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Old 01-26-2014, 01:04 PM   #1
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How to fill an empty natural circulation radiator


Hi -

I'm "pretty" sure I have natural circulation radiator heating, as I can't find a circulation pump in my utility room (this is my first winter in the house, so I am still figuring some things out). The water heater is in the basement (floor #1), the radiator in the converted attic space (floor #4) is almost completely empty - the bottom 3-4 inches are warm to the touch, the rest is cool.

I've bleed the the radiators on the other floors, all are full. I checked to make sure that the cut out valve on the radiator in teh attic is open, and am now running the system (heat currently set at 80F) and it does not appear to be filling up. I shut the bleeder valve for a while, and when I re-open I can hear a small amount of air come out, although I am not sure if the existing water is heating up the air, or is I am actually filling up the unit. I will continue to run the system with the bleeder open, in hopes that I am just not waiting long enough.

Any tips are appreciated!

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Old 01-26-2014, 01:27 PM   #2
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How to fill an empty natural circulation radiator


How much water pressure is in your boiler. Probably will need between 15 and 18 PSIG for the rad to fill with water.

If you have the old steel type expansion tank, you will probably ned to drain it. As it is probably full of water, and the third floor rad is now acting as the expansion tank.

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Old 01-26-2014, 01:45 PM   #3
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How to fill an empty natural circulation radiator


There is no level indication on the expansion tank, but as I knock on it, it does feel full. The pressure is currently ~ 11 psig. I understand your idea about the expansion volume shifting to the top most portion of the the system, but with the bleeder open, shouldn't that expansion volume should be shifting?

How do I refill the system after draining - I've seen on some websites that suggest I should have a pressure regulating valve off the supply line that will allow more water in when less than the set point (typically 12 psi) - as far as I can tell, I have a straight length of pipe into the heater (with a cutout valve - currently open)?

How long should it take to refill - its been about 3 hours now.
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Old 01-26-2014, 04:26 PM   #4
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How to fill an empty natural circulation radiator


No, the volume won't shift. The tank must be drained completely.

Post pics of the piping at the boiler. There are too many ways a boiler can be piped to be able to tell you how to fill it without seeing what you have.

12 PSIG will only raise water 27 foot. You will probably need between 15 and 18 PSIG.
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