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Building a House for the GARN

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Father John, Dec 21, 2007.

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  1. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Looks great!

    That's one thing I like about working alone--it forces you to come up with some pretty creative approachs to things like insulating pex lines.

    Pretty nice looking boiler room so far.

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  2. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    Father John - The pipe solution looks nice, I take it from the picture the feed and return pipes are each in a different sleeve. That looks like a very nice clean and reasonable solution. I and some of the others around here would love some part numbers and estimated costs if you get some time. The installation seems to take longer than expected I am in the about same spot except I have the boiler in place and just got the shed built and the pipe buried. Just started working on the plumbing layout and connections. Nice to see your progress, just like me you will have heat in time for summer. ;-)
  3. brad068

    brad068 Feeling the Heat

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    I see room in the pipe for some foil/bubble wrap too. Can't have to much insulation. High E did this same principle with foam sleeve first then a couple wraps of 2' wide foil/bubble.
  4. Father John

    Father John New Member

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    I didn't give a list of costs, since our project is quite unusual. We have been able to call upon help from friends at Nomaco in the past, so the Imcolock was free. The Rehau pex was also free, again thanks to some very generous friends who have helped out many time before in our project. I do know what this would cost if all products were purchased, and I still would have been able to assemble the needed materials and install for less than a quarter of the usual price for the different pre-insulated brands go for.

    The supply and return lines are each in separate sleeves, and the ends are sealed with PUR foam, so are completely waterproof with no air movement. The polyolefin insulation we used gives us an R-value of about 6. Without a consistent air gap I figured the foil radiant barrier wouldn't be worth the effort.

    Even though I was not looking forward to messing with big pex and pulling it through the carrier pipe, that turned out to be the easiest part of the job. Cutting the hole in the kitchen basement wall was actually the hardest work, since we couldn't afford to hire a core-drill, and I ended up using our ICS chainsaw to cut a rectangular hole. Spending time deep in a trench with a +100 cc saw burning 25:1 mix left me feeling rather queasy for some time afterwards.
  5. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    You got to admit they are very nice saws but I still wouldn't want to spend too much time down in the trench with one. When I cored a 5" hole in my basement wall it took me 5 hours .... boy was that fun at least I had no fumes to deal with.
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Will you have space in the new building for any firewood?
  7. Father John

    Father John New Member

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    I would have liked to make the boiler room bigger to store more wood, but had to compromise because we feared a bigger addition would not be as aesthetically pleasing in that spot. We decided instead to retain many of the hundreds of crates the limestone veneer came in, and we have been for the last months storing and stacking firewood in one of our nearby pole barns. The firewood is now palletized and we can move it with the forklift or the farm tractor. We should easily be able to store in the boiler room about 2 cords at a time. I think it will be a nice system, since I can go down one of the old roads in the forest carrying empty pallets on the front and back of the tractor, and fill them up as the wood is cut. It is easy to move the pallets around in the boiler room with our pallet jack, so handling should be reduced to the minimum.
  8. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    That sounds like a really good plan to me. You just don't want your fuel to get wet; MC makes a big difference with a gasifier, I've found.
  9. brad068

    brad068 Feeling the Heat

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    Father John,

    With the foil/bubble wrap you will have a consistent air gap (because of the air bubbles) plus reflective foil, with this wrap. I'm curious, when you say "our ICS saw" What do you need this saw for? I know many construction companies that don't have these saws, and I can't help but wonder. Thats a $2000 saw!
  10. Father John

    Father John New Member

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    ICS has a line of saws called the Redzaw which was brought out only three or four years ago. At that time we were cutting a lot of the limestone for our church and tower here, and needed to make deeper cuts than a typical cut-off saw with 14" wheel could handle, ICS agreed to donate one of their early demonstrator Redzaws with a 14" bar, and they made use of our project in their promotion of the new tool.

    At the time I was aware of pricing (now several years out of date) the Redzaw line was about 75% of the cost of a regular duty ICS saw. Since we have handled several million pounds of limestone, and poured a couple thousand yards of concrete, we have found plenty of jobs for this useful tool.

    On the topic of bubblewrap, how much R value do you think it adds to an assembly? Obviously I don't know much about how that wrap works, and would be very interested in hearing how it is used by others. I presume you must use reflective tape on the joints.
  11. Sting

    Sting Feeling the Heat

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    Aren't you concerned about trying to shove

    quick calc here.......

    Like 16 GPM minimum ( maybe far more) down that one inch pex to carry the energy effectively away from that new big engine????
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I think he said he's using 1 1/2-inch pex.
  13. Sting

    Sting Feeling the Heat

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    oppps

    Sorry!
  14. Father John

    Father John New Member

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    Just a week before Easter I finally, at long last, got the roof put on the addition to house the new Garn boiler, and last Monday we moved the Garn into place. It turned out to be quite easy to move around with a pallet jack, since it is not nearly as heavy as it looks, although ours (a Garn 1500) is still every bit of 3500 lbs I think.

    I have just about assembled all the parts needed to plumb the Garn into our system, as well as build the insulated enclosure around the tank, and will post more photos as the installation proceeds. Hopefully the plumbing and other work will be much quicker than my block-laying was.

    Attached Files:

  15. Father John

    Father John New Member

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    After spending much of the spring and summer working in the vineyard and garden, I have finally been able to finish plumbing the Garn into our radiant heating system, and am now building the enclosure to insulate around the tank. We filled it yesterday, and no leaks are apparent, so we will fire it in a couple of days and make sure there are still no leaks before we begin insulating.

    Attached Files:

  16. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Yowzer! What a monstah!
  17. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Thanks for the update, Father John. I've been wondering how it was going. Beautiful setup. The vineyard would take priority with me, too.
  18. Mmaul

    Mmaul Minister of Fire

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    I am glad you posted an updated I was wondering what happened to that church with the beautiful view.
  19. Father John

    Father John New Member

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    Here are a couple photos of the new installation. One shows the hx for the domestic hot water loop, and the other shows the two 1.5" pex lines from the Garn, their transition to copper, and the bypass so we can run the Garn in summer without heating the radiant injection loops.

    The Garn is now fully piped and filled, and will be fired this very afternoon. More news to follow.

    Attached Files:

  20. brad068

    brad068 Feeling the Heat

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    Father John,

    The directions that I got with my three plate heaters say not to install them horizonal. They want the plates to be vertical I suppose to help keep them clean.
  21. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    Is the Garn in the block enclosure ? Why two smoke pipes ?

    Will
  22. Father John

    Father John New Member

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    The hx is from FlatPlate whose instructions show installations in both vertical and horizontal positions. Our water is filtered and treated on the boiler side, and filtered on the domestic side.

    I perhaps should have labelled the photos better, but the last pictures show the kitchen basement plumbing, not the Garn enclosure, so the two flues are the backup oil-fired boilers.
  23. oliver5528

    oliver5528 New Member

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    Father John,
    My Hat is off to you. Up here there are a lot of churches undecided on alterative heat. Keep the pictures coming!

    JC
  24. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Hi Father John. I'm really curious to hear how fast the water temp in the Garn drops when you first fire up the floors. That cold concrete can soak up a huge amount of BTU's before it even starts to budge in temperature. After the floors get stabilized you'll find that it will require much less heat to maintain the floor temp than it did to raise it in the first place. Night time temperature setback with thick slab radiant like you have there is often counterproductive.
  25. Father John

    Father John New Member

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    Hello Heaterman,

    We will probably be turning on the radiant slabs in the fall before they have had a chance to cool down much, but I know you are exactly right about the uselessness of setbacks for such a thermal mass.

    Right now, though, we are heating just the hx for the domestic hot water, and finding that about one fire in the Garn each week gives us plenty of hot water, and we may even be using more hot water than usual since it feels free. I will need to do some figuring to tell you better how much hot water is being used. For now all I know for sure is we have fired the Garn until the tank is nearly 200*, and it is still just above 120* a full week later.

    Our Garn is well insulated with vermiculite, and framed in with steel studs on two sides, and AAC block on the other two sides, so the heat loss is extremely minimal. One nice thing about the vermiculite is that any mouse who wants to take up residence in the enclosure will think it is in quicksand, so the open top to the insulation is not the problem I thought it would be.
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