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Topic: Heating

Brownstone Renovation February 7, 2012 at 10:33 pm


I am looking for someone to help me size and design a heating system for my 3 family house in Carroll Gardens.  I need to buy the boilers, radiators, ect. but installation is included in the contract I have with my general contractor.  I made a big mistake by assuming that the plumber doing the job would also design and size the system but he won’t do it.  I have done the heat loss calculations and cubic volumes for all the rooms but realize that I am in over my head.  Any ideas who I could hire to just do the design without doing the installation?  Or am I making it more difficult than it needs to be and I should just wing it?
Thanks to anyone with advice. 

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It is not that difficult to size everything – most of the radiator manufacturers have readily available sizing data that can be used in coordination with a heat loss calculation.  However, it does take some skill to design the system well, and there are details to consider.  If you get stuck, I can help you do it – architectsuper66 at gmail.

For a simple system:
If you’ve got a room-by-room heat loss, pick a radiator style and match the output to the room. Size your risers and branches to the totals of the heat emitters on those lines. Size a boiler to match the total of all the risers. Size the pump to the heating capacity of the boiler (~10,000 BTU = 1gpm) with respect to the total resistance to flow in the system (longest run of piping x 1.5 x .04 = “feet of head”). 
If the GC’s “plumber” can’t do this then he certainly doesn’t know how to install the piping properly to deliver the heat and expel air effectively. 


I’m wondering if you do the Manual J calc yourself. I have been asked many times to design a heating system for a homeowner and I defer to the engineer. Although perfectly capable, I am reluctant due to the vagaries of how humans “feel” hot and cold coupled with the cost of heating a home. On top of that my insurance doesn’t cover me for design liability. Just wondering what my colleagues are up to. Feel free to answer or not.

How did your contractor and plumber bid on the boiler and heating system without any specifications? There are endless variations  on steam and hydronic systems…sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen.Hire an engineer recommended by your architect and get some working drawings asap.. this should have been part of the bid package

Pronto on the Lower East Side can assist you with the heating calculations, but generally they like to know that you will purchase the equipment from them (i.e. boilers, valves, pumps, expansion tank, etc.)


How about hiring a plumber who specializes in heating systems to design and install it, not the contractor? Or is that just madness?

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