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Dead Men Tales: Building a House Every Two Hours

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HeatingHelp
HeatingHelp Administrator Posts: 653
edited December 2020 in THE MAIN WALL

Building a House Every Two Hours

In the 1940s, William Levitt built a community of 17,447 homes, completing one house every two hours. Levitt chose radiant heating for these houses because it was the cheapest heating system he could find. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares the story of Levittown and how those radiant slabs are doing now.

Listen and subscribe here.

Comments

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,166
    edited December 2020
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    Always liked that story.

    I worked on a Levitt home in the Pennsylvania version. There was also a very small development of 600+ Levitt built homes in NE Philadelphia called Normandy Square. All the streets names begin with N. My Aunt and Uncle lived in one of them. I was surprised to find the boiler under the kitchen cabinet. Many of those houses now have a heater room in the addition that was built on over the years. There are only a handful of "original" homes left with no additions or at least a heater room added on.

    Edward Young Retired

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

    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • mrmikesimons
    mrmikesimons Member Posts: 21
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    Loving Dead Men Tales. For more fascinating context on Levvitt town check out: https://www.stitcher.com/show/nice-try/episode/levittownconcord-park-utopia-in-our-backyard-61883714

    I'm in MA, and we have our own "Levvitt town" home equivalent called The Campanelli Ranch. Can anyone humor me, and explain why those boilers tucked under the kitchen cabinet doesn't have a barometric damper?
    Putting the fun in fundamentals of energy | Central MA
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrmikesimons/
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,166
    edited December 2020
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    I'm in MA, and we have our own "Levvitt town" home equivalent called The Campanelli Ranch. Can anyone humor me, and explain why those boilers tucked under the kitchen cabinet doesn't have a barometric damper?

    They cost extra. works without one. 86 the barometric. I wouldn't be surprised if Levitt was able to have his own installation manual printed by the manufacturer to cover (conceal) things like this.

    Edward Young Retired

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

    Mad Dog_2
  • MarjPinard
    MarjPinard Member Posts: 11
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    I love Steam Heat..that's why I bought your book so many decades ago when we bought our house.. and Is appreciate your posts, your stories, your help, dedication, AND the help of others who comment. NOW IF ONLY I could find someone in Niles MI who Knew about Steam Heat, radiators. ( One more reason why we appreciate all of you: I can sort out those who say they know about steam heat and those who actually do.)
    Mad Dog_2
  • ScottSecor
    ScottSecor Member Posts: 864
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    I also own a Levittown style house here in NJ and grew up in one about a block away. We've expanded ours over the years and unfortunately had to abandon the radiant heat when we bought the house back in 1990. The previous owners could not afford to pay the oil bill and allowed every pipe to freeze. We were aware of this when we purchased the house and were forced to install hwbb. Thankfully our relatively new addition is heated with a radiant slab.

    @mrmikesimons there are approximately two hundred of these one and one and a half story slab homes in our town. All of these homes were originally heated with GE oil fired boilers that were fitted with tankless coils for dhw. These homes all had radiant heat for the first floor and on the "premium" models a small cast iron radiator or two in the second floor if they ordered the "finished" second floor. These GE boilers did not require a draft regulator for these homes. We serviced almost every one of these homes at one time and never had draft issues. As far as putting the boiler in the kitchens, they were supposed to look like a cabinet. In my opinion they did a pretty good job. The kitchen cabinets were steel, the Tracy brand countertops were stainless steel and most owners painted the cabinet fronts and the boiler enclosure the same color. Where else would they have put the boiler, in a bedroom? Yes, I changed the location of our boiler (and indirect tank) to a utility room upstairs when we bought the house.
  • lawnchair
    lawnchair Member Posts: 1
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    Great Story, I grew up nearby ,my mom was a gardener and often noted the early bloom at Levittown
    Mad Dog_2
  • ChrisHawkins
    ChrisHawkins Member Posts: 6
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    I love these pictures you come up with, I wish I still had a heated slab. By the way are you a HHS graduate?
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
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    Ahhh the Great Levittown...did alot of work there when I worked for R.S. English in the mid 1990s. In fact, Richie and I sat directly front & center. I had just graduated Stony Brook and was ready to re-enter Plumbing & Heating and Richie offered me a job. Started the next day we are good friends till this day. I learned a ton about Radiant boiler installs pvc dormer roughs. I used to do a lot of slab leak repairs but He bought me an ultrasound detector . It would get me right in too of the leak. Great learning experience. Mad Dog 🐕
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,472
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    Have you watched these 3 d printed homes? Taking concrete construction to another level

    https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2023-3d-printed-houses-austin-texas/
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Mad Dog_2
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,827
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    You could not use a torch ,water and pressure prevented it . 1/2" compression fittings was the best choice .

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
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    "Do you remember those days hangin out at the Village Green????...Engineer boots, leather jackets and tight blue jeans..."  Billy Joel.  Hey Dano...did YOU ever do this with Billy?   Somehow, I don't picture you as The Greaser like Billy, your Classmate at HH.  We used to play The Levittown High Schools in Football.  Ill 🤒 tell you this...they may have been Long Island Suburban boys...but they were very athletically gifted and as tough as any kids from Brooklyn or Queens that we played against.   They had 4!!!! Large Highschools at the time 1980s.  My wife, The Long Suffering Barbara, went to The General Douglas Mac Arthur HS on Wantagh Ave.  In Levittown, they pronounce it "Maaa-gaaahhh-tha."  I remember laughing on our first date about her pronounciation of my beloved General whom I had studied extensively.   I found the Levitt houses to be well-built overall.  They had DWV copper wastes and vents which will last a loooooooong time.  We moved many a boiler from the cabinet in the Kitchen to under the stairs and then out to the garage.  I loved the wood burning 🔥 fireplace that served the kitchen and the living room.  The Levitt houses 🏘️ were warm and cozy.  They also had big yards, sometimes huge deep and strangely shaped yards because the street grids were not NYC cookie cutter layouts.  The streets of Levittown are a Beautifully laid out curves, winding roads that interlock.  Its EASY to get lost in there.  Levittown is a VERY Patriotic town...even today.  Everyone's Dad was WW II, Korean War and their older Brothers and Uncles served Honorably in The Nam.  If I drive through Levittown later today to pick up "The 👶 Baby" Bridgid Colleen at her best freinds house on Falcon Lane, I'd think I was In 🇺🇸 American Flag Heaven!!!!!  Its odd the house that DOESN'T fly Old Glory everyday.  Richie's dad, whom I did get to meet, Mr. A.C. English was the King of Levittown of the 1950s-1980s. A.C. English Plumbing and Heating at its peak had like 30 trucks, 10 oil 🚚 trucks and did much of the dormers and extensions in town.Richie knows the Levittown houses like the back of his hand...."No Matty...look under the Kitchen sink, the Main water valve is under there...the main soil stack c.o. tee is behind the bathroom vanity...we will tie in there..."  I learned so much there and knew then I was very privileged to be working 💪 in these Historical Homes in  Americana.  Thanks Dan...you brought me back.....Mad Dog 🐕