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.

A new law is on the books starting in July of 2009

All new houses in Minnesota are required to have radon removal system installed into each housing unit. Various designs are allowed by the state some with collection tanks (sump baskets) and some with out. The state haves mandated the following items that must be done.
Install a perpetrated drain pipe around the interior foundation wall with a minimum 4 inches of course fill not sand allowing water and radon gas to migrate to the collection center.
Install a continuous 6-mill poly vapor barrier under the entire concrete floor
Seal all penetrations coming through the concrete floor pipes block wall to floor edges etc…
Seal the collection tank only leaving 2 sealed pipes coming out 1 for removal of underground water; the 2nd is for the removal of radon gas.
Install a 3” vent pipe vertically from the collection area passing through the house and venting above the roofline.

State's layout

Let’s look at the actual working of installation of said law, install a 6-mill poly on the dirt before you lay out rebar or wire mess. The steel being inserted onto the concrete keeps 1 the concrete floor from cracking, separating, shifting, or shrinking 2. It reinforces the floor incase the dirt under the floor settles. Rebar comes 1/2” x 20 feet long and is heave and flops around like a fish out of water. You will have a number of holes in the poly liner before the rebar is laid out and tied together.  If you use wire mesh this comes in rolls of 5 foot wide x 20 inches diameter about 100 foot per roll, when you unroll this little monster it acts like a slinky wanting to recoil the only way to straighten it out is to flip it over and re-bending it by hand. Resolutes at each end of 1 row you have just punchered the poly membrane 10-12 time.
The code says you must take a new piece of poly and over lap the hole by 1’ on all sides no a basement of 22 x 38 (24’ x 40’ House) a minimum of 120 holes. Now its time to pour the concrete (concrete is a mix of sand small rock, portland and water) you can install it 2 ways; wheel barrow it to the location and dump it, or you can pump it in with a large pump truck add $800.00 to the bill. Did you fix all the holes the wheelbarrow made and the guys pouring the floor, well that’s a radon leak.
After the floor has harden up you walk around the floor sealing all joints between the floor and wall and floor and any protrusions through the floor. About 1 –2 years after the house is done because you chose not to install reinforcing in the floor your floor have at least 3 and up to 10 large cracks big enough to put a tooth pick in it. Oh that’s right you laid carpet on the floor you’ll never see the cracks where the radon is getting in the living space and where Johnny and Amber likes to play and sleep on the floor.

Let’s look at the collection and exhaust system. Remember in this collection area there is standing water as well as an electric pump to pump out the ground water. Facts undisputed radon gas is heavier than air. So radon gas builds up in the collection tank it never leaves the tank and the vent pipe because it’s to heavy now the ground water comes into the collection tank what happens to the radon gas it rises and falls according to water level in the collection tank.  In fact the radon gas in the tank will increase in the parts per million making it more toxic I feel bad for the plumber that must change out the sump pump, he has to get down in there to fix the problem.  Note when the radon gas moves up into the exhaust vent, it’s now looking for an easier way out, that crack in the floor has a lot less pressure and a bigger area to expand into.   Solve the problem (the states view point) Just add a fan and blow the radon gas out of the house. The problem is it does matter how small or big the fan is if there is no air coming in to the drainage system you will never blow any air up the pipe, let alone radon gas which is heavier than air. The state say’s all you need is a small fan, may be rounding about 10 minutes per hour. 1st the state don’t have a clue how much air in cubic feet of air per minute or per hour is going to ventilate the radon gas from below the floor to solve the problem.

Let’s say it’s possible to vent this gas out of the house, well you don’t want to see the pipe from the front side of the house, let’s vent it on the back side of the roof, great or is it. On the backside of the house are the following screened, porch, deck, sand box, swing set, and other toys to play with. Radon gas is heavier than air it’s pumped on to your roof and taken away with prevailing winds and if there is no wind it rolls of the roof and into your backyard.  Looking down at your house from the sky we see the following a pipe sticking out of the roof with no cover over it and you can not cover it by law, that means when it rains water goes down the pipe so what it goes into a sump tank if water can go down so can cold air in the winter time, when this happens it will freeze the surface water in the sump tank or the ground in the collection area and if there fan is installed water will be dripping and getting the fan soaking wet. Well we no longer can use a cheap fan we must put in a stainless steel fan with a concealed shaft with a water bypass system in it. ”$” Now to make this system work we must bring in air into the drainage system. We cannot take inside air just for the fact if the power went out the radon gas has an easy way back into the house. We can us outside air it 20 below or greater in the wintertime freezing the sub soil under your floor and leaving the opportunity to heave your footing.
The only air available to you is in the new law that no one has thought about, you must have an exhaust fan run 15-20 minutes per hour. Blow this air under you floor and the radon fan pumps the radon gas filled air out of your house.  Now you are running 2 electric fans and praying the power never goes out.

Radon Shield

Or Just excavate and other 24” lower and install an angled concrete slab 4” with rebar cover with epoxy paint than build on top of it for your house the radon gas will come in contact with the lower slab and slide upward to the surface level on what ever side you choose to bring it to the surface

Siding-Houses

We think we love them, they have been a part of the American dream since the days of the pilgrims. The lingering quest in homeownership how do we protect them from the elements, after that how to make them warmer years after they have been built.
In the old days the log houses used the logs as insulation and a barrier from the elements, the timbers in a log house were a good insulator because no air could pass through theses timbers, just around them, as the logs dried out naturally over time they shrank leaving gaps, while the body of these timbers have released the trapped water it now traps billons of air pockets pushing up its insulating ability also over time. In the late 1800-and early1900s people were packing their balloon-framed houses with newspaper thereby creating a low R-value in the exterior wall cavities. During WW11 to save energy they required houses to be insulated the houses using insulation that was batt of fibrous material about 1 1/2” thick placed into the stud cavities.
Today we have to tighten our budget again because of the high cost of living. One place to do this is to insulate our houses from the exterior than install new siding over the insulation, but there is a catch if done wrong it will rot your walls, what would take nature 60-80 years could be done in as little as 3-8 years.  Houses built before 1950 were designed to breathe, it wasn’t until the last 10 years that we had no idea as to how much water vapor actually passed through the exterior walls of our houses. If our house has a crawl space, cement floor, basement foundation walls, that are now waterproofed on the inside (not water resistive paint) you could be absorbing anywhere from 10-150 gallons of water per 24 hour period into your homes atmosphere this water vapor wants out of your house because there is less humidity outside than there is in your home, thereby forcing its way through your exterior walls to the out side.
Now the Law states you must install a house wrap. House wraps work great in the far south, but what happens in the north is a world apart from the south. The inside temp of the house is 70° outside is 30° automatically the water vapor in the house wants out the humidity in the air outside is dryer than the air inside so it forces it’s way through the exterior walls.  If your installer installed a house wrap under your siding this is what is happening the water vapor just past through the insulating and wall sheathing, the next surface is colder so now it freezes on the back side of the house warp (you have white frost between your wall sheathing and your house wrap). When the temperature warms up the frost now turns to a liquid, with tarpaper the paper sucks up the water and spreads it to help it dry out the back side of the siding. While if you installed a name brand house wrap it now pooling up behind your siding. It a liquid not a vapor so it is not allowed to pass through, but instead it starts freezing and thawing on your wall sheathing breaking it down.

Adding more insulation on the exterior of the wall if done right will save you a boatload of money. On the exterior of a building you best results are going to be from a rigid insulation board. There are at least 2 types 1st is just an insulation board and the 2nd has aluminam foil on both sides you must choose according to the siding you want to install as to what insulation board is best. For example; horizontal cedar lap siding does not like aluminum for behind it. Before installing any type of rigid insulation on to an exterior wall surface you must make a way for the water vapor to escape to the outside air.

I recommend 1 product “mortairvent” Made by Benjamin Obdyke, it’s only 1/4” thick installed over the tarpaper, than you install you insulation board next and finally your siding. It’s made of woven plastic with enough rigidity to keep 1/4 inch air gap to allow the water vapor to escape either by going down the wall to be vented at the foundation line or vented at the soffit line of the house.

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.

Heat ducts hard metal VS Insulated flex pipe

On hard metal pipes the air moves swiftly through the pipes with little to no hindrance the pipe walls are smooth galvanized metal with adjustable elbows as needed. The minor drawback of this type of pipe is the metal you must hot or cool the pipe first before tempering the room that it’s being sent to. The good thing about this type of ductwork it never comes apart all the joints are screwed together and all seams are now sealed so no air leakage. Finally when its time to have your duct work cleaned, they guys bring in 2 hoses a large volume vacuum hose and a large volume air compressor hose with these hooked on ether end each duct the volume of air used to clean the pipe run handles is with no problem.

Now with insulated flex pipes the air moves swiftly through the pipes with little to no hindrance the pipe walls are made of a spiraling piece of wire in beaded in the poly tubes pipe wall than covered with insulation and a 2nd poly to keep the cavity air space that the pipe is passing through. Sorry to say the inexperienced installers use this ductwork a lot and in places that it was not intended to be used. Granted this pipe is very flexible but bending the pipe in a hard 90° or even 180° and/or squeezing it down to fit a 3.5 inch space cavity. When the inside pipe measures 6” and the out side measures 8 1/2. A 6” round duct has 28.26 Cubic inch of open area when you crush it down to 3 1/2” on the exterior; the interior only has 5 cubic inches of open area. The bad thing about this ductwork is if too much air pressure and vacuum is used in the pipe run and the connections come apart and contracts to the vacuum side of the cleaning.

When you need this type of ductwork cleaned, many things can go wrong 1 the joints can come apart. The compressor hose can puncture the inner poly wall of the pipe, or if there is a restriction in the pipe and there is debris in the pipe it could clog. Remember these entire ducts are running in concealed spaces between your ceiling and 2nd floor or your basement ceiling and your main floor. If they disconnect there is no way to re attach them with out remove 1 of your finished surfaces.

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.

Boilers, furnaces and water heaters-1

Boilers, furnaces and water heaters – figured for a 2000 SF house
For boilers
Water – minimum operating pressure 8 LBS per floor. A 2 story with basement –requires 24 Lbs operating pressure.

Cleaning cycle for the burners at least every 2 years
Fuel – Natural Gas, Propane
When gas is burnt it’s by product is water and Carbon Dioxide add this to a steel heat exchanger this creates rust. When rust flacks off the exchanger it falls on to the burners below creating bad combustion an lose of efficiency.

Oil #2 a Oil burners are a unique creation they blow fuel oil out at 100 PSI This oil is ignited by 2 electrodes at 10,000 volts. If/or when the electrodes burn back, and /or twist it will soot up the heat exchanger and flue again loosing efficiency.

Heat exchangers over time loss there integrity from the heating 350° 72 times in one cold winter day. When the exchanger breaks, cracks- carbon monoxide is now being pushed in to the house.

When you move air for heating and cooling you must clean or change your, also check to make sure your furnace fan blades are clean. If not use a screwdriver and clean each fin. Just have more air moving through the furnace will increase your heating and cooling efficiency.

Systems check –
Proper start up of burner -does it start with a bang or take a long time to light
Make sure the high limit control shoots down properly at the right temp.
Check for proper airflow out of the blower check the fins on the blower fan for lint buildup.
Cost of a new heating and cooling system with ductwork – $ 15,000.00
Cost of a new Geo system with ductwork – $ 24,000.00 with a well system
Cost of a new Geo system with ductwork – $ 18-20,000.00 with a in ground loop system
Cost of replacement of a furnace & AC system. $8,500.00
Cost of replacement of a Geo system $6,500.00

Electrical panels done right

Let’s look at the first electrical panel. There are 3 problems with this panel. #1 The 2 high voltage lines and the neutral line coming into the the main shot off switch are painted white. These is not legal, The 2 high voltage lines required to be marked in black and the neutral must be marked in white. This is not only a state code but a national code.
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#2 If a person needed to add and outlet on an existing circuit and opened up and an existing outlet box cover and saw the white wire he would automatically think black with black wire, the white with white wire and ground, with ground wire. 98% of the time you would be right, but if the white wire is not labeled properly in the panel as a 220-volt, at the same time the outlet box is also improperly labeled you would cross wiring a 110-volt appliance with 220-volts and burn it out that is if it doesn’t start a electrical fire.

The 3rd problem is this panel is a 2nddairy sub panel. When you wire a sub panel the neutral wire must go to the neutral bar and the ground wires must go to the grounding bar. They cannot be mixed it the law.
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On this next photo this electrical panel was done properly. The high voltage lines are labeled properly as well as the 220-volt circuits and the neutrals and grounds are supported properly.