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Joined on August 27, 2007

Last Post on August 22, 2014

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it must have

@ August 22, 2014 5:30 PM in Rate my boiler setup

a pair of closely spaced tees to be primary secondary, or a hydraulic separator (low loss header).

In this Lochinvar installation drawing the boiler has a piping circuit that leaves the boiler, crosses thru those tees in the bold highlighted box, and back to the boiler, the primary loop. The boiler pump, the black one in your pic, has to be in a loop.

I can't quite see enough of your boiler piping to tell, a drawing may be better.

If it is not piped P/S, the boiler circ and the zones circs will be in series, basically doubling the head, not the best piping method, or what the manufacturer is trying to show.

If you do not have a pair of tees piped 6-12" apart somewhere in the piping you do not have P/S piping.

installation manual

@ August 22, 2014 10:42 AM in Rate my boiler setup

check that piping with the suggested piping in the manual. Download one from Lochinvar site if you do not have one on the back side of the front cover.

Looks like an attempt at primary secondary piping?

As far as the non barrier tube, consider adding a conditioner, Rhomar or Fernox corrosion inhibitors would offer some excellent protection.

good points

@ August 22, 2014 9:19 AM in condensate drain ?

It's at my mother in laws, age 84, very clean household, no pets, all hardwood and tile flooring :) I do replace the filter twice a year 1" pleated type. I'll look for leaks and check the blower wheel condition , thanks.

I don't mess with air side stuff much, so I don't have a reference, my other two run clean pans is all I know.

the only trap

@ August 21, 2014 5:05 PM in condensate drain ?

is below the concrete slab, a basic floor drain. The horizontal 3/4 PVC condensate line stops at that floor drain, it is not into the water seal at all.

There was a 3/4 PVC running trap where you see that tee and stand pipe. The tech said it did not need to have two traps.

It is an upflow so that coil is in positive pressure.

If the manufacturer states it is alright for the coil case to rust away, I'm tempted to build another drain into that pan that allows all the water out, not allowing 1/2" of standing water.

It just seems like that coil should be elevated above the standing water, or have a plastic bracketing that would not rust away?

I have two other AC coils and neither of them are rusting like this.

floor drain

@ August 21, 2014 12:33 PM in condensate drain ?

directly below the unit. i had the sheetmetal guy make a heavy gauge pan the size of the closet floor, I sealed the pan to the floor drain, like a shower pan. Glad I did there is hardwood floor around this closet. The old system leaked and destroyed the flooring.

The 3/4 condensate line drops straight down and over 2 feet to the drain, plenty of slope as I had them install the AH up on plastic feet.

The tech removed the condensate trap yesterday, as that is where it plugs. He put in a tee and a stand piece where the trap was.

Plenty of humidity here in Missouri, so much water.

I'm fine with the water in the pan, just concerned with the galv steel A coil frame rusting away sitting in that 1/2' of water.

thanks all

@ August 20, 2014 10:13 PM in condensate drain ?

this system was installed two years ago.

The pan is plastic. I question why the metal case around the A coil sits in the water. If it were elevated I would not have the rust and corrosion.

It plugged the drain the first year, I contacted the installer, rep and manufacturer. I will try the rep and manufacturer again, this doesn't look like a long lasting product, not to mention the potential mold issue.

condensate drain ?

@ August 20, 2014 2:49 PM in condensate drain ?

This pan lies with about 1/2" of water. The drain connection is about 1/2" from the bottom so the water never drains completely.

Twice now the drain line has plugged with the rust sludge, which trips the high level switch.

It doesn't seem like a very good design, and the A coil bracket is rusting away.

the current tapes

@ August 16, 2014 6:37 PM in Gas Piping - teflon tape

are a big improvement. I believe Mill Rose has 3 or 4 colors now, even a special tape for stainless steel. No more throwing away 1/2 a roll because it refuses to unwind. The thicker tapes work down to the last inch on the roll.

If there are shards of tape inside the pipe, it's "operater error" as Ice mentioned.

It's nice to go home at the end of the job without a layer of pipe dope on you and your tools and clothes.

If you are splitting joints with teflon tape, time to buy some shorter wrenches :)

Anymore a good channelocks type pliers, Knipex, for example is all you need to work up to 1" threaded pipe, if you use teflon tape.

Just because a local AHJ prefers or requires you to use specific method... but that is your battle to fight. Or not.

additional reading

@ August 16, 2014 2:35 PM in System's Architect

Issue # 13 of Idronics would have some good Hydronic Cooling design info for you

Uponor seems to be offering a lot of radiant and hydronic cooling training and case studies lately. Looks like one of the NREL senior engineers was involved with one of these projects. Always good to have a name when you contact them.

Review some of the info at I know some of the engineers that hang there have done radiant cooling designs. More emphasis on IAQ and creature comfort in those discussions, as there should be.

Keep in mind there is a limit to how much professional design help you might expect to get for free :)

Most in this community generously share. Asking for a specific design which could take days or weeks to develop, might and should come with a price tag.

not easy to model

@ August 15, 2014 11:07 PM in System's Architect

I asked Siggy once about modeling tank loss, on an inside storage tank for my wood boiler, with his FEA program. The tricky part is the stratification, which could have a different heat loss every inch or so of the tank height.

A tall tank could be 140F at the bottom, 180F at the top so that loss number gets fairly complicated to nail down. And that would have been in a fairly consistent ambient air temperature space.

Obviously if the tank were in service that water temperature gradient would be ever changing.

In ground brings a lot more variables. The ground temperature changes across a time period. In the fall the ground may be 55F at a 6' foot depth.

I have thawed water mains that were 6 feet deep in Utah during low snow, cold winters. So you could potentially have a 100°∆T or more, fluid to ground temperature, in portions of that tank in winter.

I suppose a data logger with sensors ever so many inches could help pin down a number.

But would the heat loss of a tank of still water be that useful, knowing that an active system would never produce those conditions? has an interesting article on underground insulated piping on a job in Finland, MN McKinstry Mechanical did some heat loss calcs on the old fiberglass pipe compared to a new Ecoflex system. You might contact Bernie to see how he ran the calcs.

As you eluded to, any water around that insulation would make those numbers, if you did crunch them, all but useless.

I have seen some outdoor wood furnaces lose 60 degrees from the heat source to the building when ground water surrounded the insulated pex. Waterproofing and drainage, possible a sump pump might be wise.

Keeping a jug of water hot in the ground may not be as easy as it sounds.

Thermal storage is the holy grail of solar energy, all sorts of methods have been tried. One of the more interesting thermal storages was Nevada 2 solar farm where they could store a days worth of thermal at super-heated temperatures, in molten salt.

Plenty of salt across a State border, not far from your project :)


@ August 15, 2014 2:16 PM in System's Architect

I have done a number of jobs with various brands. I have several projects at my own place here in SW Missouri. I'm having problems with the in-ground ICF being eaten away by bugs? I am not sure if the warm temperature from the radiant slab contact, moisture, noise, ?? Something attracts some burrowing insects to ICF as well as the blue or pink boards.

I spoke with one local ICF supplier that had lived in Australlia. He indictate they wrap all the in-ground ICS jobs with a stainless screen type of material, down under. Some versions have waterproof membrane included.

Wonder if you have any experience in the dry western areas with this? The builders I worked with in Utah tried ICFs 20 years ago and have all moved away from them.

I did a small in-ground pool with ICFs and it is heated with a radiant floor. I should check on that job someday :), it's been in service about 9 years now. I threw in some aluminum transfer plates also.

I've heard a Borate treatment helps, but needs to be retreated from time to time.

got it

@ August 15, 2014 9:52 AM in System's Architect

I was involved with some radiant cooling slabs in Utah back in the 1990. Granted they were in a mountain climate with low cooling loads, but they were installed with the early rubber tube RadiantRoll product, about 1/4" ID!

The main complaint, as they were both commercial buildings with office personal , was the cold feet issue. Folks sitting at desks ended up with rubber mats under them for some insulation away from the chilled slab.

Ceiling radiant or emitters like the Zehnder products would be sweet, if the budget could allow.

My last word of caution would be to not install products that are not listed and approved for solar. Many of the system failures in the 70s, 90s and even 2008 era were caused by product failure. Plumbing and hydronic products are not up to the task for solar.

I've been installing and servicing solar since the 1970's and I am in contact with a lot of designers and installers in my current position as a trainer, too many horror stories out there, still.

We lose a lot of customer confidence when systems fail or are obsolete several years after they are installed. Both product failure and poor installation workmanship, continue to haunt us, it's worth doing right.

There are plenty of domestic solar products and components available with 30 plus year track record, just a thought.

There are a number of engineers i work with that could do some modeling for you. Or maybe NREL would take it on as a research project, they have the knowledge and staff to do that model.

Have you considered PV to thermal with resistance elements?

volume vs flow and temperature

@ August 14, 2014 10:54 PM in System's Architect

true you can store more energy in more volume.

Heat transfer is accomplished by flow rate and temperature difference ∆T.

It you are talking stored energy, volume buys more stored energy.

Transfering energy, flow and temperature change are the main drivers.

Rate of Heat Transfer= 500X flow rate (∆T)

assume a 300 foot circuit of 1/2 pex about 3 gallons of fluid
1.5 gpm flow rate, 120F supply 100F return

500 x 1.5 X 20= 15,000BTU/hr.

Changing nothing but the tube size, and the volume of fluid, will not change the heat transfer rate that much, perhaps a small amount due to increased surface area.

Pump a loop so the flow rate is between 2-4 fps is a common industry standard. Larger tubes can move more energy because they allow higher flow rates.

It will have more energy available to transfer in the additional volume.

Of course with 3/4 tube you could at least double the flow rate and transfer more energy.

3/4 pex for example needs a flow rate of 2.3 gpm to provide 2 fps velocity
At 4.6 gpm you will be moving 4 fps.

Flow a 500 foot loop of 3/4 pex at 2 gpm and at 9" on center you could expect a floor output over 50 btu/sq. ft./ hr. I can't imagine any residential loads even close to that?

Spread to 15" on center and expect 30 btu/sq. ft./hr. But wide spacing allows for uncomfortable striping. RadPad calculations.

That is why the 3/8 or 1/2 diameters 6- 9" on center are adequate and much easier to install.

If you go with 3/4 pex, install it on a warm sunny day. It's a gnarly tube to uncoil and install when it is cold.

I wonder

@ August 14, 2014 4:49 PM in System's Architect

what the over-heat protect mechanism is for that direct solar?

If you size the array large enough to cover some of the heating load, beyond the DHW load, what happens in the summer months and during low DHW loads?

Most flat plat collectors stagnate well above 300°F.

Certainly you would not want pex anywhere near those temperatures.

I see that he offers glycol and drainback methods. You may be better served with DB if you have lopsided loads as mentioned?

I applaude you concept and project, but no need to re-learn some of the solar "lessons learned"

In fact grab Tom Lanes book "Lessons Learned" to help avoid some costly mistakes with the solar design.

Here is my experience with pex and solar. It sounded like a gun shot when it let go.

be careful

@ August 14, 2014 4:33 PM in System's Architect

with large diameter tube, especially on small, bedroom zones. With short loop lengths your flowrate may drop below 2fps. This makes air elimination tough, and heat transfer can be a problem if the flow rate drops too much.

The RPA suggests 500 foot loops for 3/4 and 1.2 gpm flow rate.

Also 3/4 is tough to make tight loops.

If you are going to zone bedrooms and small micro zones, 3/4 may not be a good choice.

Tighter tube spacing allows lower fluid temperatures which is huge with solar or heat pumps. Here is a graph to show that relationship. My next radiant slab would be all 6" OC!

The volume of fluid in the tube has little to do with the heat transfered.

either or

@ August 14, 2014 3:01 PM in Boiler Room Layout Mock-up – reasonable, flawed or both?

will work just fine, the LLH or hydroseparator chamber allows the entire device to see, or become the PONPC.

If Viessmann prefers boiler side, go with that.

The separator you show, and shown a few posts up, if it is a Sep4 has a built in microbubble air removal , much more than a LLH and it commonly gets installed with Viessmann equipment.

good catch on performance

@ August 14, 2014 11:16 AM in System's Architect

of that collector, it does drop quickly at category "D".

You can plot the performance of the collector across all operating conditions using that SRCC data, the method is explained in this idronics


That collector design looks a lot like the old Olin RollBond built in the 1970's. An Italian company produces a similar design.

I like the machines he has designed to fab them, odd dimension 21 square feet? 7X3 perhaps?

lake loops

@ August 13, 2014 11:02 PM in Geothermal vertical loops

would be my first choice if that can be salvaged. Could be the piping to and from is undersized even if you could increase the lake HX. You really need a qualified designer to start with a load calc, and system design. Most of the GEO manufacturers have fairly simple programs to do calcs for you.

Perhaps start with a search for GEO associations to get a lead on a nearby designer. It's helpful to find someone that knows the "lay of the land"

In my area the DNR limits GEO wells to 200', you might check to see what is allowed in your area.

I'm surprised that allow lake loops in the bay?

Read all the specs

@ August 11, 2014 9:46 PM in In series Heat pump WH 50g and two electic 80 gallons

On the hpwh mainly recovery rate and room size where it will be located

If you have access to off peak electricity possibly a large insulated tank to store the daytime dump load would have the lowest operating cost.

As Carl mentioned, you need to nail down the actual consumption number

I consider it a consumable

@ August 11, 2014 7:19 PM in Please Help - Leaking Hy Vent

part, those small air vents., it will need service or replacement, just like a thermostatic valve or any other tight tolerance valve.

I'd call that white crud dirt, or minerals, I suppose. The only way to avoid it is fill the system with de-mineralized water.

And some contractors do fill with DM water that they filter at the job site.

That small Sorbox recently shown here demineralizes fill water for small systems. Several other manufacturers are bringing out small DM systems that connect by the fill valve.

It is wise to use DM water for blending glycols on the job site, Dow requires it.

lot of work putting that together

@ August 11, 2014 10:41 AM in System's Architect

nice work.

A few comments, I wonder about the 85% savings with ECM circs, seems a bit high?

Check on your description of braze plate HX, sounds like you are describing a tube and shell?

I question the actual performance of the hybrid collectors. Unless you have a large demand for that thermal energy, or a huge storage that can keep the fluid temperature to those PV modules, I wonder how much that adds? Along the lines of co-gen units. Unless the thermal load is high not sure the $$ payback is there?

The control-ability of those high mass storage is the trick. That one looks like they insulate the mass from the slab? The slab right on top of the sand can be a little too much during cooling seasons.

Keeping the heat in the concrete tank will also be a challange, seems 8-10" of insulation is required?

a very simple device

@ August 11, 2014 10:08 AM in Please Help - Leaking Hy Vent

A stem, and an o-ring seal, are the shutoff mechanism.

It doesn't take much to cause them to seep, a grain of sand in that seal an do it. Dirty fluid is a main cause of leakers.

You could add a hygroscopic cap for a second level of shut off protection.

This Caleffi cap is ordered on many vents, it should fit other brands.
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