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Alan (California Radiant) Forbes

Alan (California Radiant) Forbes

Joined on August 14, 2009

Last Post on July 6, 2014

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Design Temperature

@ May 3, 2010 2:39 PM in design temp in Alta, Utah?

Yes! You won't get any complaints with that design.  It will make your Runtal radiators a bit bigger and your Warmboard outdoor reset parameters somewhat larger.  Let the owners know what you are doing so they know you are paying attention to their comfort.

How will you design your multi-temperature system?  Run your mod-con at high temp. with reset for Runtal and mixing valve for Warmboard?  If so, what kind of mixing valve do you prefer?

Alta Design Temp.

@ May 2, 2010 2:32 PM in design temp in Alta, Utah?

I'm with Tim. 

I just joined a new gardening website and they want to know what planting zone you live in, finding it by zip code.  I entered Alta's (84092) which comes up with zone 5.

"Average Annual Minimum Temperature", i.e. design temperature
Zone 5a (-20/-15F)
Zone 5b (-15/-10F)


@ May 2, 2010 1:55 PM in Electrical Problem

Thank you, Frank for describing that procedure in layman's terms; something I can deal with.

And thank you, Wayne for that most excellent .pdf on transformers.  It explained a lot of things and taught me how to phase a transformer.

I believe that the problem is localized at boiler #2 since boiler #1 works fine until you connect the ground at boiler #2.

I'll let you know what I find out.  I'm with Frank so far to say it's a short within the gas valve. 

All the best,


Ground Fault

@ April 30, 2010 6:19 PM in Electrical Problem

Hi Frank:

How exactly do you do that?

Electrical Problem

@ April 30, 2010 5:15 PM in Electrical Problem

I've got a customer that owns a small apartment building with radiant heating in Berkeley.  They have 2 original A.O.Smith cast iron boilers that are wired in parallel.  When a thermostat calls for heat, a relay closes sending 24 volts to both boilers via an outdoor sensor (WWSD) and an aquastat; very simple.

The problem is that when you try to connect the green ground wire on boiler #2 from the ignition control module (S8610U) to the grounding clip on the gas valve, there's a spark and then boiler #1 shuts down and boiler #2 won't fire.

I've replaced the ICM to no avail.  And I've by-passed the WWSD and aquastat......nada.

I could leave the ground clip off the gas control to allow it to work properly, but this does not seem right.  I'd like to find out the answer.

Can anyone help?


@ April 30, 2010 11:41 AM in Radiant Floor Project & a Radiator?

Other than decorating the wall, it won't produce any heat with water temperatures below 120°.

That's the dilemma of going with plates; there's not much else you can do with water at that low of a temperature.


@ April 28, 2010 6:34 PM in Main vent piping

Go large.

Can't really

@ April 23, 2010 1:29 AM in Hartford loop question

see enough.  I'd like to see the main riser coming out of the boiler to the steam main.  I'd also like to see if there's an equalizer back down to the Hartford Loop; it seems as though yes, but need to see the whole picture.

Nice math

@ April 23, 2010 1:20 AM in sizing boiler for brewery

but what happened to the 970 BTU's to take one pound of water from 212° not boiling to 212° boiling?


@ April 22, 2010 10:36 PM in Aquapex in radiant system

As I understand it, oxygen in the air can pass through non-barrier tubing and be absorbed by the water in the radiant system. This oxygen is not air and no matter how good your air elimination (hmmmm), you can't get this oxygen out since it has been absorbed by the water.

Stick with barrier tubing. 

Water Heater Check Valves

@ April 22, 2010 4:36 PM in Water Heater Check Valves

Most water heaters that I install come with check valves on the cold water nipple to prevent thermosiphon.  I always take them out because they tend to cause harmonics in the piping that drives my customers nuts.

It seems like a good idea except for the performance failure of the component.

What do you guys do? 


@ April 22, 2010 4:30 PM in sizing boiler for brewery

work for a brewmaster who has a medium size Brew Pub.  His boiler is a Hydrotherm VGA 350 BSPV, 350,000 input (steam) and he seems happy with its performance.

Reduced Output

@ April 22, 2010 2:38 AM in Hot water heater no longer produces enough hot water. Why?

I think I've heard of that symptom ever since I started plumbing.

If it were a cross-connection problem, you wouldn't be able to get any hot water.

If it were a scale build-up, that just makes the water heater take longer to reach setpoint, no?  Unless the scale takes up a quarter or more of the tank bottom.

To me, it's always been a mystery.

Zone Valves

@ April 22, 2010 2:29 AM in Another End Switch?

Edwards Engineering, Flair, Erie, Honeywell, Bell & Gossett, Taco..................too many to count.

Finally settled on Danfoss and have used them for many years without one problem; quiet and reliable.


@ April 19, 2010 6:39 PM in Nice Looking Radiator Valves


Floating Floors

@ April 19, 2010 2:11 PM in floating laminant floor and radiant heat

are very stable and compatible with radiant heating.

Combi System

@ April 19, 2010 2:09 PM in Internal vs. External HX

It would be tough to install a combi boiler because the heating plant is in the basement garage, far away from an outside wall; venting would be difficult if not impossible.  It would also be at least double the cost.

I've never had problems with corroding HX's in this area, probably because we're blessed with excellent water.

The "Lead Free" law is active and enforced in SF.  All wettable surfaces must conform and I'm told by my supplier that Taco is about to release their compliant X-Pump Block (XPB).

Before I spring for another CombiCor, I'd like to hear some success stories in my area.  Like Eric, I've still got a bad taste from all the CombiCor and PowerCor failures that I've had.

Yes, each unit has it's own meter.

What I like about the water heater/XPB combination is that when the water heater fails, it's not a big expense to replace it.

Internal vs. External HX

@ April 16, 2010 1:29 AM in Internal vs. External HX

I have a customer in SF with a failed CombiCor, pouring water out of the top of the unit.  They live in a 4-unit condo; each unit has radiant heating with 4 CombiCors lined up in the garage.  If you look at the radiant side pressure gauge on the other units, they all read around 80 psi, so you know all of the other HXs have failed as well, but they are just not showing it via the leak path yet. 

As I see it, I have 2 choices:

1) Install a new, improved CombiCor, or

2) Install a high recovery 50 gal water heater with a Taco X-Pump Block.

Your thoughts?


@ April 15, 2010 12:32 PM in Ideal temperature for radiant heat?

Yes, Chris: I thought your suggestion of a floor sensor was the best idea and that is why I brought it up again.  The hard part is finding a place to install it in a finished room without wires showing.

And Charlie: I've never done that, but it certainly makes sense.



@ April 15, 2010 12:25 PM in what do I call this?

I'd look into using Victaulic couplings and hire a fire sprinkler contractor to do the work.  They would need to cut out a 1-2 foot piece of pipe, cut-groove or roll-groove the two ends, fit a nipple in between and couple it together.

If the dresser coupling is intended as an expansion joint, then the nipple needs to be replaced by a grooved expansion piece which is made of braided stainless steel.

Summer Maintenance

@ April 15, 2010 12:59 AM in Steam boiler - summer maintenance?

Keep the boiler full; drain the low water cutoff once a month instead of once a week.

We lost Coany!

@ April 12, 2010 3:10 PM in Ideal temperature for radiant heat?

He was in a tough predicament and we got side-tracked.  We need to get back and try to solve his problem. 

The problem areas are the 2 zones of radiant where the owner has expectations that the floor should be warm.  We don't know if the tubing is in the floor sandwich, staple-up with plates, or suspended tubing in the joist bays; I'd say the latter from everything that's been discussed.

I'd say he needs to start with a thermostat that has a floor and air sensor to be able to control and attain a minimum floor temperature.  If this doesn't work, he needs to talk to the owner about giving up on the idea of warm floors unless he wants to re-work the tubing
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