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Joined on January 2, 2008

Last Post on December 30, 2013

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Some People

@ June 16, 2013 10:43 AM in Personal Gas Detector (CO, etc.)

Shouldn't be around CO Monitors.....LOL

Chimney Sweeps

@ June 16, 2013 10:39 AM in How the Europeans do it?

I read an old "DAN" article about Chimney sweeps in Germany that have (or now had) the right to just show up unannounced to a house, walk in, and put an analyzer on your boiler and make sure it's burning cleanly, as well as show up and clean your chimney (if you have one). They would do this a couple times a year, and should you refuse entry, the police will show up and force entry. You had to pay something like 60-80 Euros per year for this service, and if your boiler is dirty, you have 2 weeks to repair it, and if you don't, your boiler is taken away. The 8000 Chimney sweeps in Germany perform this task. And they apparently have 0 carbon monoxide deaths per year because this from heating equipment compared to something like 300 per year in Belgium.

Apparently as of Janaury of this year they no longer have a monopoly and you can rely on 3rd party sources to do your chimney sweep functions. But it's almost like they've kicked themselves in the foot because now you have to pay a company to do this, which drives up costs.

If you were wondering what the chimney sweep button (manual on) was on your Viessmann boiler, now you know.

Apparently chimney sweeps and their monopoly were brought in in 1935 by Hitler as he could use them as spies for the government while they performed their task cleaning chimney's in exchange for their set wages and job security.

It's too bad we don't take clean air, or safety, as seriously as they do.

Keep an Open Mind

@ June 16, 2013 10:31 AM in How the Europeans do it?

Toyota studied Henry Ford's assembly line and found many inefficiencies with it. This lead to the creation of the Toyota Way, which is known to the world as "LEAN," or Lean Manufacturing. Lean Manufacturing and Lean Concepts are responsible for turning many companies around as these Toyota strategies are introduced into all sorts of work environments. Even Ford, GMC, and Chrysler to the best of my knowledge have adopted many Lean Manufacturing concepts to help them improve themselves.

As far as the "Kool-aid" - I think the "hype" is more real than you give it credit for. Europeans have had to adapt quite quickly because they have significantly increased fuel costs and electrical costs. The Vitodens Heat exchanger is one of, it not the best heat exchanger in the world and on paper right now (since mod-cons haven't been around that long) it's the one in my view that will go the distance - this is critical for real payback. If you look at the actual construction and design features of this heat exchanger and compare it to the competition you will see the difference.

Because we have low fuel prices and relatively low electrical cost there is very little requirement for people to change their ways in North America. Subsequently, there is no reason for people to give up their furnace or other forced air emitters. When fuel costs drastically go up (one day) then will people consider hydronics, and hydronic technology more and more to save money. At that point maybe we'll see the larger breadth of European technology make it over here where the increased cost of technology actually makes sense from a payback point of view as the reduction in fuel consumption can really be measured. We only have, in my opinion, a small sampling of what these European manufacturers have to offer and there is little incentive though low utility costs, or government regulation, to really drive change.

Perhaps its fair to say their tradesman may not be better than ours on average, but they are probably (from what I've heard) more specialized in most cases. As above their knowledge is deeper but over a smaller breadth. But let me ask you this - if you could take your car to a guy with intimate knowledge of your car, or take your car to the guy who has limited knowledge but who works on all types of cars, which one would you take it too? Yeah sure, the guy with deep knowledge may not know every car, and if you had a Honda and a Ford in your driveway he might know the Honda well but not the Ford, but he'd sure as hell do a great job on your Honda right? He would probably do all the little things that contribute to a better repair in the end. It's the same reason I take my car to the dealership. In North America I am struck, at least in hydronics, by the number of contractors who just install whatever the wholesaler puts on the heat loss sheet and whatever boiler is cheapest. I personally can not understand this as I choose the equipment that I choose to represent my name very seriously - at the end of the day it's MY installation and how it performs and lasts represents me, so I want to do all the little things, combined with quality equipment, that lets the customer see a real payback and effectively take me and my equipment for granted. I build up a relationship with the manufacturer to learn the equipment intimately as well as for product technical and sales support, and I do all the little things, and then I build up a relationship with the client over the years after the installation, servicing, and maintaining their equipment to factory specs almost like a mobile dealership, effectively leading to a steady service revenue/work stream that builds up year over year as more installations. Better yet, better word of mouth advertising as well. Look at all the guys that just slap a boiler on the wall and leave without a care. And they have 18 different brand boilers on various walls and they don't service or maintain them. Look at what they are missing?


@ June 10, 2013 1:06 AM in Buy American

Take your standard Sch 40 or standard wall black iron 90 as an example - if you were at the wholesaler and you had an area with American made Ward fittings, and the Chinese variants, and it was clear as day what was what, and the price difference, do you think more tradesman or contractor types would select American made fittings? If there was a clear example of the differences in quality of the American made fittings, and there was an equal stock of both, that more guys would pick them? I've seen Chinese black fittings split, and pinhole, right out of the box. As was mentioned, sometimes you run into a couple that just don't thread very nicely. Do you think, if wholesalers plainly asked you if you wanted American made fittings, or Chinese made fittings, when you ordered them, that more would make what we consider to be the right choice?

How the Europeans do it?

@ June 10, 2013 12:57 AM in How the Europeans do it?

Being in the hydronic heating industry, I always hear common themes such as "this is how they do it in Europe" and "They've had this in Europe for a long time" in reference to certain pieces of equipment or installation practices that they "finally" bring over here. I also asked a well versed sales rep from a wholesaler one time who had been to Europe what the differences were between Tradesman here and Tradesman there. He said "IN Europe" the Tradesmen are much more specialized; instead of having a plumber that does hydronic heating, gas, plumbing (water lines/drainage), new constructin, service, retrofits, etc, they have guys that pick one or two aspects and learn them inside and out. I confirmed this in one regard as we have a young German machinist at work and he said in Germany where he worked as a Machinist before he came here Machinists specialize in one or two areas of the trade, there as over here they do it all. So it's sort of like having very shallow knowledge over a huge breadth of trade as opposed to deep knowledge about a smaller breadth. Also, what I have been told is in Europe, they have fewer restrictions what you can and can not do as far as installation practices & codes, but they have tighter restrictions on products and product quality from an environmental and durability standpoint. The German fellow did say their education system in his opinion was noticeably better and he also says back home everyone works ALL the time.

Without going to Europe myself and seeing for myself, and I seem to recall reading some of what they do over there in Dan's books and other resources, I'm curious if you have any other accolades of what they do better, in hydronic heating, in Europe (If you've seen it or have some first or second hand information) and even what you think they could do better compared to what we have? I'm not suggesting we have an inferiority complex, or that we are not as good, but it's just interesting to see how different people handle things. I ask this because I seem to find myself on this personal quest for as much knowledge in my trade as possible - I want to be the best. I'm reading books, manuals, & magazines on hydroniic heating & gas fitting daily to try and improve my knowledge and knowhow along with my experience to date in the trade. It certainly compliments my experience nicely when you have the technical side to it but hearing how other people do it is also something that interests me.

Who makes made in USA or Canada fittings in Steel?

@ June 2, 2013 3:34 PM in Buy American

I'm just wondering who are the major players that make steel pipe and fittings North of Mexico in the sch 40? I've heard of Ward, someone mentioned Anvil but I seem to recall using some Anvil Sch 80 fittings last year that were made in China? Did I remember that wrong?

Smaller Circulators

@ June 1, 2013 6:35 PM in Delta-P/Delta-T Part #5

Speaking of smaller circs I seem to recall hearing somewhere that Wilo actually had some individual circulators that mounted on a radiant manifold and fed each loop individually. Anyone see anything like this?

In 5 years...

@ May 29, 2013 5:36 PM in New Vitodens boilers

My bet is in about 5 years the "next big thing" in condensing boilers will be higher turn down ratio's on all boilers and perhaps we'll see the first inklings of the combination boiler/heat pumps I know they're working on in Europe. Maybe not here yet but what more can they bring out?  

Marketing bafflegab

@ May 29, 2013 9:17 AM in Delta-P/Delta-T Part #5

Sorry but this is just another case of marketing bafflegab. No one ever sold pumps by claiming to have a second best product. Also the Europeans are about as electrically conscious as anyone in the circulatory department and delta p is a strong reason for that.

100 vs 200

@ May 28, 2013 9:58 AM in New Vitodens boilers

So if the price is coming down what niche does this leave for the 100? For example when you price out the kwe pump module for the 100 and add it to a 100 you're almost in 200 territory to the extent that with the added function of the 200 it makes the 100 almost look redundant in some ways.

New Vitodens boilers

@ May 25, 2013 12:31 PM in New Vitodens boilers

So anyone with contacts with Viessmann in North America knows the launch of the new Vitodens is not far away. You can already see the new offerings across the pond. I've heard of some of the new upgrades to the Vitodens 200 but I'm wondering if the Vitodens 100 line up will garner any attention such as a smaller and larger 100. They also came out in Europe with a Vitodens 111 which has a 46 liter stainless dhw cylinder built into the boiler cabinet which I like the idea of way more than the combi plus as it has some buffer capacity to not short cycle the burner and heat exchanger as much along with being way cleaner looking to boot.

Rehau Rauplate

@ May 25, 2013 11:47 AM in Rehau Rauplate

I'm just wondering if anyone has tried Rehau Rauplate for an in the joist space tube and plate installation of O2 barrier pex? The problem with some traditional heat transfer plates is they seem to cause squeeking with some of the oxygen barriers used of oxygen barrier pex such as the Rehau raupex. The Rehau rauplate is a different configuration of heat transfer plate that to me looks like it will work better at allowing the pex to move a little bit as it expands without constraining it like conventional u style heat transfer plates.

Viessmann? Bradford White?

@ May 19, 2013 5:08 PM in Longest lasting indirects

How about Viessmanns stainless indirect made of 316ti stainless? Or the Bradford White stainless steel indirects made of 444 stainless generally regarded as more immune to chloride attack compared to more common 300 series stainless steels? Did you guys ever see the picture of a viessmann indirect pressure tested to 555 psi? Or the fact that the Viessmann indirect is the only single wall coil tank that has been given equivilency to double wall with leak detection tanks?


@ May 16, 2013 5:47 PM in What is the most effective heating system for Schools & Intermittent use buildings?

Do you guys know of any studies that have been performed along these lines? Someone, somewhere, must have done something..


@ May 13, 2013 12:36 AM in What is the most effective heating system for Schools & Intermittent use buildings?

Keep in mind guys that pretty much every school for the most part is controlled by the DDC. Not always the case in the boiler plant but the rooms and set back, and water temperatures, are controlled by DDC by guys we have that deal with some DDC issues in our heating department. I sometimes also dabble in the DDC as well.

Viessmann Vitodens 100 Combi Question

@ May 12, 2013 11:55 AM in Viessmann Vitodens 100 Combi Question

Has anyone used a Viessmann Vitodens 100 with the Combi add on to heat domestic water in a storage tank? Think Aquastat, stainless or bronze pump, and relay that turns pump on and forces flow into the unit setting off the flow switch which turns on the boiler o heat the plate exchanger to heat domestic water and when the tank is satisfied (aka Aquastat) pump shuts off? Sorry, I just can't get past short cycling the burner, but I think this would probably be a great way to produce DHW without short cycling the burner, especially if you had an Aquastat with adjustable differentials, etc.

I was then also thinking if you use an indirect (perhaps a Vitocell 300) as your storage tank for the above mentioned set up, you could use the indirect coil for solar DHW heating. This would be one way to integrate the Viessmann 100 Vitodens Combi with solar/storage tank. Just a thought anyways.

What is the most effective heating system for Schools & Intermittent use buildings?

@ May 12, 2013 11:44 AM in What is the most effective heating system for Schools & Intermittent use buildings?

I am a Gas Fitter/Heating Tech for a School Board in Western Canada (basically responsible for keeping the heat on). We have a wide variety of schools from a age of school standpoint, some with original heating plants. We have many old, heritage (early 1900's) schools, and some brand new schools and everything in between. We have heating systems with old low pressure steam boilers & steam emitters, to some old cast iron or steel hot water boilers with univent & fan coil heat emitters, to newer plants with condensing boilers and/or cast iron boilers that heat with univents, fan coils, or radiant heat sources like panel rads and in the case of a couple brand new schools, radiant floors.
So there is a wide variety of heating plants to see.

Now, one of the of the common themes in schools with any heating plant is intermittent use. The schools are only in operation for the most part around 8 hours a day (with the exception perhaps of if someone is using the school for some night event but this is an exception). So naturally most school operations departments want to take advantage of night time & weekend set backs to save money on natural gas. They will run the schools to 20 degrees celsius (68 F) during working hours and would to set back as much as possible (typically to 10 degrees Celsius which is around 50 F) to save money due to reduced heat loss, but still protect the school from freezing and provide a reasonable temperature to bring the school back up to temp from on Monday morning.

So naturally we have a few issues here. The main one is flue gas condensation on non-condensing steam & hot water boilers, the other one is design of old systems versus design of new where the new ones don't have as much pick up or oversizing as the old ones - the old original steam boiler plants, of which we have some still around (some old 1940's HRT boilers, some old 1950-1960's cleaver-brooks or similar fire tube variants) typically have very little issue bringing the temp back up. There is only a fixed amount of water in a steam boiler that the burner has to heat up so condensing isn't an issue really as once that water is up to temp and producing steam everything is good. The steam boilers typically have oversized emitters and can bring a school back up fast, and due to this fast recovery, can be set back relatively low. They also don't have much in the way of pumps other then vacuum pumps and feedwater pumps, so very little electricity use compared to a hot water system. Hot water boilers, due to the large volume of hot water in most systems in comparison, condense for a longer period of time (dependant on plant size versus building heat requirements) and take longer to bring a school back up to temp. There is also higher electricity use due to the many pumps required. The new schools have very little pick up as the boilers seem to be sized more tightly to the heat loss. This allows less of a set back. I've always been a firm believer in low temp hot water heating and I think if operated more correctly using DDC can probably work out, but a lot of the guys in the heating department I'm in who have been here a lot longer than myself are much bigger fans of the steam heating systems. They pick up faster, have less pumps to maintain/fix, don't condense as long, and seem to last and last without issue - some of our fire tubes are over 50 years old and still have original tubes or have had very few vessel (tube) repairs/replacements. Sure steam traps need some love every now and then and the feed water/vacuum system needs some attention, but I'm wondering what your experience/preferences are? What have you seen?

What, from your experience, is the best heating plant/emitter combination to maximize fuel efficiency for buildings with intermittent use/operatin to take advantage of setback to some degree. Are high mass radiant heat emitters out?

Being a fan of low temp hot water heating my solution (if I were to design a school or design a new heating plant/emitter retrofit) would be to use condensing boilers with say 150% redundancy (100% to pick up the plan on the coldest day of the year, the other 50% for redundancy, and for pick up on monday morning when a big dump of BTU's are required), and then use panel rads as they are a low mass heat emitter that can pick up faster than a high mass radiant floor and still provide pretty good comfort.



@ May 10, 2013 12:55 AM in Pressure Relief Valves on Expansion Tanks

I still have to talk to the local Boiler Inspector to hear it from the horses mouth (heard it from a Mechanical Engineer today) but I am in British Columbia, Canada.

Pressure Relief Valves on Expansion Tanks

@ May 9, 2013 5:10 PM in Pressure Relief Valves on Expansion Tanks

So this is a new one for me - on expansion tanks our local Authority Having Jurisdiction is apparently requiring Pressure Relief Valves between the isolation valve and tank. Apparently if there is a fire or high heat source near by and the tank is isolated the expansion tank can blow up. Is this code in your area? I'm interested in what you know or have heard.

Quality, not fluff

@ May 2, 2013 6:02 PM in Rumor has it

Yes, I recognize that this technology (Lambda Pro) is able to tweak the burner using a modulating gas valve (on top of performing a calibration upon every time the burner starts) so it runs with relatively minimal oxygen at most firing rates (effectively raising the dew point which will maximize the ability of condensing to occur at higher water temperatures) and throughout the course of the heating season as intake air temps change which can add or subtract oxygen from the combustion process as air density increases/decreases.
 The reason I listen when Viessmann talks it their reputation for quality. Sure, they produce some cutting edge stuff but quality, and reliability combined with efficiency are the hall marks of a product that truly offers the potential of paying back the end user and that is what makes a "green" product to me. Using higher quality stainless (316 Ti) that they manufactur their heat exchangers with in houseis one example of their commitment to quality. The fluffy digital stuff is nice to work with but the knobs weren't that bad either. As long as you knew which knob did what you are ok.

Tone it down a bit

@ May 2, 2013 3:52 PM in Rumor has it

"Lambda Pro is a Huge Combustion Advantage"
Whoah - hold your horses here. You should still have your boilers burner checked annually by a certified & trained burner & controls technician (Gas Fitter) with a combustion analyzer.
Also, while very slight variations in fuel quality may occur North America, I find it hard to believe that the ability to adjust to varying fuel qualities is neccessarily that much of an advantage. I've said this before, and I'll say it again - if there were wide flucations in fuel quality in North America, the potential,  after a burner is set up, for liability will significantly increase. At the minimum could be fines for commercial or industrial organizations equipment burning outside of emissions targets if caught (when things get tougher on CO and NOx emissions overtime), at the worst people could be injured or killed if their burner goes out of a clean adjustment everytime the fuel quality changes and something happens.  Perhaps someone who has experience on the gas utility can produce some input on this topic.
Even the Industrial Cleaver-Brooks boilers I've worked on with Oxygen Trim (which is sort of like the oxygen sensor in your car in it's ability to help sense and then fine tune Oxygen for efficiency/cleanliness) were still checked at least annually by an Industrial Gas fitter with a Combustion analyzer. The problem with all this high end equipment with built in combustion tuning is it was made by humans. And so it should still be checked out.
I've seen the new Vitodens controller up close recently and the control pad looks like a nice user friendly improvement over previous versions of their controller. The fact the power pump module will be incorporated into the box now instead of being a seperate box is a nice improvement.  
What I have heard through the grapevine is there will be 2 versions of the Vitodens 222, a smaller Vitodens 200, and a couple larger Vitodens as well (in wall mount configuration!) to fill the gap between the current 370,000 BTUH Vitodens and the smallest Vitocrossal 200 (which is around 600,000+ BTUH). Apparently by the end of the Summer they should be available.


@ May 1, 2013 11:40 AM in CPVC

Just use PolyPropylene. It's around the same price as CPVC, higher temp rating than CPVC, and no issues with leeching chlorides.
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