1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)
  1. HeatFarmer

    HeatFarmer Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2011
    Messages:
    144
    Loc:
    Montville, Maine
    So I thought I could put cutting edge technology into a 160 year old house......

    It appears I have hit a major snag with my Eko60 installation. Nope, it's not the boiler, the boiler room, the chimney or the storage. It's not the pumps, the plumbing or the electrical. It is a number of granite blocks.
    I guess my house was added on to multiple times in it's first 50 years or so. What was a porch became a kitchen. Then the new porch became a bigger kitchen and finally the porch/summer kitchen was joined up to the barn just before the turn of the century.

    My plan, all along has been to run the pipes between the middle of the attached barn through, under the workroom and kitchen, into the cellar under the main, oldest part of the house. I can crawl--barely & with great trouble and fear--from the cellar to under the kitchen. I can crawl from the barn under the workroom to the edge of the kitchen/summer kitchen/porch. BUT---I can't get through about 8 feet between the two. Not only is there a deep & wet. old abandoned well under the summer kitchen/porch--which has been a laundry area for the last 40 years; there is a granite block foundation in the way. Now I am hosed. I have no easy, clear access through from one are of the house to the other.

    In my original, and flawed plan, I figured I could fit some wiring and a 4" conduit the whole length of the project. I knew I could see almost from one end to the other....sort of....I've now found out this is hardly a straight line. Somewhere along the line I realized that I 1)shouldn't run 2 1-1/4" pex lines in a 4" pipe due to insulation factor and heat loss, etc. and 2) that this would be really hard to insulate well with foam anyway. Yesterday, my plan was to create a wooden trough of sorts to run the pipe in, and then fill that with foam, giving me a nice 6x6 block, 100ft long of insulated pipe with good separation between supply & return. After 4 hours of crawling around under the house today, this is truly a pipe dream......
    I even took to cutting exploratory holes in the floor to see under the house where I could not reach....

    Now I am stumped. I have packed it in for the day with a sore back and dim mind. I almost had myself convinced that I could do the wooden trough run from the slab at the barn/boiler room--I'm stuck there with 20ft of 4" pipe to run the supply & return lines in (unless I run the supply in it alone and find some way to run the return back in through the room)..... Then I would have to drill through a couple of beams and run the pipes along the underside of the kitchen floor and use r-21 batts in the joist space. This might be do-able, but I would have to drill 2-3 6"beams and several joists with 1-1/2" holes. I'm not really a fan of that as these beams and joists are older than any of us alive......

    Has anyone run into anything like this before? How have people solved their non-buried in the ground, long-distance supply & return piping?? Are my insulation ideas whack?

    Attached Files:

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. 711mhw

    711mhw Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    Messages:
    397
    Loc:
    Western ME
    Can you (bury) go outside the footprint of the house? It's tough to drill granite but it's doable.
  3. HeatFarmer

    HeatFarmer Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2011
    Messages:
    144
    Loc:
    Montville, Maine
    I'm right at the limit of 100' pex runs. If I go outside the building, not only will I have to wait to dig--doing so now would make a mess I can't contemplate--but I would have to join the pex underground somewhere. My foundations are also up to 8 foot thick in places--all dry laid stone & rubble. The granite is just cap stone on the surface to lift the house two feet. Drilling the granite won't solve anything & would be a bugger. I used to drill stone quite often and it's not something I EVER want to do again--especially something as fragile as a $500 dollar block of stone supporting my house.
  4. HeatFarmer

    HeatFarmer Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2011
    Messages:
    144
    Loc:
    Montville, Maine
    Update: We might have a solution!!

    I'm putting this out here to vet any possible problems.....

    What if we went UP through the attic? We have a completely open attic which runs at least 80ft of the 100 foot-ish run. I could pipe copper up to the attic beam which we can run along--imagine the days of 75foot 8x8s in one piece! Then I can switch over to the 1-1/4 pex we already have. There would be no need for any joints or couplings. At the house end I would stub back through the floor from a rear hallway using copper. The copper from the boiler to the pex in the attic would be the Boiler leg off a primary-secondary system. It would couple into the hallway copper via close-spaced tees. This would be the main primary loop with it's own circulator. It would top and return at the attic level and then dive down to the basement where all the other connections can be made.

    As near as I can figure it the Taco 0010 IFC-3 speed I already have will do the supply-return leg no problem. An Alpha should handle the primary loop, up and back. This way I won't have to buy another 100ft roll of Wirsbo 1-1/4 pex AND several more expensive & hard to come by couplings. What little more copper I need should be less than the Pex and a lot easier to handle. I would also get the added benefit of the heat from it in the back hall. I would only have to insulate the Pex in the attic and copper in the boiler room--which could be done easily and either with Foam or r-21 bats wrapped around the pipes.

    Feedback? Problems?
  5. First of all
    PUT The sawzall away! Don't let the wife see her laundry room like that -- I know I would be sleeping in the barn if I did something like that :)

    Have you considered coming up through the floor, along a wall over the trouble spot, and then back down to the basement?

    Edit
    I guess you came up with pretty much the same idea on your own.
  6. HeatFarmer

    HeatFarmer Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2011
    Messages:
    144
    Loc:
    Montville, Maine
    She's the one who told me to cut up the floor & find out where the old well was to keep our 11 year old from falling in while she was helping me run pipe!!


    Yeah, I figured on just by-passing the whole freaking mess under the house. I'll still have to crawl under there and run some wires and some 1/2" pex to a radiator, but that is a whole different thing than 2 1-1/4" lines plus an insulated chase. This way, as well, once I have pipe in the attic we can tee off of it sometime if we ever decide to finish any of the rooms up there....
  7. ewdudley

    ewdudley Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,627
    Loc:
    Cayuga County NY
    Clean, dry, easy to insulate. I ran some a couple dozen feet in a styrofoam box with a one inch styrofoam separator, fastened together with nylon-thread reinforced aluminum tape, then put a bunch of fiberglass around it and on top.

    If I had to do it again I'd just use good quality pipe insulation with additional fiberglass.

    Just because it's easier than crawling back under there doesn't mean it's not better!

    --ewd
  8. bpirger

    bpirger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    606
    Loc:
    Ithaca NY Area
    My only comment would be to assure that critters won't have easy access to that nice warm pex to nibble on. I know I have spots yet where they can readily nibble, and they haven't, but I'm not sure why they have not. By the way, when redoing a little bit of shed roofing this summer, I came across a wire that they had chewed....all the way down to copper...all conductors! So whatever insulation you have, putting it/wrapping it inside something to deter chewing might be a good idea. Even if it is 1/4" box mesh or something wrapped around the lines....What a pita that would be!
  9. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Messages:
    3,135
    Loc:
    St. Lawrence River Valley, N.Y.
    Good point. During a complete tear off of old siding on my house one year we fixed some water damage. This required removing some of the sheating material that was damaged and replacing. At one point we came across a red squirrel stuck to a wire by his teeth. He had chewed straight into the wire and zap! Electrocution by death through the teeth! That had to hurt. I have no idea how long he was there. He was flat as a board, and dryer than backwood savages wood. Perfect fire condition! Boy am I glad there was no spark in that wall. :lol:
  10. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Messages:
    695
    Loc:
    SW WI
    If I understand right, you can get through the crawl space, just not in a straight line and not with the chase that you wanted to build.

    If that's the most direct way, why not just use a good quality foam pipe insulation on that section and additional insulation where you can get at it?
  11. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Messages:
    602
    Loc:
    Lothian, MD
    The basement route was granite block foundation and 8" 160 year old beams - no direct path. I drilled 8" concrete with 3" holes and that was not fun either.

    The attic path sounds good, and the minimal fittings sounds good too. If it is space you are not using anyway, you may just want to make a 2'x2' box out of plywood, suspends the pipes, and put 12" deep by 24" wide fiberglass above and below. Easy to screw some 2x's across the middle of the box for support. Caulk the joints of the box for air infiltration and you are basically air and (most) rodent proof. You may want to insulate all of the pipe you can (copper included), you will loose control of a lot of heat from the uninsulated sections. I calculated how much heat I was dumping into my basement from the 80'x2 of exposed 1 1/4" copper and I was amazed. The basement was really warm though.
  12. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Messages:
    621
    Loc:
    Southern Tenn
    I posted a reply in the underground sticky, but it seems you've learned about some new issues since then. So funny the description of your home sounds almost exactly like the evolutionary construction of our home of about the same age. The pex and uninsulated piping in our root cellar warm that space making the room above one of the most pleasant in our house. So I've found "leaking" energy once the pipes are in the house really isn't that big a deal. 'Course an enegy leak in the attic doesn't do anyone any good. Glad you have options and if your home is any where close to as inefficient as mine, you'll love the output of a 60 class boiler. There is a solution. I find if I chew on the options for a few days my gut will settle on the optimal solution or think of a better option. My only comment is lots of guys here run exposed pex in their homes to get radiant heat.
  13. Countryboy1966

    Countryboy1966 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2011
    Messages:
    44
    Loc:
    NE, Ohio
    This granite foundation:

    How big are the blocks? Is there a mortar seam near where you need to penetrate?

    Can remove a block of the granite and then replace with regular course block after you get your access through? I'm guessing the mortar will be weak.

    Mortar work like this is pretty easy and you can find a lot of guidance.
  14. HeatFarmer

    HeatFarmer Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2011
    Messages:
    144
    Loc:
    Montville, Maine
    Ah...if ONLY it were so easy....this house must have been built by ancestors of the Ancient Mayans......the granite blocks in question are easily 2'x8'x18" big and easily weigh 750-1000lbs. They are fit so tight that spray foam has trouble getting through....
  15. HeatFarmer

    HeatFarmer Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2011
    Messages:
    144
    Loc:
    Montville, Maine
    Update

    Been working away at the project..... Having abandoned the underground pipe plans I beavered away in the attic installing what I hope will be an easy to insulate and maintain system...... The pipes will be wrapped in standard foam pipe insulation and then surrounded by R-21.

    Attached Files:

  16. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,043
    Loc:
    British Columbia Canada
    Are those 1" or 1-1/4" pex lines .
  17. HeatFarmer

    HeatFarmer Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2011
    Messages:
    144
    Loc:
    Montville, Maine
    1-1/4" for the boiler supply lines to the primary loop, which is also 1-1/4".

Share This Page