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Brad White

Brad White

Joined on July 4, 2008

Last Post on February 7, 2009

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Macon Controls

@ February 7, 2009 8:29 PM in Macon TRVs???

are my "default" choice. I like their compactness and installation features. For example, their HW valves use an Allen wrench (12MM I believe but check first) to install them, rather than a spud wrench. This makes them very easy to install when radiators are in place and you do not have swing space for the spud wrench and pipe wrench. Simple and elegant. The chrome finish is very hard and takes abuse. (I had a mishap when the nut wrench slipped and would have gouged lesser material, barely a scratch.) As for the steam ones, (OPSK), very compact and the vacuum breakers work very well. As for price, I have shopped around and these are not pricey at all in my experience. Quite competitive at the retail level with other makes. As for the remote heads, well, one has to make a neat job of it. The Macon capillary tubing is finer than others I have seen. (H-B brand is like a pencil lead for example; Macon is like thin yarn or thick thread). You have to secure them more often, sure. But the remote heads I use from Macon can have the dial and sensor together or the dial in one place and the bulb in another location. Very adaptable. I have used Honeywell-Braukman, Centra, Tour and Andersson, Danfoss, Oventrop and Macon in all applications. All are good, I just prefer the Macon style and finish, the price is reasonable, quality excellent and the service I get from Tunstall is superb. The OPSK vacuum breaker is a simple spring above the valve body so it does not get wetted or stay wet unlike others.

Questions for you

@ February 7, 2009 8:22 PM in Insualte Return Duct

Is the attic space where the duct is, within the thermal envelope or is the attic essentially above/outside the heated space? My first order of business regardless would not be insulation but sealing. Do check that. I do not mean "duct tape", but the brush-on acrylic compound made for the purpose. I like "Hardcast" products, so give them a shout and they can tell you a local source of supply. The reason I am bullish on duct sealing is two-fold: One is that you otherwise cannot control the quality of the air you are drawing in. Attic are? What is up there? Fibers? Bats? Mrs. Bates? (Mrs. Bates?) The second is ducted efficiency- you are paying to move air from A to B, not from A to B with a lot of extra passengers. Control your air delivery. As for insulation, yes, I would if you have any doubts about the ambient temperature, but insulate only after thorough sealing. In MA here at least, the energy code says at least R-5 if within a conditioned space and the temperature difference is 15 degrees or less. R-5 is typically what 1.5" thick foil-faced duct wrap will give you. Otherwise at least R-8. R-8 is typically representative of 2", but personally, I would use two layers of 1.5" with staggered seams. The other thing you have to ask yourself is about humidity. Can the ambient ever get hot and humid while the return duct might be below the dewpoint? Vapor barriers must be sealed.

Off a decimal point or two?

@ February 6, 2009 7:00 PM in Make no Mistake

That looks like 54 inch pipe or even 60 inch. 30,000 GPM would not surprise me for the former and it could even handle 50,000 GPM with a 7 FPS velocity limit. If it is a 60 inch pipe, it could handle up to 60,000 GPM and stay below 7 FPS. I think Taco has a 0000000 circulator and flange set for an exact fit. They used to stock that in 20 foot sticks at HD but too many customers died looking for the short ones. :)

Paul, the

@ February 6, 2009 6:43 PM in 37 zones of radiant heat...(JohnNY)

drawings, depending on the level of service, are usually diagrammatic but of course everything has to work and fit. That is not where the "vague" terminology applies, no sir! The "means and methods" part goes to the specifications part of a design package and specifically the execution. That is where we tread lightly and defer to manufacturer's recommendations and to best trade practices. Yes, it does put the onus on the installing contractor, for that is what installing contractors do, (last I checked :) ). Details.. Ah, hit a spot with me. A certain engineering firm I know has details, mind you standard details which show up on nearly every job, that are both conflicting or just wrong. One I love is a condensate pump with the check valves and flow arrows on the check valves, pointing back toward the pump.... My in-house job (each shareholder has one in addition to normal duties) is to maintain and develop details and if I have my way, the specifications. I also do in-house training but finding time is the issue there...

A few thoughts...

@ February 5, 2009 6:57 AM in Near Boiler Piping-Need desparate help please critique

I agree that the initial boiler rise should be taller. You have the height, so why not use it? The system feed at least is tall so the possibility is there. I would go to the specific model piping diagram and see if it recommends/requires that both boiler tappings be used. I see one plugged tapping and one apparently 2-inch boiler riser. Without knowing the model and load, I would think that the velocity, coupled with the short rise, would mean somewhat wet steam. The tall system riser would mitigate this at least. The connecting piping at the existing is certainly creative, I give them credit for that. The biggest question is, "how does it operate?". Is it quiet, does it vent and heat quickly? Regardless of how ideal the piping is, the operation is key. Each facet of detail contributes to better performance. Some conspire to cause problems, some are so much "better than spec" (e.g. tall and large initial risers and maybe a dropped header) that they compensate for other deficiencies. So, how does she run?

Where in Boston?

@ February 5, 2009 6:47 AM in EDR calculations for steam

That is too bad that the model was not specified. Have you approached the contractor? If so, what did he say?

Nice work, Peter and crew-

@ February 4, 2009 9:19 PM in CCN Pictures

So, tell me about those pipe hangers. Never seen ones like that. Nice job guys.

My gut says

@ February 4, 2009 9:16 PM in EDR calculations for steam

that your radiation potential (67,200 BTUH) works out to just over 46 BTUH per SF. In a location with a design of zero or single digits, that seems rational for an older, not well insulated house. So there is some basis there. The piping and pickup factor is always a guess, as you say, no one knows what your piping is. But the 1.33 factor does not belong to Burnham but to the industry, set forth years ago based on lots of experience. The IN4 might well have worked if your piping is not extravagant and if it is well insulated. Otherwise an IN5.


@ February 2, 2009 9:19 PM in new part time job

in a call center for the Samaritans? I sense you would be good at pulling people back from the edge.

Welcome news and not unexpected

@ February 2, 2009 8:36 PM in Home from Surgery

That is excellent news, Tim. Best wishes to you and Judy for the next stage of your recovery. Glad she is by your side.


@ February 2, 2009 6:09 AM in Radiant heat efficiency

make all the difference as you may be finding out. If you have a choice, the extruded aluminum ones, the kind that get screwed to the underside of the sub-floor, are best of course. If existing staple up, thin "omega" plates might be what you are left with, short of a re-tube.. Assuming access of course. Perhaps there is a third option, I do not know.

re: Roman Floor Heat: You will have to ask Dan

@ February 2, 2009 6:03 AM in Solar Slab Store design

perhaps in another thread or by direct e-mail. I suggest a new thread just for you so it will get the attention your question deserves. This thread is regarding a particular fellow's question and specific application.


@ February 2, 2009 5:59 AM in Looking for pictures of Mod/con boilers opened for service

What are your thoughts about the Viessmann Vitodens termination? Short of going to the roof, that is what we have to work with. Our vent is about five feet off the ground on the side of the house. I imagine a lot of the gritty ash we get is burned grass and pollen from the neighbor's yard. A little vacuum work and scraping and it came right off, but working with a cut credit card (HD! :) ) between the fins was a challenge, trying not to force debris further in.


@ February 1, 2009 9:01 PM in Looking for pictures of Mod/con boilers opened for service

was first started in early November, 2006 so has been running just over two years now. Edit: The cleaning photos were taken at 22 months of operation, last September, I had to check. My bad... I am on an annual track now. I have the curve set at 1.0 with a peak design water temperature of about 135 degrees when it is at design here (+6F). Edit: I just downloaded my data loggers and have better data details: When it was just below zero out recently, the water temperature was about 125.5 F. That sucker is learning :P Right now it is about 28 degrees outside and the water is hovering at about 105 F. We have over-sized CI radiators and TRV's on all but two.


@ February 1, 2009 8:48 PM in Looking for pictures of Mod/con boilers opened for service

Here are a couple of shots taken during cleaning of our Vitodens 6-24. Not in any particular order. The condensate trap was to illustrate the rusty brown color well upstream of the marble chips. I had originally suspected some iron particles in the marble chips, "brought out" by the acidic condensate. Not so, apparently. The "ash" in the bottom was very gritty and took some care to get it out. I used Citri-Surf 3050 as a solvent, a nylon scrub pad, gloves and a credit card for the detailing. EDIT: I missed the specific question, but that accumulation represents about a year and ten months of operation. I did let it go longer than I wanted to but am keeping to an annual schedule now.

Onset Hobo's

@ February 1, 2009 8:45 PM in USB Temperature Loggers

I second the Onset line. I use a lot of Onset's USB loggers, all applications. Small and accurate. I have used others, no complaints, some a bit larger than others, no big deal. I settled on Onset, being local to me and they have a great line. Have used them for over ten years now and the USB line over the past two. I finally upgraded and like the Hoboware Pro software much better than their Boxcar. My $0.02

Today I learned something new....

@ February 1, 2009 7:56 AM in Installing a Pigtail

Perry has a sense of humor! Dry, Perry. I like that. :)

True, Mark

@ February 1, 2009 7:51 AM in Fiberglass insulation

I agree in general, more is better. We have found that the minimum, 1", is at least attainable and will drop the "bare pipe" heat losses to about 16 percent of what they were. The subtext was to steer folks away from the very minimal 1/2" thickness stuff found in box stores and start going up the ladder a bit in thickness/quality. Many folks naturally seek that balance between cost and effectiveness, something the code writers sought to do (ASHRAE 90.1 being the genesis of many). You will never get it down to zero but they sought a balance of getting the surface temperature down to within so many degrees of ambient. For example, 2" horizontal bare pipe with 215F steam in a 60F ambient: 0.5" insulation will knock a 219.8F surface temperature down to 90.8F and heat loss of 53.35 BTUH/SF 1.0" insulation will knock a 219.8F surface temperature down to 77.5F and heat loss of 27.07 BTUH/SF (This is what demonstrates the largest single jump in percentage from minimal half-inch to full inch thickness, naturally doubling the effectiveness for least cost increment. Not saying "stop there", but to illustrate the situation.) 1.5" insulation will knock a 219.8F surface temperature down to 71.6F and heat loss of 16.94 BTUH/SF 2.0" insulation will knock a 219.8F surface temperature down to 68.6F and heat loss of 11.98 BTUH/SF. (This is our energy code for 2" pipe by the way, about ten degrees surface temperature above ambient.) 2.5" insulation will knock a 219.8F surface temperature down to 66.9F and heat loss of 9.23 BTUH/SF. The law of diminishing returns comes into play of course- double the insulation and halve the previously much lower heat loss from the last layer. A full 10.0 inches will get your surface temperature down to 61.4 and 1.61 BTUH/SF heat loss. Of course, with that insulation in your basement, there goes the recreation room :) The moulded fiberglass used has an R value of about 4.0. If you are wrapping batt insulation around the piping, I suspect you are not getting the full effectiveness you seek (the label effectiveness) but I also can see it being higher than lesser amounts of tightly fitted moulded fiberglass. Just some observations.. p.s. I get my data using "3E Plus 4.0", a free-ware program put out by NAIMA (North American Insulation Manufacturers Association) and is available at Very useful and full of "what if" combinations. I have some questions about some outputs and units, but overall a very nice program used in context.

When you cost it out

@ January 31, 2009 11:33 PM in Fiberglass insulation

you may pause a bit, for it does seem more expensive than it may seem worth at the time. But cost it out, you are going to install it once and at least the near-boiler piping, where you have space, can look so nice. And you know it is done correctly.

And you know what?

@ January 31, 2009 11:30 PM in Installing a Pigtail

You really would! (I would too, or move my living room to the basement...)

\"AFUE is a joke\"...

@ January 31, 2009 10:06 PM in High Efficiency Paybacks

Ok, so this AFUE rated boiler walks into a bar... Sorry Uni, there is nothing funny about AFUE... I tried.. :)

Gary is right

@ January 31, 2009 10:04 PM in Fiberglass insulation

Dry returns should be treated the same as steam. The one inch thickness is a "practical minimum", meaning that less is not worth the labor to install it. However, most energy codes prescribe 1.5" thick insulation for any steam pipe up to 1.5" diameter. Then go to 2" thick for piping 2" size and up. The conundrum is that the colder the ambient where the piping is, the more insulation you should have. Thus, insulating the piping will drop the ambient temperature... I sense an insulation conspiracy! :)
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