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Joined on January 9, 2011

Last Post on May 7, 2012

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Recent Posts

Re snowmelt contact

@ May 7, 2012 6:26 AM in Incorporating snowmelt into new stairs?

J A,  I would appreciate any help including an introduction to your customer who sounds like he may have some goof advice.


Incorporating snowmelt into new stairs?

@ May 6, 2012 6:28 AM in Incorporating snowmelt into new stairs?


I need to rebuild stairway to front my front door.  House is on the side of a hill and I have 25 steps to my front door (yes it is up there).  Existing stairway is masonary/stone with storage space under the stairs.  This is a really pain to shovel during snow storms here in NY and can create real ice problems if I get lazy and fail to shovel!

Old stairs are being rebuilt due to 70 years of water seepage weakening structural integrity.  Will be installing a set of poured/formed cement stairs finished with stone to recreate original look.  I am working with a structural engineer for designing plans and permiting.  Would like to add hydronic heat to treads now since we are building from scratch.

Key questions:
1) How should I lay the hydronics piping on the treads?  Concrete risers will be finished with bluestone treads.  Should hydronic piping be placed in the concrete slab during the pour or sandwiched between the concrete and the bluestone during the finishing process.

-  I don't want to heat the entire concrete slab so was thinking of layering 3/4 or 1 inch foam insulation board between concrete and blue stone to create thermal barrier and drive radiant heating through tread surface and then mounting piping on insulation (Possibly cutting groves in insulation to protect pipe).  Also, insulation probably protect concrete from cracking etc.

2)  What size piping should I have for the treads - 1/2" pex?  Planning on running main hydronic fluid feed and return in space stairs with access holes through tread to feed hydronic piping.  Typical tread is 12" deep, and 6-8ft wide (Blues stone likely to be 1 inch thick).  Also have 4 landings with larges being 6'x8'

Appreciate all advice and recognize that I may be over thinking this.  Want to make sure I get solid design plan incorporated into plans being drawn by the structural engineer.


Thanks - How about a pipe resevoir

@ May 5, 2012 12:53 PM in How do I properly bury the condendate return


Thanks for the advice.  I will make sure we use the PVC wrap and put in the cleanout fittings.  Note, pipe will be laid withing not below slab (i.e no soil contact).  Does this change advice about sand?  Also, does it make sense to oversize the buried pipe to act as a settlement resevoir (Increase to 2inch)? 


How do I properly bury the condendate return

@ May 5, 2012 8:20 AM in How do I properly bury the condendate return

I am have one pipe steam system and I am replacing my wet return, currently black pipe laid on top of the concrete slab.

I want to take opportunity to bury the return in the slab (makes basement renovation projects easier).  I know this can be problematic as the concrete can corrode pipe from the outside while the water corrode from the inside.

How do I install the pipe in the trench properly to protect it from corrosion?

Can I simply wrap it in insulation, lay in the trench and poor concrete over it?  Also thinking of simply packing trench with sand, sealing top of trench with concrete or plastic membrane since I will then be laying padding and carpet on top.  All thoughts appreciated


Re: Boiler piping

@ April 18, 2012 9:12 PM in Piping a two pipe Boiler


Thanks for the lesson.  My prior experience was with boilers having a single riser.  Note,  the generic schematic is also extremely helpful as the prior install did not have the risers connected with a header and only one of the risers was connected to the equalizer.

Again,  thanks a lot.


Piping a two pipe Boiler

@ April 17, 2012 11:34 PM in Piping a two pipe Boiler

I have a single pipe residential steam system.  The boiler is an old Burnham with two headers rising on either side (Headers are not connect around the boiler). 

One header rised and goes around the basedment to the left.  The other rises and goes around the basement to the right.  At the end their is a main vent on each steam main and a dry return runs off about 6 inches before the main vent.  The two dry returns join and then drop vertically to the wet return.

My question:  I would like to have each main drop to a wet return and then have the two wet returns join and return to the boiler.  I suspect this could cause real problems as the pressure in the left steam main might not equal pressure in right main.  I cannot readily connect dry returns as these would need to be 28 inches above the boiler high water level and position of the stairs is problematic. 

Any suggestions on how to achieve this?


Converting from steam to Geothermal??

@ January 9, 2011 11:51 PM in Converting from steam to Geothermal??

I need to replace the boiler on my steam system (over 20yrs old).  Want to know how feasible it is to replace the steam system with an energy efficient geothermal system.  I know it will be more expensive but since Ii do not have central air now, the summer cooling would be an important added benefit.

I believe I have space for installing a closed loop system near the house.  All the geothermal systems I have seen on-line seem to be for either hydronic or ducted systems.  I do not have ducts now and installing throughout the three story house is not really an option,  I also do not like the look of baseboard hydronic systems. 

What options do I have? Does it make sense to install 2 units (basement and attic) to reduce the ducting complexity?  Does any of this make financial sense versus upgrading the boiler to a high efficiency model and then adding central air?