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Paul Pollets

Paul Pollets

Joined on July 24, 2003

Last Post on April 12, 2014

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@ April 12, 2014 11:20 AM in who is this Mr Pex guy

You probably didn't lose the job because you use Viega. The difference in cost is pennies per foot. Mr. Pex is a reliable product and the company was founded by a former engineer at Wirsbo/Uponor. I use the product and can attest to its quality. They have a 25 year warranty and a quality sales staff.
Most competitive bids go to the lowest bidder. The lowest bidder usually does less and the cost of the tubing is relative to what the estimator thinks the job is worth. Most residential radiant "bid" projects do not take into account the cost of overhead to the contractor, which is usually the difference in bid wars. I wouldn't lose any sleep over the loss. I'd bet the other guy's price would still be lower, even if you specified Mr. Pex.


@ April 4, 2014 6:44 PM in Stinkbugs

No Shtinkbugs here in the NW. West of the Cascades, even mosquitos are rare, except in the rainforests. Lots of ladybugs.

Catching Stinkbugs

@ April 4, 2014 11:29 AM in Stinkbugs

The Moral of the Story...

@ April 3, 2014 11:04 AM in Bad hydronic panel install...

is that this happens all over the country. Whether it's a hydronic system or forced air. We spend almost 30% of our time repairing poorly installed systems. This is Seattle where there's significant income. How come?
There are many reasons for this scenario, but somehow, the owner or GC saw that a cheaper price had value. Often a plumber tried his best, but didn't have the right stuff or technical background to perform. He did have a low price. Sometimes the GC would have his crew try to do the install...same result. Non-performing system with high fuel costs.
While price certainly is important, what difference does it make if the system doesn't work right?

I tell potential clients to do some vetting on the internet, because pricing can vary as much as 100% from sub to sub. If the heating contractor doesn't have a website, bad news. If they have a website but don't show pics of their boiler piping, bad news. A pic of the fancy house exterior doesn't tell much, does it? Have they installed more than 10 systems? Have they called any references with working systems? Have they attended manufacturer's training?
Some of this is related to the poor business or selling practices of qualified techs, who aren't able to price the job to do it right, or convince the owner that a lower price really means less, not more.

The Rules

@ March 29, 2014 11:54 AM in Billing format

If you've been on this site long enough, you're familiar with Dan's Golden Rules. One of them is "never do work for friends, family, church or synagogue.These jobs will never work" .

If you do work for someone (and I don't care how they are related) without a reasonable deposit to protect you, you're asking for trouble and you will find it.

It's extremely poor business practice to do otherwise. It's so easy to take a credit card over the phone.

My dad's credit manager had a very wise piece of advise that I never forgot: "It's not a job until you get paid".

The Business of Contracting

@ March 26, 2014 6:40 PM in Billing format

Try Ellen Rohr's website:

She's an expert on how to price and set up your business. She's a direct disciple of Frank Blau, who set up and taught how to manage your contracting business costs.

9 out of 10 contractors don't know how to correctly determine the correct sale price of their services; 9 out of 10 don't know how to read their P&L statement. The average profit in the P&H trades is 2-3% net. Remarkably low for such a high risk business.

Learning the business side of contracting is just as important (or maybe even more important) as knowing the skills to assemble pipe. The future success of your efforts will depend on both skills.

The message is...

@ March 25, 2014 12:20 PM in It's good to be a Plumber...NYT

we need more qualified plumbers. Craftsmanship is often ignored and the skillset of the trades has dramatically been reduced in the past ten years. This was predicted 20 years ago and it seems the chickens have come home to roost. At least the article makes the argument for good wages in the trade...if you're properly trained and know which end of the plunger is used.

It's good to be a Plumber...NYT

@ March 25, 2014 9:12 AM in It's good to be a Plumber...NYT

Good article...hope it attracts recruits!

Thermic Valve

@ March 12, 2014 7:46 PM in boiler bypass

Here's the way to do it without having to install a 4 way mixing valve, motor actuator and control. I like to install a thermometer on the outlet to the boiler return to assure the temps in the return entering the boiler are over 140 within 5 min. of the cold start.

Primary pump on Vitodens

@ March 10, 2014 5:49 PM in Primary Pump Viessman KM bus ?

For the older models (WB2B) the primary pump wires into the Power Pump Control Module and needs to pump 6-17 gpm, depending upon the load attached to the system side of the Low Loss Header. Min. is 6gpm.

On the new models (B2HA) (with the black control), the primary pump wires into the KM Bus, which has replaced the older Power Pump Control Module. It's still a relay box that mounts on the wall. We always use a Grundfos 15-58 for the primary pump and usually the Alpha pumps for the radiator or RFH load. There would be no advantage to changing the pump voltage as the system is meant to work "as is". The best savings or ROI will come from using "Smart" pumps on the system load.
You'll also void the warranty if system is not installed per factory wiring diagrams.

Pex hangers

@ March 8, 2014 12:24 PM in pvc hangers for PAP

Pex needs to be supported every 4ft. Plastic snails are better than metal conduit hanger because the higher temps will expand the piping and rub on the conduit clips. Plastic is slippery and will not impede the expansion. 1" talons should be widely available at wholesalers or try


@ March 7, 2014 6:27 PM in Yodel

Tried it, spent over $ leads closeable whatsoever.


@ March 7, 2014 9:49 AM in Completed boiler & chiller instal

Nice looking work. Are the pumps on VFD?

The Price is Right

@ March 2, 2014 6:09 PM in Bad radiant in Seattle

Ahhhh, yes. But this is no game show....The price was too low for the builder to refuse. Now all the townhomes are plagued with yukky systems.

Bad radiant in Seattle

@ March 2, 2014 12:51 PM in Bad radiant in Seattle

I've seen dozens of these installs over the years...they may vary in equipment but all use the potable hot water heater as the heat source.The Rinnai tankless connects to the Heat Box for mixing and distribution. In this case, the mixed temp was trying to heat (1) fan coil unit in the basement and (3) loops of staple-up without plates on the upper level. The thermostat for the Basement was installed 3 feet directly above the FCU. Shall we say short-cycle? Non-barrier AquaPex was used for all distribution. The setup requires an RPZ backflow device, but none was installed.
FYI, I refused to do any work on the system, unless it was replacement. I referred the owner to the local Rinnai rep as I don't want the liability for this system working correctly.


@ March 2, 2014 12:01 PM in Emergency contact info for Viessmann?

If you need heat exchangers, they wouldn't be shipped until Mon. anyway. Hopefully, they have them in stock. I had to wait 7 days for one I replaced 18 months ago due to lack of maintenance. (No cleaning for over 7 years) Be prepared to pay for the replacements and shipping until credit is approved. Maybe it's a control problem...

Weekend contact

@ March 2, 2014 10:58 AM in Emergency contact info for Viessmann?

They're supposed to return your call on weekends from the 800 number. Take it up with the US sales manager on Mon. am in Rhode Island. Or take it up with Mr. Lutz, the new US VP. We've had slight difficulties even on weekdays getting tech assistance. Sometimes the wait for return calls is over an hr. I try and deal with James Brown, who has been there long enough to know the boiler line from 25 years ago.


@ February 23, 2014 7:43 PM in Underground Insulated Pex

Ecoflex is available with a 10-14 day order lag from any Uponor wholesaler. There is a cut charge for orders less that a full roll. Just buried some 3 weeks ago.


@ February 18, 2014 2:21 PM in how prevalent is this?

I'll be volunteering to perform radiant colonoscopies to proponents of open systems...without lube or anesthesia.

Copper loops

@ February 18, 2014 10:11 AM in bleeding a heated slab?

Copper loops within slabs have a tendency to leak and ultimately fail due to the concrete alkalyds attacking the pipe from the outside in. I'd re-pipe the manifold to allow individual ball valves and a test port (boiler drain). Each loop should be tested yearly. Purging is not possible with the existing setup. The owners will need to invest in a better system....soon.

Air vent

@ February 14, 2014 1:05 PM in What is this thing?

This was a common method of air removal before "pumping away" became popular. It doesn't work very well after the vent becomes clogged or fails. Vet is also subject to freezing. Better purge methods happen at the boiler and also use an air eliminator with proper "near-boiler" piping.


@ February 14, 2014 1:01 PM in Cold day

At the very least I'd be re-piping the boiler and putting the pump on the supply header, and removing the attic expansion tank and putting a new- "pre-charged" tank on the supply header before the pump location with CW feeder attached to the exp. tank location. Or replace the boiler.
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