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Minimum Heating Options for New Construction Home

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sniz
sniz Member Posts: 8
Hi Everyone!

We are building in north idaho. I've called several people ( the state, the county and a couple of inspectors). I simply want to get my certificate of occupancy. The problem is we are moving in at the beginning of June so heating really won't be an issue. We plan on installing our own heating system, a mini split system. We are out of state and we can't do the work now but when we reach out to companies for help they want to charge ridiculous amounts for putting in a mini split system we don't want (lennox) or a forced air system that we don't want either. I simply just want to appease the nanny state to get our CO.

What are the most easiest and economical solutions?

Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,917
    edited February 2023
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    Quality work is expensive! Poor quality work is expensive too. 

    A stopgap measure could be installing electric baseboard for now which you can keep it as a backup once the minisplits are installed. You really don’t want minisplits in every bedroom, that’s poor practice. You want loads matched to the equipment, which lends itself well to ductwork, at least for some spaces. 
  • sniz
    sniz Member Posts: 8
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    Thanks for the comment! I appreciate the feedback. I'm curious, why is mini split in every bedroom poor practice?
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,955
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    Sounds like Ridiculous expectations. 
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,917
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    Thanks for the comment! I appreciate the feedback. I'm curious, why is mini split in every bedroom poor practice?
    Because they’re usually too big for a single bedroom if it’s a multi-split (one outdoor unit connected to many indoor units). It leads to inefficiency and discomfort. One to one systems do better but ductwork is cheap! Use it if you can.
  • sniz
    sniz Member Posts: 8
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    ductwork is cheap!
    Tell that to the installer who wants to charge me more for a ductwork system than the mini-split.
    Hot_water_fan
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,639
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    You may want to beat the nanny state, but to get a CO you are going to need to show that you can, in fact, heat the house. Two things will be needed: a heat loss analysis, to show how much heat you need to meet code, and a heating system to provide that much heat.

    It is remotely possible that the local authority will accept an amateur heat loss analysis. Might be worth the try.

    On the heat source, however, your least expensive to install option will be electric resistance baseboards. You will almost certainly need them in northern Idaho as backup if you do decide to go with minisplits or a ducted heat pump system later, since that is unlikely to do the job on the coldest days, so you might as well install them up front. They are expensive to run, however.

    A better option would be to install an adequate hot water baseboard system with an LP boiler in the first place. Lasts longer, cheaper to run.

    Minisplits in bedrooms are dubious practice, although it is done, as they can be remarkably noisy on cold nights. There are also practical limits to the number of interior heads one can have on a given power source. There is also the problem of providing any heat at all to smaller spaces, such as bathrooms.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    GGross
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,917
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    Tell that to the installer who wants to charge me more for a ductwork system than the mini-split. 
    Break the binary thinking - you can do ductless in some large rooms and ductwork in small rooms. 
    GGross
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,955
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    sniz said:
    ductwork is cheap!
    Tell that to the installer who wants to charge me more for a ductwork system than the mini-split.
    It costs a lot more then the price on line to get a quality install!

    Buy it on line, let the  plumber or even the carpenter hook it up and you’ll quickly find out why!
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,792
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    Even I, a huge fan of heat pumps would be nervous installing mini splits for heat in northern Idaho!

    Jamie I don't know what brand of mini splits you are buying, but they are 100 times quieter than any window shaker--mine is just as quiet as central air, maybe quieter since it doesn't rely on that massive fan to drive the air all over the house.

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

    GGross
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,639
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    Even I, a huge fan of heat pumps would be nervous installing mini splits for heat in northern Idaho!

    Jamie I don't know what brand of mini splits you are buying, but they are 100 times quieter than any window shaker--mine is just as quiet as central air, maybe quieter since it doesn't rely on that massive fan to drive the air all over the house.

    By comparison I suppose ours are quiet (Carrier)... but they are a LOT noisier than Cedric and his friendly radiators! Consider that at night I can hear a clock ticking (and it's a very quiet one) across the room...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,888
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    Who recommended a mini split system for a primary and only heat source in that climate zone?
    Are you saying you were going to wait until after you moved in to have a contractor do the installation, or you are going to do the installation yourself?
    What brand are you thinking of installing?
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,180
    edited February 2023
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    You may very well not be able to legally install a heating system at your desired home if you do not have a plumbers, steamfitters or electricians license for the city or county where you wish to live in the State of Idaho as you may need a separate inspection for electrical work and the plumbing for everything and
    you may not be able to obtain homeowners insurance if you do not have a licensed plumber and or
    electrician do the work.

    As you will be living in an area with city, town and or county zoning laws they need to be followed to obtain homeowners property insurance, liability insurance, fire insurance and flood insurance if you are living in a flood zone and all is for naught if your heating system, domestic water system or electrical system fails an inspection and is red tagged which can and will delay obtaining a certificate of occupancy for months.

    The nanny state that you do not like or believe in requires that a resident pay taxes via a portion of rent, lease, condominium or mortgage on property has rules for zoning and protection of the public at large that have been implemented over many decades and zoning regulations for sanitation which include heating appliances and electrification developed by the National Electrical Code, National Plumbing Code, local, and national building codes for the zone your home is located in to provide the proper foundation drainage, tolerate snow loads, wind loads and building a proper site plan elevation to increase an areas flood resistance if the area is inundated by possible flood waters and they have to be adhered to protect everyone including you.

    A small well insulated home with or without a basement can be heated with one pipe overhead steam heat with easier quicker installation in new construction using modern or salvaged steam radiators that have been cleaned painted and pressure tested and can be equipped to temperature regulating valves to reduce the temperature in rooms that are unoccupied.

    Living in a free society has both risks and rewards along with opportunity costs and the individual lives in that society at their own peril only if the laws created by that society are not respected and adhered to by that person or others in that society.

    A modern steam boiler with a drop header and a domestic hot water coil with a one pipe overhead heating system in a well insulated home with the proper air exchange for the boiler and exhaust fans in the home may not be much larger than a small desk and can be placed at an end wall in a basement and the single riser pipe to the insulated attic will have a small riser pipe and take off pipes feeding the radiators quietly and will last for many decades with annual maintenance by a steam licensed plumber.

    Installing a one pipe steam heating boiler with domestic hot water coil eliminates the need for a hot water heater and that expense as the domestic hot water coil will last many years depending on the local water which can be improved by using a water softener if the municipal water supply you rely on has hard water.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,472
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    Your best first step is a room by room load cals. It is easy to do with one of the online calculators.

    It comes down to what the local AHJ allows when permitting a DIY install.

    I had to post a bond to do my own footing/ foundation and framing work, even with an engineered design. Once the inspections were complete they refunded the $$.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,105
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    Leonz, how does a one pipe overhead, located in the ATTIC, downfeed steam system get the condensate back to the boiler??
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,180
    edited February 2023
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    Hello JUGNE,

    According to the book 500 plain answers to steam, hot water, vapor and vacuum heating; on page 50
    It is referred to as the Mills System of Steam and Hot Water Heating as was adopted by John H. Mills a prominent engineer and heating man in the early days of steam.

    With steam there is one large central riser for the steam system which rises to the attic of a building or residence and then enters a double elbow and then the attic header pipes which are sloping downward to the tees feeding the drop pipes to the lower floors.

    Each drop pipe is connected to the radiators next to it with a tee and a pipe coming off the specific tee(take off pipe??) at the bottom of the radiator with the vent at to top and opposite end of this radiator.
    Each cooler drop pipe continues to the basement header pipes on both sides boiler at the basement floor that tie into all the other drop pipes and into the boiler sump below the water line.

    =================================================================
    The Mills system of overhead hot water heating which is referred to as top shelf hot water heating by Mr. Holohan in his writing and its cost and resulting simplicity.

    The central riser reaches the attic into a cross and the riser continues upward to the open to air expansion tank that is piped through the roof to drain into a rain gutter.

    The cross in the attic connects to downward sloping pipes that drop to the radiators in a direct line that are connected on one side of the radiator or both sides of a radiator to keep the water moving downward to the lower floor radiators and eventually to the basement radiators and then to the return sump header pipe that follows the floor to the boiler sump tapping's on both sides of the boiler.

    Mr. Holohan has an excellent illustration of this on page 14 of his book "HOW COME" and In CLASSIC HYDRONICS on page 28 where he talks about the use of the O-S fitting when used with the overhead system of hot water heating.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,835
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    @sniz

    The inspector is going to care about 1 thing.....maybe 2 things.

    You have to have a decent heat loss for the building and enough of a heating system to do the job. Weather it's installed properly and weather licenses and permits are required depend on local conditions.

    Not a heat pump fan especially in that climate. Look at all the options
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,105
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    Leonz, you are describing a 2 pipe downfeed steam system when you mention dropping down into the basement header for returns. Requires a trap at each rad and maybe trap for each drip from the attic.
    I am quite familiar with the attic express 2 pipe system. Plenty of traps needed.

    If hot water then you are proposing an open top water tank in an attic in north Idaho. Yes, it can be done, but not today.



    To OP, I would put electric BB heater in the house, it covers your needs to get occupancy, IMO.
    You have the advantage of individual control for each room.
    The quick sizing method here was 10 watts/sp ft. 10 x 15 room = 150 ft x 10 = 1500 watts.
    1500 watts/250 watts per foot = 6' BB heater. (1500 watts x 3.413 = 5120 BTUH)

    This is a sacroligisic method, of which I will be condemned here to heating hell. >:)

    This was always more than needed in Northern Nebraska but you have individual control for each room.

    You may still need to show a heat loss calculation for your house.

    I have installed many minisplits, all with some back up heat.
    Without the back up you could lose all the heat with a simple component failure with the part 200 miles and 2 weeks away. The best warranty in the world will not heat your house for 2 weeks.

    That being said, you could put mini heads in the larger rooms. Depending upon how open your floor plan is.

    If you have a basement you could go to hydronic BB heaters in the future.

    Where are you currently that you are out of state?
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,219
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    Leonz, you are describing a 2 pipe downfeed steam system when you mention dropping down into the basement header for returns. Requires a trap at each rad and maybe trap for each drip from the attic.
    I am quite familiar with the attic express 2 pipe system. Plenty of traps needed.


    No, he is describing a one pipe system with all radiator downfeeds dripped into a wet return below the boiler water line. An alternative would be to use the minitube steam idea with a little 1 inch copper steam main with orificed supplies down to the radiators with the line running down into the wet return. We are doing the final tweaking of one of these systems... more info to follow once completed.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    STEVEusaPAleonz
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,180
    edited February 2023
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    The diagram of the overhead Mills heating system on page fifty of the book only shows a series of 4 drop pipes on the second floor and the same drop pipe connected to the corresponding radiator below it on the first floor and the same drop pipe stack that drops to the floor of the basement is threaded into one of the tees in the sump header pipes that are on both sides of the boiler.

    I am sure this was clerical error and the drawing was not corrected before publishing when the old text was created.

    The last sloping pipe joint reaching the exterior wall from the main riser and double elbow is coupled to an elbow that connects to the drop pipe feeding steam to the outmost radiators and then the pipe drops to the 1st first floor radiator and then from the 1st floor radiator into the basement connecting it to the sump header pipe on that side of the boiler.

    The 4 drop pipes in the basement share the same water level as the steam chest of the boiler and each radiator has a vent. The drawing on page 50 does not show a main air vent or vents at the end of the sloping steam pipe at the final elbow coming from the double elbow at the top of the riser; but it reminded me of the story that Mr. Holohan described when he and his friend Tommy visited the 15 story co-op that had erratic heat problems.

    When they found the main air vent above the penthouse they found it had stopped working and that explained everything.

    Mr. Holohan told Tommy they that could fix it making a heating Menorah with 8 Hoffman # 75 vents using lots of fittings.

    The title of the story is "THE MILLS SYSTEM SURPRISE" and it was published on November 16th, 2021

  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    I built my own home in Maine in 2009. I had the same troubles as you. I have a radiant slab and it is connected to a wood boiler. I also have a wood stove in the living room. 

    Wood, not being an automatic heat source was not going to fly. I didn't want to spend the money at the time for a mod/con and the associated LP tank which I want to to own. 

    I put in electric baseboard (I am a master electrician), which kept everyone happy and cost me very little money. I've never used it. 
    I got several 8 foot sections used. 

    Mini-splits are a good supplemental heat source, but they need something to do the heating when they break down. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,105
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    Leonz, if there is a basement what would be the advantage of an attic main?

    1 or 2 pipe system requires basement returns or piping below the rads.

    One schoolhouse with attic steam mains had returns either buried in concrete or along the floor under the rads. Neither a good situation IMO.
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,180
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    Having simple drop piping, greater thermal mass and the boiler can be parked at one end of the home
    than in the center if desired .

    The entire length of the header pipe is buried in attic insulation.
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,180
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    JUGHNE said:

    Leonz, if there is a basement what would be the advantage of an attic main?

    1 or 2 pipe system requires basement returns or piping below the rads.

    One schoolhouse with attic steam mains had returns either buried in concrete or along the floor under the rads. Neither a good situation IMO.


    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If the school house still has returns buried in the concrete they could be lined with a CIPP light cured liner to keep them leak free as they are lower temperature.