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Maine Contractor Services Second Home Market with Radiant Heat


In recent years, the second home market in the state of Maine has taken off, fueled by relatively inexpensive land prices and the desire of affluent buyers to secure a rural refuge from suburbia and big cities. New custom homes and condos are keeping local plumbers and mechanical contractors busy, especially those with experience in selling and installing radiant heat.


The home of a retired NHL goalie, under construction in Belgrade, Maine.
Kevin Purnell, president of Granite Corp. in Oakland, Maine, is not your average Pine Tree State contractor. His company, which he formed in 2002, has quickly made a name for itself by embracing new applications, like radiant, and by "always focusing on the customer's comfort and then choosing a system to match those needs" in the words of Jim Simas of Emerson-Swan, one of New England's largest HVAC sales representative agencies. As a result, Granite Corp. has grown with its success and now has 36 employees with a fleet of more than 20 trucks.

Purnell estimates that 75% of his residential jobs now go in with radiant heating. "It's all about delivering comfort." says Purnell and it doesn't matter whether it is new multi-unit housing, slope-side condos at Sugerloaf Ski Resort or custom homes. Purnell has become a big fan of Taco's radiant product offering and the custom solutions it allows him to provide his customers. But it is the iSeries Mixing Valve that has really changed how Granite delivers comfort.

With either an Outdoor Reset or Setpoint control built right into the actuator, the iSeries Mixing Valves deliver optimum zone-by-zone temperature control, which translates directly to comfort. Each valve also includes a boiler protection feature to prevent low water temperatures from returning to the boiler. Available in 2-, 3- or 4-way configurations, they can be used on all sizes and styles of radiant installations.


Taco iValves and circulators on the home's mechanical board.
Purnell's affection for the iSeries started a few years ago after Granite completed a 1,800 sq. ft. expansion to its shop floor in Oakland, also radiant, using conventional thermostatic mixing valves. But the indoor air temperature, set at 68°F, wouldn't stay constant. The large swings above and below the setpoint temperature resulted in unhappy customers; the problem was it was his own guys doing the complaining. Once they swapped out the thermostatic mixing valves for the iSeries valves with built-in outdoor reset, constant temperature and comfort were instantly achieved. The iSeries 3-way was a direct replacement for the mixing valve that was installed, so change over took only a few minutes. "The best part of the iSeries Mixing Valve," says Kevin Purnell, "is the constant temperature it provides. That's hard to get with anything else."

Based on the great results at their shop, Granite is now utilizing the built-in outdoor reset features of the iSeries-R mixing valves to enhance their many other radiant jobs. Purnell has three lakeside custom homes under construction in Belgrade, Maine. The largest of the three, owned by a former NHL goalie, is some 12,000 sq. ft. in size and comes with nine bathrooms. It has 21 zones and all are equipped with Taco's radiant-friendly iSeries Mixing Valves to help ensure maximum indoor comfort. The zone-by-zone outdoor reset control also helped address another common design challenge on radiant jobs, accurately controlling room temperature in rooms which see large solar gains during the day. The iSeries-R proved to be an easy and very cost effective solution.


Granite technicians Dale Harris (front) and Ben Nadeau check on the radiant mechanical system.
The house also features two Munchkin gas-fired modulating boilers along with a 119 gallon SuperStor indirect water heater. With nine bathrooms, the potential call for water necessitated the addition of a 120 gallon SuperStor storage tank. Taco circulators control the flow through the Watts Onix radiant tubing in the garage and basement slab and Watts HEPex installed under floor throughout the main house.

Granite is a big Taco user. Purnell and his team credits product reliability and problem solving solutions as being big factors in their choice of Taco. "That's why we love using them," he says. "One of the things we take real pride in," he adds, "is the fact that we actually do hear back from some of our customers after the job is done to say 'thank you' for the work we did. That's very gratifying to all of us at Granite, and that's why, at the end of the day, we want to be associated with Taco and its radiant products like the iSeries Mixing Valve."