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Suggestions for radiant heated floors upgrades

My house is currently set up with radiant heated floors hydronic in 6 zones throughout the house. Some of the zone controls have gone out as well as the thermostats. I'm looking to upgrade the system in terms of new zone controls to fix the ones that are broken as well as use wifi thermostats. I currently have a 2 wire setup but can re-run new wires for the thermostat. What should I consider in terms of upgrading? Should I just purchase 3 new White-Rodgers zone valves or switch them all out to a new brand? Will they work with a wifi thermostat setup? If I rerun wiring should I do 18/3 or go ahead and do 18/8 even though I currently have a heat-only boiler setup? Thanks, everyone for any insight or help!

Currently have:
2-wire thermostat setup on 6 zones using mercury style thermostats
1361-102 White Rodgers zone valves
Triangle Tube Smart 60 hot water heater
ESC6NI-TH, 113,000 BTU Output Cast Iron Gas Boiler, NG (High Altitude)
Tekmar mixing control 365

Comments

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,029
    I'd certainly pull at least a 5 conductor wire to stats. Any AC in the future?

    Gosh, all sorts of zone valves available, how old are those WR?

    I would get a relay box to wire all the ZV and t-stats to.

    I know Caleffi zone controls and probably other brands newer version s have R, W and C to wire to.

    May as well replace with Caleffi Z-one valves and ZVR relay box :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14
    Not sure how old the WRs are but old enough for one of them to look like a rusty busted battery.
    Zman
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,985
    Does the 365 have the outdoor sensor installed and outdoor reset enabled? Does the boiler have plenty of life left? Does the system presently keep the space at a steady comfortable temp?
    What are you thinking for wifi t-stats?
    The reason for the questions, I wonder if you would be better off upgrading the tekmar and using tekmar products to give you indoor and outdoor reset as well as the wifi capability. They have been in the radiant business a long time and do a better job with radiant than Nest and the others...
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14
    Does the 365 have the outdoor sensor installed and outdoor reset enabled? Not sure but I'll look into that
    Does the boiler have plenty of life left? The boiler was installed in 2012, whats average life span?
    Does the system presently keep the space at a steady comfortable temp? Yes in the zones that are working.
    What are you thinking for wifi t-stats? Ecobee is what I'm leaning towards

    My house is new (to me) and at 7000' and this is my first experience with a boiler and radiant heat, therefore I don't really have anything to compare it to.
  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14







  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14
    Correction I have 7 zones and it looks like I was able to find and trace the outdoor sensor.
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,985
    What you have is a typical Colorado 1990's radiant setup with injection mixing. It is capable of outdoor reset and boiler condensate protection (provided that the boiler sensor is installed on the return).
    I would recommend cleaning up that spaghetti wiring with a zone controller and replacing the zone valve actuators that are original.
    The color of the tubing is a bit grey for my liking. Can you read the printing on the tubing? It might say "Aquapex" or "Hepex"?

    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14
    Tubing states: WIRSBO-hePEX 3/4 IN SDR9 100PSI
    As far as zone controllers would (qty 2) Taco 4 Zone Valve Control Module with Priority - Expandable (ZVC404-EXP-4) be a good option? Will it work with current WR 3/4 zone valves (1361-102) or would I need to replace all 8 valves with Taco 3/4" 2-Way Zone Sentry Valve Normally Closed (Press) (Z075P2-2) ?
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,029
    Yeah the question with older systems is how much time and $$ to spend upgrading. It would be nice to have all new zone valves with relay boxes cleaning up that wiring.
    But money may be better spent with some control upgrades? replacing just the one ZV. Not sure where to start or end.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14
    I understand the $ aspect and would like to have it done once as opposed to temp fix then back at it again in a year or two.
    1. If budget permitted does it make sense to get new ZVs and controls?
    2. If I went with something like Taco ZVs vs replacing with original WR how much more work would be involved?
    3. Anything else that makes sense to change if I'm doing this much work to it?
    4. Is the general consensus to run 18/5 or 18/8 for the thermostat even if it's just heat?
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,985
    1. I would suggest ZV's and controls if you can swing it.
    2. If you can cut and either sweat or press the pipe changing the WR's to something new like the Taco's would be nice.
    3. That grey tone in the tubing is likely the remains of a previous boiler. I would suggest flushing the system with water that meets the boiler manufactures specs and installing a quality dirt/mag sep like the callefi.
    4. 18/5 for the t-stat is plenty.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,948
    18-5 will give you R-hot, C-common, W-heat, Y-yellow AC- G-fan for air handler.
    But if there is ever a chance of 2 stage AC, another wire would be needed. (maybe not in CO).
    But a spare is nice to have at each end.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,029
    More and more ZV brands offer quick and easy zone valve models.
    These union body press connection Caleffi Z-one valves install quickly, and are service friendly.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14
    Thanks for all the input guys! I'm leaning towards replacing the 3 faulty WR valves with the same valves as it would make an easy DIY compared to a complete replacement with Tacos or Caleffi which appears to be more involved. I'm also leaning towards then adding two of the Taco 4 Zone Valve Control Module with Priority - Expandable (ZVC404-EXP-4) to cover the 7 zones. Lastly, I'll add 18/5 wire to accommodate wifi/smart enabled thermostats. Any potential watch-outs I should be aware of if I go this route? Although I'd prefer to do all new valves and a dirt/mag that would all require cutting and soldering which I don't have any experience in.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,029
    Removing the motor from the valve body, push in copper tab, rotate and remove.
    That being said, they can sometimes be stuck and break the valve from the motor, then things get more complicated.

    System needs to be drained, then filled and repurged.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Zman
  • Tim Potter
    Tim Potter Member Posts: 272
    edited November 2020
    my advice, we are at 9000' in Winter Park, CO, do not get rid of your round Honeywell mercury thermostats, they work great, and don't wear out. If you are unhappy with your t-stats, there are radiant specific units you can install. And/or you can really dial in the reset curve. Like @zman pointed out, You may not be happy with the wifi t-stats, def not made or calibrated well for radiant systems from what I read.
    search and read reviews on heating help for info. If you wish to have an away temp (say 55 unoccupied) you can wire up a wifi switch to the unoccupied terminals in the 365. Control by web out of Utah has nice trouble free units that you can control from phone or computer.

    Tim
    Winter Park, CO & Lenexa, KS
  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14
    Thanks again for all the input and help. To be clear if I switched from WR to Taco I'd have to change out the portion circled red in the pictures below? As opposed to just switching out the yellow part if I stick with WR. Which is as easy as just removing some screws, wires, and a clip. If I go Taco conversion I'll have to change out the red part which is ALOT more involved.


  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,029
    Correct, the entire brass body needs to be replaced.
    On the WR, push the tab shown above to remove the motor from the brass. Then switch wires.
    It’s easiest to leave the motor on the plate to get a handhold to twist.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14
    Can I push the tab and change out the wires without doing anything other than turning off the power? I thought if I didn't want to have to drain the system then I could only remove the two screws and replace just the motor?
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,029
    make sure that wheel at the bottom turns around freely, it should spin with just finger pressure. If it doesn't move, or move easily, that will damage the motor.
    Next make sure there are no leaks where the motor plate goes into the brass body. If both pass these test, yes you can replace just the motor.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14
    one of them is rusty and really hard to turn. I guess I'm going to have to see if I can educate myself on how to drain the system to replace that valve.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,029
    Yes, you would be wise to replace them, either all at once or as they fail.
    You have isolation ball valves above them. Maybe a valve on the circulator below them? Should be a fairly easy switch, less than a gallon of water lost.
    Assuming the valves still work?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14
    I added some larger detailed images and image 4706 I labeled the valves, pumps, zones etc. Based on these images do you see an easy way to approach replacing the zone without draining the system? https://dropbox.com/sh/d8xfdw0km9v6o37/AADjoxtYB2cuaVG7576ktyDsa?dl=0
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,985
    It looks like you have plenty of isolation valves so you would only need to drain the manifold and expansion tank and not the whole system.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,029
    valve #19, 19, and the one to the left of the air purger #14. And all the valves above the zone valves. You also have a drain valve to the bottom/ right of all the zone valves. So isolating will be easy. Cutting and replacing the valves, maybe not as easy :)
    I would recommend the press style connection and rent a press tool for the day, if you are going to tackle this.
    A hydronics pro could replace the valves and wire it up neater to a relay box. As an option.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14
    If I just wanted to replace one zone with the same WR and forgo the cutting and pressing with new zones would that be as easy as shutting off the valves you mentioned, draining the line under the valves, and replacing that zone then turning all the valves back on?
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,029

    If I just wanted to replace one zone with the same WR and forgo the cutting and pressing with new zones would that be as easy as shutting off the valves you mentioned, draining the line under the valves, and replacing that zone then turning all the valves back on?

    Yes, you could swap out all the old components with new, leaving the brass valve bodies in place. Assuming the manufacturer has not made any dimension changes and you order the same exact part number. Just buy complete new valves and pilfer the parts, it's usually cheaper than buying separate motor and valve assembly. And you have new brass bodies, should one be damaged.

    The biggest unknown on older systems is IF all the valves will close off tightly. Easy enough to close all the valves mentioned, open that drain a bit and see if flow and pressure drops off quickly.
    Of course you would need to label all the wires, or swap one at a time, so as to not cross any.

    You will lose a small amount of water in the change out, so the fill valve also needs to be in working condition to refill and re-pressurize the system.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • jasonphoto01
    jasonphoto01 Member Posts: 14
    Thanks again for sharing your expertise!