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Joined on January 19, 2012

Last Post on April 24, 2014

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Road to nowhere

@ March 4, 2014 11:42 AM in 4-zone hydronic radiant heating system

If the system has worked in the past there must have been reverse flow.
Yes, zone valves will allow reverse flow. It is often more noisy.
A drawing is needed.


@ March 4, 2014 11:25 AM in Perplexing radiant floor question

The manufacture should be able to tell you what the normal range specs should be for your particular mat.
The ohms need to be measured with the mat isolated from the power. The amps can be checked with an amp clamp while the system is energized.
The best practice for these installs is to check the ohm rating before and after the install and record the readings. This catches the tile guy's mistake early in the process.
Some manufactures will list the factory readings on the ends of the cables or in the literature provided.

Either way

@ March 4, 2014 8:33 AM in Wiring ALPHA 55 vs.Grundfoss 15-42

Your alpha is designed so that it is OK to leave it powered on all the time. With most systems you can just plug it in, put in "auto adapt" and leave it alone. It senses that the zone valve has opened and does it's thing.
If you prefer to turn it off and on, don't use "auto adapt" as it will reset itself every time it powers back on. If you switch it like your existing setup, it would be better to put the circulator in one of the "constant pressure" modes.
There are tons of these things installed both ways. I think it is personal preference.


@ March 2, 2014 8:12 PM in Unequal circulators in series

I assume you are referring to the fancy new name they have for Maintenance Guys?
I would think it is a bad idea. Why not evaluate the system and put in the right size circulator.


@ March 2, 2014 6:32 AM in New Home, Which heat source????

I spent a summer there as a kid. Great place!
Check out this spread sheet.
I think it is a bit easier to use.

Pellets are by far your cheapest heat source. A pellet boiler would work well for your domestic water and infloor heating needs. Solar hot water would also tie in nicely. You could design the solar to handle all your DHW needs in the summer when solar works best and to suppliment the other system in the winter.

. Another good calculator.
It is designed for PV, but will give you an idea how much sun is available in you area.

An ASHP would be better than propane or electric but not as good as pellets.
You could use a mini or multi split for AC in the summer and heat on cool spring and fall nights. The COP would actually be better than trying to run it all winter.

Is this a full time residence?
What kind of budget?



@ February 25, 2014 11:37 PM in Has anyone ever heard of this?

I think that either the joists where exposed to extreme moisture (many days of rain uncovered and laying on the ground) or there is a source of moisture in the building.
I have seen I joists bend even more than that only twice. Both were exposed to improperly humidity controlled hot tub and steam rooms. Both had compromised vapor barriers and the joists were exposed to near 100% humidity.
I don't think for a second that joists that were dried at the factory and properly stored would deflect like that as a result of infloor heat.


@ February 22, 2014 10:15 AM in how prevalent is this?

I had to chuckle that he posted this to support his notion that chlorine kills all legionella.
The article clearly proves the opposite.
Even though a good dose of legionella is exactly what the man with the mustache deserves, I feel for his family and sheep.


@ February 22, 2014 12:10 AM in Scott's radiant heating project

That's the smartest thing you have posted so far... and you have made some good posts.

Burden of proof

@ February 22, 2014 12:08 AM in Help!! staple-up insulation foil myth

I would simply ask the buyers inspector to provide any evidence to support his claim.
Obviously the evidence would have to come from a third party agency, not the manufacture. He can't. It is his misinformed opinion.
You could get the system up to temp on a cold day and ask him to verify the performance.
If you have to satisfy the buyer to get this done. You can buy the foil and apply it to the insulation with 3M spay adhesive. Not a great job, but easier than hauling all the insulation out and buying new.

Respectfully disagree

@ February 22, 2014 12:02 AM in Scott's radiant heating project

The new buyer is not likely to consider the warranty issue.
The new buyer would have to pay significantly more to have a boiler installed than your cost for parts.
I would replace the boiler and give potential buyers nothing to balk about.


@ February 21, 2014 1:15 AM in Soundproofing a boiler room

Jamie makes some excellent points.
I would add that anything mechanical (boiler,circulators, ect) that is fastened to the framing of the building need special attention in the form of isolating mounting hardware.
You are on the right in your quest for a silent heating system.

Yuk Yuk

@ February 20, 2014 5:35 PM in Scott's radiant heating project

I would be sizing the panel radiators for 130 to 140 degrees on your design day . I would also use outdoor reset. This will allow the condensing boiler to condense all the time. You generally need a return water temp around 135 to get the boiler in condensing mode.

Your existing boiler is likely running a net efficiency of about 50%. Partly because it is an oversized single stage and partly because of the massive amount of heat loss out the vent.The new boiler should get you in the 90% range.

It is hard to find a boiler that small. I really like the triangle tube and lochivar with the firetube design, even though they don't get down that small, they will modulate 4or 5 to 1. You may end up needing a buffer tank on a system that small.



@ February 20, 2014 4:49 PM in Scott's radiant heating project

You will understand the pipe sizing thing once you get the book.
Trv's will not balance your flow, they will make the rooms heat more evenly. Again the book will explain.
You could hide the pex tubing inside an oversized wood baseboard or crown molding. I hate to see it outside the heating envelope.
R2D2 is cute. You would save about 40% with properly sized panel radiator and a condensing boiler. Take that cute little guy and plant him in the front yard!
Be sure to stock up on Tylenol, Modern Hydronic Heating may make your head hurt.


@ February 20, 2014 3:23 PM in Scott's radiant heating project

Good call on the book.
A home run or reverse return system is going to be much easier to balance.
I would not even consider copper especially on a remodel. You can run hepex or pex-al-pex cheaper and easier.In a homerun system you would likely use 1/2"  or even 3/8" lines. Maybe you could hide the behind a baseboard.
You should replace the boiler especially if you are selling the home. That 50 year old R2D2 unit is going to cost you much more than $5k once the home inspector makes his report. A new high efficient heat system is a great selling point.



@ February 20, 2014 11:13 AM in Cost to heat different temps?

A condensing boiler will run most efficiently at lower water temps. You will also have less heatloss through piping and venting at lower temps.

The  goal of you your ODR is to run the boiler at the lowest temp possible. This can be accomplished looking at the output of your baseboards at different water temps and matching that to the heat loss of the home at the same outdoor temps.

As soon as you put a temperature setback in the equation, you have to raise the boiler water temp so that the boiler is putting out enough energy to increase the temp in the home rather than just  maintaining. This reduces the efficiency of the boiler.

Short term setbacks will not save energy and should only be used if comfort is the goal.
Set it and forget it.



@ February 20, 2014 12:16 AM in Looking for book recommendations!

You are looking for Modern Hydronic Heating. It has enough formulas to make your eyes glaze over.  If you want to take it one step further, John is doing a 10 week online course that follows the book.
I would also second the recommendation on Ihydronics.
John Barba at Taco's "Flow Pro University" has some great free courses.


@ February 19, 2014 2:32 PM in Aquastat

There are many types of aquastat that will work. Here is a common one that will strap on the pipe.

Keep in mind that an aquastat is just a switch. It does not provide power. As long as it is rated for the voltage and amperage you are using, it will work.



@ February 19, 2014 2:17 PM in Alpine Gas Boiler Venting Problem

The 12" number should be considered a bare minimum, get much more separation if you can. You should also check the manufactures drawing and be sure that all other clearances on the exterior of the building  are being observed. It sounds like you have a cross contamination between the exhaust and intake which is a very bad thing. Post a picture if you are unsure.

The boiler will burn a bit differently with the door open verses closed. Unless you have a very long combustion air run, I do not think the flame would go from blue to orange. Your installer should have performed a combustion analysis on the boiler when they started it up. The should have a printout to prove it. This assures that the boiler is tuned for peak performance and is helpful for warranty and troubleshooting issue down the road.
Insist on a combustion analysis.

Hopefully, when you resolve the first 2 problems the smell will go away. The boiler should not smell.



@ February 18, 2014 12:43 AM in Short Cycling of heating...

Is the boiler cycling several times an hour or is the t-stat calling several times an hour?
What type of radiators?
What type of t-stat?

Do the math

@ February 17, 2014 10:06 AM in is it worth converting from oil to propane ?

Use this spreadsheet to get your answer.
Who knows, maybe electric would be cheaper


@ February 16, 2014 8:32 AM in Which of these two setbacks is more economical?

Why do you want to change the heating curve?Do the heat loss characteristics of the building change at night?
Why not just leave the t-stat and curve alone? That would  be efficient.


@ February 15, 2014 5:09 PM in Combustion analysis results question

Are the burners clean?
How is the manifold pressure?
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