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Joined on May 27, 2011

Last Post on August 21, 2014

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@ August 21, 2014 7:31 AM in a.o smith promax direct vent

appliances in a chimney that now be oversized are very BAD .
Make damn sure that appliance left in there is capable of heating the chimney enough not to condense in there .  Make sure they are not killed to save some money . Did they recently have insulation added by any chance ? Was the chimney inspected for defects ?


@ August 21, 2014 7:24 AM in New heating system

is what you really need . A good ERV that will bring in enough fresh air and exhaust trash air . Leave the hydronic heat , install some ductless units and get a quality ERV to bring in fresh with a High number MERV filter . Don't be a victim . By the way since there are health issues radiant would rather be a necessity as opposed to a luxury . With radiant you will have the satisfaction (luxury ) of looking at your child whilst he is breathing better and knowing you made the right or a better decision for his health . You can do better here and spend less money than you are contemplating .


@ August 21, 2014 7:17 AM in Please Recommend a good gas to radiator boiler system

hit it right on the head .  A boiler is like a pot , you can heat water in it , what and how you use that water is a different thing entirely . If your contractor cannot move that heat (energy) properly it does not matter what "pot you use to heat the fluid " .  Dunkirk cast iron boilers are very good boilers by the way .


@ August 20, 2014 11:17 PM in Correct plumbing

is pretty convincing isn't he ? First do away with the DBPV , second order a 008 VDT , third add a backflow preventer where the pressure reducer is , fourth purchase and install a Spirovent or Caleffi vertical air separator and locate it under the FPHX , you can leave the expansion tank where it is . plumb the HX counter flow as you have suggested .  Oh the hell with it , see if you can get your money back from Fred and send him his garbage back and design a real system with a little HELP from your friends . 


@ August 20, 2014 10:53 PM in System's Architect

is the standard we all should be trying to achieve . If it can be achieved efficiency will follow , 62.2 must also be addressed . Sorry about the prior mention of discussions prior to the adoption of 62.2 2013. BSC's standard replaces .03 with .01 and this is more than adequate ventilation for any home .
 It would add an additional .16 ACH to your discussed home where as 62.2 would add .16 ACH . let's face it if you build a house to a .35 and add another .31 what are we doing ? A point 66 ACH house is not what we are shooting for . That point 02 extra in 2 million starts adds up to quite a bit of burned fuel guys .  We already take great steps to get rid of the bad stuff .

Joe L

@ August 20, 2014 5:23 PM in System's Architect

already has published a competing and competent standard . I believe it is posted at Building Science Corporations' site .

Multi Pak 80

@ August 20, 2014 7:42 AM in Is 100k BTU the right size of boiler (or HTP heater) for both baseboard heating and indirect DHW

Derating that for the imaginary 15% heating effect factor you will be able to disburse 52,360 BTUh through the installed radiation . This is good . You should also be able to lower the supply water temps also and really benefit from the outdoor reset . Storage tank would go on the DHW side . I would also plumb in a zone to be used at a later date for the Hydro fan coil and possibly use an outdoor reset Taco I Series there in the case that the heating coil used in your future air handler requires a different reset curve than the baseboard in the house .
  This past winters folly . Depending on where you are in Mass be very cautious of who you employ for this work . Also watch the something for nothing programs that the state and utilities offer . Everyone here can verify what kind of disastrous results and the frustration that many Mass residents felt this past winter during record cold days .  I would stay away from anyone who does a majority of those program jobs and that tells you they do most of the work for them .
I would contact Emerson Swan and try to ask Bruce Marshall for a recommendation to a qualified designer / installer in your area .
  In case you have trouble deciphering all you have heard here . If you choose one of the earlier recommendations from Swei , go with the Dunkirk , it is local also from NW NY and has a generously sized Heat exchanger that will be less likely to foul than the others . The Versa Flame or the Versa Hydro would be a fine fit for your home and the strategy that each uses will allow you to begin heating the home without firing the burner , this is achieved through MASS . They will not shortcycle because when the burner does fire the minimum rate of fire will be required .  As stated early in the discussion by a pretty bright guy , look at the low end numbers , some of the boilers mentioned will require a good maintenance schedule . The HTP's will require less attention due to their construction and in your house they will NEVER fire at more than 50% in your current configuration but if you change that furnace you will have adequate room to do so and really upgrade your heating system further with minimal investment .  
  In short , my suggestion is the  HTP  PHE130-55 . Versa Hydro , 55 gallon tank .  Call Bruce Marshall .

Respiratory problems

@ August 19, 2014 6:17 PM in New heating system

Variable speed forced air .
 Question , does the cubic feet of your house ever change ?
Answer . NO
Why would you move more or less air at anytime ?  If you must go with forced air the hydro fan coil system would be best . But tell your forced air guy to keep his fancy variable speed crap out of your house . CFMs will always be the same and heating only some of them is not efficient as you have been told . Let the boiler change the water temps to the coil based on what the coil can produce at differing temps and use outdoor reset .
Honest opinion is the following and I am a building science guy that strives for systems that provide good health and quality of life . Ready ?  Keep the radiators , add bypass valves and TRVs at each , get a good boiler and a contractor who will measure your house and perform a heat loss calc , can almost guarantee your hvac guy did not . Design a system that works well . Use 4 zone mini split with 1 outdoor unit , install an ERV and steam humidifier . Don't tear up your house and leave it like swiss cheese . Odds are you can do this for similar money and be happier that you provided a better environment for your child .  This is not magic and is very important for your family's health and well being .

 Before you become a victim of bad information check out this site .

It will verify what you have heard here and may make you want to punch the duct guy right in his face .   No amount of filters , UV light and magic beans will help your child like a quality system designed taking the human factors into account .  Calling J Star is a good idea , I am also in Jersey but in Ocean County

New Standard

@ August 19, 2014 5:58 PM in System's Architect

Swei check out the new ASHRAE 62.2 standard . It will blow your mind , these guys now want 1 - 1.5 ACH . Kinda makes you wonder why we bother .  So the average 2,000 foot house needs north of 266 CFM fresh air . I'm telling you , whenever we figure out how to make it truly comfortable and efficient they come up with some energy wasting scheme .


@ August 19, 2014 7:42 AM in Is 100k BTU the right size of boiler (or HTP heater) for both baseboard heating and indirect DHW

I just don't know what to say .

Smaller HTP

@ August 18, 2014 3:23 PM in Is 100k BTU the right size of boiler (or HTP heater) for both baseboard heating and indirect DHW

would be nice but the design allows for the larger burner not to hurt Swei , that was my point . With a lot of the earlier suggestions sized for the baseboard load only though the opportunity for a later conversion of the furnace to AHU with a coil was lost .
 Did I neglect to say mod cons with mass ? If so I apologize and I am sure you know what I meant .


@ August 18, 2014 7:13 AM in Is 100k BTU the right size of boiler (or HTP heater) for both baseboard heating and indirect DHW

Alright , I gotta do it .  Tom C , The HTP products that you mention all have one thing in common , that thing is something nobody that has commented can deny , MASS .  It is a new world as of late with all these mod cons and tighter houses and more zones , that's why HTP has developed some of the units they have . Truth is that it's hard to oversize a mod con , it has a variable range and oversizing is bad because it promotes short cycling , when we install mod cons and the smallest zone / zones are below the low end modulation we add buffer tanks , a buffer tank allows everything to be set up so that short cycling does not happen . The HTP versa line offers combi convenience , buffer mass , and lower BTUs on average than all other combi type units , the other thing it offers is a different type of heat exchanger which does not require such a rigorous maintenance schedule because you'd be hard pressed to foul up a very large center tube and several 1 1/4 tubes spiraling back toward the flue .  The only thing you may maintain is the FPHX for space heating on the Versa Hydro or the FPHX for water heating on the Versa Flame which is less likely if you have city water for obvious reasons . If local support is an issue you in particular won't have one because they are manufactured in East Freetown and are represented by Emerson Swan who recently dumped the AI Smith line of same old trash to rep HTP .  So , to be truthful you cannot oversize a mod con if you know anything about designing and installing Comfort systems , the fact is because these mod cons have a range you are able to choose one that fits and just because it is capable of reaching 100K but only ever operates at 20% - 50% for space heating it cannot be oversized but it sure is nice to have those BTUs available if you need them like this past winter .  Keeping a 55 gallon mass at 180* during non heating season . Enough fear mongering please , at 55 gallons using the default 7* differential to fire on standby the Versa Flame needs 3,207 BTU about twice a day to keep temp or about 3.60 a month in fuel in an unheated area , it will be much less in conditioned space .  Tom,  The Versa Flame is probably what you need and depending on your hot water needs the size could vary , I would probably use a small storage tank , maybe 20 gallons ,  This unit when all summed up costs the same as all the others mentioned after installation . Remember this the versa series can provide heat before the burner fires , is ODR enabled modulates and saves space . The wall hungs must be firing to provide heat unless they have a buffer tank , the mass units will enable you to heat your home even below the low end modulation by engaging a circ , possibly for an hour at very low loads in the shoulder seasons . We have all spent a long time being the best we can and the HTP offers Tom a real good option , he asked about it why do we throw so many more confusing things at him . Besides that load there is the other hot air zone that can be added to the load later on and he can enjoy odr and modulation for an Air handler also with a coil .
  How many days was it below 5* this past winter Tom ? Are you willing to be cold in your home when these things happen or would you like the extra capability to not be when it does no harm ?


@ August 17, 2014 6:57 PM in gas condensing boiler recommendation

area would that be Matt ?

Minimal Effects

@ August 17, 2014 4:05 PM in System's Architect

in a building which is close to passivehaus and NZE standards is nonsense . MEs in my opinion have no business getting involved or opining on Physical things , if they were qualified to do so they would be PEs .We are not talking about a mechanical reaction but more of a physics thing .  I once had an engineer tell me and I can provide written proof of discussions , that because a radiantly heated overpour had such mass that a 230K boiler installed in a 100+K home would not short cycle . Now I agree that upon initial heating of the mass this is so but what about the other 150+ days of the heating season ,120 of them being shoulder season days ?  Why did he make the WM Ultra 230 , because it also would make the DHW , guys like this should ask for a refund from the institute of higher education which they attended . Mechanical engineers will hurt you proving your concept save for a select few who get it . 
I can agree with the ICF walls exterior but what you are going for as described by yourself will not benefit or prove concept my friend besides adding monstrous first cost . I am not saying to build a cheap building but more that spend the money wisely or the very guys you are trying to appeal to will chew you up and spit you out like a bad clam .
 The people in that community are deaf , dumb and blind and use such screwed up calculators figuring ROI instead of energy efficiency , thermal comfort , exergy , efficacy that I cannot believe they are regarded . As Joe L said , " It's about the energy Stupid "   I recently read a highlighted article about what a good job some builder in Mass did by installing 2 ductless mini splits totaling 23,000 BTUs in a 10,000 BTU home . Why was he so smart , because it was cheap .
  Whatever you end up with they will kill it unless the first cost , comfort , life cycle cost and everything is better . What it boils down to is when hydronics enters the picture it may very well expose the fact that ducting for anything other than ventilation and removing latent load creates problems in any building , without those problems the whole home performance industry that has evolved rapidly within the last couple of years will become null and void .
These guys have created a whole industry to combat the problems associated with and / or created by systems that are outside the thermal envelope directly being connected with the living space .
They will spend 1000s upon 1000s of dollars to make a house tighter than practical to the point where anything you install is oversized and they wholly discount true passive strategies because they try to use 2-3 solar thermal panels for DHW and still spend money on fuel . If they would adopt the idea that if you put 10 solar thermal panels or a panel like you speak of they could do all the DHW and space heating using a storage system and a couple watts of pumping power they would really be able to shout from the mountain top . But if they do that they will just showcase the fact that they have been doing it wrong for awhile now , that won't happen .  
  Here is a spirited discussion right up your alley ,

Throw Rugs

@ August 17, 2014 10:08 AM in System's Architect

will NEVER not influence performance .  Since you are building this system why don't you consider getting out of the floor and going to the ceilings ? Never seen anyone put anything on a ceiling that can effect performance .  You could save lotsa money and not worry about rooms overheating by means of solar heat gain in a passive haus standard . You quite likely won't need half as much mechanical assistance either .

400 '

@ August 14, 2014 8:24 PM in System's Architect

ground loops with a low head loss like you state can be a scary thing , have seen many shorted ground loops end up with disastrous results . Longer loops with higher flow have a higher Reynolds number and provide better heat transfer . Don't doom your hard work on the thermal storage aspect by cheaping out on tubing and drilling . If in fact you will use the thermal storage tanks why even bother with the ground loops to begin with ? You could simply charge the tank/s with the solar possibly up to 160* and mix down to a real nice number for the HP and when the sun is not out you still have a monster mass of fluid quite possibly still at a higher temp than the loop field would have given you .  Is it a must to locate the tanks below ground ?  These tanks are sweet , , support the drainback approach also . 
 The investment and PITA of 3/4 tubing over 1/2 bypasses the point of diminishing returns by a good amount . Keep the loops shorter and tighter and the SWTs low . 

Heat Loss

@ August 14, 2014 6:09 AM in Is 100k BTU the right size of boiler (or HTP heater) for both baseboard heating and indirect DHW

Has anybody done one yet to determine if your baseboard is sufficient at 70' using 160* fluid ? This would need to be a room by room heat loss .
  How did you come to find out about Versa Hydro ?  Swei is correct in all he has stated but the Versa (PHE130-55) would be a good fit for your project if in fact 160* is sufficient . The Versa is a water heater that uses the stored mass of water in the DHW tank for space heating . When there is a call for heat the Variable speed pump pulls water from the tank and through a flat plate heat exchanger , it will not short cycle when programmed correctly . Your installer should know how to do the proper math to accomplish this , that is the main concern .  This unit quite simply enables a system to operate as if there were a mod / con boiler , indirect water heater and a buffer tank which is what most would specify , the only sticking point would be , do you have enough installed radiation for the 160* temp .  Along with whatever equipment you use a Delta T circ will help you insure that you are matching the load at any given time .
  Like Swei said , the low end is what you need to be concerned with , so does everyone now . Properly designed systems should be able to match the load at a given point in time without overshooting fuel usage . As far as equipment and space / labor saving go your mentioned choice is a sound one .
In the future if you decide to or need to replace that furnace you can just use an air handler with a hot water coil and that too can enjoy the outdoor reset feature by changing the water temps to the coil . remember a house doesn't change size , the load does

Passive / mechanical

@ August 12, 2014 8:51 PM in Indirect heating system

Have a blower door test performed on the home .  Have whomever does the test convert from ???cfm50 to ???cfm nat . This will give you your ACH at worst case .  Just an idea .

No pix

@ August 11, 2014 11:30 AM in Indirect heating system

can you attempt to attach them again ?


@ August 11, 2014 11:06 AM in System's Architect

he stated capacities between 4 and 5,000 gallons with an R value around the tanks of R150 .  What I believe will be missed in this set up as opposed to other Thermal Battery systems is a latent capability and the initial investment .  This really does exploit how much better Solar PV panels should perform though . Seems that lately much stuff is rearing its head showing how our industry can enhance and outperform what everybody else has been peddling in this game that seems to be run by Duie ,Cheatem and Howe . 


@ August 11, 2014 7:28 AM in Alpine 80 trouble-red screen

Dennis Foley to go over every bit of this system . After that contact an attorney and start litigation against the installing contractor and anyone else who stepped through your front door .  Cannot believe you are still having issues with this brand new system even after freezing in your home this past winter and the certain case of carpal tunnel syndrome you must have suffered from the 500+ post thread about it .

Good ideas

@ August 10, 2014 11:33 PM in System's Architect

Please visit this group , . If you have an aversion to LinkedIn contact James Schenck from Thermal Battery Systems Inc , Energy Dynamics in Bozeman Montana .
Here is a short list of others that could certainly help , Robert Bean , Mark Eatherton , Rod Hyatt , Unless of course you are Rod . This is a well thought out paper you have provided and some will ask who you are , let me be the first . Your ideas are sound , I just wish there was even less dependency on mechanical equipment , it is possible you know ?
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