Saturday, May 2, 2009

We Have Heat!!!!! Ya-Hoooooooooooo

We Have Heat!!!! We Have Heat!!!!We Have Heat!!!! We Have Heat!!!!We Have Heat!!!! We Have Heat!!!!We Have Heat!!!! We Have Heat!!!!We Have Heat!!!! We Have Heat!!!!We Have Heat!!!! We Have Heat!!!!We Have Heat!!!! We Have Heat!!!!We Have Heat!!!! We Have Heat!!!!

Can you tell that we are a little bit excited? Its only, oh, 6 months late but we got the radiant heating system up and running a couple of days ago and maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan is it nice to have heat...We've lived in this drafty, under-insulated, leaky window'd Victorian for two winters now and wow the difference is just amazing. When it's in the mid 30s and all you have is a couple of 1500Watt space heaters to keep that's just not very fun. We could really only keep the bathroom, our bedroom and the family room warmish - when it was cold only the tiny bathroom would get actually warm. Gone are the days of it being 45 degrees in the kitchen.

Let's talk for a minute about radiant heating and its super awesomeness. There are no floor registers to take up space. There are no ugly duct lines running everywhere. There are no drafts. The floor is 'warm'. Now, this is a low temp water system where the water never gets above 110 deg F so the floors aren't 'hot' but they are warm. It's hard to explain but I'll try. In the past when we've walked on the floors in our socks they were COLD. The cold would just emanate from them and chill you through your feet. Now, the floors are warm and they warm you through your feet. It's an even warm which is also super amazing. Every room is evenly warm - there are no hot spots, no cold spots its just evenly warm and soooooooooooooo nice. We have to admit we are fricken in love with this heating system.

Have to give props to the guys at North East Radiant Technology - it appears that they've designed a system that is working at advertised.

Now, as to the question of whether or not it was worth the amazing amounts of hassle and the extra expense compared to a forced air furnace......the jury's still out on that one. But it is super nice to be able to take your preemie baby into any part of the house and not have to worry if it's too cold for her. That right there might be priceless.

So, I tried filling the system after the pressure test without following any sort of directions...It did not go super well. I plumbed the fill valve into the hot water line from our tankless heater instead of the cold water supply line...I got a ton of air trapped in the system and it didn't work...after a looooong call to my radiant designer it was determined that I had everything hooked up right but that all that trapped air was tripping the pressure head bypass (that black cylinder next to my right hand). I was going to have to bleed the thing the right way to get it to work.

Here's me going at it the right way using the hose and bleeding each individual loop separately.. Ya there was a ton of air still in the lines and I went through like geez a couple hundred gallons of water.

Notice all the water on the floor and my wet of those almost full 55 gallon trash cans tipped over part way and got a lot of water everywhere.

After I got the system bled I found out I had to set a couple of secret parameters on the boiler and Tekmar control systems so that they would talk to each other...wasted a cold wet tired evening of banging my head against the wall on that one...but I got it figured out and now the boiler and fancy-pants controls are talking like old friends.

These little dealys are the flow meters and flow control valves for each loop. This is before I adjusted them all so some have no flow. You adjust them by putting that red cap on top and twisting them to either decrease or increase flow. The amazing thing about this is that the flow thru the loops is mostly set at .2-.6 GPM? Man that's nothing it seems like?

Here is the control panel for the boiler. This is where I had to set the secret parameter. Right now its showing that the boiler is in stand-by mode and the water circulating thru it is at 98 deg F. The hard to read dial on the right is the pressure in the system which is reading slightly more than 10psi. It should probably be at 12psi so I might have to add some more water to the system. What's amazing is how quiet this thing full blast you hardly hear anything from it.

Here is the super-fabulous TekMar 420 boiler control thingy. The control panel says that the boiler is firing, the circulator pump is running, that the boiler is modulated down to 18% and that only one zone is requesting heat.

Here is what the valves look like when they are open. The top pops and you see the thick blue line. This shows that loops 5&6 are circulating which corresponds to the zone shown on the controller above. This is the kitchen-sun room zone.

These two temperature dials show the outgoing water temp (to the loops) and the incoming water temp (from all the loops). It shows that there is a temp difference of ~20 deg which is right.

Here's the cool co-axial exhaust of the boiler. Even at full blast it's way quieter than the tankless water heater. It makes a low-quiet moaning sound that I hope my neighbors can't hear. Though it does sorta make the area sound haunted.

Don't worry that wood above is just temporary. We threw that up to block the breeze from whipping through there and up through the floorboards.

One thing that's a little wacky is that we can not insulate the thin-fins yet. Since this is radiant heat the heat radiates evenly in all directions. The AL plates help the heat to radiate upward more but still there is a lot of heat coming down. Last night with no heat on on the bottom floor it was a toasty 67 deg down there. Not ideal but hey it was 71 deg upstairs!

And for a final picture here is a wonderful shot of what the temp is in the front part of the house. Yep 70 deg!!!
These thermostats are great cause at the press of a button they also tell you what the outside temp is. Well at least I think thats great. So you can go, look its 45 deg outside and a nice even toasty 70 deg inside.

It truly is a great thing having lived without heat for so long to have this. Used to be we would know exactly how cold it was outside just by standing in our hallway. Now we open the front door and are shocked, shocked I tell you, at how cold it is. In fact I think that after the loooooong cold wet evening of getting the system up and running I might of shed a small tear as I opened the front door for the first time and it was WARM!
YAY WARM!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyone who wants is welcome to come over and walk around in their socks to experience the super-wonderfulness of radiant heat. Just make sure it's a day that's actually cold outside and that we'll you know, be home...


Mom said...

Mazel Tov -- and congratulations on your heat. It took a long time, but I'm glad you can finally enjoy the fruits of your labor. Can't wait to experience the warmth.

Amy from old house list said...

Preemie baby?

The MadScientist said...

Hi Amy,
Check the link in the first paragraph of the previous post.

MonkeyDudeSF said...

Yay! Congrats on getting the heat pumping! I'm starting your volunteer calendar tonight. Should have something to you by morning. :)