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    Contractingbusiness 1709 Philosophycomfort Home
    Contractingbusiness 1709 Philosophycomfort Home

    The Philosophy of Comfort

    July 1, 2009
    A complicated project helps a repeat QHCA winner realize that it takes a lifetime to become a truly qualified comfort specialist. And sometimes, even that's not enough.

    The Greek philosopher Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

    As their multiple Quality Home Comfort Awards over the years attest, the team at Sigman Heating & Air Conditioning/Sigman Indoor Climate Solutions knows a little something about creating some of the country's finest residential comfort systems. Yet Joel Sigman, president of the company's Indoor Climate Solutions division, doesn't hesitate to acknowledge the truth behind Socrates' statement.

    Faced with a new challenge at this spectacular home — namely, a 2,500 sq.ft. indoor pool room — Sigman spent many hours researching what it would take to provide the proper comfort levels in the pool area, as well as throughout the rest of the home.

    “I wish I knew everything, but I'm very far from that, and I know I'll never be there,” Sigman admits. “But that's what makes it interesting, and keeps me reaching for new goals.”

    The challenges were numerous at this home. Nearly 4,000 new sq.ft. were being added (plus the pool room's 2,500), and much of the existing 8,000+ sq.ft. was undergoing complete renovation.

    The original scope of work for this home was to remove the duct from the basement of the existing house, install new air handlers for the main floor and second floor, maintain all high velocity outlets and add new outlets where necessary, remove the existing boiler and replace it with geothermal water-to-water units for the radiator system, add a new geothermal system for the addition, install radiant heat in the floor of the new indoor pool area, install a pool dehumidification system, install a geothermal water-to-water unit for the radiant heat and chilled water cooling, and install a 22-ton vertical loop.

    Consultation and Agreement

    “The final mechanical system was slightly different from the original scope,” Sigman says. “For example, the addition was re-designed with a full basement instead of a crawl space. We offered the homeowners the option of installing radiant heat in the basement, which they accepted. We also suggested putting radiant heat in the addition, as the ceilings there are 20-ft. high. These were the first of many changes designed to provide the homeowners with the ultimate in comfort and efficiency.”

    Sigman had installed a geothermal system for these homeowners at a previous home, so geothermal was definitely the order of the day at this new home. “These homeowners like the idea of minimizing outdoor equipment, and appreciate the energy efficiency of geothermal,” Sigman says. “They also want to make sure that the equipment installed was eco-friendly, helping to create a better environment.”

    A full, finished basement in the new addition changed the forced air design and mechanical room design. For comfort and control, zone controls were added for the new basement. The addition now had an additional forced air zone and two low temperature radiant zones. The ground loop manifold that was originally going to be in the existing basement was moved to the new basement, and a mini-manifold was added.

    The homeowners also decided to condition an existing sunroom that had been unconditioned, and added 12 skylights to the third floor. These changes meant that the geothermal ground loop had to be sized 2-tons larger than it was at the start of the project, to match the corresponding load changes.

    One of the project's biggest challenges came on the home's third floor. This area had flat ceilings and an attic space with existing duct. This ceiling was removed, the structural cross members were retained, and the 12 skylights were added. The redesign of the third floor not only affected the heat gain/heat loss calculations, it also removed the attic space from the equation. With no attic space, the duct for both the second and third floors was changed to spiral duct.

    The second and third floor spiral ductwork was installed above the structural beams. The ducts are side by side, with enough separation to get proper air flow for the flush mount registers that were installed to give a clean, smooth look to the third floor low velocity duct system. The second floor duct is for a Unico high velocity system. Supply air outlets were installed through the roof rafters to the second floor ceilings. Rough-in plaster frames were used at the ceiling of the third floor for the supply outlets. The ceiling was finished, and ducts installed.

    Page 2 of 2

    “Because it was necessary to insulate the high velocity duct, we used a 10-in. spiral duct and installed a 1-in. internal insulation,” Sigman says. “Then we installed an 8-in. spiral pipe inside the insulation so there would not be any exposed insulation to the air stream. Because the high velocity supply duct leads are flexible, they had to be covered with spiral pipe. The solid spiral pipe had to be installed over the leads, and the leads had to be connected to the main trunk. A beauty ring was fabricated for installation where the spiral met the ceiling, for a clean finish.”

    The forced air system consists of four ClimateMaster geothermal split systems for the main house, one package system for the addition, one package system for the carriage house, and two package units for the pool house.

    The ground loop is 12 wells at a vertical depth of 300 ft. The two 12-ton loops come into the main house and are connected into 3-in. copper to create the primary manifold. There are three 2-in. crossovers and two 1¼-in crossovers on the primary manifold. Two sets of 2-in. lines are installed to the existing basement. Each set connects to a Bell & Gossett pump assembly. One set supplies water to the five water-to-water units for the radiators and radiant floor heat, and one set supplies the four split system geothermal units.

    The supply lines to the pool house connect to another pump assembly and supply water for the water-to-water unit and the forced air units; additional supply lines and pumps serve the carriage house and the two-story, two-zone addition to the main house. Two Grundfos ¾ horsepower main loop pumps. These pumps have a three position switch that protects both pumps from being powered at the same time.

    Pool Comfort Makes a Splash

    And what about that indoor pool that started Sigman's quest for knowledge? It uses radiant floor heat powered by a 6-ton GeoComfort water-to-water geothermal system. This system also supplies heat for the swimming pool water. The original pool room design, done for the homeowners by a consulting engineer, did not use the geothermal equipment for heating the pool or the space. However, Sigman felt that using the geothermal to heat the pool, floor, and air allowed maximum use and efficiency from the ground loop and equipment. A Weil-McLain 135,000 Btu plate heat exchanger maximizes heat transfer between the pool water and heated water, and separates the pool water from the radiant heating system.

    “The comfort system progressed and changed as the project changed, but the priorities remained the same: creating a comfortable and efficient home through humidity control, clean air, and efficient equipment, while maintaining the aesthetics both inside and outside the house,” Sigman says. “The credit for another successful project goes to the entire Sigman team for their hard work, dedication, care, and commitment to quality.

    “Thanks also go to the homeowner and contractor for giving us the opportunity to work on this great project,” Sigman adds. “The fact that we had worked for these homeowners before, and they gave us the opportunity to do so again, is the biggest compliment we could receive.”

    Not the only compliment, however: customer home builder Ron Padgett, co-owner of Padgett Building and Remodeling, says working with Sigman's crew on this and other projects is always a pleasure.

    “What makes Sigman stand out is the amount of homework they do ahead of time,” Padgett says. “They're very detail-oriented and very prepared. It gives me a real comfort level when I'm working with them.”

    Socrates knew enough to know what he didn't know. Joel Sigman also knew that, and gained the new knowledge and skills necessary to successfully handle his company's first foray into the uncharted waters of an indoor pool room. The challenges may have been new, but the result was typical for Sigman Heating & Air Conditioning/Sigman Indoor Climate Solutions: another outstanding example of what the residential HVAC industry is capable of, and another Quality Home Comfort Award in the process.


    Forced air system:

    • A.O. Smith water storage tank
    • Bryant/ClimateMaster Tranquility 27: 2, 3, and 4-ton, 2-stage split systems
    • Bryant/ClimateMaster Tranquility 27 4-ton, 2-stage package system with 10kW auxiliary heat
    • Bryant/ClimateMaster Tranquility 27 2-ton, 2-stage package system with 10kW auxiliary heat
    • ClimateMaster Tranquility 20 Climadry packaged systems
    • ClimateMaster Tranquility 20 packaged downflow system, with 20 kW auxiliary heater
    • Bradford-White water storage tank
    • Bryant variable speed air handler with 10 kW auxiliary heater
    • 3 Unico advanced blower modules
    • 3 Unico R-410a heat pump coils; 3 Unico 5 kW auxiliary heaters
    • 2 Grundfos ¾ hp primary geothermal loop pumps
    • 2 Grundfos flow controllers; 3 Bell and Gossett flow controllers
    • 5 Honeywell IAQ controllers
    • Honeywell Eviracom 2-zone control panels and thermostats
    • 2 Honeywell dampers
    • ClimateMaster Climadry thermostat
    • 4 Fantech CM 3000 HEPA filters
    • Fantech pool heat recovery unit
    • 2 Fantech dryer boosters
    • 6 Fantech inline fans for bathrooms, 10 inlets
    • 4 Honeywell 12 gallon steam humidifiers

    Radiant floor heat/ Radiators/ Pool heat:

    • GeoComfort 6-ton water-to-water geothermal unit
    • ClimateMaster 5-ton water-to-water geothermal unit
    • 4 Bryant/ClimateMaster 3-ton water-to-water high temperature geothermal heat pumps
    • 2 Grundfos circulators
    • 17 Taco circulators
    • Viega 11,500 ft. of ½" oxygen barrier tubing
    • Viega 600 ft. of 5/16" oxygen barrier tubing
    • Viega 600 sq.ft. of climate panels
    • Viega Stainless steel manifolds
    • 3 Amtrol expansion tanks
    • 50,80, and 120 gallon storage tanks
    • 3 Spirotherm air eliminators
    • Weil McLain 135,000 Btu pool plate heat exchanger
    • 3 Taco zone control panels
    • 9 Honeywell FocusPRO 5000 thermostats
    • Johnson Controls: temperature control, staging controls (3), display module, power supply
    • 4 A419 PENN Johnson controls