Can I use a programmable thermostat with an oil furnace that circulates water?

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We are moving into an apartment that has an oil furnace with radiators (water). Can I change the thermostat over to a programmable one? I have had forced air gas heat in the past and always been very pleased with programmable thermostats, both for $$ savings as well as comfort.
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On 8/6/2013 12:44 PM, Buck wrote:

Yes, you can. I've been doing it for years now. The T'stat will have heating and cooling, but just ignore the cooling portion and wire accordingly. Probably just two wires.
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

If it's just two, the thermostat will probably need to be battery powered.
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On 8/6/2013 12:44 PM, Buck wrote:

As already stated, yes, you can.
I had programmables for my old radiant heating in my home on each floor and again, already stated, you don't hook for cooling.
BTW, I no longer use the thermostats since I removed the radiant heating and went forced air. I still have all three thermostats, though they are older, they still work. You are welcomed to one or all if you want. If you happen to live nearby (though I doubt that), we can meet for a hand off, otherwise, I can ship and depending on ship cost, I may have to charge. Or you can simply buy a new thermostat which may have more bells and whistles.
You can see them here
http://www.flickr.com/photos/18223943@N06/9453068673/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/18223943@N06/9455849354/in/photostream/
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replying to Meanie , Buck wrote:

Wow, that would be awesome if you would be able to send me one (I would much rather reuse a perfectly good one)!! I am in West Hartford, Connecticut.
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On 8/7/2013 12:44 AM, Buck wrote:

Send me your address via email and I'll get it to you.
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Do you still have the thermostats? If so I would be happy to pay for postage via paypal. kathy.e.richmond at gmail.com
On Tuesday, August 6, 2013 4:28:27 PM UTC-8, SBH wrote:

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On Tue, 06 Aug 2013 16:44:02 +0000, Buck

I've heard these are called boilers, not furnaces, though I'm not sure I approve. Or maybe that only applies to steam heat, since the water in a hot water system is not boiled. ????

I don't see why not.
If you use the exact same times of day, I think you will save a little less than at the old house,, because the water in the radiators will be fullly heated before the timer times out. It seems like that should be counteracted by something that happens when it first turns on, but I can't figure out how.
At any rate, you might make the turn down time 10 minutes earlier, since the radiators will stay warmer for a while.
I had hot water radiator heat for two years in college. I liked it. You know you have to bleed the radiators once in a while, right? I forget when. Every fall??
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Buck:
Yes, you should be able to use a programmable thermostat to replace the typically mechanical thermostats used in apartment blocks, but I really don't see the point in doing so.
You see, the whole idea behind being able to program your thermostat is to save money by turning your house temperature down at night when you're sleeping. But, in an apartment block that has ONE oil fired hydronic boiler, there is no way to know how much heat each apartment is using, so the heat will normally be included in the rent. You're not going to save any money no matter how you set your thermostat.
Secondly, you only have one boiler in the building and so the thermostat on your apartment wall WILL NOT control that boiler. Otherwise, in a 21 unit apartment block, there would be 21 thermostats all telling the boiler to do something different. In an apartment block, the boiler will most commonly be controlled by in indoor/outdoor reset control which increases the boiler water temperature as the outdoor temperature gets colder. The thermostat on your apartment wall simply controls a zone valve. That's an little 24 VAC motorized valve somewhere on the radiator train that goes through your apartment. So, raising your apartment's thermostat setting simply causes that zone valve to remain open longer to achieve a higher temperature in your one apartment.
So, it's true that you can use a programmable thermostat in an apartment, but there is no reason I can think of to do that since the cost of your heat will almost certainly be included in your rent.
PS:
1. Thermsotats don't use batteries. They run on 24 VAC power. It's a simply loop; from the 120/24 VAC transformer to the thermostat terminals to the zone valve terminals. Draw a circle and put a transformer, a thermostat and a zone valve on that circle in any order you like, and that's what the 24VAC wiring to the thermostat in an apartment looks like.
2. Yes, hot water heating units are correctly called "boilers" even though no actual boiling takes place in them. They call them boilers even though they only heat liquid water because the responsibility for their inspection and oversight falls to the same people in each city's, province's or state's government that inspect, license and oversee steam boilers.
3. Air trapped in radiators will reduce the amount of heat convected into the room by the radiator. That's simply because the trapped air reduces the amount of heated water in the radiator. In a multistory building, any air trapped in the heating system's radiators will end up in the top floor radiators. So, if you live anywhere but near the top of a multistory building, it's seldom that you ever need to bleed the air out of your radiators. If you live in a house or near the top of a multistory building, you should do it if you feel that the heating system isn't working properly cuz this is a very common heating problem.
--
nestork


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On Wed, 7 Aug 2013 06:09:26 +0200, nestork

We've all made assumptions about his new apartment. I hope he will be thoughtful enough to reply and tell us who is right.

Mine does. And although you didn't say it would be, it's not a two-wire stat, Pete. It has at least 4 wires and controls AC and heat. It uses one or two mercury style batteries to power the clock, at least when the furnace is turned off at the main switch, maybe all the time. If the setback function is not used, that is, if the day and night temperatures are set to the same number, it doesn't need to know the time, so if the battery is not there, it doesn't matter.

Good to know. Thanks.

We would start at the top floor, and work our way down. to the first floor or more likely the basement, . I'm not sure any air in the system ends up in the top floor -- I don't see why that would be -- but I was not house manager and the house manager said to do all the floors.
http://www.familyhandyman.com/heating-cooling/furnace-repair/how-to-bleed-a-hot-water-radiator-and-clear-a-steam-radiator-vent/view-all http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_does_air_get_into_central_heating_or_radiators http://www.uswitch.com/energy-saving/guides/how-to-bleed-a-radiator/
In the 3 years I lived there, we never had a leak but apparently it's possible to have a water leak which causes the introduction of a lot of new air-laden water and which can require daily bleeing. I think t hat's uncommon, and probably won't happen to you, OP. Like I say, I liked hot water heat. It's quieter than steam or forced air. When we did do the bleeding once a year, it didn't take long.
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wrote:

http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid 071212054109AAmH8PT said to start at the lowest radiator and go eventually to the highest.
The opposite of what I said. My memory is 45 years old, so maybe we didnt' do it that way, or maybe we were wrong, or maybe WE were right.
Right now I can't see why it matters. The radiator bleeder is only going to bleed what is in that radiator, unless the radiator has almost no water at all. But even then I don't see why the order would matter. .
I'd look into it if I were you, OP.
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On Wednesday, August 7, 2013 12:09:26 AM UTC-4, nestork wrote:

Every programmable thermostat I've owned operated off of batteries.
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replying to nestork , Buck wrote:

Aha - very good point that I left out. This is actually the second floor of a house which was built as a duplex... so our 2nd floor apartment has its own boiler in the basement for just our floor. (there are two smaller oil boilers in the basement)
Regarding bleeding the radiators - in this case, when the system is just for our one floor, does the order of radiator bleeding matter?
And, will I need to do this in the fall when we first turn on the heat or do I need to wait until the system has been running for a while? _______
-- Thank you all for your input, I really appreciate it - this whole oil boiler heat source is interesting since I have had NO experience with it. _______
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On Wed, 07 Aug 2013 14:44:01 +0000, Buck

I don't see how it could. Like I say, I'm no longer sure the order ever matters.

I think one or more of those webpages said the radiator had to be warm, or hot. If the boiler is not running, I think nothing is there to push more water into the radiator, or push the air out via the bleeder. You'll open the valve and nothing will happen.
In a place where people have hot water heat, the hardware stores probably have valve handles, but if not, there's the web. They're little and cost under a dollar 40 years ago. One of the webpages said that new radiators might use a 12 point socket, or a screwdriver. IIRC, our valves had a square peg, in a tube, so I doubt a 12 point socket would go in the tube, even though it would have 4 corners and work on a square peg.

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On Wed, 07 Aug 2013 14:44:01 +0000, Buck

If there's a problem, you should do it again, whenever the top of the radiator is cold (when it should be hot.). I don't think this ever happened in the 3 years I lived there.
It seems like all of thse are from the UK!! http://www.ebay.com/sch/sis.html?_kw=Radiator+Key+Tool+To+Bleed+Air+Valve+on+Steam+Hot+Water+Radiators+%23A957+Valve
One has a bottle to catch the water!
This one knows that I'm in the US. (Well, ebay knows it) http://www.ebay.com/itm/BRASS-RADIATOR-WATER-BLEED-BLEEDING-PLUMBING-VALVE-KEY-/280574889486?pt=UK_DIY_Materials_Plumbing_MJ&hash=item4153910e0e#shId 1 pound for the item and 3.50 pounds for shipping. Not a fortune, but didn't the previous tenant leave a key behind in a drawer somewhere?
http://www.doityourself.com/forum/gas-oil-home-heating-furnaces/148214-cant-find-radiator-key.html
finally one in the US http://www.ebay.com/itm/Radiator-Air-Bleed-Valve-Key-/400190057314?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d2d2fab62
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Buck;3103434 Wrote: >

> floor

> has

> smaller

> just

> or

If your duplex has two boilers, one for each floor, then you can treat it just like a house with a single boiler. That means you will be paying for heat, and you very well might need to bleed your radiators.
What's required with a hot water heating system is at the beginning of each heating system, when the water circulating pump for your boiler is about to be first turned on, then the bearing assembly and the motor bearings of the circulating pump should be lubricated with a light weight oil before the pump is turned on. The bearing assembly is a cone shaped part that goes between the motor itself and the pump housing. It's job is to get mechanical power to the pump impeller without letting any water leak out of the pump housing. Older motors have bearings that require oil lubrication whereas newer motors have permanently lubricated bearings. Your landlord should be doing this at the start of each heating season.
To bleed your radiators, you should be able to find an "air vent" at the top of each radiator in your apartment. You bleed the radiators by just loosening (NOT REMOVING) the screw in the air vent a little. Leave the screw open a turn or two until water starts to leak out of the air vent. Normally, you should be able to hear air whistling out of the air vent, but the lower the pressure in the system, the less whistling you'll hear. If it turns out that the air flow stops without any water coming out, then the pressure in your heating system is insufficient to get water to the top floor radiators in the building, and you need to tell your landlord to add water to the system so that the water column reaches to the top of your radiators. The pressure showing on the pressure gauge of ANY hot water heating system should be at least 12 psig to prevent cavitation of the pump impeller. Water's pressure gradient is 0.4333 psig per foot of elevation, so if 12 psig is showing on the boiler pressure gauge, the water elevation above that gauge (assuming no pressure on the water at the top) will be 27.7 feet, which should be enough to reach from the basement to the top of your second floor radiators.
SOME hot water heating systems will be equipped with automatic air vents, but I hate those things because they're unreliable. If they open to allow air out of the radiators, they COULD stick open to flood your floor with water and cause a lot of damage to the flooring and/or plaster damage to the ceiling below. That, however, would not be your responsibility as tenant because you have no control over what an automatic air vent does.
--
nestork


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replying to nestork , Buck wrote:

_______________
Awesome on all fronts - thank you all for all of the information. I feel confident that I now know what to do regarding both the thermostat AND bleeding the radiators... and how to do it!
Again, I appreciate all of the information, this has been exactly what I needed.
-- Buck
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The thing about hot water heat, unlike forced air...
with forced air you turn up the thermostat and instantly hot air blows .......
with hot water heating you turn up the thermostat, the boiler comes on and heat slowly moves thru the system....
given the slow cool down and slow heat up a setback thermostat may not save you much energy....
but if you turn it down much you may spend hours shivering.......
its your choice
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Bob Haller is correct; there are advantages and disadvantages in every kind of heating system out there.
If you can afford it, the heating system that I believe is the best available for a house is a "hybrid" system. That's where the run all the ducting the same way they would for a forced air system, but, instead of having a furnace with a heat exchanger, you have an "air handler", which is basically just a powerful blower that blows air through that ducting into the house. And, upstream of that air handler you have both a coil for heating and a coil for air conditioning. Hot water from a boiler flows through the heating coil during the winter and freon from the central air conditioner flows through the cooling coil during the summer. 1 hybrid system combines the climate
"controllability" of a forced air system with the 100+ year lifespan of a cast iron boiler.
The advantage of hot water heating systems is that they lend themselves well to "zoning", such as you would need in an apartment block, office building or shopping center. You can direct hot water with zone valves to go where you want, including reducing the heat to apartments or store fronts or floors of a building that are temporarily unoccupied while still having normal heat to those areas which are occupied. But, you can't add air conditioning to a hot water heating system like you can to a forced air system.
HOWEVER, for every heating system, the best way you save the MOST money is to turn down whatever kind of thermostat you have and put on a pair of long underwear and a sweater. Out great grandparents came from Europe and were given free land to occupy the plains states and provinces, and they had to endure winters with nothing more than a wood stove that tripled as a clothes dryer and residential heating system. And, they survived no less for wear by dressing for the cold. In my case, I once had a tenant come to me in the winter wearing nothing more than a pair of shorts and a pair of sandals, and telling me that he's cold in his apartment. I nearly killed the guy with a baseball bat.
--
nestork


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bob haller wrote:

Hi, New generation 'stats with brain works with this kinda situation in mind. That is why you tell the 'stat what kind of system you have on initial set up menu.
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