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Hydro-Air System Troubleshooting

By on Jan 7, 2016
Hydro-Air System Troubleshooting

Hydro-air systems can get tricky. If you have hydro-air heating problems, this troubleshooting and maintenance guide will not only show you how to fix the issue, but save hundreds of dollars on your next HVAC repair bill.

Beware that some recommendations below are dangerous. Exercise extereme caution when working with your HVAC system. If at any point you feel the work is above your head, play it safe and contact an HVAC pro for free.

  1. Be sure the thermostat is set higher than actual room temperature. If the system has central air or is zoned, make sure it’s on heat. If the thermostat is programmable, it may need new batteries.
  2. Give it time to have the hot water circulate through the system.
  3. Check that the emergency switch is on. Check for a switch on the air handler. An oil burner will have a red button on the protector relay. Press only once. If it does not fire and continue to run, call for service. Resetting the button repeatedly can create an explosive condition.
  4. If the system has central air, move the fan switch on the thermostat from "auto" to "on." If the blower runs, it proves power at the air handler. If warm air flows out of the registers, the aquastat could be out of adjustment or the time delay is malfunctioning. If the blower does not run and there is power to the air handler, a control has burned out or the blower motor needs checking. Do not put your fingers or hands in the blower. Aside from sharp edges, it could start up unexpectedly and cause a serious injury.
  5. Many air handlers have a safety switch that shuts off power if the door is removed. Check that the door is correctly installed.
  6. If you have a heat pump attached to the hydro-air system, it might be that the heat pump is preventing the hydro-air system from firing properly. You may need to remove and down size the heat pump you keep attached to the system.
  7. Be sure the filter is circulating properly. The compressor could be running continuously because the filter is not properly allowing for air flow due to not being changed regularly. Check for any ice buildup on the unit during the winter that doesn’t defrost after 90 minutes. Try switching the emergency heat “on” and then call for service if the ice does not go away.

Maintenance Tips for Hydro-Air Heating Systems

  • Hydro-air systems use a fuel burning boiler or hot water heater to produce hot water. The hot water is piped to an air handler, sometimes called a fan coil. Inside the air handler is a multi-row coil, through which the hot water is circulated. Air is then passed over the coil and ducted to the space. An aquastat or time delay can be used to allow the coil to heat up before turning the blower on, preventing the discharge of cool air that can feel uncomfortable in heating mode.
  • Accessories can include: an air filter, electronic air cleaner, high performance media filter, humidifier and an evaporator coil for central air conditioning. A system with air conditioning might have a condensate pump to remove the water produced by the dehumidifying action of the coil.
  • If the system is zoned, a zone control panel and motor actuated dampers will be installed on or inside the air handler and ductwork.
  • Routine maintenance of the air handler includes replacing the air filter or cleaning the electronic air cleaner grids and cleaning the humidifier.
  • If an oil burner is making the hot water, annual servicing by a professional is recommended, since special instruments are needed to set the burner up to the proper fuel-to-air mixture ratio.
  • If city or propane gas is making the hot water, nothing needs to be serviced on a regular basis, unless soot is evident or low water temperature develops.
  • Some hydro-air systems use a boiler that has anti-freeze in it. This should be tested for freeze protection and replaced according to manufacturers specifications, usually every three or four years.

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