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Baseboard Heating System

To maintain the energy efficiency and useful life of your baseboard heating system, it is important that your home maintenance program include the proper maintenance for your baseboard heating system.  See also:  Radiators and Furnaces.


Shown in the "Maintenance" tab above are the recommended routine maintenance tasks for your baseboard heating system. The "Questions / Answers" tab above shows our answers to related questions. And the "Articles" tab above provides links to related informational articles and sources.

 

Get tips for saving money on energy, improving safety and more with our free Newsletter or our free Automatic Maintenance Reminders.



 

 

 Maintenance Task #1Vacuum around baseboard heating pipes

 
       
   

How do you vacuum around baseboard heating pipes?

 

 

 

The fins around the baseboard heating pipes should be vacuumed (using one of the attachments to your vacuum cleaner) to remove dust, etc. from the fins.

 
       
   

Why is it important to vacuum around baseboard heating pipes?

 

 

 

The purpose of removing dust from the fins is that this layer of dust acts as insulation which reduces the efficiency of heat transfer from the hot water pipe to your room.  Poor efficiency means your heating system has to work harder, which costs you more for energy and reduces the system's service life.

 
       
   

How often should you vacuum around baseboard heating pipes?

 
   

The baseboard heating pipes should be vacuumed and cleaned once a year during October, prior to the heating season.

 

 

 

 

   
   

How does Home-Wizard rate the costs and benefits for this task?

 
   

The cost of this task is moderately low, depending on the amount of baseboard heating pipes that you have in your home.  The task is relatively easy to do.  You will need a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment. 

 
         
   

The benefits of this task are moderately high.  Doing this task can help improve the energy efficiency of your heating system, and thereby extend it useful life.

 
       
   

Overall Home-Wizard benefit-versus-cost rating (one 'hat' = low and four 'hats' = high)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Maintenance Task #2Open baseboard heating louvers

 
       
   

How do you open baseboard heating louvers?

 

 

 

Rotate the louver at the top of each baseboard heating section so that the radiating fins are exposed.  Make sure the baseboard heaters are not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.

 
       
   

Why is it important to open baseboard heating louvers?

 

 

 

Exposing the radiating fins enables them to heat the room with better energy efficiency.

 
       
   

How often should you open baseboard heating louvers?

 
   

Perform annually in October, just prior to the heating season.

 

 

 

 

   
   

How does Home-Wizard rate the costs and benefits for this task?

 
   

The cost of this task is fairly low, depending on the amount of baseboard heating pipes in your home.  The task is relatively easy to do, and no specialized tools are required.

 
         
   

The benefits of this task are high, as it enables your heating system to operate more effectively.

 
       
   

Overall Home-Wizard benefit-versus-cost rating (one 'hat' = low and four 'hats' = high)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Maintenance Task #3Close baseboard heating louvers

 
       
   

How do you close baseboard heating louvers?

 

 

 

Rotate the louver at the top of each baseboard heating section so that it is closed.

 
       
   

Why is it important to close baseboard heating louvers?

 

 

 

Closing the baseboard covers help keep dust from building up in the off-season, which would reduce your energy efficiency.

 
       
   

How often should you close baseboard heating louvers?

 
   

Perform during the month of May, at the end of the heating season.

 

 

 

 

   
   

How does Home-Wizard rate the costs and benefits for this task?

 
   

The cost of this task is fairly low, depending on the amount of baseboard heating pipes in your home.  The task is relatively easy to do, and no specialized tools are required.

 
         
   

The benefits of this task are moderate.  Doing this task can help improve the energy efficiency of your heating system.

 
       
   

Overall Home-Wizard benefit-versus-cost rating (one 'hat' = low and four 'hats' = high)

 

 

 

 



 

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS from "Ask-a-Wizard":

QUESTION from "Nelly"

How do you remove air that is trapped in pipes of hot water base board heaters?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Nelly:

Please note: BE VERY CAREFUL working around your boiler, as the water can be SCALDING HOT. 

I'm assuming you have air in your baseboard hot water system and it's making noise, which is a common complaint this time of year. Regarding the procedure for bleeding air from your baseboard heating system, first shut off your boiler and make a note of the water pressure. Next locate the self-feeding (auto-makeup) water valve and ensure that the make-up water supply is connected and water is available. Then open up all of you valves that go to your various heating zones. Then close all of the shut-off valves. Next, attach a short piece of garden hose to one of the spigots coming off of the return line that goes back to your boiler. While manually opening the auto-makeup valve, open the spigot and let the water run in to a bucket or a drain. BE VERY CAREFUL, as the water coming out of the hose will likely be very hot. Let it run until you no longer see any air bubbles, which could take several minutes. While you are doing this, keep an eye on the water pressure and don't let it get above 25 PSI. If needed to control the pressure, release the auto-makeup valve momentarily. After you have stopped seeing air bubbles, release the auto makeup valve and close spigot. Allow the water pressure to return to normal. You then repeat these steps until all of your zones have been bled. When done, close all of your zone valves and open all of your shut-off valves. Then check the water pressure, which should be the same as what you noted at the beginning. And then finally, turn your boiler back on.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "Gene in Maine"

How does a baseboard heater boiler replace water after heating up?  In other words, how does the boiler know how much water to replace?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Gene in Maine:

When a baseboard heating system heats up, the water in the system expands, and since it is a closed system, this expanded volume of water has to go somewhere. This is why baseboard heating systems have an “expansion tank” that accommodates this additional water volume. Note however, when the boiler heats up, the water expands taking up MORE volume, rather than water needing to be replaced.

But your question seems to be about how water is replaced, so let me describe how this works. Water needs to be replaced if the baseboard heating system has a leak somewhere in the system. The system handles this by a pressure regulator that allows fresh water supply from the house to replace this lost water. Water will come into the system until the pressure that is lost from the leakage of water is brought back up to the setting on the pressure valve. The water is replaced essentially instantaneously. If there is a significant water leak in your baseboard heating system then you will hear water being replaced, which will sound like someone has briefly opened a faucet somewhere in the house.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from momothemonster

Our lakehouse uses water baseboard heating. We recently had a pipe burst which resulted in alot of water damage. We were wondering, what would happen if we turned off the valve from the main water supply? (So that if it every burst again, we would only have a leak equal to the amount of water in the system). Would we then be introducing air in the system? (as I understand it the system normally may lose water due to small leaks and it automatically compensates for this by adding new water - but if no new water is available, then I figured I'd have air in the system.) Thanks for your help!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Momothemonster:

Sorry to hear about your burst pipe in your hot water baseboard heating system at your lakehouse.

I assume that since you say your pipe “burst”, that your lakehouse is a region of the country where it gets below freezing (when water freezes, it expands, and the force of this expansion is so powerful, that it can cause even steel pipes to rupture).

To answer you question, yes, you can shut off the main water supply valve, BUT you will also need to DRAIN your water system completely (BOTH hot and cold). If you don’t completely drain the water our of all of your pipes, then the trapped water in the pipes can freeze and burst one of your pipes, and then when you turn your main water supply valve back on you will have a mess on your hands.

And then in the Spring when you turn your main water supply back on, you will need to bleed the air out of your hot water system. For a description of how to do this, you can go to Home-Wizard’s online Maintenance Library, to the page on “Baseboard Heating System Maintenance”: http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from "momothemonster"

Thank you for your response! And you assumed correctly about living in a cold region. We think we must have lost power and therefore the water was no longer being heated (as it is powered by electric) and therefore froze.

But just to clarify on your comments.....if I wanted to keep the heat on (at a low setting), I should keep the main water supply valve ON? (Otherwise my other choice is to do as you suggested and turn off the water (and have no heat) and drain the pipes.)

Thank you!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

momothemonster:

You have some good follow-up questions.

Yes, it sounds like you lose power from time to time, and then get freezing in your baseboard water heating pipes. And since it sounds like you have electric water heating, you not only lose the water being heated, but you also lose the electricity for running the water circulation pump for your baseboard water system. In other words, even if you switch to oil or gas for your boiler, when you lose electricity, you still would not have power to circulate water through your baseboard water system, and therefore your pipes could still freeze and burst.

And yes, if you want to leave the heat on, you can still shut off the main water valve. 

The risk, however, is that if you lose power for long enough period, you could still get freezing in your baseboard heating pipes (plus freezing in your toilets, household water pipes, sink drains, etc.) and get damage from the frozen water expanding. But you will have limited how much water spills out by closing the main supply valve.

If you do decide to turn your heat off, remember that you not only need to drain your baseboard water heating system, but also your water heater tank, the household water system, etc. And if you cannot drain water completely out the traps in your sinks and toilet bowls and tanks, then you will need to put a small amount of RV antifreeze in them. And you should also leave open all faucets and showerheads. And if you have a refrigerator, it should be cleaned out, unplugged, and left with the door propped open. 

If you have any questions about how to completely drain the water out of the equipment and plumbing for your particular lakehouse (since this can be rather tricky), then I suggest that you should consider using a trained professional who can come out and do the appropriate service.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "Confused in Bristol"

I'm a bit confuse about which valve should remain open after I'm finished removing the air from my baseboard radiators. Do I leave the valve above the circulation pump open or closed, or do I leave the valves below the circulation pump?

Thank you!


ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear Confused in Bristol:

If your question is what positions should your the valves around you boiler (both before and after the circulating pump) be in after you have finished bleeding the air out, the answer is that the valves should be in the same position as before you started the air bleeding procedure.

Just remember, what you are trying to do, zone by zone, is to let make-up water come in to replace the water (and air) that is currently in the piping for each zone. The fresh water coming in will not have any air in it, and you will let it flow in until you see the water coming out no longer has air in it.

Hope this is helpful. If you still have questions, just let us know.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "sagehervan":  

I live in a apartment and the radiator baseboard was not working and now it is, and the fumes are all through the apartment.  Will it go away soon?  Or will I have to get a repairman?

ANSWER:

Dear sagehervan:

Regarding your question about the smell from your baseboard radiator system, since you said that you are in an apartment and had not used the baseboard system before, there are two things that this could likely be:

1) if the landlord painted the baseboard heating system (either directly, or if paint dripped on the baseboard radiator when the walls or ceilings were painted), then when you turned on the system, the increased temperature could be causing "outgassing" of the paint as it warms up on the surface of the radiator; or

2) if dust has built up on the surfaces of baseboard radiator, then this can have a "musty" smell when your system comes on for the first time in a season.

In either case, if these are the problem then it should go away over time. However if it is because of paint on the radiators, you might want to open the windows to help air out your apartment, rather than breathing the paint fumes. And if it is due to dust build-up on your radiators, you might try using a vacuum attachment to clean off the built up dust.

If the smell does not go away soon, then you (or your landlord) should contact a professional.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "Larry":  

What to do after a frozen pipe bursts on a hot water oil burner baseboard?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear Larry:

I'm very sorry to hear that you had a frozen water pipe burst in your hot water baseboard heating system. Hopefully you did not incur much water damage, which can be a real mess and the damage can be extensive.

Regarding your question of what to do after a frozen baseboard heating system pipe bursts, here are a couple of thoughts:

1) Obviously, shut off the water supply to your baseboard heating system immediately.

2) Do NOT try to heat your pipes to thaw them out with anything stronger than an electric hair dryer. Using a stronger heat source (such as a torch or propane heater) can cause the trapped water to boil and explode.

3) Unfortunately, you might find that when your baseboard heating pipe froze up, that in addition to the section of line where most of the water came out, that there may be other sections that were also damaged, and will therefore also need to be replaced. This is because when one one section of baseboard pipes freeze, it can also freeze upstream and downstream of this section of the pipe (including inside the walls). And further, unfortunately you should also check your toilets and their traps, to see if they show any cracking from the same low-temperature incident that caused your baseboard heating pipe to burst.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "Brent":  

My baseboard radiators make a loud bang when the heat comes on in the bedroom. I suspect it is like water hammer. How do I fix it?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear Brent:

You say that you hear the bang noise when your baseboard radiator turns on. As such, the noise is probably not coming from a water hammer (which more typically occurs when a valve suddenly closes).

Here are some potential causes of the bang noise that you are hearing:

1) A pipe to or from this baseboard radiator that is running through a hole in a wall, etc. that is too tight, which doesn't allow sufficiently for the pipe's thermal expansion.

2) Pipes not supported properly, such that when they turn on, they bang into one another or into other things.

3) The zone valve is installed backwards.

4) Air is trapped in the line, which needs to be bled out.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "renedye":  

I manage an apartment complex in Colorado that uses the EXACT same Baseboard Heating System that you have displayed in the pictures on this page of your website: http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

My dilemma is that I need replacement parts for some of the heaters in our building - - and have NO clue as to where to find these parts. I have searched and searched and searched the internet, but the only thing I've been able to come up with are obviously much NEWER versions.

Any suggestions on where I can find what I'm looking for?

Thank you for your time.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear renedye:

I wish we had gotten your posting two months ago!  The house in the picture on the baseboard heating page of our Maintenance Library was completely demolished down to the foundation, and the baseboard heating fixtures were either donated to an inner-city building resource charity, or they we sent to recycling.

But here's a link to a site that has a list of names and contact information for suppliers of baseboard heating fixtures:

http://www.traditional-building.com/article/radside.htm

One thought is that you might want to make a copy of the picture from our Maintenance Library webpage, and then email it to the companies that you talk to from this supplier list. Once they see it they could not only tell you whether they carry this model, but if they don't, they may still recognize it (from being in the business), and could hopefully direct you to the manufacturer who makes it.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "Kenneth":  

I notice that my low water light will come on sometimes and my furnace will not heat up the house even though the water level show sufficient amount of water.  But when I flush out the water and reestablish the water level the furnace will kick in and the baseboards will began to heat up again.  It does not happen often, but sometime I have to flush water out more than usually when the water light come on.  I would like to note that I do not have an auto feed and that every once in a while I would have to fill and flush water out of the furnace.  Could this be from a build up of rust in the pipes that cause the low water indicator to come on and shut the furnace?  If so can this be clean out other then continuing to draining and flush water out of the furnace?  What do you think is causing this to happen. Your information is greatly appreciated.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear Kenneth:

Yes, your problem with the your furnace shutting down could be caused by rust and sediment affecting your low water level cut-off gauge.

If the boiler and the low water cut-off gauge are not flushed of sediment, the low water cutoff could hang up on the sediment. You should follow the appropriate procedure for your particular furnace system to drain and flush your boiler. And as part of your annual inspection and service, a trained service technician should take the low water cutoff apart to manually scrape and clean the walls of it, and to also clean the sight glass.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP COMMENT from "Kenneth":  

Dear Home-Wizard,
The explanation you gave me for my furnace yesterday is right on point.  The sediment in the glass and water level gauge is just as you describe. I will have a technician come to clean it out.
Thank you very much.
Kenneth

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear Kenneth:

Thanks for the feedback!

Glad that we could help you with this.

If you have other home maintenance questions come up, just let us know.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "sue in pa":  

We just moved into a very old home.  We have baseboard gas heat and the first floor is quite cool, while the second floor is very warm.  The thermostat is set at 62 degrees.  Ssomeone told me to bleed the heater, but I can't find a valve.  Can you help me?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear sue in pa:

Regarding your question of how to bleed air out of your baseboard hot water system, you can find the answer to this on our Baseboard Heating System Page of our online Maintenance Library:

http://www.home-wizard.com/how-to-guide/hvac/baseboard-heating-system/baseboard-overview.aspx

However, the fact that you say it is a very old house, and that the second floor is warm and the first floor is cool, makes me wonder if part of your problem might be due to poor insulation.

As you probably know, heat rises. So if your first floor is drafty (for example, from poor weatherproofing and sealing around external doors), and there is no insulation in the flooring/ceiling between your first and second floors, then the heat could be rising up out of the first floor (making it feel cooler) to the second floor (making it feel warmer).

So you might also want to consider weatherproofing and caulking your doors and windows. And if the doors and windows don't have storm doors and windows, you might want to add these. And finally, if they are very old, you might even want to consider upgrading them to higher insulation ratings.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "germil84":  

How to thaw frozen water pipe?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear germil84:

The first step in thawing out the frozen water pipe in your home is to locate the main water shut-off valve for your house. It is typically locate just inside your house near where water supply first comes into your house. If you are on public water supply, then this valve will be right downstream from your water utility’s meter. Make sure you have clear access to this valve, and that it is not obstructed by boxes, storage materials, etc.

The reason you will want to locate this valve is that if during the thawing process of your frozen pipes, that the ice blockage turns out to be upstream of where the pipe has cracked, then you will want to be able to shut off your main water supply ASAP.

The next step is locating all the locations where pipes have frozen. Go around your house and open up each faucet, flush each toilet, etc. If water does not come out (or just comes out in a dribble), then you likely have a frozen pipe located in the line coming to this faucet. Even if you have found one area of frozen pipe, it is a good idea to take an additional minute to check to see if there are other areas that have been affected by the same freeze.

The next step is to try to find the specific area in your piping where the frozen blockage is occurring. Open up the faucet where you have found that water is not coming out. Follow the pipe back from the faucet to where it runs through cold areas such as an exterior wall, unheated crawl space, cabinets, or in some cases an unheated basement if the pipe is near an outside wall. Sometimes the frozen area of the pipe will be frosted or have ice on it. If the situation is getting critical the pipe may be slightly bulged or look slightly cracked.

There are two kinds of situations that you might have to deal with: 1) the frozen pipe is exposed, where you can work on it; or 2) the frozen pipe is behind a wall.

If the frozen pipe is exposed, then there are several techniques that you can use to thaw it out. We recommend that you do NOT expose your pipe to anything hotter than you would put on your hand. Heating up a pipe too fast, for example using a torch, can actually cause the pipe to rupture from the steam that is produced and is potentially trapped between frozen sections of the pipe.

A couple of good choices for heating up your frozen pipe are:

- Hair dryer.
- Hot towels (just keep replacing them as they cool off).
- Space heater.
- Light bulbs, or better yet, a heat lamp.
- Well-grounded heating pad.

On trick you can use to speed up the process is to place tin foil or a cookie sheet behind the pipe to help reflect back the heat from your hair dryer, heat lamp etc., to the back side of your pipe.

If you find that you frozen pipe is behind a wall or ceiling, then you’ve got a little different problem on your hands. But you’ve got several options here:

- Place a space heater or fan near this section of your wall or ceiling, and allow warm air to circulate around this area.
- Use lamps or better yet, heat lamps to warm up this section (keep them back at least 8-18 inches from the surface).
- Turn up the heat in your house and wait (but if its cold outside and the frozen pipe is on an outside wall and inside of a cabinet, it may be a very long wait).

Note that the techniques that we described above can be used regardless of whether you have plastic or metal pipes in your home.

Hopefully this helps you with safely thawing out your frozen pipe.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "confused":  

Upstairs radiators are cold and down stairs are hot. Just repaired recirculation pump and still no heat upstairs. Bled all radiators and no heat upstairs.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear confused:

Since you have already repaired your recirculation pump, bled all radiators, and you are not getting heat in only one zone of radiators, then here are a couple possible causes of why you are not getting heat in your upstairs radiators:

1) It could be possible that you have dedicated circulators for different heating zones in your home. If so, you should check to see if the circulator for your upstairs radiators has failed.
2) If not, you should check the zone valve that serves your upstairs radiators. The water pipe should be hot both upstream and downstream of this zone valve. If the valve is bad or stuck, it will be hot upstream of the valve, but then cool downstream of the valve. (Upstream refers to the piping that is in the direction of the boiler)

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "Daleytwo":  

Help!  Bathroom baseboard (right next to the toilet) and three boys in the house, need I say more?  Have cleaned outside and inside as much as I can and was able to take somewhat apart.  Cleaned all the copper pipes, but the metal fins are impossible to clean since they bend right up.  I am wondering If I can spray some odor eliminator, or cleaning products right into it.  I realize I will have to do this many times, and yes it will probably rust a bit, but I can live with that.  And hopefully will eventually get better.   Do you have any ideas or tips?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear Daleytwo:

Having baseboard heating right adjacent to the toilet does make for some problems. But here are some suggestions that hopefully will help you.

First regarding cleaning this area, as you know the most difficult part is cleaning the "fins" on the radiator pipe. You will want to be very careful cleaning around this area, so as not to bend the fins. They work best when they are spaced evenly, and allow air to flow unobstructed through them. Rather than spraying cleaning products into the fins, which you won't be able to wipe completely out, a better alternative is to use a steam cleaner with a wand attachment. Here's a link to a company that shows how this works (we are not familiar with this particular company, but their website shows the technique): http://refreshyourhome.com/new-steamer-windows/a-Before-and-After-Pictures.html

The other thing you might want to think about, if you haven't already, is installing a "splash guard" above this section of the baseboard heating system.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from "chris carolan nj":  

I keep getting air in my system.  Its a 4 zone system and only the top floor 1 zone gets it.  I do have another zone on the top floor, but that one is always fine.  I bleed it and then a month later it gurgles and sounds like a faucet again, so I bleed it and its good for another month.  What is happening to be allowing air in?  Thanks

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear chris carolan nj:

If you keep getting air in your hot water heating system, it sounds like you might likely have a small water leak somewhere in your system. You should check all of the bleeder valves on your system, as this is a common place for water leaks to occur. And you should also check all of the piping, valves and fittings around your boiler for signs of water leakage. Hopefully, there are no water leaks occurring in any of the piping anywhere inside of your walls, as this can cause major problems related to pests, etc.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from carolan nj:

I have hot water baseboard heat with only a bleeder valve on the boiler..I had a professional come out a month ago and he said it was just air and made the system work great but a month later its loud again i bled it today and it had alot of air but now its whisper quiet...No signs of leaks anywhere..All 3 other zones all are quiet and work great..just this one zone...

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear chris carolan nj:

It sounds like you have a stubborn problem with air in one of the 4 zones of your baseboard heating system.

A couple of thoughts for things that you might want to check:

1) In the zone that you are having problems with, it sounds like it is on the second floor. Can you find any bleeder valves anywhere along this zone, where you can bleed the air out of this zone?

2) When you are bled your system using the valve at the boiler, was your boiler cold (that is, that it had been off for at least 3 hours)?

3) Are you able to bleed air out of the top of your boiler, for example through a pressure relief valve. Remember, always be very careful whenever you are bleeding air out of your heating system, as the water can be scalding hot.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from "chris carolan nj":  

I did bleed the system hot not but was not running for 20 minutes..I did just open the zone valve and the drain and pushed the little lever to allow more water to rush in around 25 psi...you could hear the air coming out of it but its still running quiet day 2 as for any bleeders i haven't seen any on the baseboards thru out the house.....

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM:

Dear chris carolan nj:

Well I guess the good news is that your problem zone has been quiet now for 2 days.

If your system was only off for 20 minutes when you last bled it, then it probably had not had time to cool down completely. So if the problem comes back, then one option that you still have is to try to let your system cool completely down (off for at least 3 hours) before you bleed it.

And I assume that when you inspected the problem zone for leaks and bleeders, that you removed the baseboard covers to see if there were any bleeders that might have been hidden by the covers?

If you still have problems after trying the above, please let us know, and we'll try to figure something else for you.

Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from CHRISTINE on 4/18/2008:


HOW DO I SHUT OFF THE HEAT FROM THE HEATER?


ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM
ON 4/19/2008:

Dear Christine:

To answer your question about how to turn off your heater, I'll first need to know what type of heating system that you have.

For example, is it a radiator or baseboard heating system? Or is a forced air distribution system?

And does your heating system have separate thermostat controls from your air conditioning system (if you have central air conditioning)?

Just let me know, and then I can hopefully give you the correct advice for your particular type of heating system.

Sincerely,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Leesa on 4/14/2008:

I'm looking at homes to buy in iowa the ad says utilities shut off over winter. this has baseboard heating can anyone tell me what that does to the system? would there be pipe problems because of this?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM ON 4/14/2008:

Dear Leesa:

Assuming that the water from the pipes in the house's baseboard heating system was completely drained properly, then this should not be a problem. 

By draining the water from the baseboard heating system during the winter, they were trying to eliminate the risk of losing power, for example, and having the pipe freeze and then potentially burst. Shutting down the baseboarding heating systems and draining the water out is actually a good idea when a home is going to be left unoccupied for a sustained period over the winter.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from john in ny on 4/10/2008:

My baseboard heat downstairs will not stop running (giving off heat) even though I turn it completely off. What might be causing this problem?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM ON 4/10/2008:

Dear John in NY:

If your baseboard heat will not shut off in just one zone, here's a couple of things you might want to check:

1) if this zone is thermostatically controlled, have you checked to see if the thermostat is operating properly.

2) if the thermostat is operating properly, then another thing to check is whether the zone control valve at the boiler is operating properly.

Home this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Michelle on 3/30/2008:

I have a baseboard heating system in my apartment. While I was out of town, I was informed by my landlord that the pipe froze and burst. One window was barely open. My apartment is always very warm and as a result I have never needed to put on the heat, and always have a window slightly open. The window was open for 4 months of winter without incident and my apartment remained warm. I noticed after the repairs, some sort of valve was replace approx 5 feet down the pipe from where the pipe burst. I have never seen the burst pipe and I was wondering if there could be any other reason for the pipe bursting.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM ON 3/30/2008:

Dear Michelle:

Was the pipe that burst in an outside wall or behind a cabinet that was on an outside wall?

If so, these are areas that can get much colder than other parts of your apartment. Especially behind cabinets where they can be very little air circulation.

Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from jamesbarlow8 on 3/20/2008:

I have a fully pumped domestic heating system and after I drained it (cleaned out with Fernox)I cannot get it to pump through the radiators,hot water is OK, I have fitted anew pump and zone valve and bled all points.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM ON 3/20/2008:

Dear jamesbarlow8:

Have you checked to se if the zone valve had gotten installed backwards? This happens sometimes.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from David Liddle on 3/13/2008:

We live in an old home - built in 1860 - which has hot water baseboard heat. The problem is that some of the covers and ends are missing. Do you have any ideas where we could get replacement parts?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM ON 3/13/2008:

Dear David Liddle:

Here's a link to a site that has a list of names and contact information for suppliers of baseboard heating fixtures:

http://www.traditional-building.com/article/radside.htm

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from anonymous on 3/10/2008:

how to stop knocking of hotwater baseboard heat pipes

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM ON 3/10/2008:

Dear anonymous:

Regarding stopping the knocking of hotwater baseboard heat pipes, potential causes of the bangs you are hearing are:

1) Air is trapped in the line, which needs to be bled out.

2)A pipe to or from this baseboard radiator that is running through a hole in a wall, etc. that is too tight, which doesn't allow sufficiently for the pipe's thermal expansion.

3 Pipes not supported properly, such that when they turn on, they bang into one another or into other things.

4)The zone valve is installed backwards.


Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from tom on 2/18/2008: 
how to properly drain and refill sealed hot water baseboard system

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM ON 2/18/2008:

Dear Tom:

You can look in the Question and Answer section of the Baseboard Heating page of our online Maintenance Library (www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp).

If this doesn't help you, and you still have questions, just let us know.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from carr1818 on 2/7/2008:


We are looking for the metal clip that holds the heat louver in place. Our home was built in 1960 and many of our clips are missing. Do you know where we can purchase these and other related parts for these older baseboard heating elements? Thank you for your time.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM ON 2/7/2008:

Dear carr1818:

here's a link to a site that has a list of names and contact information for suppliers of baseboard heating fixtures:

http://www.traditional-building.com/article/radside.htm

If you are still not able to find what you need, just let us know, and we'll see if we can find something else to help you.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from barbev on 2/4/2008:

which radiator valve is better ? automatic or manual for baseboard heating system

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM ON 2/4/2008:

Dear barbev:

I'm not sure exactly which radiator valve that you are referring to for your baseboard heating system, so let me run down all of the valves for you:

o Bleeder valves (for purging air out of the system): these should be manual valves.

o Make-up water valve (for allowing water to come into the system to replace lost water): this valve should be an automatic valve.

o Pressure relief valve (for releasing water when the system pressure becomes to high): this valve should be an automatic valve.

o Zone valves (for shutting off water to a particular heating zone): there are the automatic valves that are controlled by the thermostats for the various zones, and then there are also manual valves which allow you to shut off zones independently.

If this doesn't answer your questions, just let us know.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from jim t cuff on 5/20/2008:
I have an oil-fired furnace/with hot water baseboard for my ranch house. I am quite handy, and would like to vaccume out the soot from the inner furnace. is their any special type vaccume/shop-vac i need to use and bag. thanks jim

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 5/20/2008
Dear Jim:

For difficult jobs where you need strong suction, like vacuuming out a sooted up oil burning furnace, I would suggest that you look at the "Sootmaster" furnace vacuum:

http://www.mastercraftusa.com/products/Furnace-Boiler-Soot-Vacuums.php

I've heard some good things about the DeWalt DC500 vacuum:
http://www.dewalt.com/us/products/tool_detail.asp?productID=6220

But I've heard many complaints about the Stinger brand vaccum.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from jim t cuff on 5/20/2008


I have a regular 3 gallon sears wet/dry vac could i use that? thanks

jim

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 5/20/2008
Jim:

The main concern that I would have with using a small Craftsman wet/dry vacuum for vacuuming out soot from a oil-fired furnace is that the filter system may not be fine enough to keep the soot from coming through and making a mess in your house. I've heard of cases where the tiny soot particles got churned up in the air and actually setting off the fire detectors in the home.

Part of the reason that the bigger (and unfortunately more expensive) furnace vaccums have more suction power, is so they can force the air through the finer filtering system.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP COMMENT from jim t cuff on 5/21/2008
Great, thanks for your help. jim
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QUESTION from Vicki on 8/21/2008
This may come through twice. Sorry if it does. I am currently remodling my kitche, we have baseboard heat...I want to put a pantry (broom holder) and a desk area... Any way to work around those baseboards??

Thanks


ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 8/21/2008
Dear Vicki:

It sounds like your problem is that you want to place a broom holder pantry and a desk area where you currently have baseboard heating, correct?

If this is the case, then you have several options:

1) You can remove that section of your baseboard heating piping completely and reconnect with pipe through the wall behind this area, or in the floor below it. This will likely be your most effective solution, but unfortunately, it will likely be the most expensive as well.

2) Or you can remove the front cover and adjustable vent (carefully because you will need to put them back), then remove the aluminum fins from the copper pipe (pliers should do it) on the sections where you want to put the broom pantry and desk. Then you'll need to put foam pipe insulation over the pipe in these sections. After this, put the vent and front cover back on the baseboard.

3) Or you can bend a heat shield from rolled aluminum (used for roof flashing) from the wall above the baseboard to the floor in front of it, and do this for the entire area around your broom pantry and desk.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from jesse on 9/2/2008
I want to disconnect my existing cast iron boiler in order to move it 12 inches or so and then reconnect. I have baseboard style heaters but they appear not to have bleeder valves on them in order to drain the system down. What would be the best way to ensure the entire system is drained down. I also have a system when installed that has no shut-off or service valves to isolate the piping to the baseboar heaters , only the boiler drain at the floor level and a boiler drain right where the piping attaches to the supply side. Any ideas would be apprecited

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 9/3/2008
Dear Jesse:

Actually, baseboard heating systems do not usually have bleeders on the baseboard heating pipes. But at your boiler, there should be purge valves. So after you shut off your boiler and you close your water supply valve, you should be able to drain your system by opening up the other valves around your boiler.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com 
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QUESTION from Lisa K on 9/30/2008
How can I get rust off my baseboard heaters?

The baseboard heating running behind the toilet in my bathroom has some rust spots I guess because of the extra moisture in that area. Is there a special way to remove the rust without ruining the factory painted finish?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 9/30/2008
Dear Lisa:

Unfortunately, removing rust spots from baseboard heating covers requires a bit of work. To do the job properly, you should remove the affected section of metal covering (most baseboard covers will un-snap at the ends), and then sand the rusted area completely down to bare metal. Then apply on a spray metal primer, let that dry completely, and then apply a spray paint to match your existing color. Check with your paint store to get a primer and paint that are made for radiators (which operate at elevated temperatures).

One other thought . . . you mentioned that this section of your baseboard heater is in close proximity to your toilet. You might want to consider putting a clear plastic "splash guard" in this area, if you are finding this to be part of the root cause of your problem in this area.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Joel in NY on 10/7/2008
Just in the last year, my gas-fired hot water baseboard system (2-zone) has had a problem. Whenever the heat goes on in the morning, the pressure builds slowly over norm until the relief valve starts dripping. I can open the drain valve on the expansion tank to let out some water (it runs clear). This helps in the short run, but I have to do this every day. Once I tried draining the expansion tank completely, but the refill valve just kept filling up the system. Can you suggest what the problem might be and how to resolve it? Water temp is set to 140-160 F. Many thanks!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/7/2008
Dear Joel:

A leaking pressure relief valve for your hot water baseboard heating system is unsafe. It either means that your pressure relief valve has failed, or there is an over-pressure situation in your system.

If it is because your pressure relief valve is failing, then the valve absolutely should be replaced. This is a very, very important safety feature for your system. And if it is leaking because of an over-pressure situation in your system, then this needs to be address as soon as possible.

Here is a webpage that describes more about dripping pressure relief valves: http://www.inspect-ny.com/heat/ReliefValves.htm

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Carmen on 10/8/2008
I just bought a house that has 2 baseboard heaters that are connected to one thermostat. I turned the heat up a few days ago and then turned it back to the off position later that day. However, one heater is still running, but the other is not. Additionally, the wall above the heater that's still running is darkened, as if the wall has gotten very hot before. What do I do?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/8/2008
Dear Carmen:

That is very odd that your thermostat turned on both of your baseboard heaters, but will only turn one of them back off.

For the baseboard heater to continue to run hot, the thermostat connection would need to be made, the boiler would need to be on, and the water valve to the baseboard would need to be open. Even if the valve was stuck open, the baseboard would not get hot if the boiler didn't stay on. And the boiler wouldn't stay on if the thermostat connection wasn't still being made.

As such, I would suggest checking is to see if there is either some loose wiring around your thermostat, or if the thermostat itself has gone bad.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from BK on 10/18/2008
I just moved into a house with a baseboard heating system. I had a plumber come check out the system, but the gas wasn't on. He said to have the gas company light the pilot when they turned on the gas. He said everything was good to go after that. The serviceman with the gas company lit the pilot, but said he didn't notice a pressure relief valve. It just has a cap. He said not to run it until we got a relief valve and then told me some of the things that could happen. Do I need the relief valve or is the cap good enough? I think I know the answer, I just want to be sure.


ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/18/2008
Dear BK:

Yes, your intuition I suspect is correct. I would NEVER recommend operating a hot water boiler system without a pressure relief valve. And further, even if a system has a pressure relief valve, it needs to be routinely inspected and tested to ensure that it is operating properly. This is a VERY important safety feature of your home.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Patti on 10/22/2008
We have baseboard heat downstairs, radiator heaters in upstairs. Only one radiator gets warm (VERY warm), one other gets minimally warm. The other 2 stay cold. Have tried bleeding them. Help?! Please.......Thanks...

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/22/2008
Dear Patti:

If you've already tried bleeding the two radiators that are not heating up, and if these two radiators are the ones located upstairs, then the problem could be that you heating system's expansion tank maybe empty. You would need to check the ball valve in the tank and fill the tank enough to get the ball to float when the system is cool.

On the other hand, if is not the upstairs radiators that are not heating up, then here is a webpage that describes solutions for different kinds of radiator problem situations, and hopefully you can find the situation that matches what you are seeing at your home:

http://www.diynot.com/pages/pl/pl033.php

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Connie on 10/15/2008
I had a new pump put in and after about two weeks it sounds like my pipes are like a truck coming through the walls

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/15/2008
Dear Connie:

Are you referring to the hot water recirculating pump for your baseboard heating system?

And if so, could you please describe a little more about the sound you are hearing. Is it coming from the pump, or from the pipes? Does it happen the entire time that your baseboard heating zone is on? Or just when it first comes on? Is it a short "banging" sound? Or is more of a prolonged rumbling?


Just let us know, we can try to diagnose what the problem is for you.

Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Lynn on 5/22/2008
If I am replacing plaster with drywall in a room with boiler baseboard heat can I place drywall ontop of radiator, if not what needs to be done?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 5/22/2008
Dear Lynn:

When you say place drywall "on top" of the radiator, how specifically do you mean? Is that you are going to be placing the drywall over the plaster wall, and thus the drywall thickness will stick out that dimension over the top of metal baseboard cover? Or are you thinking about placing the drywall such that it will completely cover the baseboard radiator? Or is it something else?

If you can provide some more description, I will be better able to answer your question.

Sincerely,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Bill on 7/6/2008
I am building new walls in my basement and the pipes from my hot water baseboard pipes are coming straight down and i need to put an elbow on the pipe how do i drain and refill and purge the hotwater system thank you

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 7/6/2008
Dear Bill:

Regarding your question of how to drain and refill and purge the hotwater system for your baseboard heating system, first, to drain your system, shut off your boiler and make a note of the water pressure. Next locate the self-feeding (auto-makeup) water valve and ensure that your make-up water supply is shutoff. Next, attach a garden hose to one of the spigots coming off of the return line that goes back to your boiler, and run the other end of the hose to either a drain or to outside. Then open up all of you valves that go to your various heating zones. Then open up the spigot and let the water drain out through the garden hose. If your boiler has been running, then BE CAREFUL that the water can be scalding hot.

To refill and purge the air from your system, ensure that the make-up water supply is connected and water supply valve is open. Close them all, and then one at a time, open the valve to each heating zone of your house. Then while manually opening the auto-makeup valve, keep the spigot open and let the water run out the garden hose to your drain our outside. Let it run until you no longer see any air bubbles. While you are doing this, keep an eye on the water pressure and don't let it get above 25 PSI. If needed to control the pressure, release the auto-makeup valve momentarily. After you have stopped seeing air bubbles, release the auto makeup valve and close spigot. Allow the water pressure to return to normal. You then repeat these steps until all of your zones have been bled. When done, put your zone valve to their operating positions. Then check the water pressure, which should be the same as what you noted at the beginning. And then finally, turn your boiler back on.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Hoping to Save Money in PA on 7/9/2008
I have hot water baseboards that run off of an oil furnace (which also supplies the hot water to the rest of the house). I am thinking about replacing the oil furnace with an electric heater, but I want to make sure I get a big enough unit. How much water (GPM) is typically circulated through the baseboards?


ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 7/10/2008
Dear "Hoping to Save Money in PA":

The short answer to your question of how much water is circulated (GPM) through your baseboard heating system, is that it depends on the size of your circulation pump and the size (diameter) and length of the piping in your system.

Here is a link to a great guide by Bell & Gossett on how to size a baseboard heating system. Hopefully it will have what you need. If not, just let us know, and we'll try to find something else for you.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Manny from CT on 8/31/2008
Dear home wizard;
I have a conventional hot water baseboard,three zone heating system. Unlike the old cast iron radiators, there is no valve to shut off or reduce the temperature in any particular room/'s which are not being used. All the radiators have a louver which I can close, however since they are bedrooms (2 unoccupied) with no furniture or other plumbing, I would like to supply as close to no heat as possible to save on the sky rocketing fuel costs (oil). I understand that these bedroom doors must be kept shut so as not to absorb heat from the other heated areas. 
Is there something I can do like removing the covers and wrapping the delicate blades with strips of aluminum foil to restrict heat in these rooms while assuring hot water flow to the other occupied rooms and bathrooms within this zone?

Thanks,

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 8/31/2008
Dear Manny from CT:

Here are a couple of options for reducing the heat from your baseboard heating pipes in the unoccupied rooms. The option you select will depend on how "permanent" you want your fix to be:

1) You can bend a heat shield from rolled aluminum (used for roof flashing) from the wall above the baseboard to the floor in front of it, and do this for the entire length of exposed baseboard in the room.

2) Or you can remove the front cover and adjustable vent (carefully because you will need to put them back), then remove the aluminum fins from the copper pipe (pliers should do it) on the sections where you want to put the broom pantry and desk. Then you'll need to put foam pipe insulation over the pipe in these sections. After this, put the vent and front cover back on the baseboard.

3) Or you can remove that section of your baseboard heating piping completely and reconnect with pipe through the wall behind this area, or in the floor below it. This will likely be your most effective solution, but unfortunately, it will likely be the most expensive and the most permanent as well.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

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QUESTION from Ron on 11/1/2008
we have water circuit heat....it continues to run water thru the pipes for a long while (which can be heard in the baseboards of the rooms), before actually just working and warming the house like it should,when you cut hot water on the water heater makes a rattling sound like it isn't full could it just be my water heater on the blink and not my water circuit unit in all?....thanks for any info you can provide


ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/1/2008
Dear Ron:

I suspect that the problems with your hot water heater and your baseboard heating system are not directly related.

Let's start with the problem you are having with your water heater first. Its a bit difficult to diagnose problems with a noisy water heater without actually hearing the sound and physically seeing when it is occurring, but here are a few thoughts which will hopefully be helpful for you. If you are hearing a rattling sound when you are running your hot water, then the problem with your water heater may be with check valve type nipples installed on the top of your water heater, if you have them. If you have them, they are a good have because they can save some energy, but they also can be very annoying.

On the other hand, the noise that you are hearing from your water heater could be the sound of boiling water caused by excessive build-up of sediment in the bottom of your tank. This sediment could be causing the bottom of your tank to overheat and water to boil, which could be the noise that you are hearing. The remedy for this is to routinely backflush your water heater as described on the "Water Heater" page of our online Maintenance Library:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/waterheater.asp

Now, regarding your first problem, it sounds like your baseboard radiators are heating up fine, but you think that it is circulating water for too long before it actually heats up the baseboard radiators. Am I understanding you correctly? What I'm wondering is if whether the sound that you are hearing in your baseboard heating system pipes is the sound of trapped air that is circulating in with the water, and causing your system to operating inefficiently. If you haven't tried it already, I would suggest that you bleed all of the air out of your system.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Rose on 11/1/2008
I have an electric boiler , hot water radiators in a two story semidetached home. When I turn up the thermostat there often is a terrible racket - it sounds as if someone is using a pneumatic drill. Sometimes this noise goes on for quite some time, other times the noise stops after a while. There are times when the noise doesn't start at all. How can I get rid of the racket? What can be causing it? Two plumbers have been in to fix the problem without success. Help would be appreciated!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/1/2008
Dear Rose:

Without hearing the noise and watching your system to see exactly what is happening, its very difficult to accurately diagnose what could be causing the noise you are hearing form your hot water radiator system. Since you have already had a couple of plumbers looking at your system, I assume that they would have caught all of the potentially obvious problems.

But here are a couple of thoughts about what else could be causing the noise that you describe:

1) your radiators or pipes that return water from your radiators back to your boiler are not pitched properly (i.e., that they do not have the correct slope to allow water to flow back to the boiler). As such, the steam is meeting the condensed water and exploding back into steam, which could be the cause of your noise. To fix this, a plumber would need to check and adjust the slopes of your radiators and pipes.

2) another possible cause is that one of your pipes goes through a tight spot in your wall somewhere, and when the pipe heats up and expands, it chatters as it tries to expand through the hole that is too tight.

Again, it is very hard to diagnose a noise problem like this without actually seeing your system.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
____________________

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Rose on 11/2/2008
Thank you for your speedy reply. The system worked well for many years, without any problems. The problem cropped up recently. I suspect the plumbers were not familiar with an electric boiler system.

Rose

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/2/2008
Rose:

Glad to be of help.

If your system has worked well for years, then the problem is likely not due to the pipe going through a tight spot somewhere inside your walls (unless you have moved walls, etc.). But over time, your radiators or piping may have shifted, and this could cause them to lose their proper pitch.

If this does not turn out to be the problem, just let us know, and we'll try to come up with another idea for you.

Sincerely, 
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Michelle on 11/4/2008
I have electric baseboard heat. Last year we replaced all the thermostats twice because they were turning on but not turning off. This year we are having the same problem, theyhave to be set VERY low, 50-55 to keep the rooms 60-65 and once they go on they don't shut off, I have to manually lower the thermostat to turn the baseboards off. Any ideas what else it could be? It can't be the thermostats we have been through 2 sets.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/4/2008
Dear Michelle:

If you have replaced the thermostats for your electric baseboard heaters, and they turn on, but won't turn back off when the room comes up to temperature, here are a couple things that you might want to check:

1) check to be sure that that the thermostats that you installed are the right type for your particular electric baseboard heaters (for example, single pole versus double pole).

2) check to see if there is open space behind where your thermostats are mounted, such that cold air from inside the wall could be blowing onto the thermostat and keeping it too cool (which could be causing it to stay on).

Hope this is helpful. If neither of these turn out to be the problem, then just let us know, and we'll see if we can come up with something else for you.

Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Ed May on 11/11/2008
I recently purchased an older home with hot water baseboard heat. I'm missing 15 of those clips that slide onto the louvers and attach them to the baseboard. They are slantfin. Do you know how to obtain them?


ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/11/2008
Dear Ed:

Here's a webpage with a list of radiant heat parts suppliers:

http://www.traditional-building.com/article/radside.htm

I've used this for hard-to-find parts in the past.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Max on 11/6/2008
Hi,
I have a puzzling problem with baseboard heating in my house. It is a two floor house with 3 zones.
2 zones on the first floor and 1 on the second floor. When I turn on the thermostat for zone that heats main portion of the 1st floor (zone1), the radiators of the upstairs zone (zone2) get hot.
When I feel the pipes, the 1st floor zone1 supply line is hot. The 2nd floor zone2 supply line is cold. The thermostat of the 2nd floor zone is turned off. The house has a return line that runs the length of the house in the basement. There is a 3 way T connector on the opposite end of the house, which has the 2 returns from the zone1, and one return from zone2. That return line from 2nd floor is hot.
I had personally inspected the plumbing with my oil company repair man. All the splits and pipes are accounted for, and the situation does not makes sense to him. He says that there is noway the zone2 can get hot from the return line.
Each zone has an electric motor, as well as the return pipe. They added backflow check valves to each zone, next to the motors, but it did not help. The second zone (zone3), serving another part of first floor stays cold as expected.
Is there a reasonable explanation for whats going on?
thanks

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/6/2008
Dear Max:

If I understand you problem correctly, the baseboard heating zone on your second floor is getting hot, even though the thermostat for the second floor is turned off, right? 

A couple of thoughts:

1) Have you checked to ensure that your thermostat on the second floor is operating properly? If it is defective or not wired properly, then it could be calling for heat, even when it is in the "off" position.

2) Does your second floor baseboard zone only get hot when you turn on the first floor zone 1? In other words, if you have both zones 1 and 3 turned off, does zone 2 upstairs ever get hot on its own? Also, when you say that the "2nd floor zone 2 line is cold", where are you testing the line? Is it down near your furnace, or up closer to the second floor? If the 2nd floor zone only gets hot when you are running zone 1, and the pipe is cold near the furnace, then the next thing to check is whether the supply pipes for zones 1 and 2 are running side-by-side for a long way inside the same floor joists, such that it could be heating the zone 3 piping. I've seen this happen where a heating supply pipe was run along side a cold water pipe, and when the cold water faucet was turned on, the water would come out scalding hot. But in your case, the question would be whether when you turn on zone 1 (with zone 3 upstairs turned off), does the circulation pump for zone 3 also turn on (which would circulate the water heated up by running next to the zone 1 piping)?

If you could give me a little more information for the questions above, I can try to better diagnose your system's problems.

Sincerely,
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Max on 11/6/2008
Hi Wizard,

I embedded your questions, to simplify the answers.

If I understand you problem correctly, the baseboard heating zone on your second floor is getting hot, even though the thermostat for the second floor is turned off, right?

Correct.

1) Have you checked to ensure that your thermostat on the second floor is operating properly? If it is defective or not wired properly, then it could be calling for heat, even when it is in the "off" position.

Yes, I have checked it. It is not calling for heat, because the Zone2 motor is not running, the control panel is also not indicating demand from the zone.

2) Does your second floor baseboard zone only get hot when you turn on the first floor zone 1? In other words, if you have both zones 1 and 3 turned off, does zone 2 upstairs ever get hot on its own?

No, the Zone2(upstairs) never gets hot if Zones1 and 3 are off.

Also, when you say that the "2nd floor zone 2 line is cold", where are you testing the line? Is it down near your furnace, or up closer to the second floor?

I said zone2 supply line is cold, and I tested it right next to the furnace. I touched the electric motor and further down the line, until it enters the structure of the house and goes up between the walls.

If the 2nd floor zone only gets hot when you are running zone 1, and the pipe is cold near the furnace, then the next thing to check is whether the supply pipes for zones 1 and 2 are running side-by-side for a long way inside the same floor joists, such that it could be heating the zone 3 piping.

No, the pipes run in parallel, but there is a good foot between them. And then the pipe for Zone2 goes to the second floor, so it is not touching or next to Zone1 piping.

But in your case, the question would be whether when you turn on zone 1 (with zone 3 upstairs turned off), does the circulation pump for zone 3 also turn on (which would circulate the water heated up by running next to the zone 1 piping)?

All this happens only when Zone1 (main zone downstairs) circulation pump is running. The other 2 zones are definitely off. The pumps are cold to touch.

And thats the mystery....
thanks,
Max
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QUESTION from CK on 11/14/2008
I've been reading through your baseboard heating Q & A. Our system is not knocking or hammering, we have sloshing/flowing water sounds on the 2nd floor. (The first floor heaters are on a different thermostat and seem fine.) Thanks for your help.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/14/2008
Dear CK:

If what you are hearing in your baseboard heating system on the second floor is a "gurgling" sort of sound, then I would suspect that what you are hearing is being caused by air trapped in your system. Not only does this cause an annoying sound, but also it will prevent your second floor from heating up efficiently.

If you haven't tried it already, I would suggest that you bleed your system to purge out the trapped air.

On the other hand, if you have already bled your system and this didn't solve your problem, just let us know, we can try to diagnose your problem further.

Hope this is helpful.
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QUESTION from noisy heat on 11/16/2008
I have a base board heating system in my home. I have alot of air noise and pipe "banging" from the base boards around the floor. Do I need to flush or bleed the system? The system is about 40 years old. Are there preventative tasks I can perform in the future.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/16/2008
Dear 'noisy heat':

Since you are hearing both air noises and banging coming from the pipes of your baseboard heating system, then yes, I suspect that your problem is that your system needs to have the air bled out of it. Regarding routine preventative maintenance tasks that you can perform in the future, you can see these on our Baseboard Heating System webpage at:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

And you should also look at the routine maintenance tasks for your furnace, which can be found at:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/furnace.asp

You can sign up for personalized maintenance reminders from us for these, plus the other features of you home, and the reminders will be included in with your monthly Newsletters. You can sign up for your personalized reminders at:

http://www.home-wizard.com/personalize.aspx


Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from jim on 11/17/2008
Hi, I have three zone hot water baseboard heat and the circulator pump for the top floor broke. I never heated that floor anyways. To insure that nobody would turn it on, I disconnected the power supply. My question is will it affect the heating system if I choose never to replace it? Also when I bleed my system (pipes are noisy) will it be necessary to bleed that zone also? Thanks!
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/17/2008

Dear Jim:

Does your piping allow you to block and drain the supply and return for the zone going up to your top floor? If so, then you should be fine draining this zone, blocking the supply and return valves, and leaving the power supply to its circulation pump disconnected.

If you are not able to block in this zone and drain it, then water (and trapped air) may be able to be drawn through the circulation pump (even if it is not pumping). So therefore, yes, you would still need to bleed this zone as well, even if you were never planning to use it. Also, I'm don't think you want stagnate water just sitting in the pipes in this zone year after year. So you would still need to flush the pipes out from time to time.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from jim on 11/17/2008
Your answer helped a lot. There is a valve before (above) the pump, but not after. All three zones are alike...the pumps all connect directly to a larger common pipe with no valves to "isolate" the bad zone. Looking at what you've told me I guess I'll be changing the circulator pump afterall. I'm gonna go back and read through all the help you've given to others and see if it's a big deal...it looks very simple ( 4 bolts ), but my concern will be filling the system back up. Thanks again!
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/17/2008
Jim:

. . . glad we could help you.

It sounds like you are a fairly handy person, so I would think that you would find replacing your circulator pump for your top floor zone rather straight-forward for you.

However, here are a few tips that might help you:

1) Remember to disconnect the power supply before working on the circulator pump. Electricity and water don't mix very well.

2) Since you cannot completely isolate this part of your system, after you drain it, and replace your pump, you will want to be sure to bleed out all of the air. 

If you haven't already found it in our "Question and Answer" section of either the Ask-the-Wizard page or on the Baseboard Heating System page, here is the procedure for bleeding the air out of a baseboard heating system:

First shut off your boiler and make a note of the water pressure. Next locate the self-feeding (auto-makeup) water valve and ensure that the make-up water supply is connected and water is available. Then open up all of you valves that go to your various heating zones. Then close all of the shut-off valves. Next, attach a short piece of garden hose to one of the spigots coming off of the return line that goes back to your boiler. While manually opening the auto-makeup valve, open the spigot and let the water run in to a bucket or a drain. BE VERY CAREFUL, as the water coming out of the hose will likely be very hot. Let it run until you no longer see any air bubbles, which could take several minutes. While you are doing this, keep an eye on the water pressure and don't let it get above 25 PSI. If needed to control the pressure, release the auto-makeup valve momentarily. After you have stopped seeing air bubbles, release the auto makeup valve and close spigot. Allow the water pressure to return to normal. You then repeat these steps until all of your zones have been bled. When done, close all of your zone valves and open all of your shut-off valves. Then check the water pressure, which should be the same as what you noted at the beginning. And then finally, turn your boiler back on.

If you have any additional questions, just let us know.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Tom on 11/18/2008
I have a baseboard hot water heating system. It is in a second hpome that i cannot aford to keep warm throuout the winter in NORTHERN MAINE,, madawaska. Can I rplace the water with antifreeze and avoid burst pipes, then run the heating system without draining the antifreeze?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/18/2008
Dear Tom:

Yes, you definitely can put anti-freeze in your baseboard heating system if you are not going to be using it over the winter. In fact, even if you were going to be using it on a limited basis, say just on weekends, it would still be a good idea to put in anti-freeze to keep the pipes from bursting if there were a power failure during the week.

You should check with your local plumbing supply company to see what type of anti-freeze that they recommend for your particular location and system, and what percent mix that you should target for.

Regarding running the system with the anti-freeze in it, yes, you can, but the system will not operate quite as efficiently, since the anti-freeze reduces the heat transfer properties.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Cathy Luthman on 11/19/2008
purchased a home with 2-zone heating, second zone is for the rec. room which we do not use and would like to turn off the heat. If I turn off the water at the furnace leading to the rec. room, do I have to shut off anything on the furnace? Thermostat is set at 55o but is registering 70o
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/19/2008
Catherine / Cathy:

We have tried several times to send the answer to your question to the email addresses that you have registered with Home-Wizard.com, and they have all come back non-deliverable.

Could you please check that the email address that you put in your Home-Wizard.com profile is correct, or that you do not have a spam filter with AOL that is set to block messages from Home-Wizard. This way we will be able to send you a response to your question.

Thanks,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Raman on 11/20/2008
I have a 5 zone baseboard heating system. My question is it takes a very long time to heat up the zone i.e. one zone is for the family room (20 X 14) and it takes up 3 hours or more to come upto 68 from 60. I did vacum (even though it was not easy) and tried to remove any dust from the fins.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/20/2008
Dear Raman:

If with your 5 zone baseboard heating system only one zone is not working well, one question is whether this is a new problem, or is it something that you have always had a problem with? In other words, is it a system design problem where there is not enough hot water supply to serve the size of this zone of your house?

Assuming that this is a new problem, here is a list of potential causes as to why this zone could be taking so long to heat up:

1) the zone needs to be bled of air.

2) your circulation pump for this zone has gone bad and is not circulating enough hot water.

3) the check valve in this zone is partially stuck, and is reducing the flow rate of hot water (you might be lucky enough to solve this problem with some raps on the valve with a piece of wood, NOT a hammer).

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from r picco on 11/20/2008
i have hydronic heating system, however when installed there was n't enough heating fins attached to the piping, where can i find replacement or extra fins to attach to my heaters??
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/21/2008
Dear r picco:

Here is a link to a list of suppliers of radiant heat parts and products: 

http://www.traditional-building.com/article/radside.htm

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Lynne on 11/21/2008
Why does my base board heating pipes knock and bang when the boiler kicks on and how can I stop this... I have secured all the pipes under the house so they are no longer loose and they still make a banging noise
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/22/2008
Dear Lynne:

Here are some potential causes of the knocking and banging noises that you are hearing when your boiler for your baseboard heating system turns on:

1) Air is trapped in the line, which needs to be bled out.

2) Your pipes are not supported properly, such that when they turn on, they bang into one another or into other things. Although you said that you have already secured all of the pipes under the floor, you might want to just double check that they are supported properly.

3) A pipe to or from your baseboard radiators are running through a hole in a wall, etc. that is too tight, which doesn't allow sufficient expansion for the pipe's thermal expansion.

4) A zone valve is installed backwards.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from farmchef on 11/25/2008
I recently bought an older home with baseboard heat. The ones on the main floor have fins. The ones on the second floor don't. Is this a problem?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/25/2008
Dear farmchef:

Actually, it is not unusual to have a baseboard heating system that has fins on the baseboards on the first floor, but just has pipes without fins on the second or third floors.

The reason is that heat rises, which makes heating a second or third floor easier that heating a first floor (especially if the floor separating the upper floors is not insulated, which allows more heat to pass through). Since the upper floors do not have as much heat load, the reason for leaving off the fins is to keep too much heat from being put into the rooms on these floors. Otherwise these rooms would roast.

If you find that the rooms on these upper floors are not getting enough heat, then you will need to replace sections of the pipes with pipes that have fins.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from farmchef on 11/26/2008
Thanks for the prompt reply!
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QUESTION from Scott on 11/29/2008
How does the pump in a closed hot water heating system(furnace)make the water flow?

Where does the air come from that is released by the automatic bleeder valves?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/30/2008
Dear Scott:

Regarding your first question, the way the circulation pump in your closed hot water baseboard heating system works is that when the thermostat in your home senses that the temperature is too low in the room for this zone of your heating system, it sends a signal to your furnace (boiler) to turn on, and also sends a signal to the circulation pump for this zone to turn on and start circulating the water heated by your furnace. This sends hot water to the baseboard radiators in the rooms that are part of the zone of your system that are controlled by the thermostat. When the thermostat then senses that the temperature in the room is high enough, it sends a signal to turn off the furnace and circulation pump for this zone. And similarly for other zones in your home.

Now if your question is specifically, how does this pump make the water flow through the pipes if the system is closed? The answer is that as the rotor inside of the pump spins around, it causes the pressure to become lower on the inlet side of the pump, and the pressure to become higher on the outlet side of the pump. This causes water to flow from the low side of the pump to the high side of the pump, which causes the water to circulate though the loop of your piping system. Further, as your furnace heats up the water in your closed heating system, the water expands, and needs somewhere to go, which is why your system will be designed to have an "expansion tank" to give this additional water a place to go.

Regarding you second question, air can come into your hot water system in several ways, such as: 

1) air is dissolved in solution in the fresh water that comes into your system as make-up water to replace the water that is lost from leaks, and then when this fresh water goes through your furnace and is warmed up and then cools down, the air that is entrained in this water is released and comes out as bubbles.

2) if you have leaks in the seals of your water circulation pump, then when the pump turns on, it can suck air into your system.

3) if you have a leak in your expansion tank, it could possible be a source for air getting back into your system.

Here is a link to a webpage which gives a general description to how a baseboard hot water system works, that you might find interesting: http://acnow.wordpress.com/2008/05/12/baseboard-hot-water-heating-systems/

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Roy on 11/30/2008
1. Should I let my forced hot water heating system cool down before trying to purge the trapped air from the drainage spigots?

2. How do I manually manipulate the Watts self-feeding (auto-makeup) water valve to control pressure so it doesn't go above 25 PSI during the actual air purging process?

3. To purge air from a forced hot water system, you advised another homeowner to "close all of the shut-off valves" as one of the steps to follow just before opening the drain spigot to drain water from each heating loop. My heater has three shutoff valves: 1. the valve to shut all water off to the house, at the pump location 2. the shut-off valve just before the pressure regulating valve that is part of each heating loop 3. a shut off valve that supplies fresh water directly into the side of the boiler, labeled "cold water inlet". Do I shut all these shut-off valves off before I drain the water from each loop? 
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/1/2008
Dear Roy:

Regarding your first question, I would suggest letting your forced hot water heating system cool down before purging the air out of the system. There are two reasons for this: 1) as the water cools down dissolved air will be released from the water, which will then allow you to purge this air out as well; and 2) less risk of being scaled by hot water. However, if it is not practical for you to let your system cool completely down, then you can still purge the system, but just be careful of the hot water.

Regarding your second question, does your Watts auto-fill valve look like the one pictured here with the release lever on top: 

http://www.blueridgecompany.com/radiant/hydronic/517/watts-fill-valve-and-backflow-preventer

If not, here is the contact information for Watts Valves: http://www.watts.com/pro/contactus.asp who can tell you specifically for your particular model of valve.

And regarding your third question, you mentioned that you are looking to drain your system, but do you mean actually draining the system, or just purging the air?

Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Roy on 12/3/2008
Hi again, and thanks for the advice thus far. In answer to your first question, my Watts fill valve looks exactly like the one pictured, with the release lever on top, at:

http://www.blueridgecompany.com/radiant/hydronic/517/watts-fill-valve-and-backflow-preventer

I just don't know how to operate the valve to regulate the water
pressure when purging the air from each forced hot water loop.

To respond to your second question, I am interested in purging the air from the system through the drain spigots. I am trying to accomplish this by flushing all of the water plus air out of the spigot for each heating loop, then filling each loop with fresh, but not too cold water, that hopefully has no new air in it. As noted in my question 3, I appear to have three shutoff valves to consider at the boiler.

After the spigot draining and new water fill-up is done, I plan to bleed air from the air vent in the system to get out any additional air that may be released.

Your thoughts in reply to my last two questions would be most
appreciated. Any source of very detailed steps as to how this draining and refilling procedure can most safely and effectively be accomplished would be most appreciated.

Thank you.

Roy
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/3/2008
Dear Roy:

Regarding your first question, yes, it sounded like you had something like a Watts Fill Valve and Backflow preventer valve, and from what you've said, it turned out that the link I sent you was exactly the one you had. Great!

Then if you look at your valve, the small lever on the top of the valve operates the bypass for the pressure reducer for the valve. So as you lift up on the lever, it opens the valve to street pressure from your water supply. So as you start to purge the water from one of your heating system loops, you lift the lever to increase the pressure to get stronger flow as you are purging that line. But let the lever down if the pressure in your system starts to go too high (however, if you isolate you boiler properly, as described below, then you won't have to worry about over-pressuring your system).

Now regarding your second question, the exact procedure for specifically which valves to open and close as you are purging your baseboard heating system of air will depend on how your specific system has been piped. But in general, to be safe, you will want to:

1) turn off your boiler and heating system.
2) make a note of which valves are open, and which are closed.
3) close the valves that allow you to isolate your boiler from the rest of the system (so that you don't get a pressure spike that causes your boiler's pressure relief valve to lift, as this weakens it).
4) connect a drain hose to safely drain hot water from the system.
5) follow your pipes around starting with the Watts fill valve, and open only those valves necessary to allow the fresh water that is coming into the system from the Watts valve to flow through the particular loop that you are trying to purge (that is, one loop at a time), and then out the drain hose that you have connected.
6) close all of the valves, and then repeat opening the valves needed to purge each loop.
7) disconnect the drain hose and close this valve.
8) return all of your valves to their original position (especially the valves that you used to isolate your boiler).

If it helps you to think of it this way, if you have turned off your boiler and heating system, and then properly closed the valves to isolate your boiler, and properly placed your drain hose to a drain or outdoors, then you can fairly safely purge your system without hurting your boiler or scalding yourself.

And when you go to start you system back up, you of course just need to be sure to put the valves back to their original positions.

Also, here are some additional suggestions that you might find helpful:

First, if you haven't had your annual inspection done yet on your boiler, then when the service technician comes out to do your inspection and service, you can ask them to show you exactly how to purge your specific system, when they can be physically there to point out which of your valves does exactly what.

The other thought is that you can call the toll-free phone number for the company that manufactures your Watts valve. I've talked to them before, and they are very helpful regarding how to purge, backflush and drain baseboard heating systems where their valves are installed. And here is their toll-free phone number in Vashon, Washington: 866-361-4782.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Roy on 12/4/2008
Thank you so much for your very helpful and thorough advice! 

I now feel comfortable that I will be able to safely purge the air from the forced hot water heating loops. Thank you also for the advice to get on-site advice during the annual inspection of the boiler. The contact to the Watts manufacturer is also a great lead.

You have been so much help to me! Your site is clearly the best, and I have been searching a long time through the Internet, and thus have a strong basis for a comparison!

Take care.

Roy
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QUESTION from Michele on 12/3/2008
The air in our house stays very dry in the winter. I have hot water baseboard heat. Are there any attachments I can add to my baseboard to get some humidity into the air?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/3/2008
Dear Michele:

Yes, there are a variety of options for adding humidity to your home during the winter when you have a hot water baseboard heating system in your house.

They include fairly inexpensive devices that you fill with water and place over sections of your baseboard radiator, such as this model:

http://www.colonialmedical.com/product.php?productid=21046 , or

http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/browse/Home/For-The-Home/Home-Furnishings/Heating-Cooling/Baseboard-Humidifier/D/30102/P/1:100:1030:10320:101010/I/f05833&searchid=7JP1SRCH&feedid=hgtv


And more expensive options that get hooked up to a water supply and can serve much large areas:

http://www.aprilaire.com/themes/aa/en/manuals/400.pdf


in addition to cost, the differences are: 1) having to check and fill the water by hand, versus automatically feeding water as needed; and 2) the capacity for serving larger rooms and areas.

The above are not meant to be specific vendor recommendations, but rather, just examples of the range of options.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Troy on 12/5/2008
What is the easiest and safest way to clean the dust from the heat louvers in baseboard heat?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/5/2008

Dear Troy:

I wasn't sure if your question is how to clean the actual louvers that open and close above your baseboard heating radiators, or if you mean the thin fin louvers that come off of the hot water pipes or the electric element.

So let me answer both for you here.

First, regarding the louvers that open and close along the top of your baseboard radiator. You will want to move furniture, drapes, etc. away from the area so that they do not get wet. If you have an electric baseboard heater, then before you start you will need to be sure to shut off the power to your heater. Either unplug the system from the wall if it is a self-contained unit or disconnect power at the home's main power supply cabinet. If you can remove the panels on your baseboard heating radiators, then carefully disassemble them so that you can access to both sides of the panels. Mix up a bucket of water and liquid soap, and use a soft cloth to wipe down both sides of the panels and louvers. Be careful if you are wiping near the fins, as these can have sharp edges and corners.

Regarding cleaning the fins on the hot water pipes or the electric element, you will want to use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. Or if you only have a vacuum with a nozzle attachment, then you will want to use a separate brush to loosen the dust and debris on the fins as you are vacuuming. While you are cleaning these fins, you might want to have a needle-nosed pliers ready so that you can straighten out any bent fins, as these reduce the performance of your baseboard heater.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Jeff on 12/7/2008
I have a 3 zone heating system in my home.1 zone in my family room,2nd in my kitchen/dinning/living room and a 3rd that heats the upstair bed rooms.My house is 30 yrs old and im sure that it hasn't been bleed.The 1st and 2nd zones seem fine you get your normal crinkin/crackin noises when it stars up then goes away but on the 3rd zone you can actually hear the water flow threw the baseboards sounds like a little river running.Does this mean it has air in the system?If soo can you explain how to bleed it?I know it overdue for this.Thankyou very much in advance..Jeff
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/7/2008

Dear Jeff:

Yes, it does sound like the piping of your third heating zone on your baseboard heating system has air trapped in it, and that it needs to have the air purged out of this line.

Regarding the procedure for purging air from a baseboard heating zone, it will depend on your specific configuration of valves, etc. But in general, here is the procedure for purging air from a baseboard heating system.

First, I would suggest heating system cool down before purging the air out of the system. There are two reasons for this: 1) as the water cools down, dissolved air in it will be released from the water, which will then allow you to purge this air out as well; and 2) less risk of being scaled by hot water. However, if it is not practical for you to let your system cool completely down, then you can still purge the system, but just be careful of the hot water.
Second, you should locate your hot water heating system's back-flow preventer valve. This is the valve that comes off of your main household supply line, and it prevents water from your heating system from flowing backward into your household supply. It typically looks something like the one pictured here with a release lever on top: 

http://www.blueridgecompany.com/radiant/hydronic/517/watts-fill-valve-and-backflow-preventer

Then as I mentioned above, the exact procedure for specifically which valves to open and close as you are purging your baseboard heating system of air will depend on how your specific system has been piped. But in general, you will then want to:

1) turn off your boiler and heating system.

2) make a note of which valves are open, and which are closed.

3) close the valves that allow you to isolate your boiler from the rest of the system (so that you don't get a pressure spike that causes your boiler's pressure relief valve to lift, as this weakens it).

4) connect a drain hose to safely drain hot water from your system to a floor drain, or to outside. Be CAREFUL, as the water coming out can be scalding HOT.

5) follow your pipes around starting with your backflow-preventer valve, and open only those valves necessary to allow the fresh water that is coming into the system from the backflow-preventer valve to flow through the particular loop that you are trying to purge (that is, one loop at a time), and then flow out the drain hose that you have connected. Then if you look at your back-flow preventer valve, the small lever on the top of the valve operates the bypass for the pressure reducer for the valve. So as you lift up on the lever, it opens the valve to street pressure from your water supply. So as you start to purge the water from one of your heating system loops, you can lift the lever to increase the pressure to get stronger flow to the line that you are trying to purge. But let the lever down if the pressure in your system starts to go too high (however, if you isolate you boiler properly, as described below, then you won't have to worry about over-pressuring your system). 

6) close all of the valves, and then repeat opening the valves needed to purge each loop.

7) disconnect the drain hose and close this valve.

8) return all of your valves to their original position (especially the valves that you used to isolate your boiler).

If you have turned off your boiler and heating system, and then properly closed the valves to isolate your boiler, and properly placed your drain hose to a drain or outdoors, then you can fairly safely purge your system without hurting your boiler or scalding yourself.

And when you go to start you system back up, you of course just need to be sure to put the valves back to their original positions.
Since you have isolated your boiler from the purging process, this procedure will not purge air from this segment of your system. But this is a relatively small area compared to your entire system, and the benefit to isolating it, is that you don't need to worry about over-pressuring your boiler while you are doing the air purging.

Also, here are is an additional suggestion that you might find helpful. If you haven't had your annual inspection done yet on your boiler, then when the service technician comes out to do your inspection and service, you can ask them to show you exactly how to purge your specific system, when they can be physically there to point out which of your valves does exactly what.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from tom on 12/7/2008
we just put in a brand new house and have an ouside pellet boiler and it does not seem to be heating the way it should on cold days the temp does not get above 67 degrees we have been moving pipes around trying to get air out nothing. the pipe entering the baseboard is hot along with leaving the baseboard any thoughts?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/7/2008
Dear Tom:

It sounds like you have a baseboard hot water heating system that is heated by a pellet boiler, and you are not able to get the temperature in you home up high enough.

You said that you have been moving pipes around, but have you tried purging the air out of each zone of your baseboard heating system? For the procedure on how to do this, please see the answer I gave to an Ask-the-Wizard question on this earlier today.

Other potential causes can include:

1) bad (or improperly adjusted) thermostat.
2) bad circulation pump.
3) valves not open all the way (which reduce circulation rates).

However, if I understand you properly, when you say that the pipe is hot LEAVING the baseboard, if you mean that the water being returned to your boiler (after going through your baseboard radiators) is still hot, and that this is a NEW house, then I'm wondering if possibly the amount of baseboard areas in your home are not sufficient for the area of rooms that you are trying to heat? In other words, that there should be more linear feet of baseboard radiators, or that they are augmented by an electric blower (which is sometimes down in kitchens or bathrooms where there is not enough wall space for enough feet of baseboard radiators).

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Dwight Gregory on 12/9/2008
If power is lost, due to storm,where can I connect temporary 110 volts to my hot water oil fired furnance so pipes won't freeze? Any information would be appreciated.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/9/2008
Dear Dwight:

If power is going to be out just temporarily, then there are a couple of things you can do to keep the water pipes in your house from freezing:

Regarding your oil-fired furnace and its hot water heating pipes, you have a couple of options:

1) If you are concerned that the power could be off for quite a while, you could turn off your furnace and drain all of the water out of your heating system (but of course, then you will need to refill it and purge out the air to start it back up).

2) A variation of this is to open the drains on each of your zones just enough to keep a slow steady drip flowing. This way you will have water movement, which can help prevent the pipes from freezing. And if the power comes on soon, then you won't have to refill your entire system, just what has drained out from the slow drips. However, you will need to be familiar enough with the piping of your heating system to be sure that you have the right valves open to allow water to circulate through all of your heating loops, including through your furnace.

3) However, with the power off, I would NOT recommend trying to wire up your furnace and water circulation pump to a temporary power supply, unless you are absolutely sure what you are doing.

4) But if your circulation pump for your heating system is the type that is plugged into a standard electrical outlet, then you might want to consider plugging this pump into your temporary generator (and I assume that you know that you should NEVER run a fuel-burning generator indoors). However as mentioned above, you will need to be familiar enough with the piping of your heating system to be sure that you have the right valves open to allow water to circulate through all of your heating loops, including through your furnace. Keeping the water circulating in your heating system can help prevent it from freezing.


Now regarding your household water supply (to sinks, washing machine, toilets, etc.) there are a couple of things you can do:

1) turn on faucets to drip slightly, as the movement will help keep the pipes from freezing. Remember to drip hot water faucets as well, so this will keep water moving through your water heater tank.

2) you need to drain the water out of all of your toilets, sump pumps, etc. Wherever you have standing water.

3) open cabinets under sinks, etc. where the backs of the cabinets are against outside walls. This allows warmer air from inside the house to circulate around where the sink pipes are.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Craig Mosqueda on 12/9/2008
I have a gas fired baseboard heat system. We have lived in the house for almost two years and lately the baseboards have been shuttering when the pump shuts off. It scares us to death in the middle of the night and I have tried to bleed the baseboards but water comes out almost immediately. Do you have any other sugggestions.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/9/2008
Dear Craig:

Since the noise that you hear in your pipes is when your baseboard heating system turns off, then I suspect that the expansion tank on your system has gotten filled with water, and there is no longer any air in the tank to provide a "cushion". As such, when the circulation pump turns off and the valves slam shut, you could be getting a "water hammer" effect which gives you the shuttering sound.

If this is the problem, then you can fix this by draining the water out of your expansion tank, and allowing it to fill with air.

To do this, shut off your furnace/boiler. Shut the valve that connects your expansion tank to your system, and then open the drain valve to drain the tank into a bucket (or with a hose to a floor drain or outside). BE CAREFUL, as this water can be scalding hot. Then close the drain valve, open the valve you closed to isolate the tank, and then turn your furnace/boiler back on.

Hopefully this will eliminate the banging noise that you have been hearing when the system shuts off. If not, just let us know, and we'll try to diagnose the problem further for you.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Kristin Barker on 12/10/2008
I live in a building with baseboard heat and the loud banging stays on constantly until I turn the temperature dial a smidge to the left or right. The banging will stop for about an hour, and then start up again until I move the dial. What is the cause of this, and how can I stop it? I will take your recommendations to the condo board for help because the noise is so great that I cannot sleep.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/10/2008
Dear Kristin:

When you say you that the banging noise from your baseboard heating system stops when you move your thermostat a little to the left or right, is you heat on, and then you are turning your thermostat to turn it off? Or is your system off, and you are turning your thermostat to turn it on? Or does it really not matter whether you are turning the thermostat up or down that it gets the banging noise to stop? And if you heat is off and you move the thermostat down a little, does it still stop the banging? And similarly, if your heat is on, and you move your thermostat up a little, does it still stop the banging?

In general, the causes of banging noises from a baseboard heating system can be caused by:

1) Air is trapped in the line, which needs to be bled out.

2) A pipe to or from this baseboard radiator that is running through a hole in a wall, etc. that is too tight, which doesn't allow sufficiently for the pipe's thermal expansion.

3) Pipes not supported properly, such that when they turn on, they bang into one another or into other things.

4) The zone valve is installed backwards.

If you can let me know about the questions I raised above, it could help me to give you a more specific recommendations.

Sincerely, 
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Kristin on 12/12/2008
Hi! Thanks for your quick response. 

We have dials on our baseboard units (the dial is round and has numbers on it from 0-5, with 5 being the most heat, and zero being off), so while they're not technically thermostats, they do regulate the heat. During the winter my dials are usually around the number 4, give or take (never off). No matter where the dial number is set when the banging starts I can move the dial a very small smidgen up or down, doesn't matter, and it will stop the banging for a little while. Later, when the banging starts up again I can move the dial another smidgen and the banging will stop again. This is maddening because this goes on all day long, and of course all night too. I know how to bleed the units, and have done so, but the banging persists to the point that it sounds like a mountain gorilla in a cage rattling the bars. My personal units are not too bad, but my downstairs neighbor's units are horrendously loud. I have access to her unit when she is away and I have been down there to bleed the baseboards and turn the dial, but the banging is driving me crazy. 

When you say that the zone valve could be installed backward, is that a valve on the baseboards themselves, or on the boiler? Thanks again for your help, anything is better than what we're hearing from our property manager, which is that "this stuff happens with baseboards." 

Kristin
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/12/2008
Dear Kristin:

Thanks for the clarification. It sounds like the "temperature dial" that you were referring to is not a thermostat, but rather is a flow control valve for changing the flow of hot water through the baseboards.

It of course is difficult to accurately diagnose your problem without being able to physically listen to and examine your system. But with that said, here are my thoughts. 

When you move the flow control dial on your baseboard unit it is changing the flow rate of hot water though the pipes in your system that deliver water to your baseboard radiators. What's interesting is that it sounds like changing this flow rate slightly, regardless of whether it goes up or down, is able to cause the banging noise to go away for a while. This makes me wonder if the problem could be related to either a pipe running through a tight spot in a wall, or pipes that are not properly supported. Either of these could be affected by changes in the flow rate, and this flow rate would be changing whenever you moved your dial on your baseboard. In other words, changing the flow rate would change the temperature of the pipes which would shrink or contact a pipe going through a tight spot in the wall. And changing the flow rate could impact pipes that were banging into each other that had been started by another unit in your building first changing their baseboard dials.

And regarding your questions about the location of the zone valve, the zone valve that I was referring to is at the boiler. But given your description, I would not think it would be the source of your problem.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Judy on 12/12/2008
I just recently moved into this home that I bought from a bank. It has electric baseboard heaters in every room. The one in the kitchen was working great, but now nothing, it's like it is not even coming on. I will have to take the face cover off to see what the make is on it. It's about 5' with a turn knob with numbers.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/13/2008
Dear Judy:

If your electric baseboard heater has suddenly stopped working, here are a couple of things that you can check:

1) Of course, try turning the thermostat all the way up, and seeing if this gets the heater to turn on.

2) Check your circuit breaker for the heater to see if it has tripped. Since you said you had just moved into your house, it may be a matter of becoming familiar with where the circuit breakers are, and which one is specifically for your kitchen electric baseboard heater.

3) If neither of these work for you, one other thing you can try if you are handy, is to take one of the thermostats from the other rooms that you know work, and then swap it with the one in the kitchen to see if this gets the kitchen heater to work. That is, to find out if your kitchen's thermostat is bad.

If none of these work for you, then you will want to call a certified technician to inspect the unit.

Please remember that many electric baseboard heaters run on 220 volts, so you will want to be VERY CAREFUL when working around any of the wires around your heater.

Also, you might want to check on the cost of a replacement heater. You may find that it is more economical to just replace the unit rather than paying to have a service technician spend a lot of time trying to troubleshoot and repair your existing heater.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from mjones61380 on 12/12/2008
My husband and I like to fix things ourselves. We bought a new circulator for our fuel fired baseboard furnace. We know that we need to drain our system and shut off the water source but are unsure how to do this. We also will have to put water back in and get rid of air. Can you walk us through this or send us in the right direction? A how to guide? Electric portable heaters are fine for a little while but it sure is cold at our house! Thanks, M&M Jones
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/13/2008
Dear mjones61380:

Regarding a procedure draining, re-filling and purging air from your baseboard heating system, it will depend on your specific configuration of valves, etc. But in general, here is the procedure a baseboard heating system:

TO DRAIN YOUR SYSTEM:


1) locate the main supply valve and back-flow preventer valve for your hot water baseboard system. Your back-flow preventer valve prevents water from your heating system from flowing backward into your household supply, and it typically looks something like the one pictured here with a release lever on top: 

http://www.blueridgecompany.com/radiant/hydronic/517/watts-fill-valve-and-backflow-preventer


2) turn off your boiler and heating system, and turn all of your thermostats down to their lowest settings. It sounded like your system is currently turned off, but just so you know, I normally suggest letting the heating system cool down before purging the air out of the system. There are two reasons for this: 1) as the water cools down, dissolved air in it will be released from the water, which will then allow you to purge this air out as well; and 2) less risk of being scaled by hot water. However, if it is not practical for you to let your system cool completely down, then you can still drain, re-fill and purge the system, but just be careful of the hot water. But again, this doesn't sound like it applies to you, if you system has been turned off for a while.

3) make a note of which valves are open, and which are closed.

4) if your piping allows it, close the valves that allow you to isolate your boiler from the rest of the system (so that you don't get a pressure spike that causes your boiler's pressure relief valve to lift, as this weakens it).

5) connect a drain hose to safely drain hot water from your system to a floor drain, or to outside. Be CAREFUL, as the water coming out can be scalding HOT.

6) close the main supply valve to your hot water system.

7) one-by-one, open the valves for each zone of your system that allows the zone to flow out of the main drain valve for your system. After each zone has been drained, close its drain valve.

TO RE-FILL YOUR SYSTEM AND PURGE OUT AIR:

1) follow your pipes around starting with your backflow-preventer valve, and then for each zone one-by-one open only those valves necessary to allow the fresh water that is coming into the system from the backflow-preventer valve to flow through the particular loop that you are trying to re-fill and purge (that is, one loop at a time), and then to flow out the drain hose that you have connected. If you look at your back-flow preventer valve, the small lever on the top of the valve operates the bypass for the pressure reducer for the valve. So as you lift up on the lever, it opens the valve to street pressure from your water supply. So as you start to re-fill and purge the air from one of your heating system loops, you can lift the lever to increase the pressure to get stronger flow to the line that you are trying to purge. But let the lever down if the pressure in your system starts to go too high (however, if you isolate you boiler properly, as described below, then you won't have to worry about over-pressuring your system). Close the drain valve for each zone's loop as your finish re-filling and purging the air out of it.

2) close the main drain valve and disconnect the drain hose.

3) return all of your valves to their original operating position (especially the valves that you used to isolate your boiler).

5) check to see that you have re-opened your heating system's main supply valve.

6) turn your boiler and heating system back on.

7) check the pressure gauge on your system, and inspect for any leaks around valves that you have opened or closed.

8) put your thermostats back to their desired settings.

Since you have isolated your boiler from the re-filling and purging process, this procedure will not purge air from this segment of your system. But this is a relatively small area compared to your entire system, and the benefit to isolating it, is that you don't need to worry about over-pressuring your boiler while you are doing the air purging.

Also, here are is an additional suggestion that you might find helpful. If you haven't had your annual inspection done yet on your boiler, then when the service technician comes out to do your inspection and service, you can ask them to show you exactly how to drain, re-fill and purge your specific system, when they can be physically there to point out what each of your valves does exactly what, for your particular system.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from crystal on 12/15/2008
My 12 yr old gas-fired boiler cycles on and off every 2-3 minutes - I dont think this is a good thing for the life of my boiler. So far the service co has replaced the pump, the expansion tank, the relief valve and installed an aquastat. I have tried different settings for the aquastat and there doesn't seem to be much difference. The boiler fires at about 20 psi and 140 degrees, and shuts off around 150 degrees even though the aquastat is currently set at about 170. I've spent alot of money and am getting frustrated. Aside from the wear and tear on the boiler, my office is in the basement and the constnt firing is driving me nuts.
Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/15/2008

Dear Crystal:

Yes, you are correct, it is not good for your boiler to cycle this often, both from a service life and an energy efficiency standpoint. Not to mention that is doesn't sound like it is good for your nerves either!

If I can ask you a couple of questions, it will help me to diagnose the problem for you:

1) What do you have the Hi Temperature Differential set at on your aquastat?

2) What do you have the Low Temperature Differential set at on your aquastat?

3) When your boiler is short cycling, it is when there is a call for heat, rather than when it has been sitting for a while (that is, it is cycling when it is trying to get up to high temperature, rather than cycling when it is maintaining the low temperature). Is this correct?

4) Have you checked to see if you have a room thermostat that is either defective, or located near your heating system such that when the heating system turns on that it tells your boiler to shut down before the room gets up to temperature?

Sincerely,
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Crystal on 12/16/2008
Hi,

Thanks for the fast response! 

In response to your first two questions - i dont know! There is only one external setting - and right now I have it set at 170 which seems to have helped slightly. The service tech had set it at 150. I think there must be an internal boiler setting at 140 since the boiler seems to kick in when the temp falls below 140. For example, I observed the following when I turned up the thermostat and the aquastat was set at 150:

at 10:38 the psi was 21 lbs and the water at 142
at 10:40 the boiler fired when the water temp was just at or slightly below 140 and 20 lbs
at 10:41 when the temp reached 150, the boiler shut off
at 10:44 when the temp fell back to 140 the boiler ignited


I then set the aquastat to 155 and the boiler behaved essentially as above
With the aquastat at 170, the following occurred when I turned up the thermostat:

at 11:57 the boiler fired - psi was 18 and the temp was 121
at 12:03 the boiler shut off, 20lbs, 130
at 12:07, boiler on, 18 lbs, 130
at 12:15, the boiler shut off, 20 lbs, 140
at 12:22, the boiler ignited, 20lbs, 140
at 12:30, boiler off, 20 lbs, 150

The service tech checked the thermostat. It is not near a heating source - I have rads. I was also bleeding the rads frequently before the expansion tank was replaced. It apparently was waterlogged. 

Thanks so much for you help!

Crystal
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/16/2008
Dear Crystal:

It sure sounds like we have narrowed it down to a problem with your aquastat on your boiler.

There could be two things that could be wrong with your aquastat:

1) the aquastat itself could be bad and need to be replaced, and

2) the aquastat's thermocouple (that reads the water temperature) could either be bad, or it could have gotten dislodged or is improperly seated.

A service technician should be able to check the thermocouple and test the aquastat.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Rick on 12/19/2008
Hi, I've been reading your posts about heating system issues. I have a rather new 2 story Cape Cod style house and have a minor heating issue. I have 2 zones. The first floor heats very slowly. Second floor heats quickly. I suspect the number of footage of baseboard is not enough to handle the larger first floor. I have removed the front panel of one of the baseboards and placed a small fan next to it and the house heats more quickly. I assume this confirms my suspicions about not enough baseboard for the size of the floor. What are my options? I assume that I could hire a plumber to put in more baseboards. I've also heard of small units that can be added under the kitchen sink that "blow" warm air into the room. Are these my only options? Can anything be done to the existing baseboards without hiring a plumber. This is only a problem when the house gets cool and needs to heat up as with a setback thermostat.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/20/2008
Dear Rick:

If you are not seeing sufficient heating capacity coming from your first floor baseboard heating zone, here are some thoughts on potential options:

1) You are correct, you can install a blower unit, which blows air across a section the baseboard pipe.

2) And yes, you can install additional linear feet of baseboard, assuming that you have the room to do it.

3) However the problem could be an indication that you need to bleed your the air out of the zone which serves your first floor.

4) The problem could also be an indication that you have a faulty circulator pump that is not circulating enough hot water through your first floor zone.

5) You have something blocking the first floor baseboards. A common example of this is loose or poorly installed carpet.

6) The damper on the top of the baseboard may have been closed, and this will reduce the heat capacity of the baseboards. 

7) A heavy build-up of dirt, dust, animal fur or household items that have fallen on top of the baseboard fins, which can reduce the efficiency of a baseboard radiator. (Although since you said you had a rather new house, this option may not be likely, unless you have been sanding floors, or that you have heavily shedding dogs). 

Hope this is helpul.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Daryl Njaa on 12/29/2008
We have radiant baseboard heating on 2 floors in 5 zones. a) when the thermostat is turned on in 1 zone it just makes a clicking sound; we don't use it. Is this a faulty control unit or air in the lines or....? b) our upstairs bedrooms zone seems to produce heat even when not turned on. If any other zone in the house is turned on it seems to impact the bedrooms. If turned completely off, the bedrooms are fine until another zone is turned on again. It's not just rising heat; the baseboard heating units seem to generate heat even though only other zones are turned on. Is this a faulty control unit(s)? My understanding is that all zones are "closed" so wouldn't think one would impact another. c) how do you know if you have air in the lines? d) can home maintenance be performed to maintain these units or are professionals required?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/30/2008
Dear Daryl:

Let me address each of your questions one at a time for you:

a) When you say that your thermostat for Zone 1 "just makes a clicking sound and you don't use it", could you tell me a little bit more about this? Is it the thermostat that makes the clicking sound? Or is it the baseboard pipes that make the clicking sound as the pipes are heating up?

b) Regarding the problem you are having with the upstairs bedroom zone heating up when other zones are turned on, when you look at your furnace/boiler, do you see 5 control valves with on 5 separate pipes coming out of your boiler (for example, like the 3 red valves in this photograph: http://macksimumair.com/sitebuilder/images/DSC06421-332x447.jpg) ?

c) Symptoms of air in your baseboard heating pipes include: a gurgling or whoosing noise through your pipes when the heat is on; loss of heating efficiency; or banging noise when heat comes on. If you need to purge the air out of your baseboard heating system, you can find instructions on how to do this here on the Home-Wizard website.

d) Home maintenance for your baseboard heating system includes vacuuming and cleaning around the baseboard louvers, and opening and closing the covers depending on the season. These are straightforward to do. Purging air from your system is a procedure that many homeowners are comfortable doing themselves (especially using the procedures we provide here at Home-Wizard.com), however, you need to be very careful of scalding water and not to overpressure your boiler. If you have any concerns about doing this yourself, then yes, its better to leave it to a professional. A separate topic is the important routine maintenance for our furnace/boiler. This is definitely something that most homeowners have done by a trained professional.

If you could let me know about the questions above, I can better help you diagnose your problems.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Daryl on 1/1/2009
Thanks for your response.

a) It seems to be the actual control unit (by the boiler) that is clicking.
There is 1 controller for each zone. It's not the thermostat or the pipes.

b) Yes 5 control valves on 5 separate pipes.

c) Thanks - don't think we have air in the pipes

d) Thanks

Happy New Year,
Daryl
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/1/2009
Dear Daryl:

Thanks for your clarifications.

From what you've described, it sounds like it is not air in the lines, nor problems with your thermostats.

However, it sounds like something may not be right with your control unit. If you have the proper electrical testing tools (and are comfortable working around electricity), then you can test each zone valve at your boiler to see which one (or more than one) comes on when your turn up and down each of the 5 thermostats for each of your heating zones. Otherwise, this is something that you would want a trained professional to do for you.

One other thought, and this may be a bit of a longshot, is that if what you are seeing is not a new problem, I'm wondering if your heating pipes run together beside each other in the floor joists or wall, and when one zone turns on that it heats up the pipe that serves another zone? But this would not show up as a new problem, but rather this would start happening from the beginning when the system was installed.

Which is why it sounds like a problem has developed with your control unit.

If you are interested, here is a webpage that describes how the control system for a baseboard heating system works:

http://www.inspect-ny.com/heat/BoilerControls.htm

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from J.C. on 1/2/2009
the pipes in one of my base boards are frozen. How do I thaw them out?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/2/2009
Dear J.C.

The first step in thawing out the frozen baseboard water pipe in your home is to locate the main water shut-off valve for your house. It is typically locate just inside your house near where water supply first comes into your house. If you are on public water supply, then this valve will be right downstream from your water utility’s meter. Make sure you have clear access to this valve, and that it is not obstructed by boxes, storage materials, etc.

The reason you will want to locate this valve is that if during the thawing process of your frozen pipes, that the ice blockage turns out to be upstream of where the pipe may have cracked, then you will want to be able to shut off your main water supply ASAP.

The next step is locating all the locations where pipes have frozen. Go around your house and open up each faucet, flush each toilet, etc. If water does not come out (or just comes out in a dribble), then you likely have a frozen pipe located in the line coming to this faucet. Even if you have found one area of frozen pipe, it is a good idea to take an additional minute to check to see if there are other areas that have been affected by the same freeze.

The next step is to try to find the specific area in your baseboard piping where the frozen blockage is occurring. Sometimes the frozen area of the pipe will be frosted or have ice on it. If the situation is getting critical the pipe may be slightly bulged or look slightly cracked. 

There are two kinds of situations that you might have to deal with: 1) the frozen pipe is exposed, where you can work on it; or 2) the frozen pipe is behind a wall.

If the frozen pipe is exposed, then there are several techniques that you can use to thaw it out. We recommend that you do NOT expose your pipe to anything hotter than you would put on your hand. Heating up a pipe too fast, for example using a torch, can actually cause the pipe to rupture from the steam that is produced and is potentially trapped between frozen sections of the pipe. 

A couple of good choices for heating up your frozen pipe are:

- Hair dryer.
- Hot towels (just keep replacing them as they cool off).
- Space heater.
- Light bulbs, or better yet, a heat lamp.
- Well-grounded heating pad.

One trick you can use to speed up the process is to place tin foil or a cookie sheet behind the pipe to help reflect back the heat from your hair dryer, heat lamp etc., to the back side of your pipe.

If you find that you frozen pipe is behind a wall or ceiling, then you’ve got a little different problem on your hands. But you’ve got several options here:

- Place a space heater or fan near this section of your wall or ceiling, and allow warm air to circulate around this area.
- Use lamps or better yet, heat lamps to warm up this section (keep them back at least 8-18 inches from the surface).
- Turn up the heat in your house and wait (but if its cold outside and the frozen pipe is on an outside wall and inside of a cabinet, it may be a very long wait).

Hopefully this helps you with safely thawing out your frozen baseboard heating pipe.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Jennifer in NJ on 1/3/2009
I have baseboard heaters. When I turned the heat on for the winter weather, it sounded like I had river running through my pipes. I was told that I needed to release the air (from the pipes with that special key). After I did, the heat is not coming up. The baseboards are warm but I have almost no heat. As a first time homeowner there is so much I don't know but I would feel better about my lack of knowledge if I were warmer. Do I need to call someone in?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/3/2009
Dear Jennifer in NJ:

It sounds like you initially had air trapped in your lines, and you have successfully purged all of the air out, but than now you are finding that your baseboard heating system is not putting out enough heat, right?

If so, then here are some things to check:

1) Double check to ensure that you have completely purged all of the air out of your baseboard heating system (you can find instructions on how to do this by doing a search on our "Ask-the-Wizard" page).

2) Check the water level and water pressure of your boiler to see if it is low.

3) Check your heating registers and make sure they are open and that nothing is obstructing them.

4) Check your system's expansion tank to see if it has too much water in it and not enough air. One way to check this is to look at the pressure relief valve on your boiler, and see if it is leaking out water will be spurting water. Also the pressure gauge on your boiler would be reading high (over 20 psi). Here is an example drawing showing an expansion tank and pressure relief valve on a boiler: http://www.blueflame.org/images/homeheating3.gif

5) Have a qualified technician check to see if there are mineral deposits building up in the bottom of the boiler. These deposits act as insulation, and prevent the boiler from adequately transferring heat to the circulating water.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from sandi in Ct. on 1/4/2009
How do you refill an empty baseboard? Our pipe burst and my husband replaced the pipe and baseboard. We have a auto refill but it is now day 2 and it s very slow in circulating in that zone. We have a 2 zone system and the other zone is fine. The PSI is where it should be on the furnace.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/4/2009
Dear Sandi in CT:

Have you tried purging the air out the piping for the zone that is not working as well?

Regarding the procedure for purging air from a baseboard heating zone, it will depend on your specific configuration of valves, etc. But in general, here is the procedure for purging air from a baseboard heating system.

First, I would suggest heating system cool down before purging the air out of the system. There are two reasons for this: 1) as the water cools down, dissolved air in it will be released from the water, which will then allow you to purge this air out as well; and 2) less risk of being scaled by hot water. However, if it is not practical for you to let your system cool completely down, then you can still purge the system, but just be careful of the hot water.

Second, you should locate your hot water heating system's back-flow preventer valve. This is the valve that comes off of your main household supply line, and it prevents water from your heating system from flowing backward into your household supply. It typically looks something like the one pictured here with a release lever on top: 

http://www.blueridgecompany.com/radiant/hydronic/517/watts-fill-valve-and-backflow-preventer

Then as I mentioned above, the exact procedure for specifically which valves to open and close as you are purging your baseboard heating system of air will depend on how your specific system has been piped. But in general, you will then want to:

1) turn off your boiler and heating system.

2) make a note of which valves are open, and which are closed.

3) close the valves that allow you to isolate your boiler from the rest of the system (so that you don't get a pressure spike that causes your boiler's pressure relief valve to lift, as this weakens it).

4) connect a drain hose to safely drain hot water from your system to a floor drain, or to outside. Be CAREFUL, as the water coming out can be scalding HOT.

5) follow your pipes around starting with your backflow-preventer valve, and open only those valves necessary to allow the fresh water that is coming into the system from the backflow-preventer valve to flow through the particular loop that you are trying to purge (that is, one loop at a time), and then flow out the drain hose that you have connected. Then if you look at your back-flow preventer valve, the small lever on the top of the valve operates the bypass for the pressure reducer for the valve. So as you lift up on the lever, it opens the valve to street pressure from your water supply. So as you start to purge the water from one of your heating system loops, you can lift the lever to increase the pressure to get stronger flow to the line that you are trying to purge. But let the lever down if the pressure in your system starts to go too high (however, if you isolate you boiler properly, as described below, then you won't have to worry about over-pressuring your system). 

6) close all of the valves, and then repeat opening the valves needed to purge each loop.

7) disconnect the drain hose and close this valve.

8) return all of your valves to their original position (especially the valves that you used to isolate your boiler).

If you have turned off your boiler and heating system, and then properly closed the valves to isolate your boiler, and properly placed your drain hose to a drain or outdoors, then you can fairly safely purge your system without hurting your boiler or scalding yourself.

And when you go to start you system back up, you of course just need to be sure to put the valves back to their original positions.

Since you have isolated your boiler from the purging process, this procedure will not purge air from this segment of your system. But this is a relatively small area compared to your entire system, and the benefit to isolating it, is that you don't need to worry about over-pressuring your boiler while you are doing the air purging.

Also, here are is an additional suggestion that you might find helpful. If you haven't had your annual inspection done yet on your boiler, then when the service technician comes out to do your inspection and service, you can ask them to show you exactly how to purge your specific system, when they can be physically there to point out which of your valves does exactly what.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Ryan on 1/8/2009
We live in a two story apartment with hot water baseboard heating. First floor gets plenty of heat.
Second floor bedrooms get very low heat despite
out turning the thermostat on the second floor 
up high. 

Could it be the thermostat? air in the pipes?
This has been going on for a week. Help Im freezing...
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/8/2009
Dear Ryan:

If one of the two zones of your hot water baseboard heating system is not warming up, then here are some potential causes:

1) The zone needs to be bled of air. You can find a procedure for this in the question and answer section of the "Baseboard Heating System" webpage of our online Maintenance Library: http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

2) Your circulation pump for this zone has gone bad and is not circulating enough hot water.

3) The check valve in this zone is partially stuck, and is reducing the flow rate of hot water (you might be lucky enough to solve this problem with some raps on the valve with a piece of wood, NOT a hammer).

4) The thermostat for this zone has gone bad.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Jean on 1/10/2009
The hot water faucets have only a dribble of water flowing from them. If that is also occuring in the baseboard heating pipes,is my oil-fired furnace going to fail to heat my home?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/10/2009
Dear Jean:

I first need to understand why there is only a dribble of water coming out of your hot water faucets?

Is there also very little flow coming out of your cold water faucets? When did the flow from the hot water turn into a dribble? Could you have frozen pipes in your house? Has anyone been working around your hot water heater, who could have closed any valves?

Just let us know, and we can try to diagnose your problem further.

Home-Wizard.com
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FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Jean on 1/10/2009
In late Fall,I had the boiler furnace serviced. While paying the serviceman, I remembered to mention that the water pressure was low in all the faucets(old house).This probably had been happening since around June. It's very hot water, so with the cold water at full pressure, it wasn't causing me immediate concern. He told me it sounded like the heating coil in my 9 year old boiler must be corroded by hard water(private well). The coil would probably need to be replaced in the Spring. Since then, the pressure has lowered to a dribble. I can heat enough water for daily use on the stove.......but I'm wondering if this same corroded coil is what is heating the water flowing through the baseboard heater pipes. What could happen if there was little or no water in those pipes? The furnace is doing it's job properly so far, but could it be damaged if I wait until the warm weather comes to have the coil repaired- another 3 or 4 months? 
The pipes are not frozen and all valves seem to be open.

Thank you for this excellent service.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/10/2009
Dear Jean:

I'm starting to get the picture here, thanks for the additional information you sent.

Do you have a separate hot water heater for the hot water that goes to your faucets? You likely have a separate hot water tank (about 4-6 feet tall and about 2 feet in diameter), but does the hot water tank have its own burner at the bottom of it? Or is the only burner that you have the one in your furnace, and this heats up the water for both your baseboard heating system, and your domestic hot water?

What I am wondering, especially since you said you were on a private well which could be very hard water, is whether you have deposits that have been building up in the valves or piping of your hot water heater, and this is what is causing your low pressure at your faucets.

One of the first things to check is to backflush your water heater and see if you can flush out alot of sediments. Also, when you open the drain valves, you will be able to see if the water comes out strong, or if there appears to be blockages somewhere upstream of the valve.

If you go to our Water Heater webpage of our online Maintenance Library, we describe for you how to backflush your water heater:
http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/waterheater.asp

Also, if you go to our "Info-tainment Videos" webpage, there is a somewhat light-hearted video which if you skip ahead to the 2 minute 35 second mark, the video walks you through how to do the water heater backflush procedure.

If you haven't had your water heater backflushed in a while, this is good to do anyways. But as you are doing it, by observing where you do and don't have good flow, you can start to isolate which valve, piping, etc. is where the buildup of desposits is blocking your system.

Now turning to what sounds like is your bigger question. Which is whether the problem you are seeing with your hot water faucets could be an indication that you are about to have a larger problem with you baseboard hot water heating system, right?

To check this, I would suggest that you follow the procedure that we have for purging the air out of the zones of your heating system. You can find this procedure by going to the Baseboard Heating System webpage of our online Maintenance Library, and then scrolling down to the "question and answer" section: http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

If when you go to open the drain valve for each zone that you find low pressure, then you likely have deposit build-up problems somewhere in your hot water boiler system as well.

Hope this is helpful.
If you still have questions, just let us know.

Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Jill on 1/10/2009
We just purchased a home built in 2000 with a hot water baseboard system. I seem to be hearing conflicting advice on how close I can place furniture and drapes. Some people have said to steer completely clear and other have said I can put long drapes right in contact with the baseboard. Can you please clarify for me?
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/10/2009
Dear Jill:

I think maybe the conflicting advice you are hearing about placing furniture and drapes in front of hot water baseboard heating radiators may be the difference between whether you "can" versus whether you "should".

At Home-Wizard.com we believe that you should not obstruct your baseboard radiators with furniture, drapes, carpet, etc. The reason is that this reduces the efficiency of the heat transfer from your heating system into the room. The purpose of the radiators (and why they have the fins on the pipes) is they are designed to transfer the most heat from your heating pipes into the room that you want to warm up. You might notice that the baseboards are open at the bottom, and this is so air can flow through the fins and up through the top, where the louvers should be in the "open" position to allow the heated air to flow out. So in addition to the radiation of heat from the baseboards, you also get some convection from this heated air flow.

However, all of this is impeded if you have drapes or furniture blocking your baseboard radiators (including carpet or rugs which sometimes get flapped up under the bottom of the radiators and cut down on the air flow past the fins).

So should you keep your baseboard radiators clear of drapes and furniture? Yes, if you want your system to operate the most efficiently, and cost you the least to heat your home.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Arizonan now living in Buffalo & New to Baseboard Heating Systems on 1/12/2009
We have a baseboard heating system in one room powered by a natural gas boiler. Since we moved into the house a couple years ago, we have not used the heating system to heat that room, since it is a sun room and we just don't use it in the wintertime. However, a month ago, we did some maintenance on the exhaust pipes from our main furnace and this other boiler, and turned off the pilot light while we did the repairs. Since we didn't know any better, we left the pilot light on the baseboard heating system boiler turned off, thinking that since we didn't use it, we didn't need the pilot light. Once we got some cold winter temperatures, we had a pipe in that sun room baseboard system freeze and burst. A maintenance person came out and fixed the broken pipe and got the heating system turned on again. We now have the heat on in that room, but we were wondering why the pipes never froze in that room before? Since the pilot light was on before, did that keep the water circulating and keep it from freezing? If we wanted to turn off the heat to that room, can we keep the pilot light lit and avoid the pipes freezing? Thanks for your answers!
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/12/2009
Dear "Arizona":

Had you ever used the heating system in your sunroom? The reason I ask is that I'm wondering if the previous owners may have also not used the baseboard heating in the sunroom, and as such, may have drained the water out of the system. Then when your service person came out they may have filled the system back up with water. The combination of water in the system, plus very cold weather, plus the heating system turned off is a formula for having a pipe freeze and burst.

The pilot light and the water circulating through the pipes are two different things. The water doesn't circulate because of the pilot light, it circulates because the thermostat in the room says that the temperature is too low, so it signals to the boiler to turn on and the circulation pump to circulate the hot water through the baseboard radiators. And this it will continue until the thermostat says that the room is warm enough.

So if you are not going to be using the heating system in your sunroom, the safest thing to do is to completely drain the water out of the baseboard heating system for this room. You might also want to consider shutting off the natural gas supply to this boiler.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Frustrated!!! on 1/15/2009
Hello. After having a "noise" in our gas furnace finally fixed, we now have what sounds like a stream flowing through our baseboards. The contractor fully bled the zones so I do not know why it is so bad there should not be air in the system. We had silence before this was done. He said becasue he put all fresh water in the system, it has oxygen in it and it will take about a week to get out. Is this true? It is driving me crazy. It is a 20 yr old system and it runs hot 180 - 200 deg. and he said he may have to replace some vents and gages if he comes back ($300 - $400). Why would this be doing this all of a sudden? All he really did was put sludge cleaner in the system after he purged it. this is such a pain! Thank you
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/15/2009
Dear "Frustrated":

Regarding your questions . . .

If in doing their recent work for you your service person drained a significant amount of water from your system, then yes, the fresh make-up water could release a lot of air when it is heated up by boiler and circulated through your heating system.

And yes, this air trapped in your system is likely what is causing the sound that you describe of a "stream flowing through your baseboards".

To fix this, you would need to purge this air out of each zone of your heating system. If you are comfortable doing it yourself, you can find the procedure for how to do this on our "Baseboard Heating System" webpage of our online Maintenance Guide:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

Without being able physically examine your heating system, however, it's difficult to determine why your service person needs to come back to replace some vents and gauges as you mentioned. 

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from JMJ on 1/17/2009
I have a two zone gas baseboard heating system. In seems that no heat is going to one room only in the entire house under zone 2. Are there controls inside the baseboard unit or a valve that allows water into that room's unit pipes, etc? Please advise? Since it is the room above my garage, it is like a freezer in there! Thanks in advance.
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ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/17/2009
Dear JMJ:

If you have one zone of your heating system that is not getting hot, then the first thing that I would recommend is that if you haven't already, you should try bleeding the air out of this zone. The procedure for how to purge the air out of a heating zone can be found in the "Question & Answer" section of the Baseboard Heating System webpage of our online Maintenance Library:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

If you have already bled this heating zone and you are still not getting heat in these baseboards, then the other possible problems include:

1) the thermostat in the room controlling this zone is not working properly.

2) the valve controlling the flow to this zone is stuck or blocked.

3) the circulation pump for this zone is not working properly.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from April on 8/16/2009
Hi, I recently bought a 135 year old home with hydronic baseboard heating. Apparently last winter it wasn't winterized properly so the pipes burst. All over the home I can see right next to the baseboards where the pipes have popped apart. Would this really have been caused just by pressure? Naturally I would assume that once pressure was released from one burst section it wouldn't continue to be pressurized in every other room. Will this be reasonably simply for someone to repair? Does the layout of these systems typically have long single sections of pipe inside the walls and then the joints are near the baseboard units, or might there be other joints inside the walls that could have burst? (Sorry so many questions) Thank you for your input.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 8/16/2009

Dear April:

Regarding your questions about a hot water baseboard heating system that had frozen and burst your piping in several areas:

Yes, the damage you describe could have all been done by the force of the pressure from water turning to ice. When water freezes it expands, and if there is no place for the freezing ice to expand to, it will burst even metal piping. If your pipes throughout your house were filled with water, then you could get pipes bursting in many locations, as the bursting frozen pipes would only release pressure in limited areas (since the pipes would be frozen solid between areas).

If the sections of burst piping are located inside of walls, yes, this could be difficult to repair.

And finally, even if the original plumber was able to use continuous pipe sections inside of all of your walls, you could still have the pipes bursting even between joints.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Snuss69 on 9/18/2009
My house has boiler fired baseboard hot water split into three zones. Two zones are heat and the other is for hot water. Suddenly the zone that heats the bedrooms has gone on while the windows are still open. It ws 52 degrees outside and 80 degrees inside with the thermostat set to 55 degrees. I played with the thermostat and the circulator did not shut off and when I disconnected the thermostat. There is a circuit board located near the circulator with a relay on it. I disconnected a black wire from that and the circulator shut down. The other zones are still functional, so it appears to be an element of the circuit board that is bad. Does that entire part have to be replace or can the components be diagnosed and replaced?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 9/20/2009

Dear Snuss69:

It sounds like your circulator relay has gone bad. I would suggest that you replace the entire relay, rather than trying to diagnose and repair the relay piece-by-piece.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION from Snuss69 on 9/21/2009
It is helpful. Thanks. 

This particular relay has been a problem. I had repaired a crack in the solder that prevented the heat in that zone from kicking on a few yearws ago and it was this same zone. The other two have never been a problem. Must have been the one made on Monday AM after a bad weekend!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 9/21/2009

Dear Snuss69:

. . . that's funny about the Monday morning part!

Yes, if you have had problems with this relay before, I would definitely recommend replacing the entire relay unit. The worst case would be if you were away sometime over the winter, and the relay failed to open the circulation pump, thereby allowing pipes to freeze. Again, this is a worst case scenario, but for peace of mind, even though it sounds like you are quite handy, you might want to install a reliable new relay rather than continuing to repair the existing one.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION from Snuss69 on 9/21/2009
Thanks again. Nice site and I appreciate the advice. 

It looks like they run about $80 and they are easy enough to install.
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QUESTION from Ken Lee on 9/9/2009
What causes a high reading on the low side and a low reading on the high side?


ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 9/20/2009

Dear Ken:

If you are referring to a problem with the calibration of your thermostat, here is a webpage that describes how to calibrate it:

http://www.ehow.com/how_4830945_calibrate-a-thermostat.html

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Mark W on 9/29/2009
The gas valve on my home heating hot water system starts making a loud fast chattering sound. The valve is on and the boiler is heating but it starts a few seconds after it lights.The aquastat turns on power for the burner thru a power vent then to the gas valve.to me it seems like a poor connection but I'm not sure where to look.I had a heating contractor check it but of course then it didn't do it.


ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 9/29/2009

Dear Mark W:

A gas valve that chatters from time to time is probably on its last legs, and should therefore be replaced. Other than the valve itself going bad, the other cause could be the transformer for the valve not putting out sufficient voltage.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from april on 9/28/2009
I live in PA. Will my gas baseboard heating pipes freeze in the winter months if the gas is not on and pipes not drained? I have a 2 story house with full basement and my house has a wood burning fireplace in living room on main floor. that heats the whole house pretty good.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/13/2009

Dear April:

In principle, having another heat source in your home should be sufficient to keep your baseboard heating pipes warm enough to keep from freezing. 

But this is just in principle. In actuality there could be conditions which could allow water in your baseboard pipes to freeze, burst, and cause expensive damage to your home. For example, if you have baseboard pipes than run in cabinets under sinks and against outside walls, the pipes in these areas can get very cold during a Pennsylvania winter. If your wood burning fireplace were to go out, these areas could quickly get very cold and freeze the water inside of them.

If you want to not drain your baseboard system, you might want to consider adding anti-freeze to your system. You should check with the manufacturer of your heating system to find out specifically what type of anti-freeze that they recommend for your particular location and system, and what percent mix that you should target for. NEVER use automotive anti-freeze for a baseboard heating system. Your system will run fine with anti-freeze in it, however the system will not operate quite as efficiently, since the anti-freeze reduces the heat transfer properties.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard
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QUESTION from William on 9/30/2009
We have a new basement in our cottage. We are not there in the winter months. How many base board heaters and watts size, will we need to keep the temperature about 40 F. Room sizes are 360 sq. ft, 80 sq. ft, 150 sq. ft X2, 320 sq. ft. All exterior walls will be insulated with R-20 ( 2x6)?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/13/2009

Dear William:

Regarding your question on how to properly size a heating system for your cottage, here is a webpage that describes the issues with sizing a heating system:
http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/space_heating_cooling/index.cfm/mytopic=12340

As you will read, properly sizing a heating system will depend on factors such as:

o The local climate
o Size, shape, and orientation of the house
o Insulation levels
o Window area, location, and type
o Air infiltration rates
o The number and ages of occupants
o Occupant comfort preferences
o The types and efficiencies of lights and major home appliances (which give off heat).

And as the webpage discusses, it is best to have a local contractor (who is familiar with your specific region of the country and who can see your cottage's specific configuration) run the correct sizing calculations (not just us using estimates using "rules of thumb").

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from dave on 10/1/2009
i have one of my zones passing hot water when zone is not calling for heat.zone controller shows off .three other zones fine.i also have a outside wood boiler connected to existing propane fired boiler.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/13/2009

Dear Dave:

Do I understand correctly that your problem is that all of a sudden one of the zones in your baseboard heating system is coming on, even though the thermostat for this zone is in the off position?

Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from BILL on 10/1/2009
SOME OF THE RADIATORS FOR MY BASEBOARD HEATING SYSTEM ARE NOT HEATING UP. OTHER RADIATORS BEFORE AND AFTER THE PROBLEM ARE HEATING UP AS THEY ARE FED BY THE SAME OUTLET. COULD THIS BE 
THAT THERE IS AIR IN THE SYSTEM ?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/13/2009

Dear Bill:

Regarding your question about your baseboard heating system, if I understand your problem correctly, the radiators that you are referring to are all in the same zone, right? If they are, then yes, the problem could be that you have air trapped in one section of radiators, and this is keeping this section from properly heating up.

However, if the section of baseboard where you are having problems IS in a separate zone from the other sections, then the problem could still be with air trapped in this zone, but it could also be a problem with the zone valve or thermostat for this zone.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Arthur Perazzo on 10/4/2009
I go away in the winter and so I worry about the hot water baseboard heating pipes freezing if the electricity goes off for an extended period of time. Is adding antifreeze a good solution? Does doing so affect heating? Any other cons to using anitfreeze?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/13/2009

Dear Arthur:

If you are going to be away for extended periods over the winter, then yes, you are right to be concerned about the possibility of your baseboard heating pipes freezing if you lose electricity.

The safest thing to do of course is to drain the water from your hot water baseboard system completely (and also drain the water from your toilets, hot water heater, etc.). If you want to not drain your baseboard system, you might want to consider adding anti-freeze to your system. You should check with the manufacturer of your heating system to find out specifically what type of anti-freeze that they recommend for your particular location and system, and what percent mix that you should target for. NEVER use automotive anti-freeze for a baseboard heating system. Your system will run fine with anti-freeze in it, however the system will not operate quite as efficiently, since the anti-freeze reduces the heat transfer properties.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from CB on 10/5/2009
We live in a one bedroom corner unit apartment with baseboard heating. Recently, when the heat was turned on in the building for fall, our pipes started to vibrate/pulse. They emit a constant humming that is similar to the drone of a washing machine. I can actually feel the vibrations in my ears and it never stops. We tried turning the heat off in our unit but this made no differnce. I lived in another unit in this building earlier this year and never had this issue. Do you have any suggestions as to what could be causing the pipes to vibrate?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/13/2009

Dear CB:

I'm wondering if what you are hearing is the vibration from the heating oil piping for your furnace. You mentioned that recently moved from another unit in your building to the corner unit, and when you moved to the corner unit, that you started hearing the vibration noise when the heat came on for the season. What I'm thinking is that being in the corner, that you may be now located over the area where the apartment building furnace is located, and be the first unit downstream of the boiler. Further, since the oil piping may be located near the ceiling, and may not have sound insulation, it could be adding to the noise problem and giving the humming drone sound that you mentioned.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Peggy Mara on 10/12/2009
My house is for sale and is empty. What temperature should I keep the house at with water base board heating. I have a gas furnace and live in Michigan . What temperature outside do I need to turn the heat back on?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/14/2009

Dear Peggy:

I wouldn't think that you would want to set the thermostat below around 50 degrees F. And to be sure that the water pipes do not freeze, I would recommend NOT turning off the heat (unless you completely drain the system, your water heater, toilet, etc.).

Further, since you are going to be out of the house for extended periods of time, you might want to consider adding anti-freeze to your baseboard heating system (I assume that since you may be showing the house from time to time, that you don't want to drain your system). This way if you lose electricity, that you don't have to worry about pipes freezing and bursting. You should check with the manufacturer of your heating system to find out specifically what type of anti-freeze that they recommend for your particular location and system, and what percent mix that you should target for. NEVER use automotive anti-freeze for a baseboard heating system. Your system will run fine with anti-freeze in it, however the system will not operate quite as efficiently, since the anti-freeze reduces the heat transfer properties.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Tammy Mossuto on 10/12/2009
I have a question about switching ou my olo cast iron radiators from the 50's with the new hydrolic baseboards. I need to know if my system can handle it. The boiler I am currently using is a lennox as pictured on this site http://www.lennox.com/products/boilers/GWB8-E/S/


The baseboard I want to use is on this site... http://www.alpinehomeair.com/viewcategory.cfm?categoryID=255 Any of the hydronic baseboards will do as long as the size is right. money is extrem;y tight so we are trying to make do with the boiler we already have. Thank you, for reviewing my question.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/14/2009

Dear Tammy:

In general, I would think that your new baseboard radiators would be more efficient than the old-style radiators that you are replacing. And as such, if your existing boiler had adequate capacity, then it should have enough capacity for the new, more efficient baseboard radiators.

However, here is a webpage that describes the issues with sizing a heating system: http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/space_heating_cooling/index.cfm/mytopic=12340

As you will read, properly sizing a heating system will depend on factors such as:

o The local climate
o Size, shape, and orientation of the house
o Insulation levels
o Window area, location, and type
o Air infiltration rates
o The number and ages of occupants
o Occupant comfort preferences
o The types and efficiencies of lights and major home appliances (which give off heat).

And as the webpage discusses, it is best to have a local contractor (who is familiar with your specific region of the country and who can see your home's specific configuration) run the correct sizing calculations (not just us using estimates using "rules of thumb").

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from pingber on 10/13/2009
I've been having problems with bleeding my hot water baseboard system. The tech has tried it twice, but it still gurgles in the lower floor zone when the pump kicks on and then again when the water reaches hot (around 170 or so). I noticed that if I carefully lift the boiler pressure relief valve, air escapes for a few seconds before water is released. I did this when the boiler was only warm, not hot. could this air be a source of my problem?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/14/2009

Dear pingber:

Yes, it does sound like your system has air trapped in it that still needs to be bled. When the technician comes out, you might also want them to confirm that your boiler is operating at a pressure of between 12-15 psi.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION from pingber on 10/14/2009
Hi and thanks for the quick reply. 

The tech came out and noticed a few things. First, he was on the "install team" when this furnace was put in. He immediately reset the aquastat to 160 instead of 180 becuase he said that this furnace continues heating for about 10 degrees or so after the aquastat is "tripped" and at the time of the install, he felt that 190 was too high. Second, he set the circulator speed for medium instead of low (new circulator was put in last year, old one only lasted 1 year), 3rd, he bled the system again, this time from a COLD state, one loop at a time, then both loops together. FInally he set the pressure to about 19-20 psi. Everything seems fine this morning (that's why I'm writing so early ... I was up before the boiler kicked in). 

What do you think?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/14/2009

Dear pingber:

It sounds like when they came back that the tech has done a nice job of properly adjusting your heating system.

A couple of thoughts. I assume that the technician is familiar with your particular system, and this is the reason that they set the pressure at 19-20psi, which otherwise seems a bit high.

Also, you mentioned that they bled the system of air when it was cold. It was good that they did this, as when the system is hot, more of the air can be entrained in the warmer water (which is why when you run hot water from the faucet in your sink that the hot water will look cloudy from the trapped air).

And 160 degrees is a good set temperature for your aquastat. It's not to high, which is good for energy efficiency; and it's not too low, which could risk Legionnaires disease. 

So it sounds like you should be in good shape now.

Regards,
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Adam on 10/14/2009
I have a 6 zone water heated system with 3 circulating pumps, 2 zones and 1 pump per floor. Last year I had to bleed the air from several of the radiators on the 3rd (top) floor. This year most of the radiators on the 3rd floor are not getting very warm. I went to begin bleeding the air again and discovered that when I opened the bleeder valve on the first 2 radiators that they were sucking air in and not releasing it out. What could make this happen? I also observed at one point that all 3 of the pipes leading to the circulating pumps were warm but the pipe supplying hot water to the 3rd floor was cold.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 10/15/2009

Dear Adam:

From what you've described, I'm wondering if you have a blocked water feeder pipe. 

If water supply is properly coming into the system, then when you open the bleeder valve, air should come out followed by water. If water is not coming out then it's possible that something is blocking the water from coming in.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from GENE on 11/11/2009
HOW DO YOU PURGE THE WATER FROM AN AMITRON MODLE 15 EXPANSION TANK. I HAVE BASEBOARD HEATER AND THE WATER IS LEAKING OUT OF THE TOP OF THE EXPANSION TANK. I WANTED TO PURGE IT AS IT SEEMS TO BE OVERFILLED. I CAN NOT FIND A PURGE VALVE ON THE TANK OR NEARBY.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/15/2009

Dear Gene:

Here is a link to a page that describes how to diagnose problems with the expansion tank for a hot water baseboard heating system:

http://homerepair.about.com/od/heatingcoolingrepair/ss/trblsht_boiler_5.htm

Did you actually mean an "AMTROL" 15 expansion tank? This model expansion tank comes pre-charged from the manufacturer at 12 psi. If you are seeing water leaking out of the top of it, I'm wondering if the piping connection is loose there, and the water that is leaking is coming from your heating system, rather than from the expansion tank itself.

Here is a link to an operating manual for it: http://s3.pexsupply.com/manuals/1249544554380/extrolbroch.pdf

And here is the customer service phone number for Amtrol: 401-884-6300

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from chris on 11/12/2009
one zone on our hot water base board system will not stop heating the recirulator pump is not running unless you turn the heat up enough it will run normally but even with the heat off there is still hot water flowing and the rooms are around 75 all the time, is there a valve in the recirculator pump that goes bad and lets hot water bypass or does somethins else control the pump?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/15/2009

Dear Chris:

Have you checked to see if the thermostat for this zone is operating properly?

Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Scott in Alaska on 11/21/2009
We have a Weil McLain boiler PCG-5. We have no manual to assist us, so thank you for any help you can offer. This is a two story house. There are two tyco valves. We are not getting any heat upstairs and the downstairs is just maintaining a 70 degree temp regardless of how high we turn up the thermostat. Water temp reaches 185 degrees, but no pressure. Help!!! Thanks!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/22/2009

Dear Scott:

Does you system have an automatic water make-up valve? If so, you can try manually opening this make-up valve to see if this will allow the pressure in your system to increase.

If you do not have an automatic water make-up valve, then locate the water inlet valve for your system and open this valve and see if this allows the pressure to build up in your system.

If these don't work, then just let us know, and we'll see if we can come up with something else for you.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from chris cilley on 11/22/2009
base board hot water heater wont stop heating on 1 zone just replaced the t-stat and it did not help this t--stat has a on and off switch and i turned it off for a day and then back on and the heat worked nornally for a week and now it is doing the same thing again i shut the t-stat back off and this time it keeps heating is there any resirculator pump wiring issues to look for?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/22/2009

Dear Chris:

Since you have already tried turning your thermostat to the "off" position, the next thing to try is to remove the thermostat from the wall, and be sure that the wires from the wall are not touching. If the heat for this zone turns off, then the problem is likely your new thermostat.

If it does not turn off, then try disconnecting the wires from this thermostat at the furnace. If the heat for this zone now turns off, then the problem is likely in the wiring between the furnace and thermostat. 

If that still doesn't stop the heat from coming on, then it is likely that the control board at your furnace is bad. 

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Adkjim on 12/1/2009
We have electric baseboard heating with individual thermostats in each room. Some of them make banging noises when they heat up. Since they have no air or water pipes, how can this be addressed? Thanks

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/2/2009

Dear Adkjim:

I suspect what is happening is that as your electric baseboards are heating up, that as the elements expand and are slipping through the clips that hold it. And as they get stuck and release, it is creating the banging noise that you are hearing. You might try spraying a little WD40 oil where the elements go through the clips.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Frustrated on 12/6/2009
I have a 1-zone hydronic baseboard system which heats a basement, 1st floor, 2nd floor and a small room in the attic. There are 3 returns, each with a bleeder/return valve. The thermostat is on the 1st floor. The 2nd floor and attic aren't heating nearly as warm as the 1st floor. There are bleeders in 1 of the bedrooms and the attic baseboard, which I've bled all the air out. I've also tried bleeding at the return valves and no air gurgled out after a thorough session. The return pipe for the upper floors doesn't get nearly as hot as the other two. Two questions:

1. I recently replaced the circulator pump with a lower horsepower Taco model. Can this be a reason why the upper floors aren't heating as effectively?

2. Can I get more heat upstairs simply by partially closing the return valves that come back from the 1st floor & basement?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/13/2009

Dear Frustrated:

If you have already done a thorough job of bleeding your system, and if the piping of your system is such that water from your boiler goes first to the radiators on your first floor, then yes, your problem could be the lower horsepower of the Taco circulation pump that you installed. And yes, you can try partially closing the return valves that come back from the first floor and basement.

The risk is that your circulator pump may fail sooner, since you will need to run this pump longer to heat your home (circulate the hot water), than would a higher horsepower pump that your system was designed for.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from mark on 12/8/2009
I am going to renovate my bathroom and I need to move two hot water heaters. I have two pumps. One for upstairs and one for downstairs. Can I drain the upstairs zone with out draining the downstairs? One other thing when I want to heat the basement and not the upstairs. The upstairs heats too. I didn't have the upstairs pump on. My boiler is oil and my house was built in 1963 and pipes are copper.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/13/2009

Dear Mark:

Regarding whether you can drain one zone without affecting the other zone, it will depend how your particular system is piped. However, since you said that when you run only the basement zone that the upstairs heats up too, then I would suspect that the two zones are connected somewhere (for example, they may share a common return section).

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from deanna Wilson on 12/10/2009
My baseboard heating system is only working in one of my upstairs bedrooms. What can I do to fix it?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/13/2009

Dear Deanna:

We would be glad to try to help you, but we will need some more background on your heating system. For example, what type of heating system do you have? Is it forced air or hot water radiators? How many heating zones do you have? Are the upstairs bedrooms in a separate zone from the rest of the house? 

Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Chad P. on 12/11/2009
We have hot water boiler (baseboard) heat. The boiler was replaced last summer and has only 1 season of Michigan heating on it. I have 2 issues to ask about:

1. When the upstairs-main zone comes on, the pipes seem to bang for a few seconds, first moderately loud then trailing off quietly. This was not an issue prior to the boiler replacement. Is it possible that supports for the zone pipes were loosened accidentally during replacement? (The zone and noises are directly above the boiler location.)
2. The other upstairs zone (bedroom) has one room that is generally 5 or more degrees colder than the others. House built in 1965, so windows and insulation is likely a major factor, but this room is in the middle of the zone. It is a corner room with only 1 baseboard, however the master BR is next to it (same amount of baseboard) and does not suffer the same way.

Thanks!
(sorry if this is a duplicate - I didn't register first - not sure if it sent it the first time)

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/13/2009

Dear Chad:

Here are some potential causes of the knocking and banging noises that you are hearing when your boiler for your baseboard heating system turns on:

1) Air is trapped in the line, which needs to be bled out.

2) As you suspected , your pipes may not be supported properly, such that when the boiler turns on, the pipes bang into one another or into other things.

3) A pipe to or from your baseboard radiators are running through a hole in a wall, etc. that is too tight, which doesn't allow sufficient expansion for the pipe's thermal expansion.

4) A zone valve is installed backwards.

Regarding your second question, even though the bedroom has the same about of baseboard as the other bedrooms, because it is on a corner of your house, it could have more heat loss than from the other bedrooms, which is why the room tends to run about 5 degrees colder than the other bedrooms. One way of balancing the heat between the bedrooms is to shut the covers or remove some sections of fins from the rooms that run warmer, so that there is less heat going into these rooms (leaving more heat to go into your colder corner bedroom).

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Bob on 12/11/2009
I recently bought a co-op apartment with baseboard hot water radiators. One of the radiators puts out very little heat, mostly from the bottom of the pipe, so I'm assuming it needs to be bled. My questions: 

1. Since my apartment is on the 2nd floor of a 4 story building, I don't have access to the main boiler for turning off anything there. Can I just go ahead and bleed the radiator?

2. The radiator has a valve similar to the one I have on the main water meter in my home, and like any outside water valve you might use with a garden hose, etc. Is this what I use to bleed the radiator? I don't see any other valves, only on/off levers on either end of the radiator.

3. If this is the valve to use and do I just turn it on and have a pail or receptacle to catch the water? At what point do I turn it off? 

Thanks for your help.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/13/2009

Dear Bob:

Regarding bleeding your radiators, it depends on what type of radiators and heating system that you have. Here a couple of videos which show how to bleed radiators. From your description of the radiator putting out heat mostly from the bottom, it sounded like you have a wall-type radiator system, so here are videos for wall style hot water radiators:

http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-bleed-your-radiator
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1455704/how_to_bleed_a_radiator/

And if you have a baseboard heating system (single pipe with fins around it), here is a Home-Wizard video which describes how a baseboard heating system works, and if you skip ahead to around the 6-minute point in the video, it will describe how to bleed air out of the system:

http://www.home-wizard.com/Baseboard_Heating_101.asp

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Arie on 12/13/2009
My base board heater system is leaking between the copper and the soft pvc conections. Is there something to add to the water to stop the leaking?
thanks

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/13/2009
Dear Arie:

No, I would not recommend that you add anything to the water of your baseboard heating to try to stop the leaks. It is not worth taking the risk of damaging your boiler, pumps, pressure relief valves, etc. Since you know where the leaks are (connections from the copper to the pvc), I would suggest fixing these directly.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Elissa on 12/28/2009
High pitch noise from baseboard heater in bathroom. I just moved into an apartment (It isn't an apartment in a building, but rather a 2 family house and I live with my landlords). Whenever I turn on the heat, I hear a high pitched squealing noise coming form the bathroom only, and as soon as the thermostat clicks off it stops. I can't bleed the radiators from my apartment.. my landlord said he has to get someone to come do it in his boiler room, but the noise is driving me crazy. (I'm not sure if our heat is on 2 different systems.) Is there anything I can do from inside my apartment? (I already looked and there are no valves inside the baseboards) Also-- I read how gurgling or whooshing noises usually mean air is trapped.. not high pitched noises... What would cause a high pitched noise? Do you even think that bleeding the pipes will resolve my issue? Anything you think I can do until my landlord gets around to having someone look at it? Thank you SO much for any help. Much appreciated!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/28/2009

Dear Elissa:

What could possibly be causing the problem is that when your thermostat clicks on, and begins to send hot water through your baseboard radiator, that as the radiator heats up it expands. And if there is a tight spot, for example, where the pipe comes through the wall, then you could get a squealing sound when the expanding pipe tried to slide through the opening. One thing that you might try is to GENTLY tap the pipe at the ends of the baseboard with say a gym shoe where the pipes go into the wall. If this helps to reduce the sound, then this is where the wall opening needs to be enlarged.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION from Elissa on 12/28/2009
Thank you so so much. 

I apologize that my question was posted several times.. I thought it wasn't going through until I scrolled down and saw it was already posted! Oops! Thank you so much for your quick reply. Much appreciated! :) I noticed that the pipe going into the wall on the baseboard heat in the bathroom (where the noise is) seems to be very loose. I can easily jiggle the pipe on both ends. Is this normal? It almost seems like it is open ended and not connected to anything. I showed my landlord , but I don't think he knew... he said it's "fine". He thinks the valves need to be bled (still waiting on when he is bringing someone in to do that). Do you think that will help at all? You mentioned the opening may need to be enlarged. How do they do that? Sorry for so many questions.. I am curious and like to learn :)

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/28/2009

Dear Elissa:

Usually bleeding a baseboard heating system will help eliminate "sloshing" or "gurgling" type noises. A high pitched squeal sound when the heating zone turns on is typically caused by expansion of the pipes.

If the pipes are loose where they come through the wall, then you might want to try gently pulling back and forth on the pipe to see if the sound changes. If this helps, then the tight opening where the pipe comes through may be deep inside the wall, which could mean having to open up the wall and then expanding where the the pipe goes through a tight opening. What I mean by this is that if the pipe is going through a tight opening in say a 2x4 stud inside the wall, then the wood around the pipe would need to be cut away.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Barry on 12/29/2009
What causes black stains on the walls above my hot water baseboard registers? Some of the baseboard is fairly new and they seem to be the worst.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/30/2009

Dear Barry:

Is the wall that you are seeing the black stains above the the heat registers an outside wall? It sounds like you might have what is called "thermal tracking."

Here is a webpage that describes the causes and fixes for thermal tracking:

http://www.inspectapedia.com/interiors/ThermalTracking.htm#ThermalTracking2

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Tom on 12/29/2009
I have gas baseboard heating. I have one zone in my home. Within the past two days, I've noticed that my daughter's room radiator is cold when the other radiators are warm. I don't understand. It seems illogical to me. The radiators in the rooms on either side of her bedroom are working. Can you help me?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/30/2009
Dear Tom:

Since you only have one heating zone, and there is one section of baseboard radiator that is cold and the rest are hot, it sounds like the problem is that you have a section of baseboard radiator that is "air-blocked."

Here is a webpage that describes what "air-blocked" is, and how to fix the problem:

http://www.inspectapedia.com/heat/AirBleedValves.htm

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION from Tom on 12/31/2009

This is a follow up from my 12/30/09 response from you. I have one zone baseboard heating with one radiator not heating up. It seems to be one in the middle of the circulation. I turned up the thermostat, let it heat up, checked the other radiators (they were all hot)the one was still cold. I have unscrewed my single air bleed valve (like a bicycle tire valve). Nothing came out. I depressed the valve stem & I got a shot of air, then water. I closed it. Then loosened it. The radiator (I waited about 10 minutes) is still cold. What do I do next? Is there anything I can do?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/2/2010

Dear Tom:

When you turn up the thermostat and let the other radiators heat up, and then purge the air out of the bleeder valve . . . when the water starts to come out of the bleeder valve is the water hot, warm or cold?

Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION from Tom on 1/3/2010
The water that comes out of the bleeder valve when I push the valve down is very hot.

What does that mean?

Tom

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/3/2010

Dear Tom:

You said that you have one heating zone, and the section of baseboard radiator that does not heat up is located in between sections of baseboard radiators that are working fine. 

Is the piping for your heating system a series loop system, where the main supply goes from boiler into one radiator and then to the next, and so on? Or do your radiators have a diverter valve for each section, which diverts the flow of water into that section of radiator? 

If it's the latter, then I'm wondering if you have a problem with the diverter valve for the section of baseboard radiator that is not heating up. If this diverter valve is not opening up enough (or is partially plugged), this could explain why there is hot water coming out of the bleeder valve, but not enough flow to heat up the section of radiator.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Christina on 12/30/2009
How do you remove air that is trapped in pipes of hot water base board heaters? I can't find any valves? I used to have radiators in my old home, and each one had a little valve on the side.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/30/2009

Dear Christina:

If you go to this webpage in Home-Wizard's Maintenance Library for baseboard heating systems:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

You will see a link for a tutorial video at the top. When you click on this link it opens a video which describes how your baseboard heating system works and its different parts. And then at about the 6 minute point of the video, it describes the procedure for how to purge air from your baseboard heating system.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Michelle on 12/30/2009
I have an old 3 story house with baseboard steam heat. There is one baseboard that runs the entire length of the wall in the 3rd story bedroom. The first 1/3 of the baseboard heats up, but the rest of the baseboard is ice cold. I have opened the air valve and air does hiss out. But the baseboard does not heat up even after I close the valve. If I open the valve 30 minutes later, I get the air hissing again. What could be wrong? Thanks.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 12/31/2009

Dear Michelle:

Steam radiators have a valve that allows steam to flow through at a controlled rate so that the radiator can heat up. If this valve is clogged with mineral deposits or stuck shut, it restricts the flow of steam to the radiator, so it doesn't heat up properly. It is sometimes possible to unclogged these valves, but usually it's better just replacing them. 

Another possible problem is that the pipe leading to the radiator is not properly sloping downward towards the boiler. If this has occurred (due to your house settling, the pipe not installed properly, etc.), then the condensation within the radiator that would normally flow back to the boiler is instead pooling in the pipe. This can block the movement of steam to the radiator.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Dave on 12/31/2009
Hi. I own a property with a gas furnace and baseboard heat. A tentant called and complained that his room was cold. He said he blead the baseboard heater and air came out for awhile and then stopped. He never saw water. He also mentioned that he was away for awhile and he had the heat turned down and maybe the pipes to the heater were frozen. When I went over, we blead the baseboard in his room again and alot of air came out, then nothing. All the other heaters on the second floor (the floor his room is also on) were hot. Inspecting the furnace I noticed that I only have one recirc pump so I'm assuming it's all one zone. Also all supply and return pumps felt hot. Do you think the pipe is really frozen? What else can I do to to try and trouble shoot this problem? Thanks.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/2/2010

Dear Dave:

If you only have one zone, and the baseboard heating pipe was frozen for one section of your baseboard radiators, then it would be blocking the circulation for the other sections as well. You mentioned that you only have one recirculation pump, but then you went on to say that the supply and return pumps (plural) felt hot.

Is it possible that you have more than one heating zone? One way to tell is if you have more than one thermostat.

If you do have more than one heating zone, then you need to turn off the thermostat for the zone where you suspect you have your frozen pipe, and shut off the water supply feeding this zone. If the frozen pipe has burst, now that your tenant is back and your place is heating back up from the other zones heating up, then you could have a flood when the frozen pipe warms up.

If your pipe has frozen inside the wall, then you will probably need to call a professional plumber who will need to open the wall, find the frozen area, defrost it, check for any cracks, repair the crack and test it.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Shell on 1/4/2010
I have a 2-zone, single circulator oil heater that heats my hot water and the hot water for my baseboard heaters. We have hot water, but the baseboards are cold. We have had multiple service calls, but still no heat. We have replaced the expansion tank, air valve near the heater, and the box that controls the temperature the hot water is heated to. There are no air release valves on the pipes, so we were advised to drain the system completely, then re-fill while releasing water until all bubbles were gone. None of these things have restored heat to the registers. Can you suggest anything we can try or may have been overlooked.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/4/2010

Dear Shell:

It's rather difficult to diagnose a problem like this without being able to physically inspect your system. But with that said, let's see if we can help you as best we can.

If you haven't already, you should look at the tutorial video about baseboard heating systems in our Maintenance Library:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

Then use this as a guide for checking the parts of your system that may not be operating properly. For example:

1) Is your room thermostat working properly, and telling the circulation pump and furnace to turn on?

2) Is your circulation pump for the baseboard radiators working properly (that is, when you turn up your thermostat, can you feel the circulation pump start to vibrate)?

3) If the circulation pump is running when you turn up your room thermostat, is the piping upstream and downstream of the circulation pump both hot?


Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Dennis Durant on 1/7/2010
I have a HW base board return heating system.We just bought the house last year.This winter has been very cold.The furnace was replaced last year.We cannot get enough heat.The room temp. stays around 60 or lower.I was told there is not enough footage of base board installed.My main concern is the new furnace is being over worked.I am going to add (additional attic insulation).If I dont add more base board in the house and just tough it out thru the winter.
1- Are my fuel costs increased because of the lack of base board.
2-Is the furnace being overworked,therefor shortening its normal life and efficiency.
Thank You Dennis

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/7/2010

Dear Dennis:

There could be a number of issues that you could be facing, so let me go through each of them.

It could be possible that when your furnace was replaced last year that it was replaced with a unit that is too small for your baseboard heating system. Hopefully this wasn't something that the previous owner did on purpose when they knew that they were planning to sell the house. On the other hand, the problem could be that the furnace is adequately sized, but it is not getting adequate fuel supply. For example, if you use oil, then the fuel nozzle could be too small. Or your gas regulator could be set too low.

Regarding adding footage of additional baseboard radiator versus additional insulation, yes, it would be much better to add insulation and save energy (heat) , rather than just putting more heat into the rooms. In addition to more roof insulation, you might want to consider replacing your windows with higher efficiency rated windows, weatherstipping your doors, blocking electrical switches on outside walls, etc.

With respect to your question about increased fuel costs due to the lack of sufficient baseboard length, it actually will increase your electric bill because your water circulation pump will need to operate for longer periods of time (and if you are only getting up to 60 degrees F in your home, then your system is probably running constantly). But your fuel costs will probably be lower because you are not getting enough heat (energy) into the rooms.

But this raises the question as to whether your furnace is too small, or if your baseboard lengths are too short. One way to check this is to carefully check the temperature of the return water that is circulating back to your furnace (be careful grabbing any pipes around your furnace, as they could be very hot). If the water return pipe at your furnace is relatively cool, then the problem is not that baseboards are too short, but more likely that the furnace is not putting enough heat into the water supply (this is why the hot water "runs out of gas" by the time it runs through the system . . . assuming that you are not losing excessive heat through leaky windows, doors, electrical switch plates, poor insulation, etc.). But if the return water going back to your furnace is relative warm, then the furnace size is probably fine, but there isn't enough length of baseboard radiators to remove heat before it goes back to the furnace.

And finally, regarding your question about your furnace being over-worked, yes it's not good for its service life if it is running all the time (and still not heating up your home). However, it is not as bad as the reverse problem of your furnace cycling too often because it is over-sized for your system. 

And regarding the efficiency, it's actually more efficient to operating in steady state than cycling, but the problem is that you are not getting enough heat into your home.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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QUESTION from Kyle Hoogendoorn on 1/9/2010
Hello,

I moved into my brothers condo 4 months ago, in the fall. The weather started to turn cold and since then my hot water baseboards 
in my apartment. there are two thermostats in my place, one for the bedroom and one for the rest of the 600 square foot condo. I have taken the thermostat that controls the main part of the apartment right off the wall but the baseboards wont turn off..... My place is sitting at 28 C !! I am on the ground floor which is about 3 to 4 feet bellow ground level (my windows are just above the sidewalk. The pipes are continuously hot and I can not find the pump. (only box on the pipe that I can see is the one in the bedroom on a separate thermostat).

How do I fix this, or are my baseboards designed to be on constantly to keep them from freezing since I am slightly below ground level? 

I also went into the main furnace room for the building but can not see any piping that would be going to my apartment specifically. (three story building with 12 apartments).

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 1/10/2010

Dear Kyle:

A couple of questions regarding your problem of your baseboard heating system not shutting off:

1) Are you have the same problem with both heating zones?

2) When you disconnected the thermostat from the wall, were you careful not to let the wires touch that are coming through the wall?

3) Can you tell where the wires from the thermostat connect to the furnace (they will be the same color wires as you see coming through the wall to your thermostat)?

If you can find where the thermostat wires connect to your furnace (and you are comfortable that you can work safely around electrical wires around your furnace), you can disconnect these wires and see if then your furnace and recirculation pumps turn off. If you are certain that the wires are not touching where you removed the thermostat, and the furnace turns off when you disconnect the thermostat wires at the furnace, then the problem is likely that you have a short circuit somewhere in the thermostat wiring.

Regarding your question about baseboards heating systems being designed to run continuously because your condo is partially underground, no this is not typically done. And actually, being partially underground will keep your condo warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com
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