Jason Ridgeway with the prefabbed panel for the system, including HTC boilers, tekmar control and Grundfos circulators.
When a client called this past late October to discuss a snowmelt installation at her Geneva National, Lake Geneva, WI, residence, Jason Ridgeway knew it would be a race against the clock, and Mother Nature. A scheduled November snowmelt installation included the lay down of 1,800 sq. ft. of ¾” PEX tubing in the driveway, a concrete pour, a prefab boiler pump panel, and additional baseboard heating inside the garage.
“The early November install was one of the last cut-off days for an effective concrete pour,” says Ridgeway. “Subcontracting out the concrete, we did have to wait couple days due to weather and temps, but we were able to get everything installed and poured during a warm up for a week. Once poured, we did give it two extra days to cure due to cooler temps,” continues Ridgeway.
Ridgeway, who normally prefabs his own mechanical panels, had to sub this one out to a local hydronics engineer due to time constraints, and the distance from shop to jobsite. “Typically, we do the prefab work but also sub it out to a local guy who I’ve worked with for 20 years. We chose to do the prefab off site just to speed up the install since it was out of state,” says Ridgeway.
As with most contractors across the country, experiences with inventory and wait times, to put it politely, have been challenging. How did Ridgeway prepare for what could be seen as inevitable supply chain issues? “We were told that supplies were slim pickings so we ordered ahead of time. We also work closely with our REHAU rep, and he helped us in emergency procuring an additional PEX gun, as we had ours out on another snowmelt job in a different location, scheduled at the same time,” says Ridgeway.
Maintaining consistent heat with the snowmelt and garage heating was key. Ridgeway says that in general, for snowmelt only projects, he runs approximately 130°-150° water temps, but for this particular project he is keeping it closer to 150° for the garage copper fin baseboard heat without using a mixing valve.
The source responsible for heating this install comes from two HTP Elite boilers, with 199,000 Btus each. “They are made to function as one unit, but they modulate. If only the small load of the garage heat is calling for heat, it turns only one boiler on at its lowest output. When the entire snowmelt system is running, you’ll see both fire at 100 percent. It modulates based on the water temperature and set point it’s trying to reach or maintain,” says Ridgeway.
Other components Ridgeway relied on for the snowmelt job were REHAU PEX tubing and fittings, REHAU PRO BALANCE manifolds, a Calefactio fill station, Grundfos pumps, a Caleffi air eliminator and tekmar 090 and 091 snowmelt sensors, and outdoor sensors and control.
Finally, because of these colder conditions, one other minor challenge for Ridgeway was removing all of the air out of the system. “For system setup, we purged the air with glycol, but due to 13° temps, it was a little more difficult to perform,” says Ridgeway.