All I Want for Christmas (Part 2)…

Is still heat.

After a restless night dreaming of frozen pipes, we arrived the next morning with hope and extra firewood. Sam was going to properly fix the leaky copper parts and Terry was coming to turn the heat on!

But to our avail, the power was out! The power company reported that it might be out for hours! If only we had set up our automatic generator….

For the next half hour, Sam and Carlos shoveled the generator out of the snow while I searched for the start-up procedure and activation codes on my phone. I found them! Sam and Carlos entered the codes, skated back inside, and the lights turned on! The generator worked! And just in time for Terry to come.

Nominally, the water for our radiant system will be heated by the heat pump. As you can see, it is buried in snow and Terry didn’t want to take any risks by initializing the electric unit right now. Although less efficient, we agreed it was best to run the system with propane this winter.

We’re keeping the heat pump on ice for now

Terry was in the mechanical room for awhile, setting up the boiler and his hydronic manifolds. It was a little crowded for me to watch.

The boiler

There is one manifold for the shop floor and one for the apartment. Although there are only four zones and corresponding thermostats (living room, bathrooms, office, and shop), there are many loops of hydronic tubing.

Look at all those valves! The left set of seven is for the apartment. The set on the right controls the shop. We can adjust the flow rate of each loop to fine tune the thermal output. We’re still learning the capabilities of the system, but there are certainly more nifty settings to discover. Once we get everything dialed in, we shouldn’t need to touch any of this.

Terry hooked up the living room and bathroom thermostats first. The floor took awhile to heat up, but my feet were significantly warmer within hours.

We can use the thermostats to set the air temperature in a room. They also display the floor temperature which is usually about 5 degrees warmer than the air. There are more settings on the boiler, like the minimum and maximum allowable operating temperature. I think most people run the water between 85 and 110 degrees. We haven’t played with many settings yet, but everything is working!

All of this excitement coincided with our wreath and garland business. It was another busy season for the BZ Elves. We had a lot of repeat customers, including our favorite big tree delivery. (And yes, that goes inside someone’s house.)

We set up our garland machine at the shop this year, reducing the number of times we had to transport the material.

Another big efficiency improvement was a motorized garland machine Sam built. It is operated by a foot-pedal, hooked up to a sewing machine motor. He fabricated a little arm that spins wire around the garland. (The old hand-crank one is shown above. The motorized-one is below.)

I don’t even know when Sam had time to make this. It just appeared one day. The new machine really sped up our production, since it allows you to have both hands free to hold greenery. It was a great time for this improvement because garland was very popular this year. We made over 500 feet! Design improvements will continue next year.

Merry Christmas and cheers to heat! We’re much more comfortable now! I even regained circulation in my toes!

2 thoughts on “All I Want for Christmas (Part 2)…

  1. who did your plumbing/water system design? and mechanical room layout? seems like you can run either the heat pump or the propane boiler? cool! i’m starting to think about these things…


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