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How do you approach a common issue, at least for me, in the field?

KCA_2 Member Posts: 308
Hi all....

Here's the scenario...

Called to figure out some problem on a radiant system.
The system is a atmospheric boiler, no temperature mitigation control for radiant. Side arm set at 140° and boiler set at 160 or so...
The owner is happy with the system other than for the cycling issue he called me out for....
So there is 160° water flowing through the floor tubes, Domestic hot water must take a long time to be produced... actually, he has a 50 gallon electric water heater tied in to help.
So I attempted to explain all the issues but if the guy is happy, at what point do you just say.... enjoy, and walk away... he's also an friendly acquaintance....
A repair might cost $15,000 ish... And when it's all over , it may work no better because there's no saying how many tubes are in the floor. I hope you understand my conundrum .
Thank you all
:-) Ken


  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    I would walk away.. to spend a large amount of money and fix nothing, the customer may at some point feel your doing him an injustice. It's not always possible to fix the work of others but you end up responsible..
  • newagedawn
    newagedawn Member Posts: 586
    bro, we dont discuss pricing on here, 15000 for a tempering valve, you will be in business for a long time,lol
    "The bitter taste of a poor install lasts far longer than the JOY of the lowest price"
  • KCA_2
    KCA_2 Member Posts: 308
    If you thought I was discussing pricing then you missed what the question was really aimed at. It's more of a morals question than it is a pricing question. But nonetheless I appreciate your input.
    :-) Ken
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 21,862
    What was the complaint they called about?

    I would just explain the current accepted industry practices, offer options for an upgrade. Maybe put it in writing so all parties have a record of your suggestions.

    I'd avoid any band aid fixes that would not "make it right"

    I've been to a handful of 160- 180° direct boiler to slab systems installed in the 1950 and 60's. They certainly put out some heat :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • ScottSecor
    ScottSecor Member Posts: 843
    I'd suggest leaving it alone and suggest the customer starts saving up for a new system (why would you want to put fertilizer on a weed as my father used to say). That advise alone may put you first inline when it comes time to upgrade. It has worked for us many times as the customer does not feel they were pushed into something they possibly could not afford at the moment.

    I would certainly mention that he could save some serious money in the long run with more efficient system. Might want to mention payback too if it's relevant.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,928
    Tough one. We all would like to see things done "right" -- using the best current practices -- every time. And it is quite possible, even likely, that your client is one of those as well. However, it is also possible that your client is, quite honestly, simply not able to afford to do that. Even though they may not say so openly, one must be rather careful to put them into the position of having to admit that to themselves. That is not a comfortable admission to make!

    It's all very well to talk about payback -- spend x thousand now, and you'll recover the money in y years -- if the client is in a position where they can raise x. They may not be.

    So... what do you do? Perhaps with some thought and ingenuity one might be able to come up with something which is much less costly and, while not state of the art, will accomplish some good. If the complaint is short cycling, perhaps a simple mixing valve and a buffer tank could go a long way, for example.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • KCA_2
    KCA_2 Member Posts: 308
    I very much appreciate all the answers to the question. The original call was for short cycling.

    I agree a tempering valve would probably be the thing to do fairly inexpensive then make a list with some ballpark estimate. That's probably the best thing.

    Sometimes you just get overwhelmed with the lack of thought that goes into some of these installations.
    :-) Ken
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,329
    Why not just put another circ and a couple of 3 way valves. Keep the boiler hot enough for dhw and limit the radiant to 120
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,543
    Reducing the temp to the floor will reduce the output and make the short cycling worse. Unless you think they are game for a buffer tank, I would suggest leaving it alone.
    Sometimes the only real fix is a do over.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    Kenny, the best you can do is to clearly (in writing) spell out the deficiencies, and explain the option and the benefits of your recommendations. If he chooses to NOT take your advice, then it is what it is. If he doesn't take your recommendations to heart, then explain what else is going to happen (boiler replacement, etc) based on your years of experience.

    I guess you missed the Holohan seminar on why you shouldn't work for your friends, or the church :wink:

    Do that and then you will have done the right thing. If he decides not to take your advice, he will eventually be out a LOT of money.

    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.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,928
    I agree with @Mark Eatherton -- but may I add the hardest part: try to do this is such a way that you do not make them feel ashamed or degraded for not being able to make the investment (that is, assuming that they are genuinely not able to, and not just being cheapskates -- it can be hard to tell). If you do that, then when and if they are able to come up with the money, they will think of you positively.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 839
    edited June 2018
    I would explain what is wrong with the system in my opinion, what is involved to fix it, prepare proposal with phone number on it and then walk away.