A number of readers have written, asking about the progress of our church project. I had moved to other topics for a few weeks as we went through a stage of assembly that, while necessary, was far from interesting. Raising the loft beams, creating interior walls and a long list of other construction details go into every major renovation such as this. As is clear from the pictures (see below) this week, we have, in fact, moved ahead remarkably well and our plans to move in at some point in September are on target.

   Every project, big or small usually has an unexpected setback or two and some even have pleasant surprises. Having searched out a local welding firm to get the spiral staircase repaired and a custom railing built, Paul Cameron arrived, looked at the job and, the following week sent his partner, Jim, to start the job. This young man fixed the staircase and then, working off a drawing on a piece of drywall, he took our railing parts back to his shop. Three days later he returned with an absolute work of art, the picture in this week’s column says it all. Nice to see a young tradesman with this kind of skill level.

   At this stage, the heating and domestic hot water (DHW) hydronic forced air system is ready to be installed. We elected to go with a combination high efficiency boiler with both heat and hot water capabilities. Our HVAC specialist, Brad from Dr. Comfort, having sat in on the initial meeting some months ago, knew what we intended to do with the church and offered his experience. We are very fortunate to have Tracy Vignola at Tackaberry’s in Kingston on our team, as well. In my humble opinion, Tracy is a walking encyclopedia on hydronic heating systems and we closely followed his lead on this one. He recommended a Triangle Tube combination heat and DHW boiler, tied to a Lifebreath Air Handler and for fresh air, back to Lifebreath again for the HRV system. This system is actually a second set of ducting, maximizing the benefits of an HRV.

     The heat loss calculations on our church, considering the level of insulation, windows and air seal, came in at a staggeringly small 40,000 BTU. Considering the church is 1200 sq. ft. with 17 foot high ceilings, this is amazing. There are hot water heaters producing more BTU’s than we need to heat the entire “green church

    I will step back and explain what “Hydronic Heating” is. This method of heating is one of the oldest types of systems used in a home. Heritage buildings with boilers in the cellar and a radiator in every room were one of the first central types of heating systems. Today they are being utilized for in-floor radiant heating, as well as a forced air system, such as we are installing. A hydronic system moves water, or in some cases glycol, through a heat source boiler, then, by means of a circulating pump, to a radiator. In our case, a larger radiator or coil, as it’s also called, within a cabinet called an air handler that’s fitted with a fan to move this heat through the ducting system. The water is not the heat, rather the “conveyor belt” that moves the heat produced by the boiler, allowing it to be emitted by the air flow over this radiator installed inside the handler.

    Working with Tracy, we selected the right wall boiler for our DHW needs. From a personal perspective, I am not in favor of keeping 40 gallons of water hot 24 hours a day as most homes do. The Triangle Tube Combi boiler will give us instant hot water. We are also planning a hot tub and Tracy was able to configure a method for heating this, too. Modern wall boilers have come a long way. This unit, as do others like Viesmann, produce efficiencies comfortably in the mid 90% Annual Fuel Use Efficiency (AFUE) rating, making them comparable to any modern high efficiency furnace. Our boiler has an AFUE rating of 93.5. This model has an adjustable modulation built into its operational system, ranging from 23-84 BTU.  This automatically regulates the capacity of the boiler to the demands of the system, unlike older systems where they come on full blast from the start.  Brad, really likes this make for use in the country. He has found, by experience, that on propane, the vertical heat exchanger has long term reliability. Coupled with the 10 year heat exchanger warranty that Triangle offers, this was an easy decision for us.

   With a home this air tight, an HRV system is a must and we followed Tracy’s advice here, as well. Our HRV comes with a dual core and an energy saving ECM motor. This unit is rated at 88% effectiveness; one of the highest ratings on the market today. We also went with an independent ducting system so that the air circulation is not tied to the heating system, again making the air quality that much better in the church.

    I have included pictures from the church for the many readers who asked for an update on our progress. The new windows are in, in front of the original ones, and the 2 inch thick solid pine sills are ready to be installed. Other than the final finish, the plumbing and wiring is done. With the walls all but complete, the flooring has been selected and the kitchen will be put in place next week.  We are looking forward to our new/old home. If you wish to see past columns, the photo gallery or make a comment, go to www.alltechgreenchurch.ca