Qs re hot-water-system (sudden increase in) PSI&temp.

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Posted by Michael Poppers on February 27, 2001 at 13:50:23:

We moved into this house the fall of 1999 and had no
prior education on maintaining a hot-water baseboard system,
so please excuse me if I use misleading terminology....We've
watched how the system works on a regular basis, and, through
the replacement of the 30-PSI relief valve, the valve mounted near
the Extrol tank (for air regulation?), one of the [two] zone heads, and
the intake-line pressure regulator, we've always seen the system PSI
fluctuate between the high teens and the low 20's and the temp.
not go above the 180-degree F. setpoint...until last week, when my wife
noticed the temp. going _down_ [up to 10 degrees] when the thermostat
triggered the circulation pump (and the boiler hadn't yet fired) and then
going above 180 degrees after the boiler had shut off but the pump was
still working (as high as 195!); at the same time, the PSI range jumped
into the low 20's-high 20's, sometimes even going slightly above 30 (with
the relief valve _not_ releasing any water -- we have a bucket beneath it,
so we would know if it did), although I have to add that every time I've seen
it above 30, I tapped it and brought it back down a few PSI (e.g. from 31
to 28). Since I don't recall our tapping the gauge in months gone by,
it's possible, I guess, that our PSI always was on the high side (it
doesn't need/shouldn't be near 30 even when the boiler is running, right?),
but why would we be seeing such temperature fluctuations? Is it
possible that the [dual pressure/temp.] gauge is flaky and should
be replaced?

As a major side-note, we've been very touchy about the system for the
last two months, ever since the circulation pump occasionally started making
loud noises while working (yes, we've lubricated the part we have access
to every fall season). Coincidentally with the PSI and temp. changes noted
above, this pump has started leaking black[ened] liquid every so often.
We intend to replace it sooner rather than later, but our real worry is
the temp. & PSI stuff -- is there any possibility that the pump's gradual
failure is any way related to those changes?

Because of the temp. going so high and the PSI being around 30, our
gas company considered our situation a mini-emergency (we have a
Comfort Care contract, anyway, but the attitude of the lady on the phone
only worried my wife more!) and sent someone last Sunday morning.
Unfortunately, his pressure gauge was broken, but he depressurized
the system and noted that the intake-line pressure regulator appeared
to be properly maintaining pressure at 12PSI, then fully depressurized
the system and noted that the gauge oh-so-gradually dropped to a few
PSI and could then be tapped down to virtually zero, so he didn't think
the gauge was too off the mark; after depressurizing, he measured the
Extrol-tank pressure and didn't get any pressure, so he pumped it up
to 12 PSI and we hoped that the high-20's pressure issue might then
go away, but it didn't. He didn't consider replacing the circulator pump
a big deal or a has-to-be-done-now item, nor was he greatly concerned
by what he labeled as "temperature creep," but we still don't understand
why it should suddently happen and are worried by the high-20's pressure.
He did recommend we bleed the system (which we've never done), and
we intend to have whoever replaces the pump also bleed the system,
but, again, why should a bit of air in the system cause what we're seeing?

All thoughts/comments are appreciated -- thanks! --Michael

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