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New-ish Library lacking insulation

Grallert Member Posts: 540
Not really sure where to ask this but seeing as this space is indirectly heated with steam from my lovely Pacific's I thought I'd start here.
We have a newer addition to the school here. finished around 2000. Over head water loop with drops to convectors low on the perimeter. We had a freeze up last year and while I was repairing the splits in the recessed convector cabinets I discovered two interesting things. First; this was not the first freeze up and spit, maybe not even the second. The other interesting thing I/we found was a lack of insulation in the walls around and near the convectors. In fact no insulation visible with our scope anywhere near the convectors. A bit about the construction. Brick faced block building on a slab. The interior is metal studs and Sheetrock, pretty typical I would guess. No matter where I look in accessible opens using a scope, I can find no insulation.
This is the schools library and one of the "Show Pieces" of the school. So split pipes can't happen any more. Because insulation is on the "important" list I would like to know if there are any secret tricks to determining the presence of insulation. I did take some pictures with my FLIR 1. I'll try to post them.

I did have an insulation company visit us and expect a quote to get the ball rolling. Thanks folks for any insight .


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,432
    Somebody cut some corners at the time of construction! My first reaction is dense pack cellulose, blown in.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,110
    Add insulation.

    Also are there control valves for the convectors? When they close (if you have them) it stops the flow and makes the pipes more suseptable to freezing.

    one answer to that is to have constant circulation of the water for this zone and to possibly install 3 way valves in each convector. not a gauaranteed fix

    Or the best approach, repipe this zone for constant circulation with primary/secondary with a 3 way valve for heat injection loop.

    You did say convectors so I am assuming no outside air into the convectors.

    Just want to make sure we are not talking about classroom unit ventilators with outside air
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 540
    Thanks guys for the replies The circuit is two loops in the ceiling a supply and a return. These are simple convectors no out side air. The zone is set to occupied to keep the pumps moving all the time. I should mention that there is an air handler in this wing also. My suspicion is that the Air handler satisfied the whole zone during a set back/night period. This could have stopped the pumps briefly? Though it would be odd for I think for that to happen. It won't happen any more.
    My sense is that there is now easy way to inspect for insulation other than getting on a ladder into the hung ceiling.
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,110
    If the insulation is poor then constant circulation will be the thing.

    Don't know how it's controlled but there are several methods to prevent freezing