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Odd, very odd indeed!

Radiant estimate - retro in a fairly new mansion. "We've never been warm in this house" OK, now I'm interested(G)

Enter home - roughly 10K sq ft. Beautiful kitchen & breakfast nook (large enough to live in) opening onto huge livingroom with 20 foot ceiling. Odd placement of supply/return vents catches my eye. Supply vents on interior walls 7' off finished floor & returns 7' high on exterior walls, grill vanes turned down to give unobstructed view to a glaring wall cavity with NO insulation.

Wants radiant under her feet. No dang wonder - the air moving system can't even get to the cooler air given the return locations. Add the nice chilly draft spilling out of the returns because they are barely seperated from the outdoor air by a sheet of 1/2" thick plywood & you've got a bunch of cold people with cold piggies.

Turns out they have existing 300K boiler with multiple hydro-air. A 2" loop wraps the house running 24/7 & the 4-way hunts. They have to manually turn off the boiler each summer to prevent overheating the house. They also have a base mounted pump (I'm not kidding) slinging, with lots of noise, the water down that 2" highway. Each AH has a three-way mix (seems odd given the main loop is being limited to 150 F). Several modines in storage areas. No comfort in any of the four zones - never. Not warm in winter, not cool in summer.

Looks like an opportunity(G). Lots of em!

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  • All that

    equipment and no comfort. What a shame.

    Step up to the plate, Dave.

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  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,710
    Just when we think we've seen it all

    we haven't. But you're the man to make that house warm, Dave.

    How about some pictures?

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    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • I smell...

    a future article for CM. Feel free to step on my hydronic toes in the name of contractor education my friend.

    NEVER pass up the opportunity to relate a learning experience.


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  • Dave Yates (PAH)
    Dave Yates (PAH) Member Posts: 2,162
    You are

    a gentleman & a good friend ME. I'm working on their letter as we speak & it's headed for three pages! We'll start with the radiant she wants and include a multi-zone damper system for this one section. If that flies, we'll have that foot in the door & look at the other options.

    Funny thing is, this system was designed by a mechanical engineer. As soon as I saw the location of the supply (interior wall) and return (exterior walls - no insulation heat loss stud cavity towers!) , I knew who was responsible. She was stunned that I could tell who was responsible. We argued with him about the pre-1950's style on one job & he told me he had the sheepskin, not me & that I should shut up! His design came up short by 525 CFM's on the return. When I asked how we were supposed to get five gallons out of a pipe we were pouring 3 gallons into, he said our ducts would be leaking enough to make up the difference - SAY WHAT? So, being a certified schtinker, I asked him for the coil by-pass factor he'd used in calculating the loads(G). No answer. BTW, with hardcast - there ain't no leaky ducts. Ehhhhhhhhhhh - wrong contractor to mess with by insults. We got that extra to install additional return air.

    Here's the side splitter. When I had the audacity to question placement of returns on outside walls, leaving the stud cavity devoid of insulation, he lectured me that Btu's were like cattle. "This method is superior because it herds those Btu's into the corner where they enter into the returns." Huh? Yiipee, yioow, kiaaay. Saddle up boys, we're off to herd them thar Btu's!

    But the icing on the cake, was the 40-gallon electric water heater to be installed under the master suite stairwell - with no access panel. "You can get to it from the crawl space", he said with a sneer. Yup, a good 40 feet of crawl space! This was to feed a dual faucet marble walk in shower with twin Kohler high flow faucets, two washing machines, two dishwashers and two kitchen sinks! Meanwhile, a 120 gallon oil-fired water heater resides in the full basement portion. DOH! A quick calculation had me thinking that a dual use showering adventure by the young couple would get somewhat less than three minutes of warm water! When I pointed this out, you'd think I'd killed somebody. I suggested a gravity return line, he said it was too far for even a pumped return! We won that argument, but it was an ordeal I never want to repeat. BTW, it's a gravity line & been trouble free from day one.

    Thanks for your more than generous offer, but I'll likely stick to plumbing - unless the air side can be brought into play.

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  • Just goes

    to show you: never argue with a mechanical engineer.

    1) Their clothes are clean so they must know more than you.

    2) Their name has a "M.E." after it and everybody (including themselves) thinks they must be smarter.

    I had one engineer design a radiant system with 3/4" tubing on 24" centers, 800' loops. I got tired of arguing with him and installed it how I though best.

    They're not all like that, but the ones that are, are a pain.

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  • Dave Yates (PAH)
    Dave Yates (PAH) Member Posts: 2,162
    Gary Hayden

    was the first M.E. who spoke English that I'd ever met. Up until that point in time I avoided em like the plague. Since meeting Gary and getting over my aversion, I've come to find there a whole lot more of the good ones than the one or two bad apples I'd had the misfortune to run head on into.

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  • I have to agree

    I really like talking with most of the engine-ears that I've met over the years. I've had some fun with them by choice, mostly ones from this site.

    But when you meet one that is difficult, it is hard to forget the experience. I'm glad, in all these years, that only two have caused me problems and were tough to communicate with. Of course, I learned something from it.

    If you check pipe sizes and pump sizes on a blueprint, and you find a pump that is less than half what it needs to be, and you ask the engineer if he agrees that the one in the I&O manual would be better, what do you s'pose he says?

    Yes it would! Would you like me to change it???$$$$$$????

    No, thank you.

    Wait a day and call him....."Are you sure you want me to put this pump in?"

    "UMmmmmmm, no."..............."Can I call you back?"

    Sure, I'm here for the WHOLE project. Until it works.

    Got my pump.

  • Dave Palmer
    Dave Palmer Member Posts: 186
    don't ..

    you love "I've got the degree". I've going to a job next week where the former owner was a engineer. New owner says it must be a great system because he was a engineer,come down to look at it.It was the most fudged up boiler,4 zones plus a hot water maker.Each zone has its own circ.,flow check,zone valve & switching relay.I just stood there and laughed.The owner just kept saying but it has to be right because he was a engineer and you need those things.I can't wait to get some photos posted.His guy spent about $600 bucks on equipment he did'nt need but has cause he was a ENGINEER. Have a good day, Dave Palmer
  • Cosmo
    Cosmo Member Posts: 159
    I have already seen that

    Went to see a boiler job done by engineer H.O. about three years ago, he said he needed the zone valves and the flow valves because the pumps (one for every room-12 total)would just push the flow check up on the other zones. After three days of 1 hour conversations I ripped out his mess of pipes and installed a outdoor reset system with TRV's in each room. I think I was close to spending more time explaining how my idea would work, than doing the work......

    Dependable P.H.C. Inc.
  • JimGPE_3
    JimGPE_3 Member Posts: 240
    I AM an M.E.

    but I'll weigh in here....

    Funniest one I ever saw was a health club with two HUGE electric steam boilers. 98% of the steam was converted to domestic hot water in the same room as the boiler. When asked why he didn't just make hot water directly, Engineer responded, "I needed steam for the two steam rooms." They're about the size of three telephone booths and could easily have been served by a closet type steam generator.
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