I went to put on the hot water boiler heat for the first time and got no heat from my gas-powered boiler (I have water baseboard heating). What I did get was water dripping from a pipe that is open on the bottom with a bell-shaped valve on top, and now there is water all over the floor. Do you have any troubleshooting tips for a non-home-savvy person?
Actually, no. I can't advise that you try and fix a leaking boiler yourself. What I can do is speculate about what is happening, though.
It sounds like the boiler's pressure-relief valve is opening (also known as a temperature pressure or TP valve). This valve is designed to open up if the pressure in the boiler exceeds 30 pounds. Typically, a boiler in a two-story home will operate at about 15 pounds. If your boiler is operating at 30, there is a problem and it could be dangerous.
There are other causes, too, like a waterlogged expansion tank (if you have an older home, these are common). Bottom line, this is NOT a do-it-yourself project and you would be best off calling a service contractor to diagnose and fix the problem. You should be doing this anyway to get the system serviced for all. All gas-, oil- and propane-fueled heating systems should be professionally serviced about now to make sure that they are operating safely and efficiently.
Tom is correct but here’s some more. The relief valve water discharge can also result from a defective releif valve or a defective reducing valve.Whether one of these or a waterlogged expansion tank, the repair is a simple part replacement – not a major expense. Any suggestion that you need a new boiler because the relief valve leaks would be a reprehensible sales deception.