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Effectiveness of copper finned tube

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Finned copper made by Kritzer Radiant Coils were used in this mid-century modern house in the Berkeley Hills to heat the joist bays. The new owners have removed the ceiling and have questions as follows:

1) Considering that the finned tubes need air movement and an air space below the fins, how do you insulate?

2) Upstairs is a separate zone than downstairs (radiant tubing in the slab), but as you can imagine, this upstairs system heats both floors. Do you think removing this system and going with a product like Ultra-Fin would be better?

8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab

Comments

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,476
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    I think you would want the element up in the bay, like UltraFin installs. Then a 4" air gap with 4-6" of insulation underneath.

    Just getting rid of those bent nail hangers would be an improvement :)

    On one Ultra Fin job we stapled bubble foil below it a few inches, then they spray foamed against that. It is a good way to seal the joist ends and rim joist with foam.

    The copper tube is certainly a better conducted compared to thicker walled PEX in UF, it would be a quick performer. It's probably UltraFin times 10 with copper and much more fin surface.

    Allow for expansion movement of course.

    You certainly see some unique jobs out there. Those old hippie engineers.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    EdTheHeaterManGGrossJUGHNE
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,839
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    California Dreaming.

    probably built in the 50s with the no plywood subfloor T & G run on a 45
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
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    Hot Rod: Diversity comes in many forms.

    And yes on the better heat transfer of copper.

    EBEBRATT-Ed: What gave it away? "Mid-century modern"? : )

    So, if this were your house, would you leave it alone and cover it up with some ingenious insulation method or remove it all and install something like Ultra-Fin or heat transfer plates?
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
  • Nataliedipaola
    Nataliedipaola Member Posts: 1
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    I’ve brought in 10 companies and known have ever seen this type of radiant heat. I thought it was levitt system, but the last guy said it was a Venturi radiant heat system. Meaning it all
    connects. So the problem is the ceiling was so frozen and busted, as we are fixing it’s spreading the busted pipes as water can move through. We don’t want to take anymore ceilings down, don’t even necessarily want ceiling heat, but it all connects I’m assuming to the pipes in the concrete first floor. When we put the 2 zones on, first and second floor, the water immediately goes to the leak areas, not even sure if the water is moving anywhere else. Kitchen ceiling leaking and second bedroom ceiling. I found some yellow valves. I’m thinking maybe if I find the ones to isolate the leaks, water will stop going to those specific rooms/area and maybe to the concrete floor area without and hear ducts. Companies recommending abandoning it and starting fresh with hydro heat loops in the AC units. Only problem is the first floor with no ducts, would be more invasive or install baseboards or mini splits. We don’t want either. No company really wants to touch it and just says it was luxury in the day but ancient and outdated and once u have busted pipes it’s only time the rest will bust. Feeling torn. Really want the radiant heat but no clue if this is even safe in the end or more  busted pipes to come. 
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,167
    edited July 2023
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    I’ve brought in requested estimates from 10 companies and known have ever seen no one has ever seen this type of radiant heat. I thought it was levitt system, but the last guy said it was a Venturi radiant heat system. Meaning it all
    connects. So the problem is the ceiling was so frozen and busted
    not sure of the design name but there are lots of broken pipes, as we are fixing it’s spreading the busted pipes as water can move through. We don’t want to take anymore ceilings down, don’t even necessarily want ceiling heat, but it all connects I’m assuming to the pipes in the concrete first floor. When we put the 2 zones on, first and second floor, the water immediately goes to the leak areas, not even sure if the water is moving anywhere else. Kitchen ceiling leaking and second bedroom ceiling. I found some yellow valves. I’m thinking maybe if I find the ones to isolate the leaks, water will stop going to those specific rooms/area and maybe to the concrete floor area without and hear ducts without any heating ductwork. Companies recommending abandoning it and starting fresh with hydro heat loops in the AC units. Only problem is the first floor with no ducts, would be more invasive or install baseboards or mini splits. We don’t want either. No company really wants to touch it and just says it was luxury in the day but ancient and outdated and once u have busted pipes it’s only time the rest will bust. Feeling torn. Really want the radiant heat but no clue if this is even safe in the end or more  busted pipes to come. 

    Tough to read this, but I think I got the gist. Still not sure if it is the same job as @Alan (California Radiant) Forbes job that started this discussion. either way, the fact that there are broken pipes involved... My advise is to start over with something more conventional. If you really want radiant heat, then you need to put something in the floor. Maybe adding 1-1/2" gypcrete pour over 3/8" tubing... or electric radiant heat under new tile.

    What is the first floor (the floor with no ductwork) construction type? Slab on grade or in basement? Is it a wood floor over framing as in the photo above? the floor construction will determine the most economical floor heat available.

    Good luck.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?