Fruit of the Orchard

Dec. 5, 2008
Jim Patterson says he’s “just doing his thing.” That’s good news for his customers, because Patterson’s “thing” is designing and installing the highest quality indoor comfort systems.

Jim Patterson says he’s “just doing his thing.” That’s good news for his customers, because Patterson’s “thing” is designing and installing the highest quality indoor comfort systems.

Take this Quality Home Comfort Award winner as an example. The comfort system he designed and installed for homeowners Andy Berman and Nina Gunther at their 4,000 sq. ft. home in Colrain, MA combines many of the elements Patterson loves to provide to homeowners.

“I feel that this design is a great example of what can be accomplished with today’s technology,” Paterson says. “This was an intimidating design that was brought to life with amazing products and details.”

Patterson’s company, Orchard Valley Heating and Cooling, specializes in residential Design/Build projects for new construction and renovations. The majority of the company’s work is residential renovations and HVAC upgrades, along with some specialty homes.

Not your typical “one-man shop,” Orchard Valley’s offerings include radiant heating, solar, geothermal, variable speed ducted air systems, Indoor Air Quality improvement, and indoor pool room systems. Many of those came into play here: this project includes an advanced boiler system, domestic hot water heating, a pool wing conditioning system, radiant floors, three-zone variable speed air system, and an advanced ventilation system.

A Long-term Relationship
Perfectionist Jim Patterson is ‘still tweaking’ this multi-faceted project.

Patterson was introduced to the homeowners by the architect, Austin Design, Colrain, MA, with whom he has a long-time working relationship. He took the owners to visit a very similar pool house in Amherst, MA, in which his company had installed a comfort system about four years ago. The homeowners were impressed, and put Orchard Valley to work on their home. And the work continues to this day: ever the perfectionist, Patterson says that this home, despite already having won a Quality Home Comfort Award, is still a work in progress.

“We’ve tweaked the controls, and altered occupied and unoccupied temperatures to maximize efficiency and help curtail LP gas use,” Patterson says.

He and the homeowners have discussed adding a flat panel solar heating system for the home, to help heat the pool, domestic hot water, and some of the radiant floors, but that is on hold for now, pending this winter’s fuel consumption. “Some of the new controls that are available can really help with energy efficiency,” Patterson notes, “so we added those to take advantage of the technology.”

He adds that he got some help with the controls details on this project thanks to a recent change in equipment manufacturers for his ducted systems. “I switched to Carrier and it has been a great move for me. Their Infinity System offers amazing control with zoned systems,” Patterson says.

The Systems
The Berman/Gunther home is a post-and-beam structure with the added challenge of a modern indoor pool wing. A radiant heating system powered by a high-efficiency gas boiler system serves as the main source of heat. It provides the heating for the main house and pool room, pool heating, domestic water heating, radiant floor heating, and radiant wall panel heating.

Comfort in the main living area of the home is provided by a three-zone variable speed forced air system. An air exchanger ensures good ventilation, and air purity is ensured by an ultraviolet light air purification system.

The main house features two zones of staple-down radiant floor heating, and two zones of hot water panel radiators/towel heaters. The pool wing connects to the house boiler using a series of PEX piping that extends under the slab. Beneath the pool mechanical room, the PEX provides the second stage of pool heating, a zone of radiant floor heating, and pool room air heating system.

“I also provided the plumbing for the home, using the same high-quality philosophy in my material choices,” Patterson says. “I used Uponor PEX piping and manifolds to allow for a state-of-the-art water distribution system. The water had issues — high Ph and hardness — that I handled with a Cuno acid neutralizer and softener.”

Time for a Dip
The 7-ton pool dehumidifer features an exterior fluid cooler.

A 7-ton dehumidification system provides year-round dehumidification of the pool space, as well as pool heating (heat is taken from the compressors during the dehumidification cycle), and a hydroair source of heating to keep the room comfortable.

The ducting for the swimming pool room is an epoxy-coated, gasket-sealed sub-slab spiral duct. The large expanses of glass are blanketed with air to prevent condensation.

“The carpenter, Jay Heilman, concealed the massive return grills into a cedar wall system at the end of the pool that contains the mechanical room. This allows all of the moist air to be eliminated from the highest point in the room and extricated in the dry air unit,” Patterson explains.

Brian and Matt Patterson, Jim’s sons, are part-time apprentices at Orchard Valley Heating and Cooling, and helped with the radiant slab work and pool ducting on this job.

“Brian is a high school senior next year, and is planning to take up HVAC in college the year after. Matt, a junior, is aiming for the same journey. Both are very mechanically inclined and as fascinated with the technology as I am,” Patterson says.

He adds that the thought of helping his sons into a great career is every father’s dream. “I believe the trades offer a very strong future for today’s youth. I sincerely hope the HVAC bug bites the boys and they decide to stick with it.”

Woodwork a Priority
The Orchard Valley comfort system features many residential HVAC innovations.

One of Berman’s top priorities was that the pool room’s interior woodwork would be well cared for through the elimination of excessive moisture in the air.

“The Dry Air dehumidification system has been exceptional on that front,” Patterson says. “Remote access was another priority for the homeowners, and the Carrier Infinity control system takes care of that.” And as far as everyone’s top priorities — comfort and efficiency — Patterson says the zoning system is a big asset. “The zoning helps maintain comfort in areas that need more air conditioning: as the satisfied zones shut down, the system focuses on the problem area. I recommend and sell a great deal of zoning systems.”

Start up and balancing went very smoothly. “I paid a great deal of attention to duct design, as properly-sized and installed systems are very easy to balance,” Patterson says.

A Rewarding Challenge
Taking a quick look back before moving on to his next potentially award-winning project, Patterson revels for a moment about what a great challenge this year’s Quality Home Comfort Award project was.

“The architectural firm, Austin Design, has been my close construction ally for 10 years, and this was another fantastic opportunity to do my thing,” Patterson says. “The design takes advantage of just about every feature residential HVAC has to offer, neatly knitted into one nice little hydronic boiler system. We’re all very proud of this project, and Andy and Nina have been outstanding clients to work with.”

Equipment List
Total HVAC system investment: $114,000

• Weil McLain Ultra modulating boiler
• Super Stor SS80 indirect water heater
• Venmar Duo 1.2 ventilating system
• Sanuvox UV air purification system
• Tekmar TN4 boiler control system
• Carrier Infinity air handler and zoning system
• Carrier Infinity thermostats
• Tekmar TN4 boiler control system/pool heat controller/radiant mixing system
• Uponor radiant system
• Uponor PEX plumbing system
• Cuno water softener
• Dry Air 7-ton pool dehumidifier with an exterior fluid cooler
• Heliodyne solar panels and controls
• Runtal towel heaters and panels
• Lindab spiral duct and fittings