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radiant heat piping repair
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3072
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just received my April water bill. Our water usage is always very consistent, but this month it was 3000 gallons over normal. It would appear there was a sudden change within this billing period...either a slow leak suddenly grew, or a leak suddenly occurred.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 13972
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. What percentage is that of a normal month's usage ?

Sounds drastic . . .

SDR
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3072
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

About twice. The meter measures in units of 1000 gallons; water bills typically indicate 3 units or 3000 gallons...on a rare month, like if we have been away for a week or so, it will be 2 units. This month the reading was 6 units, or 6000 gallons.
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5383
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wiki Leaks?

That really sucks, Dan. So sorry...

Keep us posted as to your solution. It will be invaluable to every Usonian homeowner.
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Mod mom



Joined: 29 Dec 2013
Posts: 355

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our hydronic system runs with glycol (in PEX tubes) and as such never connects with any of the new water lines (copper). Did the old "gravity heat systems" use water? Glenbrow, built in 1940 was older than your home, but when we removed the concrete floor, we discovered deterioration in our water and sewage lines, all of which were replaced.

Our house originally had only well water with a septic system and since you have a water meter I assume you have city water. Perhaps the poor condition of our below floor pipes had to do with the hardness of the well water. We now have city water and have retained the well for watering landscape.

I'm hoping your leak can be found and repaired without much headache.
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3072
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm hoping your leak can be found and repaired without much headache.

From your lips to someone's ears....we found the location, we just (yeah, just) have to assess the precise condition and how best to splice.

Our hydronic system is pretty typical...it is a closed system. The radiant floor piping is connected to and filled via the domestic water system, but separated with a backflow preventer. It has an automatic fill valve which adds water as needed to maintain pressure. Provided it is not leaking, the system will not need much if any water, but it may loose a little via the air bleed valves, which the auto fill tops off. My dad's baseboard hydronic system and our 2002 Lancaster house baseboard system worked much the same way. The water in the system should be old and funky, not fresh, oxygenated, and mineral rich. If feeding from a well, a water softener or other filtration system should treat water going into the auto fill. As of 1963, there was city water at Sweeton.

When I discovered the leak, I shut down the boiler which cut power to the circulator pumps, AND I shut off the valve feeding domestic water to the automatic fill. Had I not shut the valve, the system would have kept adding domestic water to maintain operating water pressure thus perpetuating flow at the leak.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 13972
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the bright side, you're right at the end of the heating season, with the maximum of available time before heat once again becomes mandatory ?

SDR
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3072
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2017 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
On the bright side, you're right at the end of the heating season, with the maximum of available time before heat once again becomes mandatory ?

That fact has certainly not been lost on us.
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3072
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The floor was opened this Saturday to assess the condition of the piping and exact location of the leak:


1: Master bedroom is empty and prepped for work.



2: The floor is covered except for the unit to be removed, and a dust enclosure is made to reduce dust travel.


3: Cutting starts...given the position of the pipe found in 2015 at the window wall, we are cutting no deeper than 2".


4: After cutting on the unit score line and chipping of the 1-1/2" top coat, the 3" structural slab is chipped out using a large electric chipper. A small chipper and the large chipper were used depending on how fine the spot to be chipped was. No pneumatic hammers were used.


5: Mostly open...the large pipe rounding the corner is a leader from which the field panel pipes branch off. The branch dropping is the supply to the work shop (24" below the main house floor). The pipe against the wall that comes up from the deep drop is the return from the workshop which is a home run to the bleed vent in the kitchen and back to the boiler. The master bedroom floor panel branches off horizontally then coils through the room to its return. The main level pipe is very clean with no sign of corrosion...that's a good thing.


6: The drops to the workshop are excavated, and corrosion is found starting at about 16" below the main level; not good.


7: We know from closing the house's original well that the water table is about 35' below grade, and that the surrounding soil is variable in its percolation rate...some drains rapidly, some drains very slowly. The septic system was done in 2008 as a 24'x20'x9'deep sand pit to account for slow absorption. In periods of long duration rain, or very heavy rainfall, a small amount of water (<a pint) has appeared in the NW corner of the workshop floor...when we bought the house, any rainfall would cause significant infiltration...that was stopped by excavation of the exterior, waterproofing, adding drainage pipe, and placing a ground gutter to remove dripped roof water from the area. The water seen in the 24" deep hole seems to be trapped stormwater or leaked boiler water.



8: The leak is on the supply riser about 16" below the main floor. An 1/8" hole is visible where a scaled bit blew out.

When the leak was noticed on April 7, there had been two days of heavy rain, and boiler water appeared on the workshop floor. Two weeks ago when the acoustic leak detectors were on site, it had not rained for a week, and the boiler water was on for one hour with no appearance of water on the floor at all. This Saturday, after a 2" storm on Friday, water appeared on the workshop floor 5 minutes after opening the make up water valve. This indicates perched water which accumulates rapidly and dissipates gradually....in other words, the lower radiant pipes have been subjected to repeated wetting and drying over the course of 66 years. The corrosion seen on the lower bit of the riser is likely present on some or most of the workshop in-floor panel tubing. I'm not going to mess with it; I will not dig up the workshop and dismantle what I just installed, nor will I overpour the existing slab, working around new wood partitions to install pex. Wright originally indicated a radiator beneath the windows...it was just a workshop on a tight budget. The Sweetons extended the in-floor during construction when a little more money was available...it worked for 66 years, but its time is up.

We will abandon the workshop in-floor piping in place, and reroute the water to the room using the same supply and return branches (which are in fine shape) to cast iron baseboard to be run along the south window side of the workshop beneath the powder room raised floor and on the base of the wall the behind the desks...(fin tube baseboard will not work efficiently with our boiler temperature). The main floor of the house will remain radiant floor, the workshop only will be radiant baseboard.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 13972
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those not following the repair can sit back and enjoy the repetition of detail at Sweeton; in this case, the echo of the dining corner at the master bedroom, oriented identically in plan:









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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5383
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a mess! This sort of stuff is totally confusing for my feeble layman's mind. It appears, though, that you have it all under control, Dan.
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 7328

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Instead of hiding pipes around and within baseboards, why not celebrate the system by mounting a few turns of copper pipes on a wall in full view?
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3072
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Instead of hiding pipes around and within baseboards, why not celebrate the system by mounting a few turns of copper pipes on a wall in full view?


Something about thermal mass and heat transfer....you know, thermodynamics stuff. Cast iron baseboard convectors are to be used.
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Mod mom



Joined: 29 Dec 2013
Posts: 355

PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So glad there was a workable solution without much cost. Joe loves this level of detail, but it is way beyond my pay grade! I will add, though that we had to leave the original flooring directly above the small basement and in those areas (hallway to the point room, point room bathroom, master bedroom closet area) the plumbers installed wall mounted hydronic radiators on a separate zone. Here is a photo of the one in the hallway to the point room:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/125471081@N02/34514394996/in/dateposted-public/

This particular radiator pictured has the stone fireplace mass on one side and wall of windows nearby and we found it sufficient to heat the area. Is this similar to what you will add to heat the workshop?
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3072
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mod mom:
Yes, it would appear yours is cast iron and not fin tube.
What is the name of the manufacturer of the baseboard convector you used?
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