Heating Systems:

The transference of energy from point a (heat source) to point b (needed delivery place).  There are 4 different ways of doing so.
1. Is with moving of tempered air through large ductwork.
2. Moving of a liquid through pipes to a energy defuser of said energy
3. Radiant heat; like a heating element heating an oven or a fireplace heating a room or the sun through a window heating up the room in the wintertime.

* Forced air: This is the cheapest way to install a heating system with the poorest way of heating the objects in the house. With some manual and electrical parts running the system.  When the furnace fan turns on it blows cold air for a couple of minutes until the ductwork gets warm. Then it delivers the needed warm air for warming the ambient air in the room. Once the room temperature is reached, the air passively warms the items in the room. Starting with the ceiling and upper walls of the room working its way down to the floor.
* When it comes to cooling the forced air system works the best. I takes a powerful fan to drive the cold heavy air to the top floor allowing it to cascade downward cooling the item’s it come in contact with. This means the floor will be the first large surface to be cooled than slowly it works it’s way up to the level of the thermostat. You will still have a lot of hot and humid air at the ceiling if the heating contract did not install a high wall return air duct.
*  It’s also the best and I think the only way to really clean the air, removing air born allergens out of the air. You can use secondary air filtration units but the biggest one I’ve seen only does 1 room at a time trapping a person with allergies in 1 room or in 1 area of a house. Using a high quality air filter on your furnace (they can be Paper) about 5” thick do a great job of cleaning all the air for the entire house.

* Hot water heat: Is a good way to heat a house. With a boiler you convert fuel into hot water. With this type of system you can do multi-tasking of different types of jobs at the same time.
* Such as using radiators to heat the air, in-floor heat to heat floor surfaces such as front & back entry floors to melt the snow and evaporate the water or heat the bathroom floor and even heat the sidewalls of your shower to make your shower a better experience for you.
* With in-floor heat you can heat the basement floor that is the hardest surface to heat, while using hot air blows above the floor it will never actually heat the concrete floor. But having the pipe in the floor, the floor becomes a large radiator heating the room, making the enjoyable, instead of saying well we have a basement. Whats so nice about in-floor heat you have no moving air or cold drafts moving across the floor.
* The next area to heat with the hot water is the garage floor your car will love it the snow and ice melt off of it quickly taking with it the salt. Using a forced air blower in a garage is nice but the floor all ways stay cold and if you in your garage a lot you differ projects on till the warmer months of the year.
* And finally you can heat your driveway and sidewalks, think about you newer have to lift a shovel again.

* Steam Heat: Steam heat is the most efficient way it has the greatest exchange of energy. The only draw back is you must have a licensed steam boiler operator in house 24/7.

Roofing

Home ownership is a heavy responsibility for any person. But in times of economic hardship how does one manage to balance the budget and proper maintance of ones home. In the coming articles we will be addressing a slue of problems with work around situations.
Example: A tornado comes through your neighborhood leaving a lot of wind and hail damage. Your roof was damaged, you have good and bad news because of the act of nature, and hopefully you have insurance. Now the nightmare begins you contact your insurance company and they tell you to get 3 bids from contractors.  You try to find 3 reputable contractors the prices are all over the board. Supper low a midrange and a high price bid. Now you have to decide which one you are going to submit to the insurance company. To do this you have a startling realization you have to learn how to roof your place before you can understand the jargon in the construction trades.

Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of roofing.
A. Protect the house from falling shingles.
B. Remove all shingles, tarpaper, and roofing nails/staples.
C. Check roof sheathing, it may need to be re-nailed or replaced.
D. Note roof boards are not a uniform surface therefore the shingle company will not warranty and type of shingle on this surface. You can cover the board with 1/2” plywood than you are better off. And a warranty.
E. Remove all the siding that sites on the roof, (Where a wall surface stops at the roof) about 2’ up from the roof.
F. You are required to install an ice and water barrier on the roof at least 2’ up the roof past the outside wall line.  If you have a 2’ overhand on the house with a 4/12 pitch roof a minimum of 4’6” Ice shield is required. If you have a 12/12 pitch roof
a minimum of 5’2” ice shield is required.
G. I also run ice and water shield up the valleys and along all roof all edged where
flashing tins are used.
H. Install your valley tin next. Only use minimum expanding metals in the valleys never use aluminum any where on the roof.
I. After the metal valleys are installed, cut a piece of ice and water shield down the center install 1/2 of it on each side of the metal valley over lapping the metal by 3”. This is where most roofs start leaking; remember to start at the bottom when installing the ice and water shield.
J. Remember you get what you pay for I have use many brands of Ice and Water shield. The only one I now use and is the best is called “Grace” It bond to the roof decking but after many years it’s still pliable not brittle in other words it’s still sealing the roof decking from the water above.
K. Next cover the entire roof with tarpaper even the ice and water shield. Reminder ice and water shield will have water beading up on the topside of it. It’s a water barrier therefore you must remove the water from the underside of the shingle to do this install 1 layer of 15# tarpaper. This will wick the water out and allow the shingles to stay dry, making them last a lot longer.
L. Now you are ready to shingle the roof keep your lines straight both left and right as well as up and down. The shingle manufacture says to nail the shingles with 4 nails this will keep the shingle on the roof for winds up 60 miles and hour. If you use 6 nails per shingle you have greater holding power and can get a deduction on your insurance policy for a better job.
M. Going to a laminate shingle is much better than a 3 tab shingle because of how they are built and again some brands are a lot better than others I use Certainteed Land mark series with great results.
N. Make sure they don’t trash your yard, plants or bushes. Make sure they pick up all the nails; they will get all the debris.

With this information and reading your contract you should be able find a go contractor.

General Information

1. Does the contractor have liability insurance? If something goes wrong who will cover your loss. I heard of a roofing problem in the summer of 08 they tore off the roof and installed a new roofing system. It looked good it didn’t leak, but when the roofers were tearing off the old roof they inadvertently unlocked the furnace flue pipe 8’ below the roofline. When the flue pipe was re-shingled into place the pipe was 1/2 on and 1/2 off the lower pipe venting carbon monoxide into chimney chase and ultimately into the house attic. They didn’t find the problem for 5 months, thank God no one died. When Natural gas or LP gas is burned it gives off carbon monoxide and a lot of water. The water leaves the furnace at about 350 degrees; at this temperature it’s steam being forced into a cold attic with a lot of cold surfaces. When the steam touches a cold surface it changes to water or ice. In this case about 2 inches of ice crystals on under side of the roof decking, on the trusses and on the surface of the attic insulation.  A quick calculation looks like about 200 gallons of water frozen in the attic. Looking at this job after the facts all the insulation in the attic has to be removed the roof sheathing has to be checked for soundness and may have to be replaced as well as the sheetrock ceiling. You might need new flooring also if the ice melted before you removed it, because it will follow the wall stud cavities to the main floor and under your carpets, or cupping you hardwood flooring.
This is only 1 thing that can go wrong; there are many other situation I have heard about.
2. Does the contractor have worker compensation insurance?
If person falls or get hurt in any way while on your property (grass, sidewalk, inside your house, etc.) you’re at fault, unless the contractor has workers compensation insurance.

Rules for hiring a contractor:

General Information
1. Does the contractor have a state license to do the type of work needing to be done?
2. Does the contractor have liability insurance? If something goes wrong who will cover your loss.
3.  Does the contractor have worker compensation insurance?
If a person falls or get hurt in any way while on your property (grass, sidewalk, inside your house, etc.) you’re at fault. Unless the contractor has workers comp. insurance.

4. Make Sure All Subcontractors and/or Any Person Coming Onto Your Property Has Legal Workers Compensation and Liability Insurance.
5. Does this person have the brains to pull off this type of job?  Watch out there a lot of cons out there calling them contractors only wanting to separate you from your money.
6. Can he/she prove what is being said in writing; a contract that protects you the Homeowner?
7. A lot of people have go good intentions but no knowledge or life experience to draw from.
8. There are 3 classifications of quality of work
A.  Poor and well below sub standard workmanship
B.  Just Average on workmanship
C.   Excellent work- any worker just above average ends up excelling to excellent static because of the person himself, I’ve seen this time and time again.

9. 2nd Classifications of motives.
A. Money is a good motivator
B. The lack of money is a poor motivation
C. Lack of time for said job or out of on contracts personal bills
D. The only job available this one, actually scores just above average
E. Actually caring for his work and the client.

Now is the contractor your hiring going to hire subcontractor with substandard work or money problems? Remember this your project is to be a work of art not a novel of science fiction.

Kitchen ceilings

When your looking at types of ceiling finishes in the kitchen. There are things you must thing about.
1. Are you using your kitchen as a showcase? Be careful what you choice.
2. Are you cooking a lot with grease? If you cook with a lot of grease at high temperatures grease evaporates and bond to a cooler Surface IE the ceiling.
Having a textured ceiling in the kitchen is a headache you cannot wash the ceiling. The only thing you can do is paint the ceiling and rolling paint on the texture comes off on the roller making a mess and to paint and clean up. Using a flat surface in the kitchen is an easy ceiling to maintain both in keeping it clean, or repainting the ceiling. If you are looking for a different type of look you can always use a knock down look not a easy to clean but very easy to repaint when you need to.
In some architectural designs wood ceiling looks good if the wood is finished either with paint of varnish finish. Unfinished ceiling are bad because dust cobwebs and grease bonds to the unfinished and is hard to clean.
They make a steel panel ceiling. This is a great ceiling because you can clean this type of ceiling.
A cool looking ceiling is a glazed ceiling 3 or 4 tones of paint in the same color family with a clear coat covering it. Again this type of ceiling is easy to clean.

Kitchen Windows

When designing a kitchen what should you be looking for when choosing a new window(s) in the kitchen?
There are 6 different types of windows available but only 5 can open. The picture window is just that a cased opening with a secured thermo pane glass installed in the opening.

Awning; With this type of window the operating devices are located at the bottom of the window that makes it easy to operate. These windows are hinged at the top and swing outward. The problem is that the kitchen countertop is 36” tall than the window is about 24-36” tall. IE the top of the window is between 5’to 6’ off the floor so when you are looking out the window at the sink all your eyes are looking at the top of the window jamb, you must duck to look out the window.

Glider; With this type of window the operating devices are located half way up the window that makes this window hard to operate when you lean over the sink and faucet.

Casement; This is a great type of window the operating devices are located at the bottom of the window that makes it easy to operate, also if the wind is coming from the left and you want to bring the air in open the right window and it will hook the wind and bring it into the kitchen.

Double Hung; This is a good looking window but it has a draw back you must on unlock the window, the lock is half way up the center of the window opening it from the bottom is adequate again the sink and faucet is the way.

Hopper; A hopper window is a cool design of a window but it swings and tilts into the room in the swing mode the window can not open the faucet is in the way.

Transom; Having a transom window over the regular kitchen window is great unless you have a ceiling under 9’ again the bottom of the transom and the top of the regular is in your line of sight.

What are the first questions you need to answer for a new kitchen

Where do I go for a new kitchen? Remember this 9tenths of the kitchen stores have no clue who you are or how you live or your unique physical abilities you have. They are there to get a fast sale and they’re on to the next customer. And you’re stuck with this kitchen for the 10-20 years. A high-end builder and /or remodeler should ask you these questions. To custom fit your kitchen to you and not having you do contortions in your kitchen went it’s time to cook something.

1. Who does the cooking? Who does the cleanup?
2. How is your eye sight? If your eye sight is poor you may need more lighting in the kitchen.
3. Is the cleanup person left or right handed? The placement of the dishwasher is vital for ease of loading and unloading dishes.
4. At what height do you like to work at tabletop height (30”) or counter top height (36”) workbench height (42”) or a height in between? Having improper work surface height is bad on your back, hips and legs. You may have a new kitchen, but hate to go into the kitchen not really knowing why.
5. What size is the family are you cooking for? This tells me what size the refrigerator has to be for breakfast. This also tells me what size cook top you will need.
6. How many different types of parties per year? Do you need a 2nd refrigerator for short-term storage? They make great under the counter refrigerators and freezer with pull out draws.
7. How much cooking do you do everyday? Every meal, or is there a lot of prepared foods, or do you eat out a lot? This tells me what volume of dishes you will be keep in the kitchen. IE if you cook a lot you will be baking cakes, pies and fancy items. This mean you will need a lot of preporation storage of mixer, food processor, etc., in easy reach of your work surface.
8. Now let’s look at your house and see the architecture of the home so we can match the
kitchen to the house. IE never put a modern kitchen in a house designed as an Amish or 1900’s bungalow home.
9. Are you going to feed the family in the kitchen or at a different area? If in the kitchen where?
10. How much square footage are you going to give to the kitchen area? If you need more can you take a little from another room or can we add on an addition.

Heating your Garage

It’s a great idea, heating your garage with a Reznor unit heater it shall do a lot of good things for your garage and items stored in it. By keeping the heat above 38° it will keep the garage foundation from heaving in the cold winter months. Also if the garage is attached to the house, the house benefits by heating the garage the common wall is now warm for the house interns saving you heat on said house wall.

Having it warmer also helps your vehicles start faster as well as better engine oil viscosity, because the engine block is starting warm.


Using a compact ceiling gas heater works great. We have installed several of these units. You can bolt them to the roof framing members and or floor joist system. You can mount them up tight or drop them down to a lower height if you have a 9’- 14’ high garage ceiling. By installing the unit at the back of the garage and blow air cross the garage to the far front corner this will get the greatest way to stabilize the temperature in the garage. This will also dry your car off and the floor. By keeping your garage temperature at or above 38° you should never have the garage floor flaking or popping of concrete from the winter weather.

This furnace also can be vented both out the wall and/or through the roof of the garage. Giving is a way to really maximize your opportunity for the best installation.

Solar Heating In Minnesota

3 types of solar collectors.
The vacuum tube type works great. It can reach temperatures above 350° and becomes a good collector. The down side of it is when the snow and/or frost lands on the vacuum tube collector the sun has to warm it up to evaporate the frost, and with heavy snow you will have to clean it off the solar panels manually. If you remember to clean the panel if not this will loss you hours of solar collecting.

2 types of Solar thermo panels

2 types of Solar thermo panels

Home made solar collectors have a couple of problems: They are not sealed and filled with inert gas (argon gas) there by missing a key way of collecting solar heat. Improper way of winding the tubing inside the panel is another problem.

Flat panels commercially made are a great way to collect heat. You can set the collectors on most any type of roofing system. They also can be joined together for a greater Btu output. The maximum output will yield you any where between 50-70% of your domestic hot water. Having extra cash to go green is great but if you need this to be your main heating unit for hot water or limited location for hot water storage, this is not the system for you at this time I’ll check these systems out every couple of years for better results.

Boilers, Furnaces and Water heaters-2

In the first photo you see a boiler system with different types of radiant heat points, with some of the controls required to operate the systems.
Below is a furnace system showing some of the components needing to be serviced.
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heat loss calculation we can look at the different types of fuels vs. the costs of a geothermal system.
But before we can start we must enter some of the basics:
#1 the location of the house for the average winter low temperature.
#2 the location of the house for the average summer high temperature.
#3 what do you keep your thermostat at in the wintertime.
#4 what do you keep your thermostat for A.C. in the summer time.
#5 The Calculation is written for 67° ambient temperature.
#6 in your area how many heating degree-days are there in Mpls. there are 8000.0
Duluth 9818.0
#7 in your area how many Cooling degree-days are there in Mpls. there are 743.0
Duluth 180.0
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#8 what is the efficiency of your furnace
#9 what is the Seer rating of your Air Conditioner.
Now with these parameters plugged in the numbers than tell a story
picture-157.pngIn the
There are 3 heat loss charts for 1988, 1998, 2008 the first line down is the cost of the fuel the 2nd line is the if your furnace is running at 100% Eff. The 3rd row down is per year to heat the house. The 4rth row is the cost savings per month if you have Geo thermal heating installed instead of the fuel you have. But notice the 5th row down this one is important, this tell you if you are a wise steward of you money. If the pay back in years is 10 years or less you could save a lot of money. In 1988 if you had an Electric furnace and changed it in 88 by 1997 the system would have been paid off and today you would have $37,015.00 more in your pocket. This price is based on the electric price in 1988 and we all know that the price has risen for electric energy. In the 2008 Chart look at the pay back on all 4 types of fuel. The price of LP gas is 4.03 dollars per gallon now, and is going up – I heard it could reach 8.00 per gallon by spring. If it only goes up only an additional $2.00 it will cost you 1500.00 per month on a budget, can you afford it.

Be informed about the services you hire

I was approached by another contractor asking me to give them a price on larger home in Minnesota. They wanted a ballpark price in 1 1/2 hours. They had worked weeks on the biding of this house and were still edgy about the final price. From what they showed me 2 different sets prints that were designed by an architect. The plans were poorly drawn as well as the traffic flow and design aspect of the print. In the details of the prints there is to be a cross elevation of different location of house to understand how the house is to be built. These pages were missing about 80% of the information. Leaving it up to the lumberyard as to the design of the building. Or in other words the architect drew a nice picture. The builder has to draw his own conclusions with no supporting data has to loads and wind resistance of the building. Back to the contractor, he has hundreds of sheets of papers from a bunch of sub contractors, with prices all over the board for the same job to being done. The lumberyard alone has had the print of the house for a month, and final estimate of the lumber bid is still a lure. Information from the contractor to the sub’s was sketchy at best. The contractor had photo’s of ideas what the owner’s wanted but wasn’t following the design of the photo’s. This whole project is doomed for hurt feelings as well as the contractor will leave the job with a bad reputation.