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Joined on June 4, 2011

Last Post on September 14, 2014

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BW Valves

@ July 19, 2012 11:52 AM in Off topic: sewer backwater valves

Like I said, they ain't cheap (but what is a basement flooded with sewage worth). The J.R Smith unit uses a stainless steel knife and a bellows (no flapper). I would show the customer the specs on both units and let them decide. In the famous words of Heatboy "you don't get what you don't pay for".

BW Valve

@ July 18, 2012 2:22 PM in Off topic: sewer backwater valves

I have god luck with the JR Smith Flood-Gate. It's full port with no flapper or debris to get hung up on. I have installed about a dozen in Old Town Alexandria, Va. It also has an optional alarm. It ain't cheap, but it does the job.

Mini Split

@ July 14, 2012 3:41 PM in Mini-split

The propane units are no problem and easy to clean. The window units filters are cleaned weekly and the units last about three years.
Can you clean the coil on the air handler without removing the unit (vacuming down the system, cutting the line-set and removing and diassembling)?
How much maintanance is involved? The filters will only catch so much, and the smoke creates tar which then catches anything the filter missed.

DDC training

@ July 14, 2012 10:31 AM in DDC (Direct Digital Control) - Training?

The best that I've been able to get was by just hanging over the programmers shoulder. I use the pretext of asking how he is going to control the boilers and pumps etc. that I installed (it is also a great time to educate the programmer about the system YOU installed).  I usually find the guys happy to explain what they do. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a training program in the field. Your best bet would be to hire on to one of the DDC companies if you want to go deeper.

Raiant Ceiling

@ July 12, 2012 11:59 AM in Major renovation -

ME mentioned it earlier but it never got followed up on. A radiant ceiling will be just as, if not more comfortable than floors. You can use any type of hardwood you want, you can put down area rugs without interfering with the floors BTU output. Your floor height will not change and your comfort will be superb. You also don't have to worry about nails from the hardwood going through your tubing. Defiantly something to think about.  


@ July 12, 2012 11:41 AM in Mini-split

I am trying to help out the owner of my favorite bar / saloon up in the mountains. The place is 3000 sq-ft all open floor plan less 400sqft kitchen area. In winter, the heat is provided via a pellet stove and supplemented by two wall mounted propane heaters. the cooling is provided by four window a/c units. the owner wants to get rid of the propane wall heaters and the window a/c units. My suggestion was a mini split heat pump with the primary / supplemental heat provided by the pellet stove. I do hydronic heat and plumbing, not a/c. An other customer who does a/c work said that a mini-split would not be a good option as this place is so dusty (on a gravel road) and that the smoke from the patrons (allot of it, the entire interior of the 80 year old building is the color of nicotine.) would block up the coils of a mini-split in no time and that the only way to clean them was to take the units down, disconnecting the line sets, take them apart and clean them. This he said would lead to allot of maintenance costs and shortened service life.
Does anyone have any ideas or options in a situation like this?

Brass fittings for propane piping

@ July 12, 2012 11:08 AM in Replacing Propane Cu Piping

If my memory serves correctly, years ago, we had the option to use Swaglock compression fittings on copper tubing for gas / propane. I always used flares because they were always available at the supply house (and cheaper). Does anyone else recall this?


@ July 4, 2012 12:25 PM in Need to repair radiant heat before winter

The first thing you should do if you plan on doing this yourself is to post pictures of what you have. Boiler and near boiler piping, radiators and cracked radiators, cut off pipes (with descriptions of locations). You also need to do a heat loss of the house, as it is a foreclosure, you don't know how it heated before, you may be over radiated (as in most cases) or under radiated. We are here to help. but we need more info.

snowmelt layout

@ June 26, 2012 3:51 PM in Spacing @ 12" for Snowmelt using 3/4" Hepex OK?

My preferred method of a snowmelt layout is to go concentric on the supply at 18" and then eccentric on the return from the center of the loop making the system 9" on center overall. I can't remember the name of the design layout but it alternates the supply and return every 9". It has always worked well for me and I have never had striping issues. It also makes the only true 180 degree bend in the center of the layout, and with 3/4" pex, the bigger it is, the more difficult it is to bend. 

pyrmidic parallel piping diagram

@ May 11, 2012 2:57 PM in OWNER

That diagram is very misleading as the inlet and the outlet piping is not equal as must be done with the pyramid system. All pipes must be the same lengthts to create equal flow. I'll go with reverse return any day. JMO


@ April 20, 2012 11:30 AM in Chimney: Is B-vent on top of masonry chimney possible?

I understand what you are trying to do. Take down the existing chimney(s) to roof level, place a b-vent to clay transition fitting at roof line and run b-vent up to correct height to create proper draft. (this is all assuming that the liner is in good shape from the roof down) I would ask the company proposing this if:
A. Is it code approved? Can you show me the code?
B. Can you provide me with information on the transition fitting so that I may research it.
C. Have you done this before, If so, where
D. Ensure that a permit is pulled and all inspections are performed by the AHJ.
If you do go this route I would also suggest that you build an insulated box around the B-vent to prevent potential flue gas condensation and for aesthetic purposes.

Floor not warming

@ April 19, 2012 12:27 PM in hydronic heated floor not warming...PLEASE HELP

As stated before, your system was not installed by a competent professional and needs to be re-piped at the mechanical room. I know that it's not the answer you wanted to hear but in the long run it will save you a ton of money on fuel and increase your comfort significantly. That's the bad news. The good news is that it appears as though you have most if not all the components for the project. If you tell us where you are located we may be able to guide to the right person / company to help you.


@ April 19, 2012 12:10 PM in Floor thickness question

Two inches of wood is too much to expect the floor to be able to heat through efficiently and you would have to raise the water water temp significantly to even make heat, and it would be a waste of fuel. (I don't know if it would work at all without more details). I would suggest 2x4 sleepers anchored to the floor at set intervals and doing a concrete overpour to the sleeper level. This would give direct contact of the concrete to the wood floor and also give you nailers for your hardwood.

Piping on one pipe boiler

@ April 17, 2012 9:47 PM in Piping on one pipe boiler

I am having a hard time understanding your question. Could you please rephrase it and post some pictures? That will help alot.

Noisey Baseboard

@ April 17, 2012 9:04 PM in Expansion couplings

Is this a new problem or has this been ongoing since original installation? If it's been going on for 10 years, it sounds like expansion problems. If that's the case you may want to look into an outdoor air reset controller and constant circulation. It may not cure the problem entirely but it will create a slow, constant expansion and contraction that will definitely help. Could you post some pictures of your boiler and near boiler piping as well as some pics of your baseboard ends. The more info the better.

Finished floor

@ April 1, 2012 3:30 PM in Adding 220 sq ft radiant to existing system

What type of finished floor are you going to put down? I would definitely pour concrete, no sand! I can't tell from the photos how much depth you have below the sleepers. Concrete will transfer heat much more efficiently.

exhaust vent

@ March 30, 2012 10:54 AM in New HTP install

Henry, I have never installed one of these boilers. But it does appear from the I&O manual that you have the intake and exhaust pipes reversed. Once again, I am only going from the pictures in the I&O manual and have no hands on experience with these boilers. Good luck.


@ March 28, 2012 11:31 AM in Radiant WIndows exposed

Mark, back in the 80's, I was a crew chief on Blackhawk helicopters and they had heated windows for de-icing purposes. I believe the glass sandwiched a layer of thin (transparent) gold. they were DC powered and would get very hot to the touch from the outside but the inside did not generate much heat at all. Did the concept of these windows come from the aviation industry or am I off base?

Romex and steam

@ March 27, 2012 12:46 PM in main vents vs electrical outlet and romex

I'm not sure what the codes are but I would suggest sleeving the romex in CPVC conduit and using a receptacle rated for outdoor use (gasketed with spring covers). Once again, I don't know your codes but I have seen rodents chew off romex insulation. Just a suggestion

Nice Idea!

@ March 27, 2012 11:48 AM in What do you think about this shelf system?

You said the granite only gets lukewarm. My wife loves plants. That would probably be great for keeping the root systems warm in winter. (might even add some humidity in winter. Although if a plant got root rot it might also smell the place up. Altogether, great idea.

Nice Install

@ March 27, 2012 10:47 AM in Our First Solaia Commercial/Beckett CG-10 Install

Steamhead, as usual, nice install. Couple of questions. How is the noise on the burner? Is that strap iron supporting those big old existing pipes? I guess if its held up this long it probably will forever but you might try talking the HO into putting a few bucks into having Gordo work some of his hangar magic on the ceiling.
Nice job.


@ March 22, 2012 11:59 AM in Natural/Propane gas

I didn't get the job, but at one point I got a call to change over a Munchkin from natural to LP (the person was moving from the city to the country and wanted to bring their boiler with them). When I called HTP about converting the Munchie, I'm pretty sure they told me that only adjustments to the gas pressure and a combustion analysis be done and they would send a new data plate to show the conversion. (Dungs gas valve).  
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