Thursday, August 23, 2007

Entering heat system phase II

Now that we've run all the tubing, it's time to start stapling up the aluminum heat transfer plates. These special plates draw heat from the tubing and distribute it across the floor. We need to place them roughly 8" apart, except for along the exterior walls where they should be 1" apart. For us, this means revisiting every square foot of under-floor area for the second time.

We decided to start with the attic heat, working in the bedroom and tool room, so that we could develop some techniques in a more comfortable setting than the crawl spaces. We'll be in there this weekend, if all goes well.

The work isn't too bad, and after two nights of it we've definitely figured some things out. The idea is to get these tubes as tight as you can so that they're always touching the subfloor. The slack gets worked out as you go. We keep some sheet metal shears around to cut the plates as needed, and to make little "straps" to help hold the tubing up where it loops/bends back around. We've also started to staple up one tube at a time. There are three per joist bay (usually), and the plates have grooves for two tubes. But since neighboring tubes travel in opposite directions (you need to work the slack out to an end), you can't pin them both at once, otherwise the slack would have nowhere to go. This sounded like it was going to be a lot of extra time at first, but the pattern has a way of working itself out so that every time you come back to a section, it feels like you've already done half the work. I like that.

We've also got it down to a one-person job. The first night had one of us holding, the other placing and stapling. So, I think we're going to go buy a second staple gun so that we can work simultaneously. We had purchased the heaviest-duty electric gun we could find, and it was well worth it. The thing has a hair trigger though. Erika accidentally fired one off while grabbing it off the ladder. It also has a tendency to slide off of whatever shelf, step, or brace that I place it on. I always try to catch it, and I'm just glad I haven't stapled my thigh in the process. So far, neither of us have stapled our finger to the plate, though I've come close. Need to chill out a bit.

The plates are also helping to make things a little neater around here. Our living space is like a jungle of orange vines.

- John

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