We have heat!

Just as the first sub-zero forecast appears on our horizon, we have some heat to keep us from freezing. It’s taken a while longer than we planned, but thankfully it’s now up and running.
The house is warm again (and not due to summer temperatures), and our old hot water tank has been permanently disconnected.
So here’s what we’ve got in our basement:

From right to left (there’s a reason for the reverse order) we have a new hot water heater, the boiler, and the “board” that distributes heat from the boiler.
Okay, so first, the boiler. It’s a Laars Mascot 150. Technically, this is a pretty simple little doodad. It consists of a natural gas heater, a water loop, a blower, a small computer with temperature sensors, and a couple of solenoids to distribute the flow. There’s a wad of piping that comes in and out of the boiler, sending it to two places: the hot water tank and “the board”.

The hot water tank uses what’s called indirect heat. In other words, there’s no flame under the tank to heat the water. Instead, a pipe of 160 degree water comes from the boiler to heat the cold domestic water. The tank is about twice the size of our previous heater. Alex can finally have that bath without running out of hot water!
Finally is “the board”. This is what provides heat to the floor. Allow me to annotate what you see here.

At the far left are two pipes — the return to the boiler and the inlet into the board. At the bottom left are the pipes that put water into the floor. On the bottom right are the pipes coming back into the board, with solenoids that open or close the circuits depending on the thermostats. At the top is a pump that forces the flow to continue.
Now you might notice the inlet and outlet positions as being a bit “odd” — they’re right next to each other, with nothing (effectively) stopping the hot water from being sucked out and sent right back to the boiler. I thought this odd, too. Apparently, this is to protect the boiler.
The boiler needs to always have circulation, otherwise pressure builds up and … well, it might not be good. The board is built such that if the board’s pump fails, the boiler remains unharmed.
This equals heat. It’s not perfect — we still need to get air circulation and heat the upstairs, but this is a good start.
Now I just need to get the framing all done, run electrical, get a floor laid, insulate, wallboard, mud, and paint.
No problem…

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