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Hydronic Heat and Relative Humidity and Home Comfort

One reason people prefer a hot water heating system over a forced air heating system is they say “the hot water heating system does not dry out the air like a forced air system does”. This is true because with hot water heating there is less infiltration and exfiltration of air into and out of your home. Forced air heating systems increase infiltration and exfiltration of a home’s air due to slight pressure differences

During the heating season the relative humidity level inside your home-

  1. Has a huge impact on your level of comfort.  Relative humidity should not be less than 30% and should not exceed 60% according to the “standard effective temperatures and ASHRAE comfort zones”. ASHRAE stands for the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Low relative humidity levels increase evaporation from nose and throat membranes and also cause dryness of your hair and skin. Within the 30% to 60% humidity range, a 10% increase in relative humidity will increase the “apparent temperature” you feel by approximately 1˚F.
  2. Has a significant effect on the control of air-borne infection; 50% relative humidity appears to be the optimum level to control air-borne infections. The desired range is between 30% and 60% relative humidity.
  3. Has a significant impact on static electricity inside your home. A relative humidity of 45% or more usually reduces or eliminates electrostatic effects in many materials.
  4. Low relative humidity can damage wood floors, furniture and art work.

As a rule of thumb, a warm air furnace’s humidifier will use around 5 gallons of water per day. It takes around 41,000 BTUs to add this 5 gallons of water liquid to the homes air by making the liquid water vapor. This adds up to a lot of extra energy used per year just to maintain humidity level. Remember this does not increase the actual temperature of your air, it just adds water as vapor to increase humidity.

Normal living activities such as showers, washing cloths and dish washing add around .7 pounds of water per hour as water vapor to a home, this is for a family of 4. Since hot water heating systems minimize infiltration and exfiltration of air, normal living activities can maintain a desirable humidity level in home with hot water heat.

The bottom line is to minimize your energy costs you should minimize infiltration and exfiltration of your homes air. It costs a lot of money just to heat the introduced air and significant additional money to replace lost moisture to maintain a comfortable and healthy humidity level inside your home. At 70˚F, for every 10% increase in relative humidity you can decrease your home’s temperature by 1˚F while retaining the same level of comfort, so with increased humidity you can lower your thermostat setting while maintaining the same comfort level.

We hope by reading this you have a better understanding of relative humidity, how relative humidity affects your comfort level and health, why warm air heat is notorious for “drying” the air in a home and why hot water heat is a more effective and efficient way to heat your home.

If you want to increase the relative humidity inside your home there are many options. One humidifier, centrally located, within your home is adequate for humidity will travel to all rooms provided the room doors are open. Be advised, it will take about 1000 Btuh to bring one pound of water liquid to water vapor to raise relative humidity. So minimizing infiltration and exfiltration of your homes air will save energy, improve comfort and help keep your home healthy.

More interesting reading

Relative humidity levels depend on ambient air pressure and for the example below we will use sea level or an ambient pressure of 14.7 P.S.I.

  1. 35˚F air at 100% relative humidity heated to 70˚F air results in a relative humidity level around 28%
  2. 70˚F air at 50% relative humidity cooled to around 500F has 100% relative humidity.
  3. A 1,500 square foot house with 8 foot ceilings has around 12,000 cubic feet of air.
  4. At 70˚F and 0% relative humidity it would take adding 6.9 pounds of water to bring the 12,000 cubic foot house to 50% relative humidity.
  5. I takes around 6,900  BTUs to add 6.9 pounds water as vapor to increase relative humidity in a 12,000 cubic foot home. 1 gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds.
  6. Normal living activities such as showers, cloths and dishwashing add water vapor to your home every day. A family of 4 adds around .7 lbs./hr. or 16.8 lbs./day of water vapor to their home. An average house has around 1 Air Change per Hour (ACH)

As a rule of thumb a warm air furnace humidifier would use roughly 5 gallons of water per day to add humidity to a home. This is in addition to the normal addition of water vapor to your home through cooking, showers, dishwashing and additional various normal living conditions. 1 gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds, therefore 5 gallons weighs 41.5 pounds. It takes around 41,500 BTUs to add 41.5 pounds of water as vapor to your house, this is for 1 day.  The bottom line is it costs a significant amount of money to add humidity to your home. With hot water heat you minimize this cost.

Naturally, this does not address the airborne contaminants and dust from unsanitary ductwork or the drafts and noise from warm air furnace heating systems. That is another story.

Actions speak louder than words


You find out what companies are best when the worst goes wrong. I have been installing Slant/Fin products since the 70’s. The most recent, the CHS series high efficiency gas boilers. I have installed several of these. Never a problem, UNTIL!. Can you believe this, my own boiler, Saturday, February, snow storm! The worst of the worst.

No ignition, with an error code not in the book. So I call Factory rep, Jim. He tells me, ” give me 15 minutes, I’ll call you back.” Ten minutes later, I get a call from Bill, another service rep. I tell him the circumstances. Either a control board or a sensor. “Where do you live”, he asks. I give him my address. Two hours later, he arrives at my house in a blinding snow storm to deliver a control and sensor. Luckily, a sensor. Five minute job.

I had this happen one other time at another place a couple of years later. Same thing. Two hours later, the part was at my door.

This is why I install Slant Fin products. Any product can have a glitch once in a while. It’s factory service that counts. And I have never dealt with a better company in my 40 years in business.

Thanks, John, Jim, and Bill for always going above and beyond.

Dick Stetson

Hydronic Heat- the Better Choice…here’s why.

Comfort and Health: Hot water and steam heat systems rely on natural convective air currents and radiation of heat. Forced air movement is good for cooling, but poor for heating for drafts have a cooling effect on your body (that is why fans are used on hot days). Ducted air systems also tend to be dirty while the gentle convective air movement in hydronic heating systems does not “stir” the dirt, hydronic heat is cleaner and healthy. Many people have converted their warm air heating system to hydronic heat due to dust allergies.

Efficient: Hydronic heat uses small pipes to transport heat to heated areas. Heat lost through these pipes is minimal. Forced air uses large ducts, large ducts lead to air leaks with large heat losses. Moving hot water throughout a typical house requires a circulator pump that uses a lot less than 100 Watts and it budget figure is around $25.00 of electricity per year. A typical forced air heating system’s blower uses more than 500 Watts and it costs approximately $200.00 of electricity per year to move the warm air throughout the house. A hot water boiler and warm air furnace A.F.U.E. range is generally from 82% to 95%, so that is similar. However it does cost a lot more to distribute heated air throughout a house than it does to circulate hot water throughout the house.
Quite: Hydronic heating systems are generally quieter than a warm air system. With hydronic heat the hot water is gently circulated through small pipes. With warm air is forced through the ducts and discharged into a room with fast enough air flow often creating a “whooshing” noise.

Bottom line is hydronic heating systems are:

  • More Comfortable
  • Healthier
  • More efficient
  • Quieter

The one drawback is a forced air system is cheaper to buy.
But do you live in the cheapest house or drive the cheapest car?

Choosing the Right Boiler for your Home


Just like other home appliances your home’s heating boiler has a life expectancy. Perhaps your boiler is reaching the age when you should consider replacing it. Most boilers installed since the mid 1980s are over 80% efficient. However similar to other appliances this efficiency can drop with extended use. Perhaps you want to improve your heating boiler efficiency and lower your fuel costs. We want you to make an educated decision in choosing the correct boiler that will satisfy your individual needs.

Items to consider in selecting a new boiler for your home.

Size- Bigger is not better. Your home heating boiler should be properly sized for your home. A steam heating boiler is sized according to the “connected load” which means how much radiation needs to be supplied with steam. Hot water boilers are different. For a hot water boiler a “heat loss” should be performed. Then a hot water boiler should be selected to satisfy the heat loss. In cases where your hot water heating system is a “large water capacity system” boiler sizing will be increased to account for unusual piping and pick up. Have a heat loss done before selecting a new hot water boiler.

Type of fuel- generally natural gas is the low cost fuel for homes in the USA in recent years. Sometimes electrical rates are so low that electricity is the low cost fuel. Often natural gas is not available in an area and the homeowner must select between LP Gas fired, Oil fired or Electricity. Here are heat content of popular fuels
1 Therm of natural gas= 100,000 BTU
1 gallon #2 fuel oil = 139,000 BTU
1 gallon of LP Fuel = 91,000 BTU
1 KW electricity= 3413 BTU
Venting- do you want to vent into a chimney, side wall or thru the roof. Most applications still use the chimney, however as boilers become more efficient either lining the chimney or using side wall or through the roof venting may be necessary. Generally gas fired boilers under 85% can exhaust into a chimney and over 85% must exhaust through either special stainless steel or plastic venting material.

Efficiency- as stated above most “chimney’ vented boilers’ efficiencies are under 85% A.F.U.E.. to achieve 90% A.F.U.E. or above the boiler must be a “condensing boiler”. A condensing boiler becomes more efficient by condensing the water vapor that is a by-product formed during the gases combustion process. If you are operating a high efficiency condensing boiler to generate 180F water you are not achieving 90% efficiency, at this temperature the efficiency will be around 88%. A modulating and condensing boiler has an added operational feature of varying the energy input (and therefore consumed) based on actual heating load at any given time. This does add to the operating efficiency of a modulating and condensing boiler. A high efficiency condensing boiler starts condensing when the heating system water is around 130F.

Life Expectancy- Generally a cast iron boiler has a 30 year or more life expectancy. A high efficiency modulating and condensing boiler’s life expectancy is about one half of the time. This is an important factor in determining what your return on investment will be for a high efficiency boiler.

Conclusion- Buying a new boiler is a major expense and a major investment for your home. As other investments there are advantages to standard efficiency boilers and to high efficiency boilers. Make an educated decision, not an emotional one. We suggest you write down your goals and determine what product best meets your particular goals.

Hydronic Heating: A New Way to Save Energy

Hydronic heating is a great way to save energy and still stay warm, without sacrificing comfort. Hydronic heating works by circulating hot water throughout a location by warming the essential parts of a house like baseboards, radiators, or radiant tubing in floors or ceilings.

Hydronic heating works by moving heat using the conductor of water to where it is most needed to warm a space. Unlike furnaces, which simply warm the air and disperse warm air throughout the house, hydronic heating uses water instead as its “conveyor belt” that moves the heat via the water to its destinations.

• Unsurpassed comfort
• Energy saving
• Design versatility
• Clean operation
• Easy installation

-Hydronic heating uses boilers (either gas boilers or oil boilers) for the medium that it needs to heat up the water that will pass through the various channels. This saves energy by bypassing the need for furnaces or central heating and will also save on your heat bill.
-Since using gas boilers or oil boilers keeps the process localized in a central boiler or chamber, energy is contained within a specific area until the product (heat) is dispersed throughout the house or building via warm water that has been heated up by the boilers.
-This method of heating is also ideal due to the fact that there is less heat loss, which often results in higher energy bills. Because a hydronic heating system does not focus on air exchange where some heat can escape, the warm is dispersed through a contained environment that results in radiant floor heating and this creates a more even heating result throughout the space.

Hydronic heating is perhaps one of the best methods to keep heat in during the cold months, and the cold out. It saves energy by keeping the heating system in a contained environment and disperses the heat evenly through a process known as radiant heating. But your system is only as good as your equipment. It is important to keep your boilers upgraded so that your system will operate at peak efficiency. By replacing old equipment, such as gas boilers regularly, you will keep your hydronic system running at top efficiency at all times. Upgrading your boilers and other equipment also keeps your system running clean, which further contributes to protecting your energy source and the environment. By keeping your hydronic heating parts updated and running clean, you will enjoy a better heating system for years to come, save money on energy bills, and know that you are doing your part to preserve the environment.


The next entry in….
From Daniel Y. of Lowell Mechanical, Medford, NY
East Hampton 4,500 sq/ft private home (6) zone Climate Master Geo thermal heating and cooling system with Slant/Fin CHS high efficiency L.P. fired boiler for supplemental heat, hot water, pool heat, spa heat and garage heat.


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Cleaning a new steam boiler installation

New steam boiler installations introduce chemicals, such as cutting oils, into the steam system. Mud and dirt build up in the system piping for years and often breaks loose during removal of the old boiler and installation of the new boiler. This often leads to foaming (priming) and surging of the boiler water. Surging and priming lead to low water cut-off shutting off the boiler and can also lead to boiler failure. Clean water is required to prevent this. Therefore new steam boiler installations require cleaning, this cleaning may require multiple return visits to the job.

A clean system and clean water are the goals. Even when you clean the boiler water in a new replacement boiler after operation scale, dirt and oils present in the system piping will be flushed back to the boiler.

Boiler and system cleaning

  1. Draining and flushing of the boiler will remove solid material and dissolved additives, however it does not remove oils, grease or other films that have lined the boiler and system piping.
  2. Chemical cleaners made specifically for steam boiler systems, such as Utility brand “Dry Stream”, help prevent priming and foaming surging, also loosen rust and mineral deposits and aid in cleaning of the boiler and system. Remember to flush all additives from the boiler and system after a week or two. Dry Steam is a product of Utility Manufacturing located in Westbury, NY. We have found Dry Steam to be an effective boiler cleaner.
  3. Dry Steam is a great cleaner and there are a couple of methods for “blowing-off” a Slant/Fin steam boiler.
    1. Galaxy GXH and GXHA boilers without tankless coils have a skimming trough built into the casting. This trough is located just below the normal water level. The double sided trough extends for 6 inches in the boiler casting, this gives 12 effective inches to skim the top layer (where the oils sit) of the water surface. Follow the detailed instructions within the Galaxy steam boiler installations instruction to take advantage of this unique feature.
    2. Boilers without a skimming trough.
      1. Turn off electrical power supply to boiler. Allow boiler to cool down and also allow pressure to reduce to zero before attempting removal of components. Check for pressure by testing pop safety valve. With no pressure in boiler install skimmer valve and skimming piping as shown in Figure B. Make sure the bucket used to catch skimming discharge if covered with a cloth to help prevent hot skimming discharge escaping the bucket and leading to a dangerous situation.
      2. Cautiously open the skimming valve, do not open the boiler drain valve. Slowly fill the boiler with water until water seeps into the bucket. Maintain this water level so you are just able to continue skimming. Fire the boiler and allow water the slowly skim and seep into the bucket. Empty the bucket frequently and continue skimming until water is clean and no oil can be seen floating on top of the water in the bucket. This process may have to be repeated until the system and system water are clean. On dirty systems this process may have to be repeated after a few days or weeks.
      3. When finished remove the skimming piping, remove tee below pop safety valve and install pop safety valve following the boiler’s installation manual.
      4. Never install a valve between the boiler and the pop safety valve. Install discharge piping on the pop safety valve following the boiler’s installation manual and local codes. Make sure all pipe connected to the pop safety valve is sized the same as the pipe connections to the valve. Never decrease the pipe size connected to the inlet and discharge sides of the pop safety. Never have a valve installed in the piping to or discharge side of the pop safety valve.
    3. Never add any type of chemical or cleaner to a steam boiler or steam system unless it is a product made specifically for steam systems. In a low pressure steam boiler water liquid expands around 1700 times when the water becomes low pressure steam. A lot of action goes on within a steam boiler so the boiler and system must be clean to produce quality dry steam into a steam heating system. Further, to ensure proper water level stability during steam boiler operation it is imperative the “near boiler piping” is installed exactly as detailed in our boilers’ installation instructions. During operation the pressure at the supply and return openings to the steam boiler must be equal, this is why you install the “equalizer” piping. Improper piping and cleaning of a steam boiler also leads to noisy banging (water hammer) in the system pipes. Steam velocity is fast and can exceed 40 miles per hour, this is one reason why “dry steam” is the only steam that should leave a steam boiler.
    4. We suggest you adjust the cut-out for the PA404A1009 Pressuretrol to a maximum of 2 P.S.I.G. with a 0.5 P.S.I.G. cut-in for normal residential boiler operation.

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Cleaning and Service should only be done by Certified Contractors

Slant/Fin’s new Decorator Series elevates baseboard heating to a whole new design level with exciting new colors

Decorator Baseboard Sign 2

Greenvale, NY – Slant/Fin Corp. has taken baseboard heating to the next level.  Slant/Fin Decorator Series premium baseboard is now available in a range of decorator colors to meet growing architectural and contractor demand for residential baseboard heating that offers more flexibility through colors to complement any home décor.
The Decorator Series is available in 30 Series, Multi/Pak 80 Series, as well as commercial fin-tube radiation products. The new colors are Brite White, Shell White, Almond, Mineral Bronze, Rubbed Bronze, Cloud Grey, Flat Black, and Mirror Black.
Decorator Series is powder-coated and then baked to create an appliance-like finish that resists scratches, rust and chipping more effectively than any other residential baseboard on the market while enhancing any home interior at an affordable price. They are easy to clean and made with an eco-friendly electrostatic process that uses 100% organic compounds.
Premium Baseboard and Commercial Fin-Tube Radiation heating can now be treated as an important visual element that contributes not only to the heating comfort of a room but its complete look and feel from an architectural standpoint. With a depth of just under 3 inches the 30-DS is non-invasive and can finally be looked upon to complement interior design.
Slant/Fin Decorator Series is manufactured with the same features that contractors have grown to love and trust for over 60 years, which is why Slant/Fin continues to be America’s #1 brand of baseboard for use in home renovation and new construction.
Slant/Fin is America’s leading manufacturer of baseboard heating equipment, and a top US manufacturer of gas and oil Residential, Commercial and High Efficiency Boilers.
Since 1949 contractors and homeowners have come to know and trust the company’s record of high-quality innovation, now with exciting new colors to take any room décor to the next level.
For more information, please contact your local wholesaler or call 516-484-2610 ext 369.

The CHS Boiler from Slant/Fin

CHS boiler

The new generation of high efficiency, modulating, condensing gas boiler is here.  This Energy Star rated boiler sports an ultra-durable stainless steel heat exchanger that is highly corrosion resistant.  It has a 5:1 turndown ratio and has the advanced Sola controller and Hapi interface.  The CHS boiler comes in 8 sizes to fit a wide range of applications

Show & Tell Boiler Installation Contest Entry

The next entry in….

From Chris S. of JV Enterprise, LLC, Grand Forks, ND
Slant/Fin S60 in a vintage sign collector’s shop (museum).
Glycol make-up injection pump.
Variable speed injection for floor heat.
High temp zone for forced air handler for quick recovery.

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