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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 1/30/2015

Had an interesting problem this past week with my radiant heat system that's making me reevaluate the need for some more on-hand replacements.


This past weekend as I was dropping off the groceries over at my mother's, she mentioned that she was having trouble heating her apartment. As some might remember, while I keep my part of the house nice and cozy at ~70 degrees she prefers to live in Bermuda-level temps of between 80 and 85 degrees. I checked her thermostat and sure enough it was lower than normal (a mere 72 degrees), so I said I'd check. When I got back to the house I checked my internals and sure enough they were lower at ~68 degrees.

Hmmmm.

Taking a gander at the radiant system my first thought to was to check it for air in the lines as happened last year. While that would annoy the snot out of me if there were such problems, at least I knew how to fix it going forward, and I could always call ABC Plumbing to come do it if necessary. However, there wasn't any air in the lines at all--they were just cold.

Hmmmm.

My next suspect was the circulation pump and this quickly became my #1 suspect. The pump itself is a Grundfos UPS 26-99LC, a very solid cast iron pump often used for installations such as this. I noted during my examination that last year when the system was misbehaving that pump ran hot, but now the thermometer I'd left on it after last year's fun showed nearly room temps. Feeling the pipes I found that they were hot up to the pump but the heat dropped off pretty rapidly above it. Checking the electrical I could see it was getting power but listening too it I didn't think it was doing anything.

My guess was that it had been damaged with the air bubbles from last year and limped through the summer, finally expiring about a week ago.

Poking around I quickly discovered that I could either order a replacement online ($), buy one locally ($$), or let a repair guy come do it ($$$$). After checking with both my mother (who is always cold) and the weather report (moderate temps for the whole week, rare for Colorado) I decided to order it online. Worst case if I replaced the pump and it wasn't the problem, I'd have a spare.

Long story short, after much angst removing the old pump and getting the new one in (it was very tight) it's all working great! It fired up immediately and I can easily tell the difference once it was working as it should. House temps are hitting 68 degrees now and my mother's apartment is at a cozy 74. I expect the boiler will take another day to get the slab up to temperature but am very pleased it was this easy.

The installers did a pretty good job here I have to say. The pump is easily accessible and flanked with shutoff valves above and below. Removing the old one was pretty easy, though getting the new one in made me wish there was a valve of some kind on there that would have "dropped" the sitting a half inch to make it simpler. As it was there was much wiggling and squishing of the whole thing to get it in there safe and sound.

Glad I could get it done without needing to call in an actual plumber, but I'll be wanting to get another pump now as a backup Just In Case.....

Steven in Colorado

Photos

Pretty clean installation really.


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