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Dave Yates (GrandPAH)

Dave Yates (GrandPAH)

Joined on January 18, 2008

Last Post on November 2, 2013

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fuel choices?

@ November 2, 2013 9:55 AM in Looking for alternatives to heating my old, large house

Sounds like you have three: fuel oil; propane; or electricity.

Hands down the least expensive to operate are inverter mini-split heat pumps. They will work without a back-up heat source down to -15F outdoor air temps. The best ROI for ECV (energy conservation value) is investing in the best most efficient models, which are eligible for tax credits and incentives. Check for what's available in your state and with your utility for any rebates.

In situations like yours, we suggest picking one to three rooms/areas where you really want to have comfort on demand and start there.

The higher efficiency models are whisper quiet, far less expensive to operate, and sip only the energy required to meet your comfort-setting. Total comfort in the area you want while the beast in the basement can be placed in hibernation.

A thought

@ September 12, 2013 8:59 PM in steam heat, disable 1st floor and leave 2nd floor

Short answer is yes. But not before doing some homework. First suggestion: don't tear out the rads. Baseboard (copper fin-tube type) is limited for utilizing outdoor reset because it relies on convective, rather than radiant, for emitting heat to the occupied spaces. CI rads, on the other hand, become luxurious sexy radiant heaters at lower temps.

First: a heat loss calculation on a room-by-room basis

Second: EDR calculation for each rad with cross-check to see what water temp is required to meet the heat loss on the coldest day of the heating season

Third: Insect rads and piping for any obvious signs of deterioration, which would require repairs prior to converting to water.

Fourth: find a suitable hydronic contractor well versed in conversions and hydronics to handle both jobs. Might want to consider converting the upper floor too. Modulating condensing boilers are best suited for delivering both comfort and economy.

and so on...

@ September 7, 2013 1:27 PM in Conversion oil to gas, but should we keep steam?


Don't want your original questions to get lost in the steam or hot water issues. As you may have gathered, there are contractors who are passionate in their beliefs regarding one or the other! My personal wish is for you to have hydronics and it's not vital it be steam or hot water. The reality is hydronic heating, be it steam or hot water, is simply more comfortable than air-based heating systems. And, potentially more economical to operate. Comfort and economy! I've lived with virtually every form of heating and cooling available and there's no way I'd give up my hydronic low-temp radiant heating. For A/C we use inverter mini-splits and we allow them to provide a portion of our heating needs in a blended hydronic/inverter mode for both the comfort of conditioned floors and to squeeze operational economy till blood drips from the turnips.

jstar, your passion is understood. I love steam too & we're in the middle of numerous steam-to-steam boiler installations at the moment - because that was the appropriate choice. If you have the opportunity to be at Comfortech in Philly in two weeks, I'd welcome your presence in my class on converting steam to gently warmed water. You might find the info usefull and, judging by your profile on your web site, you have a vibrant thirst for hydronic knowledge.

However, Marjan wants to remodel and having a steam boiler squatting in the center of her new living space and overhead asbestos-covered head-bangers isn't what she wants. The customer is always right, right? Solid credible information to answer her questions is warranted or she might end up with scorched air!


@ September 6, 2013 2:17 PM in Conversion oil to gas, but should we keep steam?

Had an emergency call. To continue where I left off:

Steam boilers are sized to the connected load, which is the volume of all radiators and then adding as much as 30% for the piping, which needs to be brought up to full temp - acting like a rather extended radiator.

Hot water systems are sized to the actual heat loss. If you make the switch, a modcon boiler with its reset curve adjusted to meet the hottest water temp on the coldest day will ensure comfort while offering a large ECV (Energy Conservation Value).

The contractor must judge the existing piping and radiators condition to determine if conversion is suitable. Not all steam systems can be converted, but darn few fall into that category and we have converted dozens - including our own office/apartment building that was installed as a vapor/vacuum system in 1903.

1 - pipe rads

@ September 6, 2013 10:41 AM in Conversion oil to gas, but should we keep steam?

1-pipe radiators can be converted to hot water. A two-pipe valve is made for this purpose.

First step is a room by room heat loss followed by comparison to each room's radiator to determine if it will be able to meet the heat loss, which also determines what the hottest water temp required will be on the coldest day.

On cheating vets

@ July 23, 2012 5:43 PM in 2-ton comp in a 5-ton RTU!

I can see making a stupid mistake: Lord knows I've had my fair share of them. But, after they made the bone-headed swap-out, they either couldn't figure out what was wrong or they deliberately decided to deceive the VFW. Hard to believe this was a repeatedly overlooked issue as the outfit that did this has been in the HVAC business for decades. Not my call, however, and we'll see how it plays out. All I can do is report the facts as we know them and let the VFW take whatever action they deem appropriate.

If this has an outcome where they release the RTU to us for recycling, we'll recover and weigh the charge to determine how close to the original charge they were.

Given the lower flow of R22 from a 2- vs a 5-ton compressor, and a fixed orifice (cap tube), I'd be curious if Eugene can weigh in on what pressures we might expect under the circumstances. 87f ambient, 78 return air, 100-psi suction, & 120- to 125-psi discharge with all coils cleaned. I'll need to check with our techs to ask about super heat.

2-ton comp in a 5-ton RTU!

@ July 23, 2012 11:56 AM in 2-ton comp in a 5-ton RTU!


Something we (hopefully) don't see every day: recently responded to a VFW for on-going problems their (previous) HVAC service provider couldn't resolve. Following the compressor's replacement a year ago, they spent more than $4K in attempted repairs to no avail. Upon arrival, we found the evap coil plugged shut, 2-2" filters and 2-1" filters (should have been 2") so filthy that no daylight could be seen holding them up to the sun! In checking the York D3CG060 (5-ton) unit, we discovered the 'new' compressor was a Bristol H22J22 (22,622-Btu capacity). Operating pressures were 100-suction & 120-discharge & this unit has a cap-tube metering system. In addition, our further inspection revealed several linear cracks in the tubular HX.

We replaced the RTU with a new 5-ton (including a 5-ton compressor!) unit. Given that this was a cap-tube system designed for 5-tons, would you believe the system pressures we encountered were what would be expected due to the lower 2-ton flow of refrigerant in a 5-ton cap-tube metering?

We have not (yet) recovered the freon to determine how much R-22 had been installed and are holding the RTU in storage per the VFW's request while they seek reimbursement from the HVAC contractor who had them on a 4x per year maint schedule.


Dave Yates


@ April 10, 2012 12:03 PM in My Easter present

Ya just never know what that Easter Bunny is going to deliver! Stork must have been on vacation. And a new 'favorite' SIL too. Granddaughters are quite special. They have a knack for melting hearts.


@ January 27, 2012 12:02 PM in Happy Birthday Dan Holohan

Keep it up and you'll become older! Congrats & happy birthday.


@ December 19, 2011 6:15 PM in Name Clash Again

Early on in Wall history, I assumed PAH (plumber at heart) to stir the radiant pot and that stuck even after my "secret" identity was uncovered. When Lily came into our lives, that became GrandPAH.

Imagine the avatar for Tickles would be positively frightful!

I'll second that emotion

@ October 15, 2011 7:25 AM in Anyone using InnoFlue?

I'm with ME 100%. I came to the conclusion long, long, ago that manufacturer-based projections of either labor hours or, worst of all, how much the labor should cost, were made up by the same wizards of fantasy who dictate warranty-hours they are willing to pay for failed components.

The Plexvent letter stands out in recent memory. Caused grief on every one we replaced and the owners had to sign off on paying us the cost difference for the absurdly-low labor-cost-projections before we would start the work.

Personally, I'd prefer they don't swim in our pond. Don't predict the number of hours - 99% of our jobs are not cookie-cutter installations. And as ME points out so well, do not place a bounty on our heads by listing a suggested installation price. I'd much rather see something like "professional mechanical contractors have stated our product can be installed in the same amount of time as other venting systems" and then pay someone like PP to appear in the ad with one of his stunning installations. As a contractor, I'd take Paul's word over any slick wording crafted for an ad. If the merits of the product are worthy, its cost-factor is greatly diminished or not a factor. We can sell ice to Eskimos if the merits of the ice have been first sold to us. We sell what we believe in and our customers buy what we promote because we have more credibility and we're invited into their homes. We also have the ability to gently steer them away from things they thought were OK from ads they read to products we believe in from experience. Street cred!  

The best news

@ October 12, 2011 8:31 PM in The RPA has gone

Radiant hydronic heating, hydronics in general, electric radiant, and hybrid blends without limits will now be promoted by two diverse organizations with the resources to properly promote the comfort and energy-conservation benefits. I see this as a win/win for everyone.

annual percentage rates

@ October 1, 2011 12:04 PM in Now I see why the Grundfos person posted the video on You Tube.........


A number of years ago, I researched those stats on the DOE web site and (at that time) the graphs indicated a bit more than 7% average over a lengthy time-frame & I chose 5% to be a bit more conservative. With deregulation pending, our Governor pronounced we would see an 80% increase from 11.4-cents to 20.6-cents per kWh. Within months, the projections fell off to 40% and so on until no one was willing to provide us with a projection from the Governor's office. Our local rep pried it out of the Gov's office for me prior to writing that article and I trimmed it even lower thinking I'd be on solid ground. Akin to playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey! During our mandated training for a PA assistance homeowner loan program, we were shown electric utility rate increases for other states and several exceeded 100%.

Then came the marcellus shale nat gas bounty and that's (according to the elec utility co) kept our rate post-deregulation to 12-cents per kWh. Also bear in mind that when they were promoting the construction of Three Mile Island, we were told electricity would be too cheap to meter.   

Granted, we're taking crystal-ball shots-in-the-dark, but the reality is the costs are going to steadily rise and not fall. Electric utility co's have fallen way behind by not building more power-plants while deman and populations expanded. Lucky for them that increased appliance efficiencies have provided some slack with total demand in decline for many areas. What happens when the decade of purchasing the Energy Star appliances is past? Demand will rise and do so at a steep pace (I think) & with deregulation, the brakes are off for dramatic rate increases. Time will tell if the past Gov was right about the increases.

The nice thing about the ECV & ROI is that when utilizing an excel spread sheet 'live' with customers to illustrate the percentage of their choice, they get to buy-into the process, It's easy to change the annual percentage in the base-cell, which can be copied and pasted to cascade through the rest to deliver results. ROI is linked to the ECV cells results, so that goes along for the ride.  

and, one more thing....

@ October 1, 2011 10:39 AM in Now I see why the Grundfos person posted the video on You Tube.........

Thanks ME!

Proposals that include the system-wide ECV (Energy Conservation Value) and ROI (Return On Investment) will provide the ability to win more consistently while being the higher bidder. Adding in the hidden and overlooked power consumption is a real eye-opener for customers.

Provide a 20-year ECV & ROI projection with an annual percentage increase & you can knock the socks off of the other bids.

In March, I'll be teaching a class at Thaddeus Stevens College on how to apply ECV & ROI to what they have learned from their professor while he's away getting some advanced training of his own. When he returns, they can teach him(G).  

Bobtheplumber: already done

@ October 1, 2011 10:19 AM in Now I see why the Grundfos person posted the video on You Tube.........

When I sat down to write about this study on my own experiences with ECM pumps, I was, at first, inclined to call it a White Paper because I had always had the impression a White Paper had to be grounded on cold-hard-facts. I Googled the term and was surprised to discover a White Paper is typically nothing more than a PR-piece designed to promote a product or idea and that the author can pretty much take whatever libeties they wish where facts are concerned. Given that my 'paper' is grounded in cold-hard-facts, it had to have a different title.  

I don't doubt for one second that the Doubting Thomases will continue to doubt the reality that ECM technology is going to become the norm. We need the doubters as much as we need the pioneers who forge ahead with technology. Evolution is part of the inevitable conclusion IMHO. Currently (no pun intended) there is a place for both induction and ECM motorized products - like circulators - and justification (primarily basded on up-front costs vs. projected operating costs) exists for both to be utilized. Circulators are getting smarter and the premium cost will continue to fall.

I'm with ME

@ August 13, 2011 7:22 AM in Efficiency

The Daikin Altherma provides you with an inverter-drive air-to-water heat pump with COP's above 4.0 if the installer designs the system properly. DHW, heating & cooling with the ability to tie in solar thermal.

Got oil and feel like you don't have any alternatives except for propane? Geothermal costs scare you off? Don't like the idea of using traditional heat pump technology that requires electric resistance (toaster) after temps outdoors fall below 40F?

Inverter-driven heat pumps don't need electric back- up heat (no toasters!) and will provide adequate heating down to temps below 0F if the installer designs the system properly. Mini-splits in air-to-air or air-to-water with SEER, EER, COP, & COP that rival the best geothermal efficiencies are readily available.

As Mark noted, never thought I'd ever be promoting heat pumps over hi-eff boilers and/or gas furnaces, but inverter-drive drove me to that position once I crunched the numbers for operating costs and ROI. For folks 'stuck' with oil, propane, electric resistance baseboard or an old-technology it's ON/OFF heat pump, making the switch is an easy sale.


@ August 4, 2011 11:02 PM in Just for fun

The green lid, naturally!

Looking for

@ August 1, 2011 12:00 PM in Looking for

a contractor near Syracuse, NY who is familiar with the Diakin Altherma

Not union, but

@ July 31, 2011 3:41 PM in Just for fun

Commercial site & the company safety office is just to the left behind a glass wall & the GC gets written up if any site workers aren't properly outfitted. Cranial lids are no fun in the heat.

Thanks to Wheels for the notion to add Yakkity Sax.

no ouch

@ July 31, 2011 9:08 AM in Just for fun

Hard to see because we work & move so quickly(!), but the knee pads did their job & there was no pain in the days that followed. We could reach the first half from the curb side, but used the planks to lay out over the remainder while fastening the cables.

10-years on the cables & 1-year on the controls. The owners decided they wanted a redundant set installed just in case one of the multiple (yet to be installed) circuits fails.

Stairway next & then we'll tackle the upper grand entrance area. This started out as a hydronic system during my initial design-phase 1.5-years ago, but the owners wanted to utilize electric.   

5 years ago, a job like this would have gone from design-to-bid-to-installed in weeks. Seems like the economy has stretched out the process by miles & the hours of work it takes to land bids have expanded exponentially. The race may still be with the swift, but they're racing a longer distance these days!

by how much oversized

@ July 30, 2011 5:18 PM in Dismantling a radiator

Before I'd tackle that, I'd do a room-by-room analysis to gauge each room's heat loss and its radiator's EDR. Then I'd calculate how far each one was oversized to see if it makes sense to trim just this one and by how much it must be trimmed to mate with the rest of the system.

Loosen both unions, (don't forget to drain the system first!), lay it over on its side on top of something to protect the flooring, cut the rods, pry sections apart (I use a digging bar) until you get a matched set of push-nipples and section ports, gently clean mating surfaces, apply form-a-gasket sealant, re-assemble, squeeze together using 4x4 lumber and 1/2" all-thread rods in holes drilled through the 4x4's, install 3/8" all thread rods in radiator to hold sections together, install washers and nuts, set upright, measure new gap, alter piping & re-fill system,

Or - install thermostatic radiator valve.

Might as well add a modcon too if you really want to conserve energy, improve comfort, and reduce operating costs.   

Just for fun

@ July 30, 2011 5:05 PM in Just for fun
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