Category: Major Systems


Expansion Tanks: What Are They and Why Are They Important?

When water is heated, it expands, increasing the pressure in closed heating systems. Over time, these pressure fluctuations can damage the system's components. An expansion tank is designed to alleviate this pressure and extend the life of your system. Here's how it works.

Expansion Tank Diagram

Expansion Tank Diagram: SupplyHouse.com

Homeowners looking to maximize the efficiency and life expectancy of their heating and cooling systems may want to consider installing an expansion tank as an easy and inexpensive means of regulating water pressure and preventing costly damage to other components, including pipes.

An expansion tank is designed to relieve pressure in both potable water and closed hydronic heating systems. It ensures that constant pressure is maintained within the pipes so they do not get damaged from excess pressure. “An expansion tank in a heating system is an invaluable component that protects the entire system from the increased pressure and volume caused by heating,” asserts Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com.

“When water is heated, it expands,” O’Brian explains. “In a closed heating system there is only so much space in the pipes and the boiler. If the water is taking up more space and has nowhere to go, the pressure will increase and possibly damage the system, generally at its weakest points, until a leak or even a burst pipe results. An expansion tank is designed to relieve the stress, thereby increasing the life of the components in your entire heating system.”

Extrol Expansion Tank

Extrol 4.4-Gallon Expansion Tank at SupplyHouse.com

Expansion tanks work by equalizing pressure throughout the system. An expansion tank is a small tank divided in two sections by a rubber diaphragm. One side is connected to the pipes of the heating system and contains water. The other side is dry and contains pressurized air, set at approximately 12 psi. As hot water enters the heating system, the pressure in the system increases. As pressure increases, the diaphragm in the expansion tank is pushed down. This compresses the air in the tank, creating more space for excess water to enter. This relieves excess pressure in the system and prevents pipes in the system from being damaged.

Installing an expansion tank is a relatively simple process that can typically be completed in less than an hour by a handy do-it-yourselfer. Some local building codes may require installation by a licensed plumber, however, so you should check with your municipal building department before proceeding with any installation.

Expansion tanks vary in capacity, ranging from tanks that hold as little as two gallons to large tanks that hold several hundred gallons. To determine the size needed for your system, online retailer SupplyHouse.com offers a handy Expansion Tank Sizing Calculator on its Web site. Use it to determine the size and model of the expansion tank that’s best suited for your system.

Prices for expansion tanks start at about $30 for small residential tanks and climb up to $800 to $1,000 for larger, commercial tanks. Leading brands include Extrol expansion tanks, manufactured by Amtrol, which are used for hydronic heating systems; the Watts ET series and Bell & Gossett HFT expansion tanks, both designed for use with closed hydronic heating systems; and Therm-X-trol expansion tanks, for use with potable water open systems.

If your home already has an expansion tank in place, you may want to check it periodically to make sure that the tank is functioning. To check if the expansion tank is working properly, simply place your hand on the tank and feel its temperature. The top portion of the tank should feel warm to the touch, and the bottom portion of the tank should be room temperature. If the entire tank is warm, it is likely that the tank has completely filled with hot water, which occurs only if the diaphragm fails. If this happens, the tank must be replaced immediately.

Online retailer SupplyHouse.com offers a large selection of expansion tanks and accessories from the top manufacturers in the industry. To learn more, watch the video below or visit SupplyHouse.com.

 

This post has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: The Insulation Perimeter

Insulate your home to minimize the amount you pay each month to heat and cool it. These three tips can help you prioritize to-do-list items.

With energy costs ever on the rise, more homeowners are thinking of adding insulation to reduce energy use. Here’s what you need to know as you consider your options.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON THE INSULATION PERIMETER or read the text below:

Insulation Perimeter

Photo: lowes.com

First, see if your utility company or state energy department offers free or low-cost energy audits. An energy audit will help you identify which parts of your home are most in need of help, helping you prioritize the work you need to do.

If you do need to add insulation, remember that the goal is to create an energy-efficient perimeter around your living space. For example, you don’t need heat or air conditioning in an unfinished attic, so insulating the attic floor establishes the perimeter there. If your attic is finished, however, it doesn’t make sense to insulate the floor—your perimeter will be at the ceiling level.

Also keep in mind that proper insulation doesn’t mean airtight. Your home still needs to breathe, and it has an optimal number of “air changes per hour” depending on its size and the number of occupants. Your energy auditor will be able to tell you the home’s ideal number of air changes per hour, and how many it’s currently getting. Eliminating drafts will help close the gap and get you closer to the ideal.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Bob Vila Radio: Blown-in Insulation

For cost-effective insulation that can be brought into older homes, consider blown-in cellulose, the installation of which can be successfully handled by experienced do-it-yourselfers.

There are several different kinds of insulation—fiberglass batting, rigid boards, and spray-on foam to name a few. For retrofitting an older home, though, the most cost-effective insulation material is blown-in cellulose.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON BLOWN-IN INSULATION or read the text below:

Blown-In Insulation

Photo: insul-tite.com

Cellulose fiber is made up mostly of recycled newspaper that has been treated with non-toxic borates to make it fire retardant and resistant to mold and insects. Cellulose is light and fluffy to the touch, but it can be packed densely into wall cavities to form a thick blanket between a home’s interior and the world outside. It has the added advantage of being able to settle into small gaps and cracks, where it can help eliminate drafts as well.

Homeowners can rent a blowing machine and pump cellulose into an open area, such as an attic floor, but it’s a messy job that’s not for those who are new to DIY projects. Blowing cellulose into exterior walls is definitely a job for the pros, who know how to achieve proper density, how to identify and work around any fire blocks within walls, and how to close up the walls properly afterward. Most importantly, if you’re insulating around a soffit vent, a pro will know how to keep that vent clear so that air keeps moving and your roof doesn’t get damaged.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Welcome to AT&T Digital Life: The New Smart Home Security Solution

Home security isn't just about peace of mind. It's about convenience and freedom. See how the new AT&T Digital Life has made home security, even smarter.

AT&T Digital Life Home Security

With AT&T Digital life, cameras mounted on the front porch let you see who is at the door or approaching the house.

When it comes to home security, we’ve certainly come a long, long way from hanging signs that caution “beware of dog”. Today’s high tech home security options offer homeowners a full range of features from keyless door locks and video doorbells to motion detector-activated alarm systems. And, while there are a good many gadgets, gizmos, products and apps on the market to support your security and automation needs, they are, for the most part, independently sourced and controlled. That is, at least, until now.

AT&T Digital Life is a 24/7 integrated professionally monitored system that lets you customize your home security and automation features to suit your specific needs.  Create programs based on daily routines, like automatically locking doors, turning lights off, adjusting the thermostat and arming the security system all from just about anywhere.  Or keep an eye on your property day and night with video monitoring outside and in—even when you’re away from home with the convenience of your smartphone, tablet or computer. Check on the kids, know when the housekeeper, dog walker, or pool man comes to the house, and get an email or SMS alert when the system detects a problem. It’s all about freedom, convenience and peace of mind.

AT&T Digital Life Motion Sensor

AT&T Digital Life motion sensors provide security ...

In addition to security benefits, AT&T Digital Life also provides automation packages that let you control lights, temperature and small appliances.  Everyone knows you can save money on your heating and cooling costs by simply resetting your thermostat when you are away from home.  But no one wants to return to a less than comfortable house after a long day at work. With AT&T Digital Life door and energy packages, you can raise the temperature to a comfortable 72 degrees and turn on the living room and kitchen lights even before you pull into the driveway, park the car in the garage that automatically opened with a motion sensor and simultaneously unlocked the front door.

AT&T Digital Life - Wall-mounted keypad

AT&T Digital Life's wall-mounted keypads provide in room convenience.

Since there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to home security, AT&T Digital Life let’s you choose the features that best suit your household needs.  The Simple Security package, starting at $29.99 a month (plus equipment costs and a two-year agreement), includes 24/7 monitoring, wall-mounted and key chain controls, remote arming and disarming of alarms, and contact sensors for doors and windows.

An upgrade to the Smart Security package ($39.99 a month, plus equipment costs and a two-year agreement) comes with everything you need to monitor and access your home’s security system from almost anywhere using your mobile phone, tablet and computer. With Smart Security you can also opt for a full range of automation add-ons, including cameras for video monitoring, automatic and remote door locks, energy control of lights, temperature and small appliances, and water shut off. In short, just the right solution for your family and household needs!

Note: AT&T Digital Life available in limited markets.  Two-year agreement and equipment purchase required with either Simple or Smart Security; service restrictions apply; see www.att.com/dldisclaimers for details; optional automation packages only available with Smart Security package. See www.att.com/licenses for license information.

This post has been brought to you by AT&T Digital Life. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


A Few Things to Consider When Installing a Radiant Heat System

If you're thinking of installing a radiant heating system, you need to take a number of factors into consideration. Here's a quick rundown.

radiant heat

Over-pour radiant heat installation. Photo: stepbystep.com

Comfortable, even, and efficient, radiant heat systems are becoming a popular option for many homeowners today. But there are a number of factors that come into play when considering radiant heat, including the type of radiant system desired and whether the installation is for new construction or retrofit.

There are two basic types of radiant heating systems—hydronic and electric. Hydronic systems are the most common; these systems use hot water passing through tubing to heat a space. Electric radiant heat uses electric cables or mats for the same purpose. There are four basic types of radiant heating installations: in-slab systems that are installed in a new cement foundation when it is being poured; an “over-pour” installation, where the tubing is installed on an existing foundation and then covered by an additional layer of cement; joist track systems that fit in between existing floor joists; and wood panel track systems that can be installed over existing subfloors.

A number of specialized components are required for radiant heat installations, including the tubing itself. “When installing a hydronic radiant heat system, most of the time you’ll want to use an oxygen barrier PEX tubing to prevent rusting of the cast iron components in your heating system,” notes Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com. “This oxygen barrier tubing is what carries the hot water through the flooring or track system and transfers the heat to the space.” There are many brands of oxygen barrier tubing available, explains O’Brian, including Uponor, the highest quality, Rifeng, the least expensive, and ThermaPEX, which offers the best combination of price and quality. All of these brands of radiant tubing carry a 25-year warranty and require PEX tools and fittings for installation.

Rifeng manifold

Rifeng Stainless Steel Radiant Heat Manifold from SupplyHouse.com.

Another necessary component of radiant heat systems is the manifold, which serves as a hub from which the hot water from the boiler is distributed to different tubing loops throughout the house. These manifolds often come with special features, including balancing valves and flow meters, temperature gauges, shut-off valves, and actuators.

The main “engine” driving the radiant heat system is, of course, the boiler, and there are several options available depending on whether you are retrofitting an existing home or building a new house. “For new construction, a condensing boiler would be ideal,” O’Brian says, because the lower temperatures radiant systems require make efficient use of a condensing boiler’s capabilities. For a retrofit without a condensing boiler, he notes that “a mixing valve would be required to mix the hot boiler supply water with the cooler return water to achieve the desired radiant water temperature.”

Heat transfer plates are another important component, and these also differ depending on the type of installation planned. “Uponor Joist Trak panels or Ultra-Fin suspended panels are popular for retrofit applications because they are installed between joists—which is generally easier than ripping up the floor,” O’Brian points out. “For new construction, you could consider using Uponor’s Quik Trak or the similar Warmboard floor panels. Quik Trak is a low-profile option that can be installed on top of the subfloor, while Warmboard’s heavier, thicker panels can be installed as the subfloor. For installations in concrete, you would need proper slab insulation, and you’d likely want to use bend supports where the tubing leaves the slab to protect the tubing against possible friction due to expansion and contraction.”

QuikTrack Radiant Package

Uponor's Quik Trak Radiant Heating System package from SupplyHouse.com

While most of these components can be purchased separately, there are also specialized radiant heat packages that offer homeowners a simplified approach to an installation project. Radiant heat packages are available for installations ranging from 250 to 2,000 square feet and come in several styles, including Joist Trak, Quik Trak, slab, and suspended pipe applications. Slab packages are the least expensive, priced from $267 for 250 square feet to $2,132 for 2,000 square feet; suspended pipe packages range from $427 for 250 square feet to $3,570 for 2,000 square feet; Joist Trak packages start at $1,072 for 250 square feet and go up to $6,614 for 2,000 square feet; and Quik Trak packages are the most expensive, ranging from $1,532 for 250 square feet to $11,095 for 2,000 square feet.

There also are numerous accessories available for radiant heating systems. O’Brian recommends radiant thermostats that are compatible with a floor sensor. “Standard thermostats can cause the heat to overshoot the set point,” he explains. “Overheating can cause damage to wood floors and just be plain uncomfortable to your feet. With a floor sensor, you can either set a temperature for the floor to reach, or set a max temperature so the floor does not overheat.”

Online retailer PexSupply.com offers a large selection of products and packages for installing radiant heating systems from the top manufacturers in the industry, and features a variety of product calculators, informative articles, and instructional videos on its Web site. For more, visit PexSupply.com.

 

This post has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com.  Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

 

 

 

 


What Would Bob Do? Cleaning Air Ducts

Dust is everywhere—even in your house's ductwork. But is it really necessary to clean out your air ducts? Let's look at the pros and cons.

Cleaning Air Ducts

Photo: moldremovalnh.com

I am moving into a new home. The previous owners had a dog. I am wondering if cleaning the air ducts is worthwhile. Anyone had it done?

Cleaning air ducts makes a lot of sense, at least in theory. Because dust gradually accumulates on virtually every surface, doesn’t it stand to reason that it would build up to an intolerable degree in the mostly untended HVAC ductwork that runs throughout your home? Yes, air ducts get dusty. But while air duct cleaning doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t always help either. There are certainly occasions when it’s appropriate, but there are a lot of times when it’s simply not necessary.

1. In most homes, dust collects within a safe range. Your furnace or air conditioning filters trap a high percentage of particles in the air, preventing them from entering the ductwork. Surely, that’s a reason to clean or replace your HVAC filters on a regular basis, but it’s not a strong argument for taking any further action.

2. Cleaning air ducts is not a do-it-yourself job. Even if you were inclined to do it, chances are good that you wouldn’t own the right tools, such as special rotary brushes and a high-powered vacuum. You’ll need to hire professionals, and the cost isn’t low. You could end up paying $500 for work that didn’t need to be done in the first place.

3. In the course of cleaning nonmetal ducts, there’s a risk of dislodging vital connections or tearing walls. If undetected, such damage could seriously impact the efficiency of your heating and cooling appliances and let particle-laden air from the basement, crawl space, or attic enter the system.

Cleaning Air Ducts - Inspection

Photo: shutterstock.com

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that no evidence exists to suggest that any health hazards stem from light dust accumulation in ducts. In fact, shuffling across a carpet exposes a person to more contaminants. That said, the EPA does recommend cleaning air ducts if there is mold growth visible or if evidence points to an infestation by insects or rodents. Also, air duct cleaning may help to alleviate lingering odors caused by cigarettes or other sources.

Before you contact a duct-cleaning professional for a consultation and estimate, it’s smart to do a little investigating on your own. (That way, you don’t have to take the contractor’s word for it.) Start by having a look at the duct registers or grilles: Are they discolored and coated with a fine, dark dust? If you remove the cover, reach into the duct, and wipe its sides with a damp rag, does it come out filthy?

Go ahead and call the local service, if you discover that a seemingly excessive amount of dust is present. Alternatively, try limiting dust accumulation in your ductwork by using one or all of the following methods:

• Install filters over each of your hot air supply registers, following the manufacturer’s instructions so as not to restrict airflow. Check those filters after a couple of weeks to see what they’ve picked up.

• With a general-purpose caulk, seal any gaps between the edge of the duct and the wall opening. Dust that appears to be coming through ductwork may in fact be entering through that slim sliver of a gap.

• Bring in an HVAC technician to do an annual furnace cleaning. In the course of work, he will clean the furnace heat exchanger. If he finds that it’s not very dirty, in all likelihood the ducts aren’t either.


Warming Trend: 5 Smart Ways to Heat Your Home

Heating your home has never been cheap, but new technologies can help cut the costs substantially.

Photo: Shutterstock

When considering the best way to bring warmth into your house, think of the four “E’s”: energy, efficiency, economics, and environment. You’ll want to choose a type of energy source that’s not only available in your area, but also fits with your ethos and needs. You’ll want to make sure your chosen heating system is efficient and suits your economic situation. And you’ll want to choose a system that creates a pleasant internal environment for you and your family. Here are a few ways to balance these four “E’s” when you’re choosing the best method for heating your home.

programmable thermostat

Photo: energystar.gov

Programmable Thermostats: A simple and affordable way to make your existing heating system smarter is to replace the old thermostat with a programmable one. This will enable you to create different heating schedules for different times of the day or different days of the week. For example, if no one is home during the day, it doesn’t make sense to keep the house as toasty as you like it in the evening when the house is occupied. Once you establish your desired settings, a programmable thermostat will automatically adjust the temperature without requiring you to remember to turn it up or down.Keep in mind, however, that extreme fluctuations in your thermostat settings can cause your furnace to work harder and can actually decrease efficiency, so be sure to keep the settings within a reasonable range.

Zoned Heating: The ability to heat different areas of your home to different temperatures is called zoned heating. You can set up different zones in a number of ways, depending on what type of system you have. Typically, multiple thermostats are used to adjust individual temperature settings for each room. This enables you to turn down thermostats in areas of your home that aren’t frequently used, which saves energy and money. Zoned heating can also remedy the problem of hot and cold spots in your home. For example, if the second floor of your home is always 10 degrees warmer than the first floor, or if the room above the garage is always 10 degrees cooler, then zoned heating is a smart solution.

Hybrid Furnace: If you live in a climate where temperatures occasionally get below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, then a hybrid, or dual-fuel, system will most likely save you money. A hybrid furnace is like a hybrid vehicle in principle—it uses electricity as its primary source of power but then kicks in another fuel source when higher demands are placed on the system. The primary source of heat for a hybrid furnace is an electric heat pump, which is more energy efficient than natural gas, propane, or oil. Heat pumps, however, don’t perform as well when temperatures drop below 30 or 40 degrees Fahrenheit. At such temperatures, a hybrid furnace will automatically switch from the heat pump to another fuel source to balance efficiency and effectiveness.

Radiant Floor Heating: There are different types of radiant floor systems, but they all work by heating your floors from underneath, creating a home environment that is heated evenly and quietly without drying forced air or clanging baseboards. In general, radiant floor systems are more efficient than traditional setups, but not all systems are created equal. Many radiant floor systems can tie into your existing furnace, but if you don’t have an efficient furnace, you’ll lose some of the eco-friendly benefits of radiant heating. The level of conductivity in the radiant panels themselves is also an important factor in radiant heat performance.

The new Total Warmth System from Warmboard solves both of these issues by providing a complete package that includes a heater, superefficient floor panels with superior conductivity, and wireless thermostats for each room that allow you to take advantage of zoned heating by adjusting the temperature just how you like it, where you like it. The Total Warmth System also wins points because it was designed with ease of installation, affordability, and energy efficiency in mind.

Solar: Although the upfront investment can be fairly high, solar heat is certainly a smart choice because it is a clean renewable resource. The problem is that there are a lot of variables that come into play, so it isn’t ideal for all situations. Depending on your particular application, you will need to consider a number of factors, such as the amount of unobstructed sun that hits your home, how much space you have available for the solar thermal collectors, whether or not you’ll want to heat your water, the type of backup system you’ll need, the type of collectors you’ll need, storage tank size, and whether you’re going with passive or active solar heating. The bottom line is that solar power is very smart, but there’s no straightforward, one-size-fits-all, out-of-the-box application. It takes lot of research and know-how, and a generous budget to really do it right.

 

This post has been brought to you by Warmboard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

 


How To: Install a Sink Shut-Off Valve

Install a sink shut-off valve—or a pair of them—so that if and when repairs becomes necessary, it's easy to interrupt the water supply.

Here’s how to install a hot or cold water shut-off valve under your sink. Apply plumbing sealant to the shut-off threads and attach it with a nut from the faucet tube. Measure the length of the copper pipe you need to connect the shut-off valve to the coupling in the floor. Finish the job by soldering both joints.

For more on plumbing, consider:

How To: Install a New Kitchen Sink
8 Common Water Problems—and Their Cures
Top Tips for Troubleshooting Low Water Pressure


Bob Vila Radio: Resetting a Circuit Breaker

There's a lot of power in your home's electrical panel. Here's how to reset a circuit breaker if the lights go out.

The source of your home’s power is the breaker box, also known as the electrical panel or circuit breaker box. Whatever you call it, there are a few things you need to know about it.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON BREAKER BOX SMARTS or read the text below:

How to Reset Circuit Breaker

Photo: shutterstock.com

The first is that the breaker box is not for amateurs—a lot of power comes into the box from the utility it’s connected to, and electrical shock can kill you. So for the most part, leave the panel to the pros.

But there are a couple of times when you might need to open the box. The most common is when a circuit breaker trips, causing you to temporarily lose power to a part of your home. A tripped breaker is an inconvenience, but it’s also a warning that one of your zones may be overloaded. You may have too many things plugged in or too many appliances running at once. Correct that situation before you reset the breaker.

When you’re ready to reset, open the door to the box to see which breaker tripped. You can usually spot the one that’s out of alignment with the others, and it will feel loose when you touch it. Flip it completely to the OFF position first, then set it back to ON. If the same breaker trips again, call in a professional electrician to find the cause of the problem.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Control Temperatures and Save Energy with Zoned Heating Systems

A zoned heating system allows greater control over heat distribution in the house. You can turn up the heat just where you need it, just when you need it—resulting in significant savings on your utility bills. Need some convincing? Read on to learn more about the benefits of zoned heating.

Zoned Heating Diagram

Zoned heating diagram. SupplyHouse.com

Homeowners seeking a better way to control temperatures throughout the home should examine the benefits of a zoned heating system.

A standard, non-zoned heating system controls the temperature of the entire house as a whole. A zoned heating system, in contrast, allows homeowners to control the temperature of each room or zone individually, thereby maximizing comfort and minimizing energy costs. A zoned system can be adjusted for numerous factors, including room usage, personal preferences, and environmental conditions. Zoned systems help homeowners use their heating systems more effectively by distributing heat where and when it is needed.

“The advantages of a properly zoned home include savings on heating costs, and greater control and comfort throughout the home,” points out Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com. “If they are individually zoned, unoccupied or rarely used spaces do not have to be heated, and areas of the home that get colder than others can be adjusted directly for greater comfort. Furthermore, programmable thermostats can increase savings by dialing back heating usage when residents are out of the home or sleeping.”

O’Brian explains that a typical zoned heating system treats the main floor of a house as one heating zone and the upstairs bedroom area as a separate heating zone. This allows heat to be directed to the main floor during the daytime and to the upstairs bedrooms at night, allowing unoccupied areas of the home to cool down when vacant. A zoned system can also let homeowners minimize the heat in seldom-used areas, such as guest rooms or storage spaces.

Zoning the heating system can save homeowners up to 30 percent on a typical heating and cooling bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Because heating and cooling accounts for more than 40 percent of an average household’s utility costs, the savings from a zoned system can really add up.

Zone Heating Valves

Photo: SupplyHouse.com

The basic component of a zoned heating system is a zone valve, which controls the flow of water in a hydronic heating system. Inside the valve, an actuator opens and closes the valve based on the thermostat setting for that zone. Zone valves are available in two- or three-way valve configurations and in various connection types. They can be normally closed or normally open and can provide differing flow rates depending on valve size, allowing homeowners to customize the system for different floor plans and different-size zones. Zone valves can be used with a wide range of hydronic heating systems, including baseboards, radiators, heat pumps, and radiant applications. Leading brands include Honeywell, Taco, White-Rodgers, and Erie.

Homeowners with forced hot air heating systems also can create multiple zones by using two or more thermostats connected to a master control panel; the control panel opens and closes dampers that are installed within the ductwork.

There are also a wide variety of thermostats available, including programmable versions, to control a zoned heating system. “Any thermostat can be used to zone a home, but not all thermostats are for the same application,” O’Brian notes. “Voltages, the heating/cooling system layout, and features on different thermostats can be geared more towards one or another application.”

Related: How to Install a Programmable Thermostat

Adding a zoned heating system to an existing home is a fairly complex project and typically requires the use of a professional installer. “Retroactively zoning a home is not really something that an average DIYer would be able to accomplish,” remarks O’Brian. “They would have to wire in controls and thermostats, hook them up to the pump(s) and boiler or furnace, and cut into either their hydronic lines or ductwork to install zone valves or dampers. This all would likely require cutting open walls, running electrical, and possibly sweating copper.”

Even though installing a zoned heating system is not a typical do-it-yourself project, the energy savings and temperature control features may make it an extremely worthwhile home improvement. Online retailer SupplyHouse.com offers a large selection of thermostats, zone valves, and controls from the top manufacturers in the industry, and features a variety of information and instructional videos like this one, which explains how zone valves work.

This post has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.