stuck open valves
Friday, November 22 2013
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
The house stayed strangely warm all through the night and into today. At some point I heard the pipes making noises in the living room, something they shouldn't have been doing because I'd turned the thermostat down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It seemed one of the zone valves must have been stuck in the "open" position. In the past this sort of thing has been a bit of a mystery to me, and I'd find myself frantically debugging the electronic and electromechanical components of the zone in hopes of finding a problem. But I know from recent experience that the valves eventually get stiff and can no longer be operated by the powerheads. Sure enough, this was the problem with the living room zone as well as another zone that refused to close when I turned off the boiler circuit breaker. To replace the valve mechanisms, I had to close a bunch of gate valves and drain the hydronic fluid below the stuck electromechanical valves. After that, all I had to do was a simple swap of the bad Honeywell mechanisms for good ones, which I was lucky enough to have on hand. The valve mechanism is a simple bolt-on plate with an arm and rubber stopper ball on one side and a rotating rod on the other to swing the arm and rubber ball back and forth. It was good to replace both failed mechanisms at once because the process of draining the hydronic fluid is a hassle (though it's not wasteful at all; when I was done I could pump the fluid right back into the system). After I was done, I shopped online to find more replacement valve mechanisms so I'd have them handy the next time I have this problem (one should always have spare parts on hand so that repairs do not require emergency transactions and expedited shipping).
It's possible, by the way, that the reason our housesitters had been forced to crack the windows is that the heating zones kept heating and never turned off because of those stuck valves.
In other housesitter-related news, we managed to find the missing blankets today. One was hiding in plain sight, a comforter stuffed in its a duvet cover in a way that made that cover appear to be empty. And another blankets was buried beneath the our bed's fitted sheet, in a place where no blanket should ever go.
Down in the greenhouse, I found about an inch or so of water covering the newly-excavated west half of the floor. This indicated that there had been some rain while we were in Los Angeles. That water gradually retreated over the course of the day, and by this evening I could jump down into the hole and chop away at yet more of the bedrock. It's was a good way to blow off steam, and I somehow managed to remove a further 100 or perhaps 150 pounds of rock.
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