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Has Anyone Else Run Into This

CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
I was really disappointed today concering a certain radiant manufacturer. I had my best customer today send me an e-mail concerning a job that we had previously spoke about that we were called upon to quote.

He went to the job and the customer already had  a certain manufacture design the radiant layout. The warm board and tubing were installed. After leaving the job and then calling me I told him to ask the homeowner to e-mail him all the specs and heat loss that he was given by the radiant manufacture so we could size a boiler and I could give him manifolds, etc. I really needed the loss so I could size a boiler. The customer wanted to use a mod/con that modulate between 55,000 and 199,00 btus and the radiant manufacture was aware of this. I questions the boiler size do to the application compared to the sqft of the home.

After getting the specs done by the manufacturer I started scratching my head. Why?  There was no heat loss. Just a layout for the tubing with loop lengths, manifolds and zones. So, as diligent as I am,  there was a 800 number and the person at this manufacturer who did the layout with a job number. So I called. I spoke with the person that went out to the job. I figured I would get the heat loss from the source vs getting it from the homeowner.

Well was I surprised. I explained to this person who I was, why I was calling, gave him the job number. He pulled it up and new the job to the tee. So I told him, the only info I received was what I spoke of above and that I needed the heat loss to size the boiler for the job...He states......WE DID NOT DO A HEAT LOSS. WE JUST DID THE LAYOUT. Now, the print provided has no spacing of the tubing so of course my next question was. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE APPROPRIATE CENTERS FOR THE JOB AND APPROPRIATE WATER TEMPS REQUIRED. His anwser...OUR WARMBOARD WILL PUT OUT WITH BETWEEN 90 AND 110 DEGREE WATER 25 TO 30 BTU'S A SQFT. I said. That's nice, but what if that out-put is not enough to overcome the heat loss. He states....THAT IS NOT OUR RESPONSIBILITY WE ONLY DO LAYOUTS. So, my next question is.....What is the floor surface temp for this job if you didn't do a heat loss? His response...FLOOR SURFACE TEMPS WILL BE BETWEEN 74 AND 85 DEGREES. Now I am shaking my head...The floor surfaces for this job are tile and bamboo. I hang up the phone because I'm not getting anywhere with these guys and I am disgusted.

This company is a member of the Radiant Panel Association, National Association of Home Builders, US Green Building Council and other associations.  How does a radiant company this big just toss out the basic fundementals of radiant heat to the wolves. Seems like they are more interested in selling product and leaving someone else to hold the bag if a system like this does not work. So I write this open letter.

Dear Mr Warmboard,

Can you please send me some software so I can calculate this poor homeowners heat loss. I need to do your job and figure out for him what water temps he needs with your product at 12" on center based on the the heat loss of the rooms your product is installed. That is the least you could do since you do not have the technical expertise in heat loss calculation but you do have the technical expertise in doing design layouts. By the way, That boiler you recommended to the homeowner...It's a little to big...But how would you know. You didn't do a heat loss...But you knew how to recommend the boiler.

That's how we got the call to look at this job...You recommended the boiler to the homeowner, the homeowner contacted them and inturn he got our name...By the way I think 199,000 btus in a radiant application is a little to big for a house of 4,500 sqft...You might ask how I came up with that....From you.....House is all radiant.....4,5000 sqft times the 30 btu's a sqft (that's what you told me your product max btu ouput is) = 135,000 btus....

PS. Be prepared for a phone call from one angry homeowner. We are stating on our quote that we do not guarantee that the radiant heat will heat the space to overcome the required heat loss of the structure. But don't worry we will help this guy out if you have to go back a 3 or 4  times over the heat season to balance it out. We just had to put the same disclaimer as you.
"The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."


  • eComfortUSA
    eComfortUSA Member Posts: 11
    Heat Loss

    Hello Cris.

    Go to the [url=http://www.wattsradiant.com/professional/radiantworks.asp]http://www.wattsradiant.com/professional/radiantworks.asp

    Watts Radiant have good software and if you will register it will give you a key to activate, software very simple, free and useful

  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
    I have software

    Could calculate in on paper also..What I need from that manufacturer is the output that that product is going to give me at xxx number of degrees at design temp. I don't think it is fair that a radiant manufacturer sells the homeowner the product direct and then leaves it up the contractor to try and figure out whether it is going to work based on the heat loss and floor coverings.

    This does 2 things...The first, the homeowner is under the impression that this company did everything for him so it should work. Secondly, When we put a disclaimer in the quote it makes us look like we don't know what we are doing when in fact we do and are just protecting ourselves from an issue that may be caused by the radiant mfg not doing a heat-loss prior to designing a layout.

    It's basic hydronic fundemental 101. DO A HEAT LOSS.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • Bucko
    Bucko Member Posts: 11

    I have had the same issue. They do a great layout thogh don't they. If I get that same data I am asking for I will let you know.  Watts did help me and seemed to have that info.  Just would rather get it for the maker they must have it.  We ended up needing suplimental heat.
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
    What Do You Think of This?

    I think I have come up with a way to overcome the lack of a heat loss being done on this project with the design and tubing already layed out. Would like some input of you thoughts to this. I am going to do a heat loss but use this formula to give myself a starting water temp as I do not have nor does this mfg have software on their web site for me to use.

    The manufacture states that the max btu output of their product will put out 30btus a sqft at 110 degree water. So I'm going to try this.

    Ti-To = xx times R-Value = Btu's sqft.

    Ti equals the 110 degree water temp the manufacture states their product will put out. To equals the surface temp I want. R-value equals the r-value of the finished floor.

    Let's say my room is 300 sqft. The heat loss is 5,000 btu. Here is what I would come up with by the formula I have come up with.

    110 degree water temp minus 75 degree surface temp = 35 times .72 (r-value of bamboo floor) = 25.2 btus sqft times 300 = 7,560 btu's the floor will put out at my design temp. So it's too much so I plug in 100 degree water into the formula and do the math and come up with 5,400 btu's. This gives me a starting point for the room.

    I'll do this throughout the house. My biggest problem is that this manufacture has some really uneven loop lengths across the 3 manifolds. I mean some loops 150 and others 250 across each manifold. I'm afraid that if I don't get close this job will be a balancing nightmare and very uncomfotable and non efficicent for the customer. We usually add in the price of the job for 3 callbacks to tweak out the system through the 1st heating season and make the customer aware that it takes a full heating season to really tweak it out. Everyone has a different way of living and comfort level. I'm afraid with this job it may end up being quite a more visits if we don't get close on the loss from the start and get my flow rates in order to balance the manifolds out.

    Does anyone feel that this formula won't work or have you come up with a better one when you have run into a job like this.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • Bucko
    Bucko Member Posts: 11

    I believe because of a hard surface instead of carpet delivering 30 btus that manufacuar claim should be acheivable. I am no help with the math, i am sure someone will be.  One option to look at with your circiut legth issue would be to use a true balancing manifold. I have used Watts Stainless and re-hau pro balance. They are worth there weight in gold. They have visual flow indicators on each cirut. This allows even flow thru each circut and could help in return trip. They are not cheap but neither is a service call and sceptical customer.  I would also consider a tighter delta ( slightly over pump) to balace return water temps. Thease thing give me an even floor temp.  Be careful of expensive hardwood.  concider using a t-stat with floor sensor for max floor heat.    Sorry about the bold font I don't know what button I hit.
  • NRT_Rob
    NRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,013
    time to take a deep breath

    First off, Warmboard doesn't usually recommend boiler sizes. If someone over there did that I would be very surprised.

    Second, They don't do heat load calcs and they don't design full systems: and they put this on their drawings, their emails and more. If it got to final drawing and someone didn't know that yet, they weren't reading very closely. I'm not sure what else they could do to make it clear that someone else is supposed to do all that work: they just draw warmboard panel layouts to accepted rules of thumb out there.

    It's not how I would do it either, but they don't make any claims to be doing anything else.

    Third, they have output charts available. You might find it helpful to use them when you do the design.

    Basically, warmboard is a panel sales company, not a radiant design company.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
    edited August 2009
    Some of your comments

    are not true in this fact. I called warmboard with the job name and number. I spoke to the actual person that was on this job. Warmboard should be ashamed of how they handled this job and the radiant panel assoication should boot them.

    They did no heat loss. Period. Here is where I have a problem and anyone with any experience in radiant would have picked this out. Across the south side of this home that sits on a lake is 960 sqft. This consists of an open area consisting of a living room, kitchen and dining room with a load of glass. For starters, no radiant installer in his right mind would design any system for this area without a heat loss. Why? This type  of areas requires some type of set point control with floor sensors. Mr Warmboard states that there board (and this comes from them) will put out 30 btu's sqft feet at 110 degree water. We have to take out 60 sqft of island and cabinet area so that leaves us with 900 sqft. So they are telling me I will get 27,000 btus out of that floor at 110 degrees. The HEAT LOSS of that area is 15,000...NOW WHAT! I ran this area through wirsbo's program and used a suspended panel and litghtweight pour as this was as close as I could get for 12" cc that warmboard says this job is.  I come up with 120 degree water temp giving me a 76 degree surface temp to overcome the heat loss. Here's the other thing that blows my mind. I would have even loops thought this floor. Warmboards design has loop lenghts all over the place. Makes no sense for a room 12"cc should be even loop lengths.  I could go on and on after doing this heat loss and I would be more than happy to share the loss, the plan of the house and warmboards design. I have all of them in PDF format. This is a joke. They prey on sales. Do crappy designs. Yes they recommended a boiler. The stupid rep I was talking to even asked me if I needed a boiler recommendation for this job. I told him no thank you becuase a boiler that will producr 199,000 btu's is enough to do this house and the house next door.

    Companies that do business like this do not have the radiant industries best interest in their stable only their own.

    I;ve been doing radiant since 1989 and have never been so appauled.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,491

    I urge you to tone down the nastiness and the insults. Disagree, sure, and state your case, but please do it in an adult way. And please read the rules again.

    Thank you. 
    Retired and loving it.
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086

    I took a step back and re-read the post you commented on. While I will respect your wishes I don not see the remarks in your post in mine. I did state my facts and my opinion. And I'm going to assume you are responsding to my comment that the rep was stupid and that the RPA should boot these guys and I still feel that way. You represent this industry as a man of knowledge and know how. Your articles in numerous industry magazines prove that. I'm sorry but just like you have a right to express yourself and your beliefs I have the right to express mine. If you choose to sensor because of pressure or for any other reason I have no control over that. I did not name the person I spoke with.  I only indentified the company and I feel that the guys that come here should be aware of the lack of respect they have for radiant hydronics as a science not as a sales tool and the consumer. The whole radiant industry should be aware. We are all here for the common goal of professional installation, profession design and professional product. I stated the facts in my post and my opinion. While I do not think you implied this, your wording came over as a threat and I find that very disturbing.

    Best Regards,
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,491

    there is no pressure on me from anyone. I'm reacting to your behavior. You're calling people names. Read the rules. Treat others with the same respect you would expect from them. Make your case without trashing people. No name-calling.

    Think you can you do that, Chris?
    Retired and loving it.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    Gross over reaction

    Chris, This is obviously your first experience with WB. Having dealt with them since their introduction to the market, and having used their product extensively in extreme conditions, I can assure you that there are few products on the market that even come close to matching their performance.

    As Rob stated, the end user would have to be blind to not see all the caveats on their drawings. The performance of their product is such that it can cover most heat loss requirements in general construction from the 1970's to today.

    As for loop length, if you look at their drawings, you will note the use of FLOW METERS with the ability to balance flow to individual loops to guarantee performance.

    Your words are bordering dangerously close to slander, and I guarantee you, their lawyers are bigger than yours. It is not worth it.

    As for having them booted from the RPA, the RPA does not require ANY standards of performance in order to be a member. If they did, every internet peddler of plastic tubing that is flying the RPA banner would be banned, and most of the run of the mill members would be banned for never having performed a heat loss calculation.

    I think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. WB is in business for one reason, and that reason is to sell WB, and they do a wonderful job at that. Their documentation, while possibly not "perfect", far exceeds the talents and capabilites of most of their competition.

    Here is the key. If YOU get involved with them EARLY in the design process, they will design the panel layout to YOUR specifications. Wherever YOU want manifold stations to be located, they will place them on the drawings. You can even tell them what your minimum/maximum tube circuit lengths you want where. They are an EXTREMELY good company to deal with. Do they ever make mistakes? Heck yes, we (you included) all do. It's not a matter of IF you make mistakes as much as it is a matter of WHEN you make a mistake, and WHAT your reaction to that mistake is. In my professional opinion, WB is THE BEST engineered panel manufacturer available to date. Most others are knock off's and wanna be's.

    As for oversizing the boiler, if the boiler is doing DHW as well as space heat, 200K is NOT oversized for a compounded (2 showers at once, possibly 3) load is NOT oversized, and if the boiler is a mod con, it WILL modulate to whatever the REAL time space heating load is, which I guarantee you is NOT anywhere NEAR what you've calculated it to be.

    The reality of the situation is this. You got called in after the fact to finish a physical plant installation. You got dropped into a situation that is less than ideal, and are not comfortable stepping into the middle of someone else's shoes that appear to be covered with mud, because it will be YOU that leaves tracks. Cover your tracks with enough release wording in your contractual proposal if it makes you feel more comfortable, but I assure you, WB has been around for about as long as you have, and they DO know what they are doing when it comes to delivering warmth to a given space. And they DO have a performance output chart for their product that shows what temperatures are needed to overcome given resistance values within reason.

    Remember, think before you speak (or write) especially if it is on the internet, because once it is out there, it is out there to stay, for EVER.

    Work with them, and they'll work FOR you. Work AGAINST them, and no one wins.

    Get over it, move on and keep on doing what you are comfortable doing.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • TonyS
    TonyS Member Posts: 849

    Look at the low water temps and the btu output of this stuff. Consider yourself fortunate to walk into a job and work with something you haven't used before. After reading these post I went to the warmboard site and reviewed their info, I have to say I am impressed with the low water temps. These temps are what is crucial for Geo and solar units. Be thankful it takes someone with your knowledge to finish the job and that the Warmboard people don't do heat loss calcs and more or you may have not even gotten the job. When your finished with the job tell us what you thought about it..
  • Wayco Wayne_2
    Wayco Wayne_2 Member Posts: 2,479
    Have you done a Manual J?

    You could take the worry out of the equation by just doing a manual J. When you know the heat loss you can divide by the sq ft of the rooms and get your btu's per sq ft. Line that up with the output charts for warmboard and fill out your knowledge of water temps and stuff, and voila, you're covered. For mod cons I always size to the heat loss and if extra domestic hot water is also needed I increase the size to the domestic tank storage, not size of boiler. I prefer to maximize by boiler performance by keeping my throttling range low.  I have the Wrightsoft drawing Man J program. I can draw a blueprint and drop in windows and doors and while I'm having fun drawing it does a heat loss/gain for me. Neeto torpedo. 
  • NRT_Rob
    NRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,013
    you didn't read my post

    I never claimed they did heat load calcs. re-read what I wrote. they do not design radiant systems, just panel and tubing layouts. I'm not sure what they do for "boiler recommendations", since they don't do heat loads, and in the many dozens of warmboard projects I've been involved with I've never heard one offer an opinion on boiler sizing, but if they are giving boiler recommendations without heat loads, I suggest you talk to paul at warmboard about it: he's the tech services leader, and he'd definitely want to know about that.

    their tubing layouts assume your manifold has balancing capabilities, as almost all of them do these days. with that, even lengths are a waste of time and effort to design for. I never even think about even loop lengths, it's just not important. it's much, much more important to isolate major rooms on their own loops.... and warmboard doesn't always do that either.

    I'm not saying I LIKE their tubing layouts. But then, if you design for even loop lengths, I wouldn't like yours either probably. I wouldn't come here and bash you for it though.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
This discussion has been closed.