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Old 01-13-2008, 07:20 PM
 
Location: West Michigan
12,084 posts, read 33,141,404 times
Reputation: 16733

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PEX is the material of choice for EVERY plumber/heating guy I have seen the last few years doing radiant heat. Great stuff!
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Old 01-13-2008, 08:09 PM
 
Location: Northern Maine
9,494 posts, read 14,291,662 times
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I agree that PEX is great. The cracking I referred to is for the systems imbedded in concrete on the ground. I don't know how widespread the problem is, just that it sometimes happens and there is no practical way for a homeowner to fix it. Read all about it here:

Services | Radiant Heat Leak Detection and Repairs

It's complicated.

Last edited by Northern Maine Land Man; 01-13-2008 at 08:17 PM..
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Old 01-13-2008, 08:38 PM
 
Location: Log "cabin" west of Bangor
5,488 posts, read 6,428,655 times
Reputation: 9380
Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Maine Land Man View Post
I agree that PEX is great. The cracking I referred to is for the systems imbedded in concrete on the ground. I don't know how widespread the problem is, just that it sometimes happens and there is no practical way for a homeowner to fix it. Read all about it here:

Services | Radiant Heat Leak Detection and Repairs

It's complicated.
My wife's uncle had the radiant embedded in concrete, 25+ years old. Crapped out, they installed FHA.
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Old 01-13-2008, 08:55 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
29,723 posts, read 47,495,927 times
Reputation: 17577
A cracked pipe inside concrete would be a pain and a waste of lots of money.

We really like our radiant floor, and the options of so many different ways to heat the water.

I even have the PEX running on the seating in our living room, it heats the bench seats and backs.
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Old 01-13-2008, 11:54 PM
 
Location: Gary, WV & Springfield, ME
5,826 posts, read 8,460,346 times
Reputation: 17250
I agree that insulation is the number one key in heating your home. Once your house is protected from draft and the elements, keeping you toasty warm is a piece of cake. Look into foam insulation. Has to be applied by a professional, I believe. Too rich for my blood, but if you have the money, worth every penny. When done right, you can just about heat the house with a single candle.
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Old 01-14-2008, 04:33 AM
 
134 posts, read 458,822 times
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Forest,

In that we are building in Maine in a few months, I have spent over a year looking at the best way to go for heating and insulation as heating cost are high now and I believe are only going to go higher. In to that end I have to agree that radiant floor heating is the most effecient way to heat. Of course the initial cost is made up after installation and you are using it. The one poster was correct that the old copper or metal tubing that was used years ago had been known to crack but generally the new material is rock solid if installed correctly. PEX tubing like you used is the best from my months of research. They have been using it for decades here in Germany and I have talked to many people that have it for years. If for some reason a crack does happen, there are companies out there that can detect and fix the problem with minimal damage to the floor and insurance should cover the cost of repairs. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Waldo County
1,220 posts, read 3,443,843 times
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Regarding Monitor heaters, I think it is important to make a couple of comments here, since I have been using these heating systems since 1990, and have had more than two dozen of them in my home, and in my commercial buildings.

First of all, Monitor is a trade name of heating units distributed by MPI, Inc. through a company called Nelson and Small. They burn K1 kerosene, and they also have a model that burns propane.

Monitors are made in Japan, and were introduced here in the late 1970's. For quite a few years the Monitor 21 and Monitor 41 (21,000 btu and 41,000 btu) were excellent heaters that were simple to install, and were inexpensive to operate for years.

Then the importing company changed some of the components and the heaters began to experience failures anywhere between three and five years of service. The actual burner would start to fail...the burner mat itself would become unglued, and the bearings in the fan and fuel pump would fail for not apparent reason. My first Monitor was a 41 which I installed in my old camp when I began to live there year round in 1990. It ran hard, threw out a lot of heat and when I built my new home, I installed it as the main heat source. It lasted a total of six years before the bearings failed, and it was moved to my garage for dead storage.

I have had several different people overhaul these units, and almost all people who overhaul them merely buy replacement parts from the importer. Replacing defective or poor quality parts with poor quality parts will yield poor overhaul performance. These units cost around $1,000 or more depending upon size. To spend three hundred dollars or more every three to five years makes them less than reliable and destroys their efficiency.

After a very lengthy search, I found a guy who overhauls these things in Brunswick, and who has sourced different parts, including bearings, burners and burner mats, and other pieces that change Monitor brand heaters, and gives them a MUCH longer service life. I have two of my units that he has overhauled in service in my retail store and they are working exceedingly well. They are both quite old...my original Monitor 41, for instance, which is now seventeen years old...and are churning out the heat as we speak.

At this technician's insistance, I replaced two of my Monitors with Toyostove units, and here at home I have a Toyostove Laser 56 and a Toyo Laser 30 currently installed at home. The 56 is the same size and general BTU output as the Monitor 24, is MUCH quieter, and seems to throw more heat and consumer less kerosene than the MOnitor. The Laser 30 is the smallest unit, with only 8000 BTU, but the two combined heat my house fine. I have a Monitor 21 that is under the open stairs in the 1 1/2 story atrium and it is not functioning. I will have it rebuilt in Brunswick later this month, and once that unit is back on line, I will be able to drive the heat up in this house regardless of what the wind does charging across the water from the northwest...that's when it is coldest here.

Now, all my kerosene units are fueled by a 3/8" copper line running around the house from one standard fuel tank. All are vented completely to the outside....these units bring in cold air from outside for combustion and exhaust to the outside through the same nifty chimney.

They all require electricity to operate, and here is the rub. They may be less expensive to install and from a purchase price standpoint, but k1 is not an inexpensive fuel, and these units DO require a continuous supply of electricity. I am going to put a meter on my large Toyostove 56 and the Monitor 22 when it is back from overhaul, so that I can compute exaclty how much electricity they use.

When I built this house I built it around using these three heaters. But in an older house or larger house with many rooms closed off by doors, heating with these are NOT a good solution.

Based on my experience, I would NOT buy products with the Monitor(tm) label, but would buy Toyostove products if they are appropriate for the house.

When we build our new home next year, we may well use a ground source heat pump heating the slab. The future of fossil fuels for heat is finite, and I think it is going to be much more expensive to buy fuel oil here than anyone can imagine over the next ten years.

In new construction it is time to think WAY outside of 'the box'.
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:36 AM
 
Location: Northern Maine
9,494 posts, read 14,291,662 times
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Post of trhe WEEK goes to Acadianlion. Great info and I agree about the Toyos.

Also, Older Monitors are hard to clean. They require much more disassembly than the new ones. Please post or PM me the name of the guy in Brunswick that services Monitors.

It is very inexpensive to double the thickness of walls when building. Also, it is inexpensive in the long run to use super-efficient triple glazed windows.
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:41 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
29,723 posts, read 47,495,927 times
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ExAirForce -

Perhaps this is just my perspective from my unique history from having lived an active-duty career moving every few years.

a. I have installed copper tubing baseboards in our apartment buildings.

b. I have worked on air ducts and registers in our homes.

c. I have worked on steam radiators fed by a steam boiler.

d. I have used portable 'bombola's [a 20# propane tank fitted in the back of a un-vented ceramic room heater].

I researched and I choose to install PEX tubing radiant heat in our retirement home.

I can honestly say that from my perspective:
a. it was not any more expensive to install than copper tubing baseboards,
b. It was much easier and cheaper than installing air ducts and registers,
c. It was also much cheaper than installing steam radiators fed by a steam boiler.

I do not understand why the image exists that installing PEX tubing should be more expensive.

I designed and built our floor joists. I laid out the PEX tubing on top of the floor joists. I then added 1X2 strips on top of the joists between the PEX to take the weight of the sub-floor and not to squish the PEX. I laid the sub-flooring. Then I installed flashing that I had bent with a home-made *** to hug the PEX and attached it to the sub-flooring underside.

You still have the issues of: filtering water, adjusting the pressure of water, heating water, providing a pressure relief to the system, providing for expansion, including a circ pump [and providing alternate electrical sources to power the circ pump].

On the other hand I was able to heat the floor of our mud room [a floor built on a slope covered with flashing and a deck drain, and a bartenders floor rubber mat on top].

I was able to heat the bench seats and the backs of our benches in our living room, using the same PEX loop.

I was able to include a loop that heats the towel rack that stands between our jacuzzi and our swimming pool.

I am just doing this construction on my military pension, a bit at a time as my pension checks come in.

"If women don't find you handsome, at least they should find you handy"
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:13 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
12,084 posts, read 33,141,404 times
Reputation: 16733
Forest, you are right on the money about PEX being cheaper than copper now. The price of copper has gone through the roof and PEX is now not only the better choice, but also the cheaper one.

Now if somebody could come up with a PEX type alternative for the copper wiring I have to run we would be all set.
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