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Old 12-21-2011, 07:33 AM   #1
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Not getting hot air in a zone


Hello everyone. I'm having a problem that's happened a few more times than I would wish on anyone, and I'm hoping you folks could hold my hand and show me what I need to do to fix it.

I really don't know a terrible amount in any of the trade skills, so please forgive me and feel free to correct at every turn if I refer to certain objects with the wrong term. Here are some images of my system:
http://imgur.com/a/qR33c

My house has oil-based heating, and I believe it's forced air. The most common problem I have is that I'll lose hot water, and from talks with plumbers, it's because I get "air in the pipes". One guy was kind enough to walk me through how to bleed it out- I take a short amount of hose and attach it one at a time to each of the four spigots you see in the images, and close the valves on all the other lines at both ends aside from the one I'm bleeding. This works fine, and I get hot water back.

The problem, however, is that (this is now the second time) the hot air to the upstairs zones dies when I do this (I believe I have three zones in my house, one for the downstairs, and two separate upstairs zones, as there's an odd 'apartment' section of my home). They just start blowing cold air non-stop in desperation of trying to reach the temperature setting. A fellow from the oil company came by (I was not around) and apparently yelled at my mother in one way or another about what I'd done, and I believe said something about the "water level in the boiler".

So, I'd like to be able to fix this issue myself, and avoid a brow-beating and a bill, especially if this is a simple fix. I've tried searching for answers regarding heating in the past, but it's a bit of a struggle because the system in my basement/the attic is intimidating to understand, to say the least. It looks like it came out of a Dr. Seuss illustration. So, DIYchatroom, how can I fix this (and if the oil-company fellow is right, what did I do wrong that I can avoid in the future?)

Apologies in advance for any errors or for writing too much.

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Old 12-21-2011, 10:58 AM   #2
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Not getting hot air in a zone


First things first,

On the front of the boiler, you have a forced hot water system, there is a gauge. It should show pressure and temperature on the dial.

What is the pressure? How many stories is your house? This will tell us if you have enough water in the system.

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Old 12-21-2011, 11:27 AM   #3
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Not getting hot air in a zone


2 story house; the gauge is at about 25psi and near (but not quite) 180F
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Old 12-21-2011, 12:02 PM   #4
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Not getting hot air in a zone


OK, you have water in the system. The pressure is actually a bit high but it will drop when you bleed the air.

That big grey air tank you see. It's an expansion tank. As the water gets heated it expands into that tank. There is a diaphragm in the tank that sometimes fails. When that happens you can get bubbles of air in the system.

Turn off the system before you bleed it, you don't want the circulators running. Just go around to each radiator and open the bleeder until you get a steady stream. The pressure on the boiler should stay at about 12-15, don't get below that. On the back, left side of the boiler in the cold water line, that is the pressure regulator. There is a lever or knob on the top you can tap to increase the pressure if it gets low. It should maintain pressure itself.

Do you have fan coils? I see an air handler in one of the pics? It gets bled just like a radiator.

I usually start at the furthest radiator and work back.

How is your system zoned? Valves or circulators?

Can you take a wider view picture of all the piping? It will help.
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