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Mechanical Magnificence

Mechanical Magnificence

A beautiful foyer provides the welcome to this ultra-comfortable, ultra-efficient home.

The original design for the gym/baseketball court called for forced air delivered from registers in the ceiling. Joel Sigman, fearing comfort issues with that arrangement, designed a radiant floor system instead.

Joel Sigman (left) is all smiles as his company wins its fourth Quality Home Comfort Award in four years. With Joel is custom homebuilder Jim Minton, who helped explain the benefits of geothermal and radiant systems to the homeowners.

This magnificent home features some of the most advanced HVAC technology available.

The equipment room shows off the Sigman team's high-quality workmanship.

The extensive woodwork throughout the home is protected by carefully controlled humidity levels, just another feature of Sigman's outstanding design.

Here are some famous championship dynasties: the Edmonton Oilers. The San Francisco 49ers. The Chicago Bulls. As of July 2007, it's time to add another name to that list: Sigman Heating and Air Conditioning, Belleville, IL. With its work at this home in St. Louis, MO, Sigman has taken home a Contracting Business Quality Home Comfort Award in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.

As usual with Sigman, the house is something special: 17,000 sq.ft. of finished space that includes a sports court, spa, billiard room, garages for six cars, and a snow melt system. As is also typical with Sigman, the company landed this fabulous project through a referral. One day while working at what turned out to be the company's 2006 Quality Home Comfort Award winner, the Switzer residence in St.Louis, Joel Sigman asked the electrician if he knew of any other interest- ing projects on the horizon. Joel, the company's sales manager, plays the role of Wayne Gretzky/Joe Montana/Michael Jordan at Sigman Heating and Air Conditioning. The electrician put Joel on the trail of general contractor Jim Minton of Minton Development, and the rest became history.

"Jim Minton is a very high-end homebuilder, and the electrician thought Minton Development might have a couple of interesting homes he was getting ready to build," Sigman explains. "Even though Jim didn't know who I was, he ultimately agreed to meet with me, and gave me a set of plans to estimate.

"I was very persistent," Sigman adds with a smile. Sigman and his team made a good impression on the first Minton home they worked on, which opened the door to work on the beautiful home you see here.

"The original estimate for this home incorporated a forced-air geothermal system, and it grew from there," Sigman says. "The house has some very high ceilings, and since they were already planning on using lightweight concrete floors I offered the option of radiant throughout the home. The final system design has radiant in the garages, basement, and main floor."

All told, there are 10 radiant heating zones: (1) the sports court, balcony, and exercise room; (2) the spa, locker room and bath; (3) the recreation, billiards, and family rooms; (4) the upstairs office and bath; (5) the master bath and walk-in closet; (6) the master bedroom and sitting room; (7) the main floor office; (8) the foyer, dining room, laundry room, great room, kitchen, morning room, hearth, and powder room; (9) the fourcar garage; and (10) the two-car garage. The radiant tubing in the basement and garages is on 12-in. spacing, it's 6-in. throughout the rest of the house.

According to Sigman, the ceiling heights played a role in the decision to use radiant in the master bedroom suite. The original design had floor registers in the suite, but the homeowner preferred to have all the registers installed in the ceiling. "I had a concern that with a 20-ft. ceiling and ceiling-mounted registers, the homeowners might not be happy with the comfort in their master bedroom," Sigman says. "So I suggested radiant tubing and it has worked out well."

The system takes shape
The geothermal system in this home features 18 vertical loops, drilled at 200-ft. deep to give the equivalent of 24-tons of loop. There are two sets of supply and return lines entering the basement. The line are tied together inside so that each 12-ton loop can be flushed. The entire loop is then connected to a 3-in. manifold system.

The radiant heating system is a primary/secondary loop arrangement. The main primary loop is located in the main mechanical room. Polyethylene tubing runs from the main mechanical room to the manifolds located in the other mechanical closets in the basement. The master bedroom, master bath, main floor office, and basement office have their own mini primary/secondary loop. This mini loop is fed by one set of 11/4-in. polyethylene tubing, which eliminates the need to run eight sets of tubing back to the primary loop.

The system is powered by a 10-ton ClimateMaster geothermal water-to-water unit with two 5-ton compressors, and a 5-ton ClimateMaster geothermal water-to-water unit. The units are controlled by a Johnson Controls system that incorporates a temperature setpoint control, three staging controls for the compressors, and a digital display monitor that shows actual water temperature.

The temperature in the water storage tank is set at 110F. When the water temperature in the tank drops 5F, the first stage compressor starts. Then, every 5F drop in temperature starts each additional stage. Each stage operates until it's within 4F (offset) of the previous stage's setpoint. The 10-ton compressors stage first and second, the 5-ton stages third. This controls arrangement greatly increases the efficiency of the system.

"The controls, along with the extensive insulation of any tubing that runs underground, allow us to heat 16,352 sq.ft. of space with just 15 tons of geothermal equipment," Sigman points out.

The controls for the radiant zones include one fourzone and one three-zone Taco control panel for the primary loop, and one 4-zone Taco control panel for the mini loop.

The forced air system consists of five mechanical systems with six zones. All the units are two-stage and have variable-speed blowers. One 5-ton ClimateMaster system handles the sports court, balcony, exercise area, lockers, and spa. The main floor has one 5-ton system that covers the kitchen, morning room, hearth, laundry, great room, dining room, and foyer. Two 5-ton ClimateMaster Tranquility split systems with Bryant variablespeed air handlers take care of the second floor, and can also handle future expansion of the space over the garage. The entire duct system in the attic is insulated and sealed with mastic on all the joints and takeoffs.

IAQ and humidiyy Control
The house is very tightly built, so Sigman and his team kept a close eye on indoor air quality, with the help of four Fantech heat recovery ventilators (HRVs). The HRVs are located in the sports court mechanical room, the main mechanical room, the basement unit mechanical room, and the second floor attic. Each HRV is piped from the fresh air inlet directly through a HEPA filter, and then back into the return duct. Each air handler also has a HEPA filtration system that's powered whenever the fan runs.

Moisture control was also important, and this home offered a little of both extremes. On the humidification side, the extensive woodwork throughout the home is protected by two Nortec steam humidifiers that maintain 40 to 45% humidity. The air handlers have Bryant bypass humidifiers. Both the steam and bypass humidifiers arecontrolled by a Honeywell IAQ system, which gives the homeowners control at the thermostat.

"We set up the system so the humidifiers will cycle when the humidity level in the room drops below the setpoint. This is extremely important, as there may never be a forced air heating call with the radiant heating system," Sigman explains.

Meanwhile, the spa room created its own challenge. To control the moisture level in this room, Sigman's team installed a Fantech 230 cfm inline fan with two 4-in. inlets. A 115V dehumidistat mounted on the wall next to the spa exhausts air whenever the humidity exceeds 50%. The supply air vents in the spa can supply outside fresh air from the HRV in the sports court mechanical room.

As a shovel or salt should never touch the beautiful stone of the home's front entryway, Sigman installed a snowmelt system built around a Lochinvar Knight 210,000 Btuh modulating boiler, Tekmar controller, and Tekmar snow and ice sensors. The automatic controls guarantee that the system will always work when it's needed. Of course, Sigman, always thinking, suggested to the homeowners that they use the boiler for their domestic hot water needs as well.

"If you have a boiler for snowmelt, it's ultimately much more efficient to add a storage tank and use it for hot water, too," Sigman says.

Targets for the future
All in all, another fabulous home, another outstanding comfort system, and another Quality Home Award for Sigman Heating & Air Conditioning. How does the company do it?

"I think there are four reasons for Sigman's success," says Jim Minton. "First, Joel is passionate about what he does. Second, he is exceedingly knowledgeable about everything related to heating and cooling. Third, his attention to detail is excellent. Finally, his technicians in the field share his passion and commitment to excellence. Rarely do you find that combination in any business."

With its fourth win in four years, Sigman Heating & Air Conditioning has matched the glory days of the Oilers, Steelers, and Bulls. What does the future hold? However, it should be pointed out that the company is still looking up at the 24 Stanley Cups of the Montreal Canadiens and the 26 World Series titles of the New York Yankees. Joel Sigman laughs when asked if his company can match the records of those two icons.

"I think the last thing we want to do is start thinking we know it all. There's always room to learn new things and improve," Sigman says. "We have a great group of people and we care about what we do. We'll keep looking out for what's best for each customer, and let everything else flow from there."

Equipment List

Forced air system Ventilation/IAQ/Humdity control:
  • 2 ClimateMaster Tranquility 27 5-ton, two-stage packaged systems
  • 2 ClimateMaster Tranquility 27 5-ton, two-stage split systems
  • ClimateMaster Tranquility 27 3-ton, two-stage packaged system
  • 2 Bryant variable speed air handlers with auxiliary heaters
  • 4 Grundfos loop pumps
  • 3 Grundfos 3 AFCG2 flow controllers
  • 4 Honeywell IAQ controllers
  • Honeywell Envirocam zone control panel
  • Honeywell dampers
  • 4 Fantech heat recovery ventilators
  • 4 Fantech controllers
  • 5 Fantech HEPA filters
  • Fantech dryer booster
  • Fantech inline fan
  • Fantech dehumidistat
  • 2 Nortec ResDelux steam humidifiers
  • 3 Bryant 17 gpd bypass humidifiers
Radiant floor heat: Snow melt / water heating:
  • ClimateMaster 10-ton geothermal water-to-water unit
  • ClimateMaster 5-ton geothermal water-to-water unit
  • Grundfos circulator pump
  • 12 Taco circulator pumps, various models
  • Vanguard 1/2-in. oxygen barrier tubing, 20,000 ft.
  • 66 Vanguard Simplex supply modules
  • 66 Vanguard Simplex return modules
  • Amtrol expansion tank
  • A.O. Smith 120-gal. storage tank
  • 2 Taco 4-zone control panels
  • Taco 3-zone control panel
  • 10 Honeywell FocusPro 5000 thermostats
  • Johnson Controls temperature control
  • Johnson Controls power supply
  • 3 Johnson Controls staging controls
  • Johnson Controls display module
  • Lochinvar Knight modulating boiler
  • SuperStor 80-gal. indirect water heater
  • Tekmar snow detector and melting control
  • Tekmar snow/ice sensor
  • Grundfos three-speed pump
  • 3 Taco circulators
  • Honeywell AquaStat
  • Amtrol expansion tank
  • Vanguard 3/4-in. oxygen barrier tubing, 900 ft.
  • 3 Vanguard Simplex supply modules
  • 3 Vanguard Simplex return modules

Photography by Tim Ryan Cleveland, OH

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