Tag Archives: radiant floor heat

Radiant Floor Heat, UC-4B Post Treatment, and Button Staples

This Wednesday the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about the use of radiant floor heat for a post frame building, post treatment that will not rot, and whether or not button staples can be used for housewrap on a post frame house.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am researching my build. I wanted to know since the flooring I want is concrete can heated flooring with the water system be installed in the ground for a pole barn? ERIKA in SHREVEPORT

DEAR ERIKA: Radiant in floor heat is a very popular and efficient method for heating concrete floors in post frame (pole barn) buildings. My own shouse (shop/house) has it (story here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/radiant-floor-heating/).

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I live in a part of Texas that has clay we call blackland prairie clay, black gumbo, and other names I care not mention. Is it possible to sink poles in the ground in this area given the fact that most posts out there are from fast grown lumber? I built a pole barn in 1983 with my father, but that was in sandy loam soil up near Oklahoma. I have 900′ of ranch fencing and poles are always rotting. DANIEL in ROYSE CITY

DEAR DANIEL: Your premature decay of fence posts has nothing to do with how fast lumber grows – it is them not being pressure preservative treated to UC-4B levels. All of our fully engineered post frame (pole barn) buildings utilize this level of pressure treating and it performs admirably. If you are yet concerned, there are options available such as plastic column sleeves, or pouring piers with wet set brackets to keep columns out of ground entirely.

Of greater concern would be your columns moving due to expansive soils (for extended reading: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/07/barndominium-on-expansive-soils/).

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Concerning fastening house wrap, can you use button staples as recommended by house wrap companies? I didn’t know if the button would show through the tin. I don’t want to lose house wrap before tin would be up as we live in a very unpredictable and windy area but also don’t want button to show through tin if that’s a possibility. Thanks! ADAM in COLBY

DEAR ADAM: Weather Resistant Barriers (aka WRB or house wrap) should be installed using flat staples, rather than button staples. Button staples, as you have surmised, may show through steel siding. You want to only install WRB directly ahead of where you are hanging steel, so as not to leave it exposed to winds any more than is necessary.

Radiant Floor Heat, Treated Posts, and “Missed” Screws

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about radiant floor heat, properly treated posts for in ground use, and how to fix screws that did not hit the framing materials.

In Floor Heat System InstallationDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am trying to make a decision on radiant floor heat. The internet has a lot of opinions from a lot of people who are trying to sell one type or the other. Where can I find unbiased information to make an educated decision between electric and hydro systems and how can you get budget estimates for each? BILLY in GOODLETTSVILLE

DEAR BILLY: I have found your best information is going to come from www.RadiantOutfitters.com 1.877.855.2537 they will give you the straight story and not try to sell you anything you do not need.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I live in Louisiana. High humidity, normally higher temps. Perfect for the termites. Am I correct in saying that the posts will be placed in the ground? No termites will eat those posts as long as the post is properly treated. How can I guarantee I am getting properly treated posts, because no company will say they have not properly treated wood? TODD in PONCHATOULA

DEAR TODD: For ease of construction and best structural integrity properly pressure preservative treated columns are best embedded into ground. To insure you are getting properly pressure preservative treated wood for structural in ground use, look for end tags on columns with UC-4B on them. UC-4A treated lumber is not adequate for structural in ground use. Pre-construction termite treatment is also an excellent preventative plan: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/pre-construction-termite-treatment/.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I had a contractor build a small metal building that I plan to make my house. After he left I noticed several places where he screwed through the sheets but missed the metal c channel, leaving holes. Some of them are in the roof and some in the walls. I called him back for warranty and his crew used silicone to patch it. So later I sent him a text about it. He said he would come by so we could discuss it. It’s been a month and I still haven’t heard from him. What can I do to get this fixed and how should he go about the repair? CINDY in TYLER

DEAR CINDY: Your challenge is why I always encourage clients to require a performance bond (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/performance-bonds/). You also should have withheld final payment until a thorough inspection of your building was done, including a punch list of non-conforming issues. Some states require contractor registration, including bonding to give client’s a financial recourse against defective workmanship. Sadly for you, Texas is not one of these states.

Silicone is not an approved fix for ‘shiners’ (screws through steel into air) or holes in roofing or siding. Your only approved fix is to put screws through steel cladding into a solid block of wood on inside.

Your quickest way to get action is going to be to spend a hundred dollars or so to have a construction attorney send a registered letter to your contractor, demanding satisfactory repairs within a reasonable time frame. If this builder has no real assets, chances are he will ignore it entirely, as he knows he has little to fear from losing in court. Ultimately you may need to hire yet another contractor to do your repairs.

Best of luck to you.

 

 

PEX-AL-PEX Tubing for Post Frame Concrete Slabs

PEX-AL-PEX Tubing For Post Frame Concrete Slabs

Long time readers will recall my prior article on PEX tubing for post frame concrete slabs: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/08/pex-tubing/.

I caught up with my friend Les Graham of Radiant Outfitters at the recent NFBA (National Frame Building Association) Expo in Louisville, who I volunteered to do a nice video in regards to better floor tubing and better floor heat.



Besides providing your complete post frame building kit package, Hansen Pole Buildings can also provide a complete kit package for your radiant floor with everything you will need to get your system into a concrete slab on grade (including layout drawings and instructions).  Talk to your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer at (866)200-9657.

Slab on Grade or Crawl Space?

Slab on Grade or Crawlspace?

Long-time readers of this column recall seeing a profuse number of articles written in regards to crawl spaces. These articles have been on a gradual increase since this first one six years ago: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/03/crawl-space/.

With residential post frame construction becoming rapidly more popular as more people discover this system’s benefits, this debate of slab on grade versus crawl space will continue.

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Senior Designer Wayde recently had a client order a new post frame building kit package with an elevated wood floor (to create a crawl space). After client has placed their building order, Wayde came back to me with this, “Can you tell me the Pros and cons of building this as we designed and sold it vs. lowering it three feet and adding a radiant concrete floor?”

I happen to be a big fan of hydronic radiant floor heat in concrete slabs, we have it in our own building: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/radiant-floor-heating/.

Biggest pro of “as is” – living upon a wood floor will be so much more comfortable than upon concrete. Wayde’s client could still do radiant floor heat, should they opt to not go with a forced air HVAC system.

Slab on grade the client will have to (or should) do a post frame shallow frost protected foundation: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/minimizing-excavation-in-post-frame-buildings/. This perimeter rigid board insulation must be covered with rodent proof material.

If I went to slab on grade, I would recommend a minimum R-60 for ceiling, taking a 22 inch deep raised heel truss to allow for adequate depths of blown in insulation. (Read more about raised heel trusses here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/).

For an 8′ finished ceiling, they would then need an eave height of 10′ 2-5/8″. I like taller rooms, so you might want to experiment with eave heights of 11′ 2-5/8″ and 12’2-5/8″ (latter of these will be easier to drywall and will result in least waste).

Making a choice between living on concrete or wood will be one only able to be made prior to time of construction and should not be taken lightly. All factors should be taken into consideration most importantly being what creates a most comfortable living space.

PEX Tubing

I’ve espoused previously on the joys of hydronic radiant floor heating (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/radiant-floor-heating/) and would encourage anyone who is going to install a concrete slab on grade in their new (or existing) post frame (pole) building to consider at least making a provision for it in the future.

As we all realize, once a concrete floor is poured, it is literally “cast in stone”. Without huge expenses, there really is no going back for a do over.

pex tubingThe key to being prepared for the future, is to have PEX tubing installed in the concrete slab at time of pour.

PEX (or crosslinked polyethylene) is part of a water supply piping system which has several advantages over metal pipe (copper, iron, lead) or rigid plastic pipe (PVC, CPVC, ABS) systems. It is flexible, resistant to scale and chlorine, doesn’t corrode or develop pinholes, is faster to install than metal or rigid plastic, and has fewer connections and fittings.

PEX tubing is made from crosslinked HDPE (high density polyethylene) polymer. The HDPE is melted and continuously extruded into tube. The crosslinking of the HDPE is accomplished in one of three different methods.

Crosslinking is a chemical reaction which occurs between polyethylene polymer chains. Crosslinking causes the HDPE to become stronger and resistant to cold temperature cracking or brittleness on impact while retaining its flexibility. The three methods of crosslinking HDPE are the Engels method (PEX-a), the Silane Method (PEX-b), and the Radiation method (PEX-c). Several industry participants claim the PEX-a method yields more flexible tubing than the other methods. All three types of PEX tubing meet the ASTM, NSF and CSA standards.

Some applications require PEX with added oxygen barrier properties. Radiant floor heating (or hydronic heating systems) may include some ferrous (iron-containing) components which will corrode over time if exposed to oxygen. Since standard PEX tubing allows some oxygen to penetrate through the tube walls, various “Oxygen Barrier PEX” tubing has been designed to prevent diffusion of oxygen into these systems. Two types of specialty PEX pipe are offered:

Oxygen barrier PEX has a layer of polymer laminated to the outside surface (or sandwiched internally between PEX layers) which prevents oxygen from penetrating. The polymer film is usually EVOH (ethyl vinyl alcohol copolymer), used in the food industry as an oxygen barrier.

PEX-Al-PEX (or PEX-Aluminum-PEX or “PAP”) is a specialty PEX tubing manufactured by several suppliers. This tubing has a layer of aluminum embedded between layers of PEX to provide an oxygen barrier. PEX-Al-PEX may also be called multilayer pipe or composite plastic aluminum pipe. PEX-Al-PEX will also retain shape when bent, and may also exhibit less expansion and shrinkage during temperature fluctuations, but may be less flexible than PEX tubing. PEX-AL-PEX costs about 30% more than standard PEX.

As with so many things construction, there is one opportunity to do something right or wrong, personally I would recommend making the extra investment in PEX-Al-PEX. The few extra dollars can lead to a lifetime of happy heating for your new pole building.

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