Tag Archives: floor heating

Dear Guru: Did I Get the Right Trusses?

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I need to confirm that I was shipped the correct trusses for finishing out the ceiling.

On the plan drawings the ceiling joist are called out as 2×4’s on 24 inch center but are drawn with 2×6 bottom chords on the trusses.

The trusses I received are entirely manufactured with 2×4’s.  Is that correct? I know the plans state that the trusses are “Pre-fab trusses per truss manufacturer”, but do these meet the engineering design of my Hansen building and your engineering?

I read too in the plan general notes that the web design of trusses may vary from that depicted in the plans.  What I read on the truss manufacturers spec sheet I think they do but there are a lot of abbreviations and assorted alphabet soup acronyms that I don’t understand fully.

Thanks in advance, for confirming this for me. FLOUNDERING IN FINCASTLE

DEAR FLOUNDERING: The drawings for your building are done by draftspersons prior to the trusses being ordered and are merely a representation of the profile of the trusses, they are not meant to be an exact diagram of how any individual truss might actually be fabricated.

In review of the truss drawings provided by the fabricator, please note a box about 1/2 way down the page on the left side entitled “LOADING”. BCDL (bottom chord dead load) is listed as being 5 psf, which is adequate to support 5/8″ gypsum drywall, the ceiling joists and the weight of insulation.

These trusses meet the specifications of the building and properly installed should provide a sturdy roof system for generations.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I was just looking at your post from 2012 about the geothermal/radiant heating system you installed for your office there.  My wife and I are planning to renovate a barn on our property about the same size as your building and were looking to do something similar – radiant in an at-grade slab powered by geothermal.  I’d be interested in learning more about your experience with this, if you use any backup heating, how you are heating upper floors, what you do for cooling, and any other tips you might share.  We have a lot of space available for a geo field so I’d like to be able to get as much out of it as possible. IDEATING IN IOWA CITY

DEAR IDEATING: Thank you very much for reading the article. The geothermal wells are actually maybe the easiest part of the entire process and I kick myself for allowing my HVAC guy to talk me out of doing them when I remodeled my home in WA 23 years ago.

I can truthfully say I am fairly unknowledgeable when it comes to heating and cooling systems. I do know the mechanical side of our particular system is fairly unreliable, which I fault the company which did the original work, not the process itself.

On the upside – the cost to heat and cool both floors is very economical. We own a double-wide mobile home across the road from this building which we always thought was fairly reasonable, but the barn costs are about half of what it costs to heat and cool the mobile home, and it’s over 4 times larger. We love it that the floors on the lower level are always somewhat warm.

We do use electric forced air to handle the air in the upper floors.

For real expert advice, I’d suggest contacting www.radiantoutfitters.com

Mike the Pole Barn Guru


I’m looking to install a Sliding Steel Door to fit an opening of 10 ft high by 12 ft wide onto my Man Cave.

The building is sided in grey vinyl.   What color options are available?

We get winter snow so would January operation of the door be affected??  Does it have bottom rollers or simply hang from the top?

Are these doors secure from vandals??


DEAR LOREN: There are going to be some good things and bad things about sliding doors. Most people think of sliding doors as the first option, in the belief they will be significantly less expensive. In most cases, this is just not the case.


They can be sided with any possible material – including gray vinyl. Least expensive and most durable will be steel siding which is available in a wide variety of colors.


They are not airtight – go with the assumption your neighbor’s cat will be able to enter your building.
They are not practical to insulate.
While they do have trolleys which hang from an overhead track, there is also a bottom guide attached to the base of the wall in the direction the door slides.
In all probability, in snow country, the door will probably get frozen in one position.
Generally I would not consider them as being secure from vandals – they will keep the honest people honest.
Electric openers are far more costly than standard openers.

In all probability your best option will be a sectional overhead door.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating

When planning the administrative offices of Hansen Pole Buildings, we looked at the most efficient method to heat and cool a building which would have 8000 square feet of finished space. After weighing all of the options, it was determined the answer would be hydronic radiant floor heating, poured within the concrete floor.

Hansen Buildings Admin BuildingOur particular system utilizes a mixture of water and anti-freeze (propylene glycol) as the heat transfer fluid in a closed loop which is recirculated through a series of 16 wells which are 180 feet deep. There, the mixture returns to the 50-55 degree F. temperature of the below frost line ground. For summer cooling, the mixture is merely circulated through the slab. In winter, it is far easier and more efficient to use the geothermal heat pump to heat from this temperature to a comfortable room temperature, than it would be to heat outside air from 40 or more degrees below zero.

The radiant floor heating system is divided into several zones, which can be adjusted independent of each other. This allows for warmer spaces to be created in habited spaces.

Various types of pipes are available specifically for hydronic floor heating and cooling systems and are generally made from polyethylene including PEX.

Hydronic systems can use a single source or combination of energy sources to help manage energy costs. Hydronic system energy source options are boilers or heat pumps. Boilers can be powered by natural gas, coal, oil or waste oil (see https://www.econoheat.com/), electricity, solar thermal, wood or bio-fuels. Heat pumps can be electrical, natural gas, or (as in our case geothermal).

Under floor heating influences the radiant exchange by thermally conditioning the interior surfaces with low temperature long wave radiation. The heating of the surfaces suppresses body heat loss resulting in a perception of heating comfort. This general sensation of comfort is further enhanced through conduction (feet on floor) and through convection by the surface’s influence on air density. Under floor cooling works by absorbing both short wave and long wave radiation resulting in cool interior surfaces. These cool surfaces encourage the loss of body heat resulting in a perception of cooling comfort.

From a personal standpoint, the radiant floor heating and cooling in this building “just feels good” all the time. Despite at least two zones having no floor covering over the concrete, even at 40 below zero the rooms always feel warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Under floor heating can have a positive effect on the quality of indoor air by facilitating the choice of otherwise perceived cold flooring materials such as tile, slate, terrazzo and concrete. These masonry surfaces typically have very low VOC emissions (volatile organic compounds) in comparison to other flooring options. In conjunction with moisture control, floor heating also establishes temperature conditions which are less favorable in supporting mold, bacteria and dust mites. There is recognition from the medical community relating to the benefits of floor heating especially as it relates to allergens.

Having sufficient insulation beneath the concrete floor, as well as at the perimeter of the slab is essential for ultimate system performance (R-10 expanded polystyrene (EPS) rigid insulation boards). The prediction was it would take about 48 hours to get the system up to a comfortable room temperature; however we found it to take only about eight hours.

The beauty of this system is, we can open one of the large overhead doors when it is far below zero outside….and after closing the door, the area is back to a comfortable temperature nearly immediately!  And talk about HVAC efficiency.  Our heating/cooling bills are amazingly low to where I can definitely vouch for the installer’s prediction of “paying for itself” is not an idle claim.