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Old 08-10-2011, 09:29 AM   #1
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questions about floor heating water tank


Hi Guys,
We moved into a 1972 house this past weekend, and it is a 4 level split, with an addition put in at 1998. The addition includes a study room on the main level and a master bed/bath room on the upper floor, and they use this floor heating, the rest of the house use regular forced air heating by a regular furnace.

There are three thermostats in the house, one in the living room controlling the furnace, one in the study and one in the master bedroom, I think, these two control the floor heating water tank (not 100% sure).

In the utility room, there are three gas burning things, the left is the furnace, the one in the middle is this "floor heating water tank", called "mini-gas super hot", and the one on the right is a regular hot water tank.

I have never lived in a house with floor heating, so I am not familiar with the system, so I have some questions:

1. Currently the tank is turned on - the pilot light is on, and the water pipes are very hot, hard to touch. Is it required to have the tank running in the summer? I noticed there are some gauges on the pipe, maybe they are pressurized?

I have turned all thermostats to "Off", but I heard the gas was burning in the tank last night (definitely not just the pilot light).

2. Is the hot water from this tank used by washrooms or kitchens as well?

3. What is the regular maintenance that I need to do for this system? Are there any special things I need to do for this system?

Thanks a lot guys!

Hex
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:11 AM   #2
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questions about floor heating water tank


looks to me that your domestic hot water for showers/laundry etc is being done by the small boiler with the white tank being used for storage. if you cannot find another hot water tank ( looks like the white tank) in the house then that is it. follow the water lines from that tank and see if they go back to the boiler. if so the boiler needs to be on. regular maintenance of cleaning and checking the burners/boiler by a licensed gas service plumber should be done. if they get dirty or the chimney has a problem then CO can be produced. don't go with the cheapest dudes you can find as they use apprentices. ask for a licensed service plumber who does boilers so he can properly check the rest of the system. they work by the hour $$ and charge accordingly. not some $99 furnace checkup special that other companies advertise. check with the BBB to see if they have any unresolved complaints against them.

Go Bombers GO.

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Last edited by yuri; 08-10-2011 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:56 AM   #3
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questions about floor heating water tank


Thanks yuri!
You are right, that white tank maybe just for storing hot water, I don't see gas line coming in and don't see the opening where you can check flames at the bottom and temperature adjustment stuff. So I really cannot turn it off. I googled a bit, and it seems this "mini-gas" boiler is 80% efficient, so I guess it is not THAT worse than a regular hot water tank when just heats domestic hot water?

One more "feature" I noticed with my system is: there are two hot water pipes coming in and out from furnace's "main duct" (the square duct on top of the furnace, sorry for the lack of trader terms) back to the mini-gas boiler,

The house inspector guessed, that there is a heat exchanger of some sort in there. I guess it uses the hot water from "mini-gas" boiler to give the furnace a little more heat, by just using furnace's fan to blow heat without turn on the furnace? I don't know how it works to be honest. Is this a "normal" practice when retro-fit?

Is the Hydronic floor heating in general reliable?

Thanks again!
Hex
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Old 08-10-2011, 12:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hexar View Post
Thanks yuri!
You are right, that white tank maybe just for storing hot water, I don't see gas line coming in and don't see the opening where you can check flames at the bottom and temperature adjustment stuff. So I really cannot turn it off. I googled a bit, and it seems this "mini-gas" boiler is 80% efficient, so I guess it is not THAT worse than a regular hot water tank when just heats domestic hot water? probably a lot more efficient. regular waters look the same today as 35 yrs ago and efficiency was not a big issue

One more "feature" I noticed with my system is: there are two hot water pipes coming in and out from furnace's "main duct" (the square duct on top of the furnace, sorry for the lack of trader terms) back to the mini-gas boiler,

The house inspector guessed, that there is a heat exchanger of some sort in there. I guess it uses the hot water from "mini-gas" boiler to give the furnace a little more heat, by just using furnace's fan to blow heat without turn on the furnace? I don't know how it works to be honest. Is this a "normal" practice when retro-fit?yes. that is why you need to find a Journeyman service plumber who does boilers and hydronic heating

Is the Hydronic floor heating in general reliable? yes as long as it is maintained properly. I have in my house and would recommend you get a low temp detector in your house and monitored by an alarm company. make sure it is a standalone thermostat and not built into the keypad. those are non adjustable and set too high. with hydronic htg you CANNOT afford to leave the house unattended when it is -40 if the heat fails for more than a day or it can freeze and burst.

Thanks again!
Hex
......
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Old 08-10-2011, 04:06 PM   #5
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questions about floor heating water tank


yuri,
Thanks a lot again for your comments. So "Journeyman gas service plumber" is the key when I find a service guy.

Where can I get a "low temperature detector"? Will Home Depot/Rona have it?

Thanks,
Hex
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Old 08-10-2011, 04:22 PM   #6
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some plumbers don't understand or work on hydronics/boilers and just do regular plumbing so you want to find one that has experience with boilers and specify that or you will get the regular type. 10% of the heating techs do both so asking for a plumber who does boilers is your best bet. I have a regular non electronic tstat tied into the alarm system by the alarm co and monitored by them. if it gets to 50 degF they call me or a contact person. not something you can do yourself. I had a customer who had a problem with the built into alarm co keypad one as it was set for less than 50 deg and by the time I got there the house was around 40.
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:39 PM   #7
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questions about floor heating water tank


One,the gas you heard is for the reguliar water heater.you don't ever turn that one off as you need hot water all year long.
The white tank is probably for extra hot water maybe because you have that extra heating coil in the ductwork.
My personal belief is that in floor heating is The most comfortable heating you can get.
On the reguliar water heater if you drain and purge it once or twice a year,you will add 2-3 years of life to it.also a little light vacuuming of the burner is helpfull.
With the infloor system you want to pick a temp an leave it there.Remember that it has to heat a cold floor before it gets to heating you..you can turn the pilot off durning the warmer months.
I don't know what a lot of people would do but if I had to call someone I would want a Master Plumber,not a Joureyman who by deffinition is in the middle of his learning curve.
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:56 PM   #8
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I have 3 Journeyman service plumbers working with me who all install and service boilers. One has a Masters and my ex boss/company owner did. A Masters just means you can legally run a Plumbing business and know more of the business side in Canada. Most top notch service Plumbers just like to do the work and don't go for the Master part unless they want to open their own business or get a Contractors license.

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