Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hydronic Heating 101

I've been spending a lot of my time working on the hydronic heating plan for the basement (and I haven’t even started looking at the main floor layout yet). I feel like I'm taking a self-taught remedial course and wish I had just a little more concrete information available to me.  Luckily, Ray gave us a thorough heat-loss calc so I can figure out how much tubing to run in each room and each zone.

We have to insulate under the slab. I can’t find an answer as to which is the best way to go - extruded polystyrene foam boards or bubble foil bubble?  The boards are easy to tie the PEX tubes down to, but can shift during the concrete pour which would created in a weaker floor.  The bubble is super easy to lay down exactly where it is needed and simplifies the concrete pour, but we’d have to lay down rebar on top of it and tie the PEX down with zip ties which would then have to be cut and cleaned up so the ends don’t float around in the finished floor (and it appears to be more expensive).

IF we go with the foam boards where do we rent or borrow a staple gun so we can easily tie the tubes to the boards? And how do we cut them? Rob wants to use a hot wire knife. We don't have one. We can use a razor knife, but that way is very messy and dulls the blades quickly.

We have to make sure we don’t put insulation where there are going to be monolithic footings.  I am pretty sure I have those dimensions on our floor plan so I can adjust the insulation and tubing layout but what does that do to the concrete pour?  And how do I get the PEX where it needs to go while avoiding those footings?

Do we heat the closets or not?  Do we insulate under the storage areas?  How do I keep the little hallway where all the tubes come in and out of the boiler room from overheating?  What if I read the dimensions wrong and run the tubes under the wall instead of under the door?  Do we have to do a pressure test for leaks?  If so, How?!?  Rob is finding all kinds of clever little "helps" online, but each of them adds to the bottom line so we have to determine how necessary they really are.

Everything I've read says this is one of the easiest DIY projects to undertake so why am I stressing so much about this?  Why isn't there more specific information available for the beginning DIYer so I can have these questions answered?

We are meeting with our GC next week to review our layout and  because we have to be ready to go install as soon as the rough plumbing is finished and the gravel is compacted. 

So, Here is our first plea for help.  If you are available and willing we can use help laying out insulation and PEX tubing sometime in the next couple of weeks.  Let me know.  We will feed and hydrate you and give you our unending thanks and gratitude.

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