HVAC Projects

WICK TOWER, Youngstown, Ohio

By using a hydronic heating and cooling system, HVAC contractors save on labor (fewer installers needed) for a significantly shorter and quicker installation with less use of connections

By using a hydronic heating and cooling system, HVAC contractors save on labor (fewer installers needed) for a significantly shorter and quicker installation with less use of connections.

Retrofit Team

ARCHITECT: City Architecture, Cleveland
MECHANICAL CONTRACTOR: Clayton Heating and Air Conditioning, Youngstown
MANUFACTURER’S REPRESENTATIVE: Preferred Sales, Hermitage, Pa.

Materials

In April 2014 John Yurcik with Preferred Sales received a phone call from Tim Clayton, owner of Clayton Heating and Air Conditioning, which was hired to install a hydronic heating and cooling distribution system for the Wick Tower. “I had worked with Tim Clayton on several radiant applications,” Yurcik recalls. “He had one question for me: ‘Can I run a four-pipe fan coil system through the existing structure using PEX?’”

The two met, studied the architectural plans, mechanical designs and pondered the limitations that working within an existing structure (more than 100 years old) provides. There were several points to consider: extremely snug workspace above the ceiling, plenum-rated piping was a must (required by the building owner), insulation concerns, and tight timelines and budgets.

It’s becoming more common for developers to use plenum-rated piping in plenum spaces because this is the only space available in remodeling and even in some new construc- tion applications, according to Yurcik. And local codes sometimes dictate a plenum-rated prod- uct must be used. In addition, the building’s southern face is a wall of glass, and the radiant heating and cooling system takes a huge load off the forced air system.

Pre-insulated Wirsbo hePEX piping with varying sizes from 1/2 to 2 inches was specified for this installation. Although Clayton Heating and Air Conditioning has much experience installing PEX, 23 installers were trained for the pre-insulated Wirsbo hePEX installation to help them feel comfortable with the process.

Yurcik demonstrated the product, showed installation techniques, how to make a proper F1960 expansion connection, how to hang the pipe properly in a plenum space, and discussed ratings and how to repair kinks if they should occur. The process, which included classroom and onsite training, quickly helped the installers get up to speed and, after a brief exam, they were ready to move on to the installation stage.

The installation was straightforward with the pipe looping above the joist within rooms and then linked to the distribution manifold at each floor. The distribution lines run across hallways to the main hydronic water supply risers that run from the basement mechanical room to the top floor of the building.

By using a hydronic heating and cooling system, HVAC contractors save on labor (fewer installers needed) for a significantly shorter and quicker installation with less use of connections than a copper system. “Hydronic heating and cooling is a hot topic these days,” Yurcik adds. “It really doesn’t seem to make sense for installers to continue down the copper path anymore.”

For this particular installation, it would have been impossible to install copper in the cramped work space. Even if it had been possible, adding insulation would have made the job incredibly time and labor intensive, Yurcik notes.

Clayton told Yurcik that it would have been cost-prohibitive to use any other product than the pre-insulated Wirsbo hePEX. “There are a lot of limitations in revamping high-rise buildings and this product is, in my opinion, the only way installers can provide the efficiencies and cost and labor savings the cur- rent market conditions require,” Yurcik says.

Materials used:

  • 1,100 feet of 1 1/2-inch pre-insulated Wirsbo hePEX pipe
  • 8,100 feet of 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch pre-insulated Wirsbo hePEX pipe
  • ProPEX Fittings

HYDRONIC HEATING AND COOLING SYSTEM MANUFACTURER: Uponor

The Retrofit

The historic 66,000-square-foot Wick Tower has seen peaks and valleys since its completion in 1910—even being the tallest building in town for several decades. But hard financial times affected the stately building and it slowly fell into disrepair. When the building sold to local developer Dominic Marchionda in 2012, work began to restore the dignified structure to its original splendor while adding modern amenities and features to speak to the tastes of today’s renters.

City Architecture designed 32 upscale and modern individual apartments and included a convenient deli on the first floor. With a nod to its rich past, the developer wanted to keep the integrity of the building and take advantage of the existing tall ceilings and its solid steel construction.

PHOTO: Uponor

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