Hydrotherm Hydronic heating for our Eco-friendly, Allergy Free House (Part III)

Hydrotherm’s Rough in Process

It took two days to complete the ‘rough in’ process, the plumbers basically ran, from the Bosche boiler, 25 inch pink Rehau piping, into 20 down to 16 into the chrome copper, where it comes out the wall, where it meets chrome and brass pipes going into the walls and outside, ready for the boiler. The black pipe usually used for plumbing can’t be used with hydronic because it’s transparent; whereas, the pink is not. The pipe is insulated with black foam. Pink Noggins were put in so they have something to screw into when they come back for the ‘fit out’. That’s when the real stuff happens!

For now it’s been pressurised with most of the water the system will ever need.

Hydrotherm pressurising the hydronic heating system

In the next part of the fit out: After the hydronic heating panels are connected to the noggins, a central control panel is placed in the main living area. This is where the temperature can be set, on a timer, or automatically switched off once the house is warm enough: this is where the beauty of the system comes in: the water in the panels and pipes stays hot, aka free heating. They can run on both gas and electric. Ours has a Bosch boiler, which runs on gas and is installed outside, away from any opening windows—being gas and all. Don’t want that wafting through the windows, inside.

The panels can be painted in powder coat to match any of the Dulux colour range. It’s cheaper to go all white though. Although, to match the bright pink/red feature wall in my office, I’d love a fire-engine red panel; I’m still thinking about the $110 extra that it would cost, and how it wont fit into the project’s budget.

Our pipes were located at 1100mm off the ground.

And this is our boiler:

Download (PDF, 1.04MB)

Are they Mould Free?

In reality, there are no filters to change or clean, which means there’s no place for mould to grow: dust, mould’s main food source, cannot congregate. But what I like best about these heaters is the fact that once paid for—because of the installation, they do cost more than most heating systems upfront—they begin to pay for themselves as time goes on until eventually, you get your heating for free. Now, if you were to go solar, harnessing the sun’s energy, with one of those awesome Tesla batteries, you’d be off to a free start much sooner.

How to Clean the Panels

Just use a dust collecting cloth like Sabco or even use the dust brush on your vacuum. Pretty simple!

How do they guarantee it won’t leak?

Rehau fittings are 99.9% guaranteed not to leak.

Other Guarantees:

7 years on the panels; 7 years on the installation. The boiler is a five year guarantee. If something did leak, Hydrotherm would go back to the company and insurance would cover water damage–or the prevention of it, rather.

It’s a sealed system that doesn’t need replenishing. Only half a glass of condensation is released per year into the atmosphere. That half glass condensation is released into the building envelope over the course of a year. That’s it for adding moisture to the building.

Because our house is so well insulated with breathing walls, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Our First and Last stop was Hydrotherm

But we did get three quotes, Hydrotherm being the first and only showroom we went to. It was back in 2011, planning stage and my health declined from around that time so I wasn’t up to going to showrooms without going to the hassle of making fragrance free appointments.

Our Only Challenge on the Day, Solved by Hydrotherm 

The front, north facing (sunny side), has a room somewhat like an entrance room but it’s closed in, like an air-lock. There’s the front door, then, leading out into the house, is a glass wall made from a large window joined by a Zenit glass external ‘lift and slide, tilt and turn door‘ (I’ll show you these in detail later, in my 7 part window series)—used internally—to create a room that’s not only an air-lock but will be used to prevent unwanted mould exposures, chemical exposures and allergic reactions to items bought into the living spaces.). Everything stops right there before coming into the house. There will be no exposures in my home-to-be!

air lock front entrance room

Air lock front entrance room ~ or if you’re fragrance free you can use the middle door :)

We didn’t include a hydronic panel because it’s north-facing. We thought the sun would heat this room just fine. You see, based on ‘passive heating’ design where the north-facing windows are floor to ceiling, while the eaves come out 600 mm to block the higher-in-the-sky summer sun yet allowing in the lower-in-the-sky winter sun, it stays warm when it’s sunny even on a cold day. But what about those Melbourne days, weeks even, where we don’t have any sun? I mean this is a room where someone may have to change clothes before being allowed in to shower, if they are contaminated with fragrances, or, worse, mould… (Yeah, I know, better get some blinds, lol.)

build an eco-friendly house


It wasn’t really a problem, because even though there wasn’t room for a panel—it seemed, as the room has glass on three sides—and a wall to wall cupboard on one, where was there room?

One of the Hydrotherm crew phoned into the office with the specs of a small corner and we were fitted for a vertical panel heater like this one:

Why we used Hydrotherm

For us, the most difficult part was making sure all the materials were health friendly for myself—meaning that they are VOC, petrochemical and of course, mould free. Plus, I had to know exactly which chemicals would be used for installation, and if it were possible to use our chemicals, which we had tested for safety; but most of all, I needed the tradespeople to go fragrance-free (See first post on how to organise this.). Now, if that laundry list of wants is not long enough, we needed the best price! Hydrotherm came to the party! They beat other hydronic companies by up to half in one of the quotes, and were willing to match any cheaper price. Considering the panels are powder coated stainless steel metal and the towel racks (which act as bathroom heaters as well), chrome.

Towel rack and hydronic heater

Towel rack and hydronic heater

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A Clean Building Site is a Good Start to a Mould-free Home

Building a mould free home means that you must keep the wall cavities and floors dust and debris free. This way mould has been robbed of a food source, lessening the chance of it growing; and if the wall cavities and roof trusses are kept dry there will be no mould. When it came to any mess from our hydronic fit out, Hydrotherm cleaned up after the job. (This is not just a tradies job, it’s yours: a building site for a CIRS patient must be kept impeccably clean!)

Chemicals Used

We used ‘Sellys 3 in 1 Silicone’: very low VOC. However, when Hydrotherm come back we’ll have a better silicone, as far as being water-tight goes: Sikaflex. Just stay far away until it’s dry. And, as always, test for your own suitability on a clean piece of tile, left out overnight, then bought inside if you don’t have symptoms with it. I’m finding there are products I’m not good with wet but fine with once dry. And I’d rather a silicone that keeps water out, right? Plus we used mortar on the outside of any hole protruding through the building.

On instagram I posted about this Camel Rock Yoga mat Mandala in the back room, the retreat. Southside. All glass windows. Wicked view. Andrew, the manager from Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating, pointed out how this room could be used for Bikram, hot yoga. This is going to be a thing. Thanks, Andrew.

Hydrotherm Part I: Radiant Heat Fights Allergies with Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating

Hydrotherm Part II: Why Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating is a Breath of Fresh Air

Hydrotherm Part III: Hydrotherm Hydronic heating for our Eco-friendly, Allergy Free House

Hydrotherm Contact Details

Hydrotherm: Hydronic Heating

Greenheat: Hydronic Heating

Hydrotherm Instagram

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Why Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating is a Breath of Fresh Air (Part II)

How Wood Fires and Ducted Heating Could be Bad for your Health

When building an allergy-free, eco-friendly home, cost can be a huge consideration; however, so can health, especially when good health has been missing from your life for the good part of a decade and a half. In my last post I discussed how using hydronic heating is the only sure way to have a dust-free home. A dust-free home can be a mould-free home (providing you don’t allow for water damage!). Before I show the installation of the Build an Eco-friendly, Allergy-free House project’s hydronic heating ‘fit out’, by Hydrotherm, let’s look at some of the most unsuitable heating systems for people with respiratory illness, asthma, CIRS (also known as mould illness) and illness related to chemical sensitivity:

How can Wood-smoke Fires Still be Popular?

Woodsmoke, I’ve written about it before, but unless someone has an illness like myself and many other readers here, some ‘other’ (not caring about our Earth!) type of people still find wood-fires romantic, tribal or ambient or… burn-old-furniture type of cheap. Not only does storing the wood create a haven for dust and mould but you’re likely to get PM2.5 particles in your house dust after each burn… and your lungs. Plus what you dump into your neighbours’ lungs. Let’s hope they don’t have asthma or chemical sensitivity, CIRS, or respiratory illness! Especially the children.

More on wood-smoke from Australian Air Quality Group:

‘There are no safe PM2.5 Levels’.

PM2.5 are a pollutant with no safe level, that (in Europe) cause 20 times as many premature deaths as the next worst pollutant (ozone). The sensible strategy would be to spend substantially more resources reducing PM2.5 than other pollutants.

Sadly, the approach in “Action for Air” is based on politics, not logic.  For example, a single new woodheater installed in Sydney has estimated health costs of $4,000 per year.  Although this is only half the costs of an existing woodheater (see right column), it is hard to understand why anyone who knows and understand the true health costs, or the amount of pollution emitted by a new woodheater, would want to use one.”

So while some people are practing ignorance, or romance (or both), and the Australian Government are ignoring health statistics, others, like us are practising how to seal our houses up from woodsmoke sneaking in: through door cracks, loose windows, exhaust flues in kitchens and bathrooms and even cracks in the floorboards—we’re running around with painters’ masking tape and cotton wool trying to seal up the cracks in our (Environmental Pollution Authority) EPA’s system. Running air purifiers. Wearing masks. In our own homes. Anything to avoid symptoms bought on by inhaling woodsmoke night after cold, painful night.

Not much longer I tell myself. Drooling over Hydrotherm images of the heating panels on Instagram, lol.

Now, think, if everyone had hydronic systems connected to gas, electric or solar? The air quality could be far better. If the Australian government bought in kickbacks for replacing wood-fire heating systems for hydronic systems, it would show they care about the environment and the true cost of health! “4 k a year in health costs from wood fire heating!” Seriously?

Green Building

(image source: pixabay)

Why ducted heating systems can be bad for People with Respiratory Illness, MCS, Lung Disease and CIRS patients

Other heating I instinctively stayed away from were the ducted versions. Even before I was sick they felt dry and, in many rentals, just blew dust around until the air felt parched, devoid of oxygen, dust, caked into my eyes and nostrils.

One rental, I had to move out after dust and fragrance (and possibly mould) were stirred up by having the ducted heating system professionally cleaned.

And, as it happens: ducted heating systems will spread mould around your house if you have an area that’s water damaged and growing mould. They are notorious for it.

If your house is relatively new and mould free, a ducted heating system is an expensive yet adequate heater if kept clean and turned off at the slightest water leak or need for damage control if mould is found.

For a ducted system not to spread mould, you’d need to know about the leak as, or just after, it happens, dry it within 24-48 hours, and! turn all fans, ducted heating systems, HVACs and exhaust fans off until the mould is taken care of. Again: If this doesn’t happen the ducted heating just spreads it throughout the whole house.

Fact: A ducted heating system uses 3 times the gas than a hydronic system.

Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating is like a breath of fresh air because they don’t pollute the indoor airspace. They allow for a pristine environment, free from allergens such as dust and mould.

Hydrotherm Part I: Radiant Heat Fights Allergies with Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating

Hydrotherm Part II: Why Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating is a Breath of Fresh Air

Hydrotherm Part III: Hydrotherm Hydronic heating for our Eco-friendly, Allergy Free House

Hydrotherm Contact Details

Hydrotherm: Hydronic Heating

Greenheat: Hydronic Heating

Hydrotherm Instagram

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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