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Old 10-10-2006, 08:00 PM   #1
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Water level in boiler system

We have water baseboard heat. Last winter we had a lot of noise, probably due to the low water levels. We found out that the water main to our house was clogged and our water pressure was next to nothing. The lack of water ruined our water heater.

It didn't seem to affect the boiler or heat system. However, I wondered if there's a way to know what the water level is in the baseboard radiators.

I turned the spigot that lets more water from the main into the heat pipes and we could hear it running into the pipes. I let a lot of water in (I think) then shut it off because I was afraid of letting too much water in.

Can I do that (let in too much water)? Is there a way to know if there's enough or not enough - without hearing the banging and clanging in the basement?

Thanks -

Barefoot Brian


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Old 10-10-2006, 10:19 PM   #2
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Holy cow.... STOP what you are doing.

A hot water heating system is "full" at all times. The difference is that there is a pressure reducing valve that limits the pressure to 12 or 16 pounds. If you pressureize your heating system to full city pressure, you'll have a royal mess on your hands. Your pressure relief valve on the furnace will start to puke water all over the basement, and your pipework (previously not used to those pressures) can declare it's leaks. Often, the bleeders will begin to leak too. I assume you used the "fast fill" lever on the pressure reducing valve when you did you test a bit ago.

Now... you might have a steam system too, with a "manual fill" valve, and you might not know you have steam and are confusing it with hot water. Does your furnace have a sight glass? (a glass tube about 1' long on the front where you can observe the water level). A steam boiler is only about 1/2 full of water.


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Old 10-11-2006, 07:21 AM   #3
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What is the reading on the psi gauge?
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Old 10-19-2006, 01:11 PM   #4
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Hi Barefoot Brian

The first thing you should is listen to mdshunk, STOP! If you do not know or do not understand a hydronic or steam system they can be and sometimes are very dangerous. The easiest way to determine what you are dealing with is to look for the components that mdshunk described. The other way to tell a hydronic or a steam system is to look at the baseboard heaters. If the base board heaters are a coppertube with aluminum fins, its a pretty safe bet you are playing with hydronics. If they are made of cast iron or steal its a pretty safe bet you are dealing with steam. Do not confuse the two of them, they both use water but are totally different. On a hydronic baseboard if you pull the cover off there will be a little screw in one end, this is an air bleed. Carefully turn the screw counter clockwise. If water comes out shut the screw and go to the next one. If they all have water coming out your done. Check pressure gauge, make sure it is not reading above 16 psi. If it is you can either use the boiler drain or do yourself a favor and test the pressure relief valve.

Good luck
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