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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    4

    Default Baseboard Heaters not Heating

    Hello,

    Hopefully this is a easy question with a simple solution.

    I recently bought and moved into my new home, a ranch built in 1955. It has a single-zone forced hot water heating system. Due to oil costs, I have been keeping the house relatively cool (~58 degrees), so I haven't been paying too much attention to the temperature. However, this morning my freezing girlfriend finally noticed that the spare bedroom was the only room actually being heated - the fins and pipes in the master bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom were all cold to the touch. I cranked the heat up for a while and it did not improve. The pipes in the basement are hot everywhere in the run, but when I go upstairs to the corresponding ones, those same pipes are cold to the touch. The strange thing is, the spare bedroom has the heaters farthest from the boiler. The previous owner had a new oil tank installed right before we closed because the old one had a leak; I'm not sure if this would have had any effect or not.

    So, any thoughts on why the hot water is passing right by all these other heaters for the farthest one in the loops? Any help is appreciated, I'm really hoping this is a DIY problem and I don't have to pay a plumber or the oil company.

    Thanks,
    Ray

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Baseboard Heaters not Heating

    Thanks for the reply, I'll check out that page and see if I can figure something out.

    To answer your questions, I did not cold-fire the system myself; the boiler is always on, as it is our hot water source as well (tankless heater). The boiler is fairly new (9-10 years old) relative to the house. The system was inspected and signed off prior to me taking possession of the house, but I do not know that they checked the baseboards for functionality as it was not really cold yet (we closed about 5 weeks before we actually moved in and needed heat).

    I'll go see what I can figure out now and get back here later, thanks again.

    Oh yeah, I did fail to mention that a couple of the heaters have a run of pipe that extends up well past the fins with a valve or plug at the top. I unscrewed one to see if there was water in it; it hissed but no water came out. I then replaced it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    443

    Default Re: Baseboard Heaters not Heating

    Ray,

    The fact that you "opened one of the plugs above the baseboard, and it hissed", and no water came out, indicates that the baseboard pipes are filled with air instead of water.

    This is often because the expansion tank near the boiler is "waterlogged", or inoperative.

    But it could also be caused by a misadjusted reducing valve.

    This should be relatively easy to fix once the exact cause of the problem is found.

    The expansion tank could be either an old-style long green tank about 4'long propped between the basement floor joists, or the newer, smaller pressurized expansion tank that looks like the 20 lb. propane tanks used for barbecue grilles.

    You should try "bleeding" all and any bleed valves you see at the end of the baseboards to try & get all the air out.

    You should also GET SOME WATER SQUIRTING OUT after the air is vented.

    If you don't hear air, then see water, check the gauge on the boiler; the "pressure" or "altitude" needle should read ~12 psi.

    When you turn the thermostat up to call for heat, you should hear the circulator pump come on within 5 minutes of boiler operation.

    With the newer circulator pumps, you have to place the blade of a large screwdriver on the housing of the pump & place your ear on the plastic handle to hear the pump turning.

    The temperature gauge should read ~180 degrees & you should still have hot water in the faucet taps and shower.

    Please post back.

    Photos if possible.
    Last edited by JacktheShack; 11-19-2007 at 02:07 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Baseboard Heaters not Heating

    Well it is definitely air in the system causing it. I bled most of the baseaboards and they started working right away. Unfortunately, the coin valve is stuck on the last one I need to do, so I cannot bleed it until I buy a new one. And I have a feeling replacing the valve is just going to introduce more air into the system, which means I will have to start over. But oh well, at least now I know.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    443

    Default Re: Baseboard Heaters not Heating

    Good job Ray!

    Glad you found the problem so quickly.

    Yes, I would definitely get another bleed valve, if just to have a spare.

    I've seen them at HD and Lowes for ~$1

    They have a universal 3/8" base that screws into the brass, copper or steel base fitting.

    Try to work with the one you have on there now.

    It's rare that they would not open for you.

    If you're using a coin, switch to a good-sized screwdriver for more leverage.

    If the bleed valve in question is inside the steel housing of the baseboard, remove the end cover and any other parts that will give you more leverage.

    Apply some penetrating oil on the part and use the screwdriver and turn counterclockwise to try and loosen the bleeder.

    If it becomes necessary to remove the bleeder, you will have to shut down the boiler, shut off the incoming fresh water supply into the boiler, and remove about a gallon of water from the drain faucet at the base of the boiler.

    If you don't do this, a gusher of water will come out when you remove the bleed valve at the baseboard.

    Older bleed valves take a 9/16" open box wrench counterclockwise; newer bleed valves take a 716" open box wrench also counterclockwise.

    Once the bleed valve is replaced, you will have to re-open the water supply valve & bleed the baseboards of all air again, then turn the boiler back on.
    Last edited by JacktheShack; 11-19-2007 at 03:18 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Baseboard Heaters not Heating

    ***, thanks for all the info Jack.

    Nah, the old one was so gunked up it might never have come unstuck,; I didn't feel like messing around with WD-40 and whatnot. I bought a new one at a nearby plumbing supply store (mistake) for $5 and change. Guess I should have gone to Lowe's but whatever, lesson learned cheaply enough. There was no gush of water when I took the old one off, likely because the pipe was so filled with air. Anyway, I put the new one on, re-bled all the baseboards, and voila now I have heat. Now that it works again I can't believe I didn't notice it wasn't working for 2 weeks, ha.

    Thanks for the replies, very appreciated.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Baseboard Heaters not Heating

    i have been having this problem for the better part of a week now. i can hear trickling noises in my heating pipes. i looked at the ends of my baseboards for bleed valves, but i didn't see any. the temp/pressure gauge on my boiler reads an altitude of ~5. i bought and installed a new thermostat to try and solve the problem of the heat not coming on, but obviously it didn't work.

    the boiler is an old american standard boiler, and there are two pipes that run out of it. one leads to the basement heat and is always hot, and the other leads through the circulating pump and is now cold. it also divides into a left pipe for the second floor and a right pipe for the first floor. both of these branches have what i assume to be valves i can open or close to control the amount of water going through the pipes, and they also have fill/drain valves.

    please advise. my grandma has to walk around in three layers of clothing just to stay comfortable in the house

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