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Mike T., Swampeast MO

Mike T., Swampeast MO

Joined on June 25, 2002

Last Post on November 6, 2008

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Current System

@ September 10, 2007 7:01 PM in Will a four way valve -

FUBAR sorry...

@ September 10, 2007 6:59 PM in Will a four way valve -

EGADS! Presuming "typical" baseboard that boiler can put out about 3x more than the baseboard can emit!!! Reset and a 4-way valve to "protect" the presumed standard boiler [might] help with the comfort problem, but can you say, "HIDEOUS SHORT-CYCLING"? To borrow from NRT.rob you MIGHT be able to use a "low-loss header like device" with the BIG--and I DO MEAN BIG--buffer tank in series connected on the boiler side and isolated from the emitters but again presuming a conventional boiler such would turn the [presumed conventional] boiler into the biggest and most efficient emitter straight up the flue! I hate to say this but if the electric is "ultra-low" why not use such on the first floor as well?

@ September 10, 2007 5:14 PM in I need some 3\" ABS fittings (hr)

Here's an on-line source Checked my small stash of ABS (from an long-ago auction) and have only 1 vent el in 3".

@ September 10, 2007 11:42 AM in torpedo level

How about this level plus an accessory Super-V Magnetic Base? p.s. This looks to be the same "ultra-rugged" torpedo level in my first reply combined with a laser.

@ September 10, 2007 11:33 AM in torpedo level

While it doesn't screw on to the pipe, here's a magnetic laser level with "V" groove on the bottom for using on pipes.

@ September 10, 2007 11:28 AM in torpedo level

This might suit the bill for the torpedo level. Checkpoint 305 Mega-Mag Torpedo Level I've never heard of a laser level that will screw on to pipes, but am looking.

@ September 7, 2007 9:41 PM in An open invitation to write a Hot Tech Topic (Dan H.)

Give me a week or so and I'd like to share a design for an extremely low-load but quite traditional appearing home in a quite brutal climate. Forced me to re-think a LOT regarding what I thought I "knew". While currently a highly unusual system, I believe that we'll be encountering similar more and more often in the coming years.

@ September 7, 2007 9:32 PM in beginner lessons

Sounds to me like you already have good background knowledge of both HVAC systems and their controls. Personally, I'd dive right into a book like Modern Hydronic Heating by John Siegenthaler (Particularly good value when used I might add.) It might seem a bit overwhelming and technical at first but John's style is quite understandable. Keep reading and re-reading as necessary and most imporantly work through the math even creating your own "problems" and you'll be quite well rewarded.

@ September 7, 2007 7:08 PM in Sad news from Maine

Oh no. I never met him, but we had spoken personally. Seemed to be a fine man. My greatest sympathy to his widow.

@ September 6, 2007 6:01 PM in Changing steam radiators to hot water

Georg: Steamhead is very right that the rads can leak as well. The ONLY "salvage" rad I ever bought that leaked (weeping at numerous lower nipples at 20# or so of pressure) had come from a steam system. When the steam in a rad often condenses in the presense of "air" that contains carbon dioxide, a small amount of carbonic acid is produced. Combined with the natural oxidation of the iron from the oxygen in air, steam rads tend to corrode faster than water rads. While it may take many more decades for a leak to occur with steam, the 12X or so higher pressure of hot water systems can cause leaks MUCH faster... Proceed with caution. Particularly since you [appear] to have an original vapor system, I'd really suggest you do everything possible to find a good steam man to get your system in top-notch shape. While residential steam can NEVER approach the efficiency of a mod-con properly installed into a well-suited system the very nature of steam has some efficiency advantages above "traditional" hot water systems. If your boiler is an ancient thing converted from solid fuel (quite common) and oil is your fuel, then give highest consideration to the Burnham "Mega-Steam". Properly installed into a system in good order it will operate at nearly the physical efficiency limit for residential steam.

@ September 5, 2007 7:01 PM in Extremely Low-Load House

The high (40F+) delta-t appears only in the boiler even though I'm absolutely positive that differential pressure bypass is closed and there is significant flow in the system. The temperature in the huge supply mains stays effectively constant. This only happens when the load on the system is less than half of the "buffer" capacity. (Again, you have to grant me that huge mains are essentially the same as a series-connected buffer in a constantly circulating, fully TRVd system.) Back to the system in question: The LOWEST mod-con ouput I can find is from the W-M Ultra, but such is STILL significantly greater than the maintenance load I expect to see at design (-20F) conditions. I've stressed to the homowner that his TRV settings should be mainly "set and forget". NO use of daily setback with only unoccupied rooms set back as low as they find practical.

@ September 5, 2007 6:30 PM in painting

NEVER use latex paint on bare cast iron! Provided the existing coating is in good shape, latex can be used. You can switch ONE TIME between oil and latex. Once you've put latex over oil you must continue to use latex.

@ September 5, 2007 6:28 PM in ODR with fireplace

TRVs get along very well with other heat sources. Remember that one of the best virtues of TRVs is their ability to deal with solar gain. The sun is a heat source... With constant circulation, TRVs and reset the boiler will fire to meet the current reset target. As TRVs throttle down (or even close) the load on the system will be reduced and while the boiler will still fire to target it will take less and less boiler energy to meet the target. Unless your home was very carefully designed to allow a single fireplace to heat the entire place fairly evenly, your radiators in rooms not close to the fireplace will still require heat unless you intentionally set the TRVs low. If you're using a conventional thermostat as a "master" DO NOT locate it in a space that receives much heat from the fireplace unless you FULLY expect that the fireplace can heat the ENTIRE home!! Presuming you're using a mod-con (generally the heat source of choice for such a system) you might want to include a thermostat-like device located in the space with the fireplace as an "external disable" control. Set such slightly higher than your desired room temperature and with the fireplace "cooking" it will shut down the entire system. Do this ONLY if you are 100% absolutely positively certain that freeze-up anywhere in the system in any weather conditions is impossible! Should you do this you must accept the possibility of significantly lower room temps in spaces not well-heated by the fireplace.

@ September 5, 2007 5:54 PM in \"M\" in MBH

Yes, it's from Roman numerals where "M" = 1,000 "M" is still used in printing as well.

@ September 4, 2007 10:48 PM in Extremely Low-Load House

Homeowner's previous house in northern PA USED a geothermal heat pump. Wife watched the indicators and found "lots" of pure electric resistance backup. Cannot comment about the system--ONLY the homeowner observation...

@ September 4, 2007 10:37 PM in Extremely Low-Load House

If you'll grant me the contention that huge gravity piping is virtually the same as a series-connected buffer then I can assure and verify that such buffer "disappears" in a TRVd constant circulation system once the heat requirement is less than about 50% of minimum modulation. And that's when my Vitodens operates with 40+F differential temperature. (Remember that the Vitodens 200 does NOT have a fixed differential--the control does its best to adapt the differential to best suit the system to which it's connected.)

@ September 4, 2007 9:29 PM in Extremely Low-Load House

Rob, I'm not trying to duck your questions, but I'm so far into theory regarding actual heat requirement vs. calculated heat loss as modified by human comfort desires that I can only give Billy Joel's best words: "You may be right. I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you're lookin' for. Turn out the lights--don't try to save me. You may be wrong, for all I know but you may be right." Something tells me the Catholic church had such things in mind when they gave him an honorary doctorate degree in "good letters" (or something like that) even after "...don't make me wait.. Catholic girls start much too late..." It's often fun to be an inegmatic dichotomy--JUST LIKE ENERGY TRANSFER VIA RADIATION.

@ September 4, 2007 9:16 PM in Extremely Low-Load House

I'm in this project at the very end. Specifying the space/DHW heating system based on info provided to me. Architecturally designed with significant homeowner input. Homeowner found me at "The Wall" and as best I can tell was at near wits end with nobody near him really comprehending his requested method of heat (TRVs with true constant circulation) or being able to identify a "proper" heat source--or even emitters--given the extremely low losses. At least one pro told homeowner that it was "impossible" to have a house that size in that area with that low of a heat loss. I haven't asked, but homeowner appears to be acting as his own GC with the project ongoing for more than a year. He reports "obsessive" attention to detail regarding infiltration. When I asked if the doubled 2x6 exterior walls were installed without thermal bridges, his reply was "pretty much". At that point I knew he was rather like me--utterly "perfect" plans in his head, but finding that reality required concessions of "close enough". DEFINITELY an HRV (no need for a ERV in a cooling climate with no A/C planned or needed).

@ September 4, 2007 5:42 PM in D.O.E. or I.B.R ??

If: 1) You have calculated loss using Manual-J and 2) The mod-con is installed in a system where you can reasonably expect return temps of 140F or below the vast majority of the time and 3) The mod-con works with either well-adjusted outdoor reset or indoor reset then Not only would I suggest that I=B=R ratings loose relevance, I believe it very safe to choose a mod-con based on the best match between boiler input and heat loss. Do though be wary of old systems with lots of large, uninsulated iron/steel piping in an unheated basement. While there will be almost no "pickup factor" once the well-adjusted mod-con is doing its job, those pipes can put out a LOT of heat. Unless you nicely insulate the piping, I believe it best to add the basement to the heat loss calculation as heated space with the ground floor over conditioned space.

@ September 4, 2007 10:21 AM in Extremely Low-Load House

Just heard from "the Bean" and given three choices of heat source--Bradford-White; Phoenix; mod-con--he chose the Bradford-White.

@ September 4, 2007 9:01 AM in Extremely Low-Load House

Yes, there is definitely an HRV (three outlets) and it is factored in. Mine is the third heat loss calculation. One (specified Manual-J based by a heating contractor) came in at 18mbh. Another (unspecified method by a supply house) came in at 28 mbh. He has not mentioned solar at all. My only mention is that it is not well-suited for passive solar gain. Porches completely cover the N, E & S sides and the long sides of the rectangular footprint face E & W. Very little southern glass--none on the ground floor save the in the good-sized enclosed entry (unheated) built external to the shell. The exterior walls are complete but the attic is not yet insulated. They're already having nights in the low 40s. His wife told me that it's perfectly comfortable and windows are routinely opened. Windy, exposed location. Wife reports "not even a hint of a draft" and almost deathly quiet inside. Were construction not so far along and time so tight, I may well have suggested that your modern gravity radiant walls be "borrowed"--even if it didn't include the solar drive. As is, I'm trying for the next best thing. Well-heated "ribbons" hanging on the walls... Their heating season runs from September through May. Based on their average temps, I suspect it will be passive from late April through early October.

@ September 3, 2007 9:36 PM in Extremely Low-Load House

Very interesting... I have the highest respect for "the Bean" and will only say that this system will do essentially the same thing with one "plain-Jane" device instead of three.
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