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hot rod

hot rod

Joined on August 27, 2007

Last Post on July 29, 2014

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drainback tank ideas

@ July 19, 2014 10:46 PM in drainback tank ideas

I built these for some single and two panel systems, short piping runs. The red one is a 4.4 gallon expansion tank, had a bad bladder. I perforated the failed bladder out with a long drill bit, and brazed some nipples in. This will replace a leaky tank at my house that was made from an old freon jug over 20 years ago. Pretty good service for a tank.

The yellow one is an 11 gallon, portable air tank. Harbor freight $36.95. I added the nipples and sight glass. A bit thicker walled tank, compared to the expansion tank.
Although expansion tanks are rated to 150 psi (before the modifications :) This will be a horizontal mount up in the ceiling joist.

I use water heater blankets from the box stores, two wraps around for a 2" fiberglass insulation with a white vinyl covering. Limits heat loss and quiets them down a bit.

A dash of glycol or some Rhomar inhibitor in the system helps protect ferrous metals.

I agree

@ July 19, 2014 10:19 PM in Constantly purging air in hydronic system

all air vents fail or leak at some point. The mechanism inside is sensitive to dirt, debris, and just plain wear. Those hygroscopic do have a ball check below them, just un-screw the head to remove and shut off, or replace the consumable cap.

Another option is to put a small service check below the air vent. The majority of air vents we sell to wholesalers go out with that check. It allows you to remove and service, or replace the vent without lowering pressure or draining down.

There is one brand of air eliminator that can be disassembled by hand, or at most a 10" channelocks :) both the top cap and belly seam. It is assembled with fine, straight threads and an o-ring seal. Easy to get under the cap and clean out the needle valve, it is also a replaceable cap. If ever you need one, let me know.

Also you can get and adapter that allows you you put a drain tube on the air vent. so when it does give up the ghost, the drip will be on the floor, or near a drain, not through the ceiling.

more options

@ July 19, 2014 4:35 PM in Constantly purging air in hydronic system

This Hydroscopic vent is both manual and auto. It's used on panel rads and radiant manifolds installed in finished spaces. A bit more features compared to a coin vent. They do not need pressure to seal and can handle dirty fluids better as there is not a seal inside.

Also this check valve cap allows air out, but not in, if you think you have a vent sucking in air, this is a good way to solve or troubleshoot the problem until corrections are made.

You can also add a hydroscopic cap to the check valve.

make the corrections

@ July 18, 2014 11:05 PM in Constantly purging air in hydronic system

as suggested. Then assure the system is leak free, make sure you have 5 psi at the high point, and purge the system.

I'd suggest adding a good micro bubble type air eliminator. it's possible that entrained air and micro bubbles are not being eliminated with a scoop type air purger..

Water will absorb and release gasses as it heats and cools. The hottest point in the system is the best loaction for a micro bubble eliminator.

Some good reading on air and dirt removal in this tech journal.

Reverse return

@ July 16, 2014 7:46 PM in Drain back with evacuated tubes

Would be the simple piping method. Also no vent is needed on top, the return from the collector is in tha air bubble at the top of the tank, pump stops air rises up and breaks the siphon, very simple

RV system

@ July 16, 2014 4:23 PM in need help and ideas with tiny home floor

I think Dennis Bellanti add radiant floors to his RV. About the same concept. As much insulation below as you can stand. Tight spacing on the tube, RV water heater to power with LP or a small electric wh

If electric is an option, may as we'll use electric cable or mats and skip the hydronics

same here

@ July 13, 2014 3:03 PM in Anyone else getting unwanted calls from Angie's List?

3 second rule when I answer, then hang up.

Same as when I drop food on the floor.

One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three

good, and healthy

@ July 13, 2014 11:33 AM in Getting into mod/con business

to discuss and understand differences in opinions and opposing views. Our elected leaders should embrace that concept, again.

Numbers are what we have to base pretty much everything on, temperature, money, projections, guesstimates, etc. Sure they can be tweaked to one advantage, the banking industry is good at that.

In this discussion, time is the largest unknown. How much, for how long. Even with the best number crunching and accelerated testing, sometimes it's just a guess based on the data available.

Also forces beyond our control, dirty power, changing fuel content, intake air building mouse turds, etc.

Hats off to Pete for making that study possible and being one of the early condensing proponents.

Keep in mind the MZ is no longer available, parts pretty much gone. So customers that installed them with that 15 year- 20 year formula, may not make out so well.


@ July 13, 2014 9:51 AM in hydroniCad

it has a lot more potential, and the price is right. Nice to be able to change the size of the component also. Here are some Visio stencils we built that you are welcomed to.


@ July 13, 2014 12:19 AM in hydroniCad

is nice for piping diagrams, maybe not what you want for loop layout. LoopCAD might be a better choice.

Go with the Combo Pack HydroniCAD and HDS V-2 I use the Hydronic Design Studio all the time.

there have been products, over the years

@ July 12, 2014 6:00 PM in Getting into mod/con business

built to do exactly what you have in mind. One of the finest was designed and built by Robert Bean up Canada way. He designed a line of beautiful and functionally acurate ZCP. Zone Control Panels. One version was built to add onto a water heater to add a small, or large, it the tank could provide it, radiant zone. inside a nice powder coated box was the FPHX, pump, electronics, mix valve, balance device, all the correct components. I put a few in, 12 years ago or more, I'll bet they are still running. Possibly the WH they were connected to :)

I think Danfoss bought the company, Wirsbo sold them for a time, maybe Robert and some partners bought it back from Danfoss, been a while.

He was on the right path, contractors balked at the cost and that it took some of their skill set out of the installations.

I believe AO Smith offered a module for some time also.

Bradford White tried to jam the HX inside with the CombiCor, great idea, bad choice for the coated aluminum HX. The ones that did last 10 years, considering the @ $900 cost, probably penciled out nicely for the customers. Bradford White did, by the way, stand behind every one that failed with replacements, or two separate WH option. Good for them.

You are correct in the big "unknown" being yearly and ongoing maintenance and repairs for the higher tech. Keeping in mind some contractors are in excess of $200.00 / hr. for that service work.

On the plus side the new mod cons seem to have many, most, of the early glitches worked out.

Early inducer motors and fans the flew apart- gone. Ignitors that were un-dependable- gone. leaking HX and connections- gone. Parts availability and knowledgable tech support, mostly gone.

In all these examples it's playing the odds. Will it break, when will it break, is it repairable, what are the repair costs, will the manufacturer be around in 10 years, on and on.

High efficiency is here to stay, pick your partner, stay current on product, maintenance, design, upcoming technology, and do right by your customer.

My 1978 Ford 250 was never in the shop in it's entire career. My last Ford "highly engineered" 6.0 diesel left me stranded 3 times before it had 20K, a couple weeks of lost revenue, sold at a loss with 60K. Go figure those odds :)

Radiant Ray is mia

@ July 11, 2014 6:46 PM in Radiant Ray is mia

He is a 10 year old, about 6 feet tall, very over weight, looks a lot like our host, ten years ago, anyways :)

I finally found this pic on my still working Sony Mavica! floppy disc camera.

When plugged in he has a warm, stainless hand shake from the B&G series 100 flow and heat.

I built him in Missouri, he has been spotted in, Utah, Colorado, NY, and PA, at the various RPA headquarters.

If you know of his whereabouts contact ME at the RPA..

good and relevant questions

@ July 11, 2014 11:59 AM in Getting into mod/con business

I believe the questions and points discusses are in fact on the minds of our customers, home and building owners.

There are so many way to heat hydronically, it's good to have choices. If the products are approved and listed to heat water, and installed in a code like fashion, they should be considered.

Pretty much every water heater manufacturer now has a boiler offering, and some have heat pump, solar and solid fueled offerings.

Oddly, doesn't Canada still approved combined DHW/ radiant with water heaters? .

my thoughts

@ July 11, 2014 11:38 AM in Drain back with evacuated tubes

make sure the tube collector you are considering do in fact drain 100% or you could freeze the headers. I have done a few with the collectors mounted sideways, if the manufacturer will allow horizontal mounting.

That looks like a centrifical pump? which is fine if it can handled the lift and temperature.

Remember those tubes will get smoking hot when drained.

With that in mind water hitting an absorber in the tube at 400F plus will flash to steam.

You could pressurize that loop to drive the boiling point up, 30- 40 psi could be considered.

Or consider a solar controller to limit pump operation at extreme collector temperatures. There are 12 and 24VDC controllers available. That controller could offer additional features, drainback specific functions, data logging, etc.

The controllers

@ July 10, 2014 7:09 PM in Caleffi (and other) Web-based Controllers

and interface with the various loggers has been worked out, no more issues with current versions, that I know of.

Getting them online is still a hit and miss. I think more has to do with the ISP, routers, hand held devices, etc. Finding someone that can get all the technologies on the same page isn't easy, then to understand the solar and water side to boot. Not many building owners have stable, or static IP addresses unless you pay for that or go with a third party service to provide one. That is what throws a wrench in the works. The logger is always searching for the address you programed in.

I hear the has cleared up lot of the problems. Your logger talks directly to their server, and you pull data from it. Try a demo at the sight.

I also came across this chat room for the vbus user, looks like most of the issues and questions are addressed here along with a factory person or two that I recognize. This would be the most current advice I could offer.

Sorry, I don't deal with these enough to stay current on the versions and updates.!forum/resol-vbus

maybe the best plan

@ July 10, 2014 6:57 PM in Hydronic underfloor used to effectively enlarge direct solar thermal mass?

is to talk with as many passive home owners as possible. Nothing like living in a passive home for a few years to get a feel for what works and what doesn't. There is a passive home group in the US and a International association or two also.


@ July 10, 2014 10:09 AM in Getting into mod/con business

if the concern is being able to generate DHW on a design heating day, you could priortize the DHW. That is how the mod cons with onboard plate HX operate. Usually stopping a pump or diverting a 3 way zone valve is how they do it. Additionally some have an adjustable time out so the boiler cannot ignore the heat call.

heat traps

@ July 9, 2014 9:43 PM in DHW configuration

either the heat trap nipples or Sioux Chief Heat Trap loop will eliminate thermosiphon.

Or if you have a recirc add thermostat, timer, and insulation.

I think Carl has it right, your heated water is moving energy dollars from the tank, somehow.

DHW with a plate HX

@ July 9, 2014 9:35 PM in Getting into mod/con business

at my house and shop I generate DHW with 5X12 30 plate HX. The shop runs off a large solar tank, 180 gallons. I get a hot shower with the tank as low as 130°F via the plate. Size to a 10° approach on the HX. So at 130° on the "a" side I still see 120° on domestic side.

A Harwill flow switch triggers an Alpha to run the "A" side. DHW up to about 2.5 gpm heats instantly. That Buderus could do that use a 3 way thermostatic to protect from cold return temperatures.

In the winter my 120 Lochinvar Cadet produces DHW with an even smaller plate HX inside, but it does run up to 180°F.

Summer months at the house DHW from a 30 plate HX on a 50 gallon Thermocon buffer. But it does get a solar pre-heat from another solar drainback system.

no doubt

@ July 9, 2014 9:26 PM in Getting into mod/con business

we will be forced to buy 90%. Old habits die hard, I'll miss those old cast iron "boat anchors" they served us well. Miss my 78 Ford 250 4X4 also.

another homeade

@ July 9, 2014 9:21 PM in Looking to make condensate neutralizer

Bought 3" clear PVC online from US plastics. They sell short lengths. Glued into a 3" plugged closet flange, and a 1" MIP adapter glued up top for the drain out. You can watch it work, if ever you bet bored.

That is about a years worth of work on the limestone rocks.

In the summer I dump my AC condensate line into it.


@ July 9, 2014 7:57 PM in Getting into mod/con business

I'm not a huge fan of a common water heater as a heat source. The small boiler would be my choice.

We had this discussion many years ago at the RPA. Larry Drake the director always wondered why an "H" stamp is such a important feature. Why does a low temperature heat source need to be called a boiler even. Boilers is an old term dating back to steam days :)

If the "heating appliance" can be built safely with all the appropriate LWC, over temperature, no flow, low pressure cut out, gas train safety, etc, why not. Most of these controls are standard on Euro origin mod cons, or the connection is provided for LWC switches for example. Most of the mod cons that came from off shore did not have the H stamp early on and proved to be equally as safe, or safer than H stamped products. The Euro boilers meet some fairly strict standards.

Some of the tank style "boilers" on the market do not have the H stamp, and have adequate protection, like their mod con kin. Maybe it's an entire mod con assembly shoved into a tank? I think my tank style condensor has a vacuum cleaner motor for the inducer fan. Sure is robust.
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