Tag Archives: Post Frame Buildings HVAC

Post-Frame Building Utilities

Post-Frame Building Utilities

Reader MICKEY in LIVINGSTON writes: “How is the wiring and plumbing handled with a construction such as this?”

Utilities for a post-frame building is no different than for any other wood framed structure. During your new post-frame building’s planning phase, you will need to incorporate all necessary considerations for utilities to meet your new structure’s needs. Regardless of use, these may include plumbing and water, electricity, propane and HVAC as required.

Remember your needs may change over time (and often do). Later you may be grateful things like an apparent electrical outlet surplus were incorporated. Additionally, having plumbing fixtures situated at outset can save you money later on.

1. Local Codes and Requirements: During planning phase, you must review your needs with local Planning and Zoning entities. This will give you a better understanding of utilities easily available at your location.

2. Location: Remember, your costs will increase further structure is from closest available public utilitis. If possible, by preplanning you can forego costs of additional trenching or poles to access.

3. Lighting: What is your lighting plan? Will you be creating partitions needing individual lights? Or, are you using overhead lighting to illuminate more expansive, open space?

4. How many extra outlets will you need? Do outlets need different amperages for various tools or appliances?

5. Do you need to plan for an office, storage, tack room, or other temperature-controlled areas? If you choose to accommodate an office or temperature-controlled room, sufficient ducting will be required. Then ensure you plan for heating and air conditioning ductwork, insulation, and electrical outlets for comfort and convenience.

6. Will your HVAC be at ground level or mounted above to provide additional floor space? If above joists must be capable of handling any extra weight from the system.

7. Can you tap into an existing sewer system, or will you need to dig a septic tank? Review to ensure septic tank capacity will be sufficient for your needs as you grow.

8. Will you have a toilet? Remember plumbing for toilets or sinks should come up with an interior wall rather than an exterior wall in freezing climates. If your pipes must come directly from exterior, wrap them in at least 4 inches of insulation with an ample heat source to warm them.

9. Plan for electric meter placement. For aesthetic reasons, you may choose to keep it out of sight with your electrical panel nearby.

Post Frame Indoor Swimming Pool Considerations

In my past life I lived with my family in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Hot summer days filled with sunshine were about as rare as access to nearby lakes – close to zero. Having grown up spending summers at my maternal grandparents’ lake cabin, swimming has always been part of my life. A frequently told fable was my younger brother and I could swim before we could walk!

Given relatively mild winter weather, I opted to have an in-ground outdoor swimming pool added to our backyard. Many an hour was spent in this pool, prior to selling and moving back to my native Spokane area.

Reader CLINT in COLUMBUS writes:
“Saw a post about pole barn over an in ground pool.
Curious about moisture management? My pool builder says a lot of cost but won’t expand on it.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:
Indoor pools demand special monitoring for constant challenge of humidity control. Service pros shouldn’t be expected to maintain dehumidifiers, which are HVAC/R machines requiring EPA-certified technicians. Indoor pools can malfunction quickly, so a typical six-month or annual dehumidifier check-up by an HVAC/R service contractor isn’t enough to detect potentially damaging problems before they blossom.

An indoor pool is a unique synergy of four factors, degradation of any could result in building deterioration, air quality health problems and uncomfortable environmental conditions for users.

1. Building envelope: Indoor pools can experience issues related to construction techniques or building materials. For example, missing or breached vapor barriers can allow damaging condensation to accumulate inside walls. For post frame pool covers, I would recommend use of all pressure preservative treated lumber. Walls must have a totally sealed interior vapor barrier. Depending upon climate, adding a layer of two inch closed cell rigid insulation board to inside of framing reduces thermal transmission between interior and exterior and can be air sealed.

2. Ventilation: Supply air ducts and vents must fully cover exterior windows with conditioned air to avoid condensation. System must move air down to breathing zone for good air quality.

3. Dehumidification: Most indoor pool spaces have a dehumidifier to maintain 50- to 60 percent relative humidity and cool or heat air to a set point temperature. Without it, the space probably depends on outdoor air and exhaust.

4. Water chemistry: Imbalanced chemistry results in buildup of respiratory-affecting chloramines and potentially causing surfaces to corrode.

Most modern dehumidifiers are complete HVAC machines heating or cooling space and use compressor heat recovery to heat pool water.

So space and water temperatures, and relative humidity are key checkpoints. These parameters are displayed on a microprocessor’s LED keypad readout and in many cases can be accessed remotely. A good rule of thumb is to keep a two-degree difference between space (higher) and water (lower) temperatures. A common indoor pool set point is 84°F space, 82°F water temperature and a 60 percent relative humidity. Lowering space temperature by even two degrees increases humidity load by 35 percent, which could surpass a dehumidifier’s capacity.

Many dehumidifier LED keypads have red warning lights to indicate an operation stoppage or problems, which only an HVAC/R technician can repair. This readout menu can be scrolled to find a cause.

No water should leak from inlets or outlets of dehumidifiers with a pool water heating feature. On the other hand, hundreds of pool water heating models have been errantly left unconnected to the pool’s circulation systems. Owners should know water heating connection to a dehumidifier could save hundreds of dollars on utility bills annually.

An overflowing condensate drain pan (or watermark evidence) could point to a potentially damaging drain line blockage.

Condensation on exterior walls and ceilings should not occur. Window and skylight condensation indicates the glass is not covered with warm dehumidified supply air and its temperature has dropped below the dew point.

Premature corrosion on door hardware or room surfaces could indicate a problem.
Indoor pools must operate with a negative building pressure: Approximately 10 percent more air volume should be exhausted than introduced. A malfunctioning exhaust fan or ventilation design can result in positive pressure and push pool air and odors into connected living quarters. Positive pressurization also can push moisture into poorly sealed voids inside walls and above ceilings where it can produce mold and deteriorate the building. Indoor pool building pressure can be easily checked by slightly opening a door and seeing if air is being pulled in (negative) or pushed out (positive).

Dehumidifier supply air blowers generally run 24/7 to offset pool evaporation, so monthly or bi-monthly air-filter replacements may be needed. If the blower isn’t running, there’s something amiss.

Dehumidifier compressors run at least 10 minutes at a time. Hearing compressor short-cycle off and on several times within a minute or two warrants an HVAC/R service contractor’s attention. Very noisy ductwork, such as drum head effects and extreme vibrations, could point to a poor ventilation design. Unusual sounds, such as fan belts squealing or worn out motor or blower bearings, also require an HVAC/R contractor.

A final note: Suggesting owners call their dehumidifier maker rather than an HVAC/R contractor usually won’t help because they rarely perform repairs. However, a factory tech’s review of data can help HVAC/R service pros troubleshoot issues.

Modern Post Frame Buildings and Geothermal

Modern Post Frame Buildings and Geothermal

Over the past few years, there has been a trend towards building modern climate controlled post frame buildings for homes and commercial use, but the HVAC Systems in these buildings remains outdated. Most climate controlled post frame buildings are still being built with inefficient gas or propane furnaces, coupled sometimes with an air source air conditioning unit. Some post frame buildings are being built with ductless heating and cooling systems coupled with electric resistance heaters, but this is just as ineffective and environmentally harmful as natural gas. A geothermal heating and cooling system is the ideal HVAC system for a modern climate controlled post frame building. It is efficient, economic, environmentally friendly, safe, comfortable, flexible, and is overall the perfect HVAC system.

Gambrel roof pole barnThe cost of building ownership is comprised of its principal, interest, tax, insurance, energy, utility and maintenance costs. While geothermal will increase the principal payment of your post frame building, it will cut the energy costs by 50% – 70% for the lifetime of the building. At the end of the day, the cost of building ownership is actually LESS with geothermal than with a conventional HVAC system . Geothermal, in comparison to conventional HVAC, is cleaner, greener, more efficient, safer, lasts longer, more elegant, has lower maintenance costs, is flexible to design & install, is more comfortable, and reduces your post frame building’s carbon footprint by more than half!  

Geothermal allows for a huge flexibility in the selection of a delivery system. You can have virtually any heating and cooling delivery system you want! Geothermal is a 3-in-1 System. It will heat in the winter, cool in the summer, and heat your domestic hot water year round!

Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on the heavily debated climate change issue continuing to burn gas, oil, or propane to heat a building makes NO SENSE when you can heat your post frame with geothermal without lighting a single flame!

If you are a person who wants to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, then a Geothermal System also becomes the obvious choice. Natural gas and ductless plus electric resistance systems emit about three to four times more CO2 than a geothermal system.  Propane and oil systems are even worse, emitting 35-40 TIMES MORE CO2 than a Geothermal System!

As quoted from the U.S. General Accounting Office, “…if Geothermal Heat Pumps were installed nationwide, they could save several billion dollars annually in energy costs and substantially reduce pollution.” It is time to start doing what is necessary to move us in the right direction.

My wife and utilized geothermal in our post frame home and are glad we did. Even if you are not planning upon climate controlling now, read more about how to prepare for the future here:  https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/08/pex-tubing/.