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balancing valves for a custom made hwh manifold construction
I took on a large heating renovation project for friends and ran into a problem I could use some help with. I built my own set of manifolds from scratch for a new hot water heating system for a large 3 story house with a renovated basement, and I left out the balancing valves and flow meters for each zoned manifold. I need to know how to balance the system, and install whatever I need to install on the manifolds I constructed.
I’m doing the job for a couple who live in this house which is mostly unoccupied since their children grew up and left the house. They have reached the point where the cost of oil was too much for them to sustain if they are going to keep the house, so the decision was made to replace the entire steam based heating system with a hot water heating system, where energy and money could be saved by controlling the floors of the house with zone valves.
I replaced the old oil fueled steam boiler with a 210 kbtu gas boiler and converted it into a hot water boiler. The size of the house was so large that multiple circuits were installed for each floor, so that the first floor and second floor each have their own manifold controlled by its own zone valve. The third floor and the basement share the third manifold controlled by a zone valve and the fourth manifold is connected to 3 kickspace heaters mounted inside the fireplaces of the house. The following diagram is the installation of the supply and return manifolds for the system, along with a photo of the actual construction of the supply manifold.
The piping that connects to each supply manifold is 1” which is smaller than the 1-1/4” piping that connects the return manifolds. Each manifold has a 1” trunk with four ½” pex connections and one ¾” pex connection. The zone valves have a ¾” opening, so I had to use 1” to ¾” adapters to fit the zone valves. I think this means that the supply manifold is smaller and therefore has more resistance than the return manifold.
After firing up the boiler and bleeding the air out of the system, I noticed that the kickspace heaters which were closest to the main supply line got most of heat but the baseboard heaters of the first and second floors at the top of the manifold construction got little or no heat. The return manifold is much hotter than the supply manifold, even after I reversed the flow of the circulation pump. I believe that the system is unbalanced since I never installed balancing valves and flow meters for each manifold. I plan to replace the 1” T fittings on the supply manifold with 1-1/4” T fittings to match the return manifold as much as possible. One plumber advised that I replace the T fittings on the manifold construction with monoflow T fittings but that won’t help me make the adjustments needed to make sure each manifold has the proper flow. Am I correct in my conclusion? If I am, do I need a ball valve with a temperature gauge or a flow meter for both the supply and return manifolds of each zone?
Uponor has a ball valve with a built in temperature gauge, but it has a special end connection for their model of manifolds. Since I need sweat connections on my valves, would it be feasible make my own balancing valves for this construction? Any information or links to information that could guide me through this would be greatly appreciated, so I thank you and look forward to hearing from you soon.