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potential Eichler owner

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Joined: May 12 2004

hi --
thought I posted something, but apparently it's been eaten.

Put a deposit down on an Eichler in Palo Alto area. The floor heating has been decomissioned, there's forced air HVAC. Supposedly this means the floor will be cold, so we're thinking about new floor heating.

Saw the step warmfloor product mentioned, but my understanding is electric heating is a nono in CA. So, what other options are there? Someone said something about laying some thin pipes & pouring 2" of concrete. Seems like a lot of work! How cold is this floor going to be without heat?

Anyway, there are other issues but this seems like the major one. Thoughts?

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

this is my first house with floor heating; the others all had forced air/heat. What's the big deal about floor heating? Yeah, I guess my feet are warm in the mornings, but it's not as easy to regulate the temperature in my house with the radiant, so some afternoons it's pretty hot in here even when the boiler's off.

I say wear some socks and don't worry about it. Besides, if your floor already has wood or carpet, I wouldn't even think it would be that noticeable. Tile, maybe--but then just go for the socks. Way cheaper than pouring concrete!

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Joined: Feb 15 2004

Well, if electric heating is a no-no in California, somebody better tell about 80 % of the owners, and PG&E !!!

Joined: Mar 2 2004

The temperature of the concrete floor is nearly the same summer and winter. Someone can probably tell us exactly. Your forced air system will be less expensive to use than the radiant. I love radiant heat; the floor is warm on cold mornings, feels cool on hot days. Radiant works when doors are closed and there is no noisy air blowing. I believe it may be OK to heat a small percentage of your home with electric i.e. bathroom floors. You can check with your City. Radiant is wonderful with small children. They can do a pretty good imitation of a dust-mop.

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Joined: May 12 2004

thanks for the quick responses! Further research leads me to believe that you can install electric *if* you can prove it is energy efficient. The Title 24 compliance manual is 3 megabytes, so hopefully the contractors who do this sort of work have a handle on it.

Anyway, other problems have cropped up and we're not sure we will go with the house. The garage was converted, and an extension added, and both seem to have zoning and structural issues (and esthetic issues, ie not very 'Echler-ish'). While the house seems eminently livable, we're concerned about getting into permit hell and overruns with any renovations, and even if we don't do them, the liability is going to reduce resale value and liquidity. We need a place we can turn around without too much hassle, so maybe a more pristine Eichler would be preferable.

As a builder who looked at it said, if it's got too many Eichler-specific problems, you're probably better off with a 'normal' house.
:(

-dbm

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Joined: Jan 4 2004

I have plenty of direct experience with electric heating systems being used a a primary heat source in many residences throughout the Bay Area. I do know that generally electric systems tend to be more expensive to run than gas, we'll see what energy prices do this next year.
It is possible to repair an in floor system if is copper (as opposed to galvanized steel tubing), but you really need to pressure test the system, have the boiler examined, and make a value judgement as to the various types of heating systems and the costs to run, install and maintain, as well as the impact the different systems have on day to day life.
I'm going to talk to the building dept. tomorrow about a step floor system for a contract that I am building right now. Maybe I'll check back in later with what happens.

renman

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

I lOVE the radiant heating. I have never lived in a home that has had such well controlled temperature. I set the therm. and then leave it all winter. My heating bill high was $260, but it is worth it.

I went to a friends this winter and was appalled at the forced air. It is loud and obvious. Also, I noticed the temp. fluctuation from when the warm air is blowing and then turns off. Annoying. I'm spoiled now.

I spent a lot of money to repair my copper system and replace the boiler and think it was the best upgrade decision I made for my home. No regrets!

My personal opinion of course.

t

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Joined: Apr 2 2003

Perhaps you already plan this, but I'd recommend living through a winter with the floor as-is to see how severe the problem is. That will help you decide whether a few area rugs and slippers will do --or wall to wall carpet--or floor heating.

BTW, I seem to recall you can buy warming pads that fit between the an area rug and the floor. There are lots of solutions, once you know *for sure* the problem exists and to *to what extent*.

You want to make the right choice and you don't want to waste your money --after all, there are always other great things to spend it on :-). Just my 2 cents.

jake

eichfan at rawbw dot com

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

The Warmfloor product is a low-voltage system and from the technical specs and test results I have seen, is extremely energy efficient. Go to the website and look at their test house in Sweden. If it can keep things warm during one of those winters--and do so at a low cost--it could be a great alternative to traditional in floor heating systems.

The problem in passing Title 24 code in CA, from the interviews I have done on the subject, appears to relate to the inflexibility of the code in not being able to give credit for new and emerging technologies. While I would not consider WarmFloor and emerging technology (It has been used in Norway and Sweden for at least 20 years now), it is still relatively new in the States. Aparently the code has some prohibition on electric heating systems, in an effort to encourage/require folks to use natural gas instead.

I know of several contractors in the Bay Area that are now, or are planning in the future, to use this product on job sites. I am not sure about the permitting issue. It could be that they are trying to go through the permit process, or perhaps they are going to just avoid the subject all together.

Cathye

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