degrees. The combination gauge on the outgoing pipe read about 135 degrees.
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Old 01-15-2013, 02:40 PM   #10
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


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old_squid,

The 1 inch outgoing pipe from the boiler has a combination temperature/pressure gauge. There are no gauges on the pex lines going to the individual zones. The boiler's controller indicates there is a 2 degree difference between the outgoing and return. I turned off zones 2 and 3. There was no noticeable improvement in zone 1.

In monitoring the boiler's controller during one heating cycle tonight, the boiler heated to 166 degrees, even though the set point is 180 degrees. The combination gauge on the outgoing pipe read about 135 degrees.
Are there 2 pumps? One for the piping that looks like it goes from the boiler, through the 1" piping and then right back to the boiler with your heating zones tapped off of it. The second pump being on the piping going to your zones? If you do have 2, then the boiler system is piped primary/secondary which is the way it should be. I'm guessing this is the way it is because you said there is only 2 degrees difference between in and out of the boiler and with the issues you're having heating the zones this shouldn't be the case UNLESS you have 2 pumps. Or, you have other issues.

The difference between what the boiler control says the outlet temp is and the gauge could be because of any number of reasons. I'd trust the boiler control.

The set point being 180 and it stopped at 166 could be because the boiler has what is called a reset control either connected to it or built into it. This type of control will lower the actual temperature according to the outdoor temperature. The warmer it is outside the cooler the water can be and still keep your home comfortable..... as long as everything else is working properly of course.

If you believe the zone valves are working (I seriously doubt all 3 failed, because you say 2 & 3 seem to be working, kind of) I'm leaning towards your problem is with the pump that circulates the water through the zones.

Your problem (from your description) seems to be one of slowed or no forced flow of water through the zones. If this just happened all of a sudden I'd suspect the pump. If it's slowly become a problem than that can be a lot of other problems.

Flow through the system can be roughly proven by taking temperature measurements along the zones. Easiest way to do this is with an infrared temperature gun. They're fairly inexpensive and can be bought at most big box stores. They come in real handy for a lot of things around the house once you get used to using it. Just remember, if you're trying to measure the temperature of a copper pipe you need to put some black tape on it first. The surface of the copper pipe does not read accurately.

Start at the point where the heated water leaves the boiler area and heads towards the first baseboard zone and take a reading, writing it down. This should be your hottest reading. Tracing the piping as it goes in and out of each section of baseboard take readings on both ends writing the readings down each time until you get back to the boiler piping. Make a line drawing and put the temperature readings and arrows showing the flow along the line. The drawing doesn't need to be accurate, just a rough representation for a reference.

From the time the water leaves the boiler until it comes back the difference in temperature shouldn't (normally) be more than 20 degrees. This also means that if there are say 5 baseboard units on each zone, each should not drop more than 4 degrees. Large drops in temperature across zones means your not moving enough water through them fast enough.

Heat energy in a hot water heating system is moved from the boiler to the home and back to the boiler by the water. X amount of heat moved from point A to point B "basically" takes two things to happen in a hot water system. Temperature difference and flow. If you have the hot water leaving the boiler but, the returning water has cooled off more than 20 degrees you've not delivered as much energy as the boiler is potentially capable of producing. The closer the temperatures are between the supply and return the more energy delivered/moved (assuming that the water is flowing correctly). With a lack of proper flow you will also see the first baseboards of a zone working fine, but the last one not producing any or little heat. No energy delivered via temperature difference and flow = no energy/heat delivered to the room.

And that is your basic lesson in Hydronics 101, without the math. Good hunting!

Last edited by old_squid; 01-15-2013 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:00 AM   #11
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


old_squid,

Thank you very much for taking the time to provide the Cliff Notes version of Hydronics 101 and recommending an infrared thermometer.

There are indeed two pumps and an outdoor temperature sensor. I agree that it is unlikely that all three zone valves failed. We had not had this problem before the current heating season. Outdoor temperatures have been in the upper 20's to upper 30's, and are forecast to be warmer in a couple of days.

Measurement of PEX lines where they leave the boiler:
Zone 1: 146
Zone 2: 152
Zone 3: 149

All baseboard temperatures taken of incoming and outgoing PEX lines for each baseboard.

Zone 1 Baseboards:
#1: 75 - 56 (hard to read)
#2: 70 - 74
#3: 72 - 72
#4: 64 - 65
#5: 62 - 66
#6: 62 - 63
#7: 65 - 67
#8: 57 - 65

Zone 2 Baseboards:
71 - 75
70 - 78
66 - 70
65 - 71
67 - 70
64 - 66

Zone 3 Baseboard:
76-81
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:49 AM   #12
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


Are your zone valves actually opening? It sounds like they are if the other zones are getting semi warm. What's the temp of the water returning from your zones? I'm going to have to agree that it sounds like a problem with your zone circulator.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:36 PM   #13
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


Canucker,

The zone valves *appear* to be opening. According to the boiler's control panel, the returning water is about 2 degrees F cooler than the outgoing, e.g. 166 out/164 return (the last time I checked during a heating cycle). How can you tell if a circulating pump is not working at 100%?
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:23 PM   #14
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


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Canucker,

The zone valves *appear* to be opening. According to the boiler's control panel, the returning water is about 2 degrees F cooler than the outgoing, e.g. 166 out/164 return (the last time I checked during a heating cycle). How can you tell if a circulating pump is not working at 100%?
You could check the amp draw of the pump while its supposed to be running. If its over its specs could be a bad bearing, winding or impeller scoops. If the amps are ok, then if you can isolate the pump, you can remove the motor and take a look at the impeller, see if there is damage or a blockage in the pump. We like pics, if you can get some.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:20 AM   #15
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Boiler with three zones not heating well


Sounds like a bad circulator pump. Not that expensive. Local big box stores should stock them.

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