boiler and hydronic heating new install questions

Old 01-12-09, 06:46 AM
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boiler and hydronic heating new install questions

First a little background on me and my house.

I'm not new to boilers at all, Just new to little ones. I've never run one under 400 PSI before but I am ok on the basics I think. I'm a retired Navy engineer and for all of my years in I ran steam plants, distilling plants, and all the other associated equipment.

Now that I am retired we found ourselves a nice little horse ranch to settle on with a 3000 sq ft house that used to be a church. ALmost all of the plumbing was done by the previous farmer that owned it, The electrical system would scare anyone and the two propane furnaces that heat the house suck 500 gallons of propane a month just to maintain 70 degrees in the house. That may have been cool 50 years ago when the house was built but not these days.
So I'm on a mission to modernize everything and go as green and efficient as possible and also add all the modern luxuries I can manage.

We are on well water and I have already started in the well house. There is a 500 gallon steel pressure tank out there supplied by a 5 hp high pressure sub pump. That pump is also irrigating 10 acres of my place during the growing season.
I just finished making room for a water softener and a boiler. The boiler will take over the job of our 2 electric water heaters and also replace the two furnaces in the attic.

I am running a new 2 inch supply line for fresh water in from the new water softener, mostly to supply my wifes dream bathroom and a dedicated 1.5 inch line for fire hydrants on the front and back of the house. I am planning on a pex double line insulated 2 inch tube for the boiler feed and return to what will be our pump room right in the middle of the house. This year I am completely demolishing all the interior walls on the master bedroom side of the house and starting from scratch. I'm pulling up the floors, tearing down the ceilings and insulation, removing all of the interior walls completely and first of all installing new electrical service back there the right way and the radiant floor tubing. Also all new modern windows and a really fancy bathroom for my wife. I've already installed central AC to keep my wife happy. I saved a ton also doing it all myself. Total cost per system was under 1000 dollars for the condensing units and I had to buy one evaporator. One furnace already had one that was never used. The cheapest quote we got from any contractor was over 20K for both systems.

Now on to the radiant heat.
I designed the system myself with the help of a couple computer programs I found online. It's going to take over 6000 feet of pex tubing in the floors and works out to 27 separate loops. I really don't want or need that many zones to control. My living room alone is 6 loops to keep each one under 400 feet. The master bedroom and bath will be 6 more. If I want to control the several loops under each room together with a single thermostat in each room do I just put all the loops for that room to a single manifold then pipe that manifold in to a single pump and controller in the pump room? Or will I need separate pumps for each loop?

Sorry this post is so long but I love doing things myself and there are absolutely no contractors in this area that I would call about a boiler system. Or for anything else anymore! When It was time to light my pilot lights on the heaters this year I had a broken hand and called the best and probably biggest heating and ac company in the area to come do it for me and even though I told them the stack for one of the furnaces was full of bird nests they were too stupid to clean it and too scared to climb up on the roof. I had to climb up there with a rope, one handed and do it myself. Never again!
Old 01-12-09, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
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I recommend you get the book Modern Hydronic Heating, 2nd ed., by John Siegenthaler. He has extensive coverage on design options for zoning. The book is available from Amazon.

You will not want to have more than one zone for each room.
Old 01-12-09, 01:54 PM
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You want the individual loops more like 200-250 ft, not 400. 400 ft loops will result in serious pumping requirements (and thus high electrical load).

How are you modeling the heat loss of the building in coming up with the tube spacing, heating requirement, etc.? Hopefully that includes planned improvements to the envelope.

If the building is that lossy to suck down that much propane/month, the first thing should be the building envelope. Get the load down, and then base the heating and cooling plants and design on the reduced load.

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