Also DBA Northern Yacht Restoration

110 Cookson Lane | Whitefield, ME  04353 | 207-232-7600 |

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Phase 3:  Finish Work

Shop Home Page
Shop Planning
Phase 1:  Site Prep and Foundation
Phase 2:  Framing
Phase 3:  Finish Work
Phase 4:  Shop Setup
Heating Plant

Early in the process, I chose radiant floor heating as the best option for the shop.  I did not arrive at this conclusion without significant consideration, however, but in the end, it seemed the best option by far:  quiet, no air movement, heat near the floor where it is needed most, and supposedly efficient thanks to the thermal mass formed by the 6" concrete slab.  Of course the radiant system cost more (about 13% more than the runner up, ceiling confectors), but I felt it would be worthwhile in the long run to avoid the air movement that would be caused by the confectors.

I had to make the decision early, since the tubing for the heating loops needed to be in place before the slab was poured.  In my absence, the heating contractor installed the tubing for four separate zones (one in each bay and the office), and the snaking tubing was secured in time for the concrete pour shortly thereafter.  With that, no further action on the heating was required for some time, while construction of the building pressed on.

By January, with the building fully enclosed, it was time to get the heating plant installed and up and running, even before the insulation was underway.  Over a period encompassing four days, the contractor and his helpers installed the boiler, oil tank, and the myriad plumbing pieces required for the complicated system.  Each of the four zoned required a circulating pump and a pair of tubing manifolds--outflow and inflow, along with temperature gauges and individual tubing flow controls that would allow the heat distribution to be fine-tuned ad infinitum.  In the end, it made for a rather impressive setup.

At the end of installation, it took a fair bit of tweaking and air bleeding to get the system working properly.  With the well tank and piping connected inside the utility room for now, a ready supply of water was available with which to fill the floor tubing.  I left late in the day when the system was up and running, but it wasn't  until the next day that I could begin to feel the effects of the heat.  Feeling a warm concrete floor seemed unnatural, as one tends to get used to the floors being cold and clammy, but it didn't take long before I was forever spoiled:  warm feet make all the difference.  Even after only a week or so of the heating plant in operation, I could tell that it had been the correct choice, and I looked forward to spending many warm winters inside the shop.




Plumbing needs were simple:  a single half-bath with toilet and sink, and one exterior sillcock.  With the bath located adjacent to the utility room and water inlet, the piping runs could be relatively short and simple.

Earlier in the building process, before the slab was poured, we installed the drain piping in the ground for the toilet and sink, and stubbed the pipes well above the finished floor level.  Later on, with the bulk of the building complete but before insulation was installed, I used schedule 40 PVC drain pipe to run a vent line from the sink drain stubout in the floor, up through the walls and ceiling, and out through the roof.  At the same time, I also plumbed sideways from the floor stub out, through the back wall of the bathroom and then out into the room for the sink drain.

During the heating plant installation, the contractor installed a copper line from the well water inlet straight upwards, near the back wall of the bathroom, and placed a ball valve shutoff at the top.  This made it easy for me to tap into the potable water system, and I began my piping installation right off the top of this shutoff valve.  Since the line in place was made using 3/4" pipe, my first step was to reduce this down to the 1/2" size commonly used for interior plumbing.  Then, I installed a couple tees to allow water to run to both the sillcock, cold water side of the sink, and a third run over to the tankless hot water coil in the boiler.  I sweated all the joints with a torch (using the hotter-burning MAPP gas rather than propane) and lead-free solder.
At logical points in each piping run, I installed ball valves to allow for easy shutoff and maintenance as required, particularly on either side of any installation, including at the stubouts for the cold and hot water supplies to the sink, in the run to the sillcock, and at both the inlet and outlet of the tankless hot water coil.  The extra shutoffs were probably unnecessary, but should the supply to any portion of the system need to be shut down in the future, only that particular system need be disabled.  Convenience of future maintenance is always a consideration.  My heating contractor, Jim, put me onto this; he installed all the components in the heating system in this manner, and I thought it was a good idea, so I emulated it in my own work.

I chose a frost-free sillcock, in which the actual plunger mechanism that closes off the flow is located well within the heated building, rather than outside; with a slight downhill pitch to the installation, this, in theory, means that the faucet can be left energized all winter long without problem.

I'll save you the minute details of the job, and instead rely upon the pictures of the finished installation to describe the final setup.  Try to contain your excitement.

I'm not an expert at sweating copper pipe joints, so my joints aren't always the prettiest.  But out of the many joints I soldered in the system, I had only one small pinhole leak (easily rectified), so my soldering is effective.





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This page was originally posted on January 23, 2006.