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Basement remodeling

 

First, you must have an ACCA Manual 'J' heat load performed before any work can commence. It is the accepted standard for sizing heating and cooling equipment. We design and install advanced hydronic heating systems with mixed radiation and domestic hot water (DHW).

 

To accomplish this essential task, one only need produce a simple line drawing (.pdf or CAD if available) for each level of the house, calling out windows, doors and insulation. From this information we can produce the essential Manual ‘J’ heat load using radiant dedicated software.

 

  1. Generally speaking, general contractors know precious little about mechanical systems. We encourage all homeowners to contract licensed mechanical trades (electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation) personally and directly.

  2. Basements should be foamed with rigid and/or high density spray foam. We keep two closed-cell specialists fairly busy in our design/build business. Mr. Audetat’s own 1921 farm house is foamed, top-to-bottom.

  3. The best way to remodel an older basement is to start by pulling up the old floor, installing plumbing, foundation/radon drain, vapor barrier, solid foam insulation, radiant tubing and concrete. We will contract for the complete package using work crews trained in their prospective trades and familiar with our design standards.

  4. Removing the old, low-hanging heating and plumbing pipe makes for more room and should be the first step in any basement remodel. Since many older systems are wrapped in asbestos, our licensed asbestos abatement contractors know what to cut out and where, saving us time and you money. It is at this time that zoning each floor, or even every room, is possible, increasing comfort and lowering fuel bills at once.

  5. Now is the time to think about moving, or removing, those radiators on the main floor. Again, we start with a proper room-by-room heat load and design a sub-floor heating system that will keep you as comfortable on the main floor as in your newly remodeled basement. This technique allows you to keep existing floor coverings if you like. Since heat transfer plates and PEX tubing must be installed before the basement ceiling, you have to think ahead.

  6. We use heavy, extruded aluminum panels to heat floors/rooms of many older homes and new additions, with great success. That success comes from the exclusive use of the original engineered heat transfer plates, careful room-by-room heat loads and proper installation of tubing, panels and specified insulation.

    Only a proper heat load can determine, with certainty, whether a
    sub-floor hydronic heating system will meet your needs during design
    conditions or will only serve as "floor warming" with supplemental
    heat, e.g. existing radiators, enlisted for the coldest days.

  7. If you wish to move or replace your existing boiler, you should consider that it costs more to “move” a boiler than to simply replace an existing boiler--but for the cost of the boiler itself--than to simply install a new boiler in a new location.

    Your existing boiler is likely already too "big" (higher output than required on the coldest day the year) so don’t let anyone sell you a new boiler or worse yet, a second boiler for any basement remodel. We’ve seen it done but it is very rarely necessary.

  8. If you don’t have a boiler we may use and existing water heater or specify a new combi water heater to heat the basement and your domestic hot water with one efficiency appliance.

 

Basement PEX

 

CASE in POINT

 

We recently replaced a nearly new, over-sized, low-efficiency atmospheric boiler with a new sealed combustion high efficiency condensing boiler. The old boiler sold on Craig's list to offset the cost of a new, properly sized, condensing boiler and companion indirect water heater allowing the homeowner to remove the old obsolete energy sucking masonry chimney and roof over the hole it left.

 

Old Boiler

Boiler after Badger rescue re-pipe