Nov 27, 2002, 10:04 PM
Post #13 of 14
Hot water heating is not really practical in the conditions you have described for your apartment. I have installed many of these systems, and done maintenance on them when they malfunctioned. I also had this type of heat in my house in Alaska, many homes do there. It is a good, and efficient type of heat.
You won't begin to get enough heat from a domestic hot water heater, which will only produce hot water at a maximum of about 120° F. You need a heater specifically designed for the task. They are nominally called "boilers", although they are not really boilers but heaters. They do not boil the water to produce steam. We usually set the heater to produce 190° F. to have enough heat to do the job.
The heaters are about 3' high X 3' long, and 2' wide. They are heavy, the heat exchangers in them are made of cast iron, they usually weigh between 200 and 300 pounds. They require a lot of combustion air, that is, the air required to maintain a flame at the burners. If you tried to set one up in living quarters, you would not have enough oxygen to breathe in a very few minutes. An atmosphere of less than 19 % oxygen will not support life.
You would need to build an air tight closet and install the heater in it. You would need to cut two openings in an outside wall, at the top and bottom of this compartment for combustion air. Requirements vary with each heater, but about two square feet for each opening is what would be required. The specs for this will be included with any new heater.
These heaters require 15 PSI of water pressure to function. We used to install a water pressure reducing valve on them in The US, here it would be a problem to get water pressure that high in most places. An external circulation pump is required. At least one room thermostat will also be needed, more if you have more than one heating zone. There are several controls built in to the units, high and low temperature thermostats, low water cutoff, etc. Electrical power to the unit is required.
I won't go in to the differences between standard 71 % efficiency units, and the high 91 - 93 % efficiency units, except to advise to stay away from the high efficiency units. They are very high tech, troublesome to maintain, and not worth the hassle.
I think it would be risky to pour another layer on an existing concrete floor in a multistory building in Mexico. Since a new layer would not add any structural strength, only additional weight for the original floor to carry. A floor poured with a proper mix of concrete, and properly reinforced WILL NOT crack. If it is poured on grade, and the ground was properly prepared, gravel bed etc. IT WILL NOT crack. The key here is getting a proper mix.
As to baseboard heat, forget the radiator cores and fans. Very efficient fin tubed baseboard units are available. They are usually 3/4 copper tubes with fins on them. The covers allow air to enter at the bottom, and rise through the top. There are adjustable louvers at the top to regulate the amount of air leaving them.
A catalytic heater might be a problem too. While they need no flue, and produce no toxic fumes, they do require combustion air. You will need to leave a window open for safety. I have one I used to use when hunting, or camping. It has a warning to use it in a well ventillated space. They all have this warning on them. Again, if you don't have ventilation, you may not have any oxygen to breath after a period of time.
I hate to throw cold water on your idea. Under the conditions you have described in your building, I think the obstacles are virtually insurmountable.
Incidentally if you are having trouble with light bulbs burning out too soon, etc. you might want to check the voltage in your apartment. Here in Cuernavaca we have a chronic problem with low voltage at night, when all the street lights come on, and all the businesses light up. During the day, we have between 119 and 121 volts. At night, we have between 97 and 107 volts. I just checked, and right now we have 102 volts. At 101 volts, my UPS power supply shuts my computer down. Low voltage will do more harm to electrical equipment than a high voltage spike will usually.
Of course if you do find that you have a low voltage problem there won't be a damn thing you can do about it, but at least you will have something to gripe about. I do that all the time. (It doesn't help a bit.)
"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo