2010 Hydronics Column Helps Homeowner

I read John Siegenthaler’s article, “P1/S1” in the April 2010 issue of Supply House Times (page 18) and wanted to say thank you. I am a homeowner in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

When I purchased a home equipped with a boiler 10 years ago, I was a stranger to this type of heating aside from benefiting from the comfort it provided while travelling in Europe. My plan was to fully renovate the house while adding an additional floor. The emphasis of the final product was to achieve function, comfort and efficiency.

I learned during this planning phase that what I wanted was not going to be achieved by the average contractor, so I began educating myself with the codebooks of the trades I would be involved in.

While I was not a novice, because the project would be inspected at every step, my understanding of the requirements had to be complete. In the end the city inspectors were impressed with the work and even brought junior inspectors through to show them what they should be seeing.

When I first started planning the hot water heating system, several contractors submitted quotes, each proposing different piping systems (like the one John Siegenthaler mentioned NOT TO DO in his article) and each backing up their theories quite well - but ultimately I resorted to the do-it-yourself approach. I wanted to ensure I had balanced heating and an efficiently running hydronic heating design, so I read all the books available on the subject, participated in workshops with contractors, joined online forums, and visited commercial buildings’ mechanical rooms at every opportunity.

 I couldn’t get enough of the endless options. What I found most impressive is how adaptable this method of heating can be to every unique application. It offered a truly customizable system only limited to one’s own creativity and budget. Now that I had the knowledge coupled with my plumbing know-how, I ventured on to building my first system.

First, I cleared my HVAC drawing with the city’s building department, then built a proper primary/secondary loop system (as described in the article) coupled with an indirect domestic hot water tank, which has worked seamlessly to this day. All of this was done on a shoestring budget.

My system worked because the zone circulators were proprietary, and because there were only two zones, with only one circulator engaged at any one time. However I future proofed the piping for the day I would replace the old cast iron boiler to a HE condensing boiler, and had each floor “zone ready.”

After reading John Siegenthaler’s article last April, I realized how much I had learned in my planning process.

I went through the same planning phase before installing a new Viessmann Vitodens 100. I have since successfully installed the boiler and zoned each floor of our house and continued to use the indirect HWT.

When wiring the zone controller to the boiler, I was not able to benefit from the outdoor reset that is equipped with the boiler. My solution was a Honeywell DPST isolation switch for $20. The techs at Viessmann liked the idea enough that they plan to recommend it as a solution.

The new boiler has maintained our original vision of function, comfort and efficiency. In part I owe John Siegenthaler thanks for sharing his knowledge through his articles and book.

John Post
Toronto, Ontario, Canada