A Charming Third Time!

July 1, 2006
This home is heated with 100% radiant floor heating, including all living areas, the carriage house, the garage, and the workshop under the garage.

A mixture of styles makes for a visually interesting kitchen.

Joel Sigman says Sigman's people are the key to the company's success.

Thanks to Sigman Heating and Air Conditioning, this home's living area is comfortable for people and dogs alike.

This 14,000 sq.ft. home and its pool are heated with geothermal-based radiant heat.

This complex system typifies Sigman's craftsmanship and attention to detail.

To save space, a rack was built to hold the water storage tanks over the geothermal units.

The swimming pool's walls are lined with narly 4,000 ft. of radiant tubing.

What does it take to "three-peat" as a Quality Home Comfort Award winner? Is it great salesmanship? It is great technical knowledge? Is it six miles of radiant tubing?

Or, in the case of Sigman Heating and Air Conditioning, Belleville, IL, is it something as simple as this comment from Peter Switzer, the owner of the beautiful home you see here:

"I really liked Sigman's installation crew," Switzer says. "In many cases, you meet the owner of a shop and like him, but when you meet his people the news isn't so good. In Sigman's case, the team they sent out to my home was outstanding. They were competent, capable, and professional."

For the record, the Sigman family is well aware of the importance of being part of an outstanding team. Already winners of Quality Home Comfort Awards in 2004 (see CB, July 2004, p. QHCA-22) and 2005 (see CB, July 2005, p. QHCA-16), Sales Manager Joel Sigman included this in the company's 2006 entry:

"The challenges of a project like this can only be met with a great team and great homeowners. The homeowners were fantastic and made this an extremely enjoyable project. Every team member at Sigman Heating and Air Conditioning participated in this job. Every team member performed with high quality craftsmanship and great attitudes.

"That's why it's usually impossible to be the low bidder," Joel adds. "But if you hire quality people and keep them up-to-date with education and training, you can provide customers with the most for their money."

Fortunately for Joel and the rest of the team at Sigman Heating and Air Conditioning, including company president and founder John Sigman, there are customers like the Switzers who appreciate innovative thinking and high quality craftsmanship. Those attributes obviously aren't lost on our Quality Home Comfort Award judges, either.

Here are some insights into how Sigman produced a superior quality comfort system — for a cool quarter of a million dollars — at this magnificent 14,296 sq.ft. house, and its pool, garages, and carriage house; in all, a total of 19,500 sq.ft. heated and 15,000 sq.ft. cooled.

This home is heated with 100% radiant floor heating, including all living areas, the carriage house, the garage, and the workshop under the garage.

The system provided by Sigman was based on thorough load calculations made with Wrightsoft's Right-Suite Residential software. Four 5-ton Water-Furnace water-to-water geothermal systems coupled to 34,000 ft. (nearly six miles) of radiant tubing provide the heat, while five additional geothermal forced-air systems (three 3-ton, two 6-ton) provide the cooling in the hot St. Louis summers.

The radiant tubing is set on 12-in. centers in the basement floor and garages, and on 6-in. centers in the main floors. The manifolds are in two mechanical rooms on the second floor, two mechanical rooms in the basement, and a mechanical room and closet in the carriage house.

The main house has 12 radiant zones, the carriage house has three radiant zones. The 12 zones in the main house are controlled using two Taco zone control panels coupled to 11 Honeywell thermostats. The carriage house uses a Taco three-zone control panel and three Honeywell thermostats, while the outdoor dining porch is controlled by a slab sensor. The outside dining porch, which has a 30% propylene glycol solution to protect it from freezing, is separated from the rest of the system by a FlatPlate heat exchanger.

Each of the water-to-water units is piped to a 50-gal. Bradford-White "lowboy" storage tank. Because of space issues, a rack was built to support the weight of the water tanks and allow the geothermal units to be installed under them. The geothermal units are set to maintain water temperatures of 100F to 110F. The units are programmed to start the circulator every five minutes to sample the water in the tanks. If the water temperature has more than a 5F difference from the setpoint, the unit starts and brings the storage tank to its setpoint temperature.

Use of the water-to-water units is maximized by using them to operate the radiant floor system in the winter, and to heat the pool in the spring and summer.

Speaking of heating the pool, this is no ordinary pool heating system. The pool walls are lined with nearly 4,000 ft. of 1/2-in. oxygen barrier tubing. The wall temperature of the pool is maintained using a Penn Johnson control and sensor.

In a nice touch, the pool heating system owes some of its functionality to this year's homeowner, and the homeowner from Sigman's 2005 Quality Home Comfort Award-winning project. This year's winner, Peter Switzer, is a fiberglass fabrication specialist, and he built the underground box that houses the 12 circuit radiant manifold. Meanwhile, last year's homeowner, John Bohn, constructed the plate heat exchanger that separates the radiant floor system from the pool heating system. Built to Sigman's specifications, the double-pass, 10-stream heat exchanger has a 15F to 20F temperature drop from inlet to outlet on both the pool side and the source side. The flow rate of the pool heating system is 15 gal./min.

The forced-air cooling system in the main house features four geothermal systems (two 6-ton and two 3-ton) with a total of eight zones. The carriage house is served by an additional 3-ton geothermal system.

To ensure the quality of the air in the main house, all of the units are equipped with media filters followed by electronic air cleaners. The media filters are set in front of the electronic air cleaners to help maintain their efficiency by keeping them clean. Each unit also features a by-pass humidifier with a thermidistat to allow for control of humidity based on outdoor temperature. Humidity control is very important to the Switzers, as all the floors on the main and second floors of the house (with the exception of the bathrooms) are hardwood, and there is also a large investment in cabinets, doors, and trim.

Following a trial run of the system, in which humidity levels were maintained at only 27% to 30%, Sigman gave the humidification system a boost with the addition of Aprilaire steam humidifiers on both of the 6-ton systems.

A theater room in the basement posed an indoor air quality concern. The challenge was to bring in adequate fresh air for a space that has very little air turnover and a large number of people. Sigman's solution was to install a Fantech energy recovery ventilator in the mechanical room next to the theater. The ERV has a register that sends fresh air into the theater and is tied into the return on the 3-ton system that operates the theater zone.


As with any project of this size, there were dozens of challenges to be met and details to be taken care of.

For example, the original design of the home called for flat ceilings in the carriage house. These were later changed to vaulted ceilings, which eliminated the attic space where the ductwork was going to be installed. Fortunately, the ceiling had cross-members that were set at a height that would allow ductwork to run through the middle. Sigman provided spiral duct with flush registers that functioned well and looked good.

In addition, the bathroom ventilation system was carefully designed to minimize the number of fans for a cleaner look; and three kitchen exhausts, three clothes dryers, a fireplace in the master bedroom, and an outdoor cooktop exhaust were all vented.

In the end, the work done by Sigman makes a demanding customer very happy. Not only is the house comfortable, homeowner Peter Switzer says his highest energy bill last winter was in the range of $700 to $750. As he notes: "That's pretty remarkable when you consider that includes all of our electric usage in addition to heating 13,500 sq.ft. of concrete."

Meanwhile, Joel Sigman is hard at work clearing-space in the rafters to hang a third consecutive Quality Home Comfort Awards championship banner, and looking forward to a possible fourth.

"We're not a big company," he says of 18-year-old Sigman Heating and Air Conditioning, which has 19 employees. "But we think big. We make sure we can offer anything a customer desires. That way, we can win these larger residential jobs, which are more fun because they take more design work and more thought, and they're not as costcompetitiveas smaller jobs."

There's one small catch, though: high-end customers who spend a lot expect a lot. Joel, however, takes that totally in stride.

"People who don't have a 'I want the lowbidder' mentality expect something excellent," Joel says. "But if the biggest thing we have to worry about is producing consistently high quality work that makes customers happy, I guess you can't really say that we went wrong there. We can be pretty happy with that."


Forced air system:

  • WaterFurnace 6-ton, two-stage, variable-speed packaged system
  • WaterFurnace 3-ton, two-stage, variable speed packaged system
  • WaterFurnace 6-ton, two-stage split system
  • 2 WaterFurnace 3-ton, two-stage split systems
  • 2 WaterFurnace Intellizone zone control boards with 11 motorized dampers
  • 3 Bryant variable speed air handlers
  • 3 Bryant by-pass humidifiers
  • 4 Bryant electronic air cleaners
  • 5 Bryant humidistats
  • 2 Aprilaire steam humidifiers
  • 4 Honeywell VisionPRO thermostats
  • Honeywell zone control board
  • 2 Bell & Gossett 1 1/2 hp pumps


  • 4 Fantech bathroom exhaust fans
  • Fantech range hood exhaust fan with silencer
  • Fantech energy recovery ventilator with controller

Radiant Floor and Pool Heating:

  • 4 WaterFurnace 5-ton water-to-water units
  • 4 Bradford-White 50-gal. lowboy water tanks
  • 2 Taco six-zone control panels
  • Taco three-zone control panel
  • 21 Taco circulator pumps
  • 13 Honeywell Focus PRO thermostats
  • 34,000 ft. of Vanguard oxygen barrier tubing
  • 102 Vanguard Simplex supply and return modules
  • 2 Amtrol expansion tanks
  • Amtrol Extrol expansion tank
  • AGC Engineering plate heat exchanger
  • FlatPlate plate heat exchanger
  • 2 Penn Johnson controllers and sensors