by Ron Rajecki, senior editor

If you were to compare the comfort system in this spectacular home to a basketball shot, it would be a 360-degree, behind-the-head, hang-on-the-rim dunk.

The home, located in Shiloh, IL, features 9,150 sq.ft. of living area and a 650 sq. ft. garage. Behind the house sits a 2,350 sq.ft. pavilion that serves as a combination basketball court — complete with a hardwood floor — and pool house. Obviously, not your run-of-the-mill tract house.

The challenges were daunting and the stakes were high, but Sigman Heating & Air Conditioning, Belleville, IL, brought its “A” game of knowledge and experience to this home.

Sigman Heating & Air Conditioning is a 16-year-old company with 15 employees. The company serves the St. Louis area and surrounding counties in Missouri and Illinois. It performs residential and commercial service, replacement, and new installations, and also does refrigeration work.

Company Vice President Joel Sigman took particular pride in submitting this home for consideration in the Quality Home Comfort Awards.

The home uses 100% geothermal to provide radiant heat, domestic hot water, snowmelt, forced air cooling and heating (in mild weather), and pool and spa heating. All the units in the main residence have humidity control, variable speed blowers, and electronic air cleaners. Each unit has an electric meter to measure power consumption. There are six forced air zones in the main living space and two forced-air zones in the pavilion. The radiant floor system consists of 10 zones.

“This home was designed to give the highest level of comfort, efficiency, and air quality,” Joel Sigman says. “This unique project encompasses all aspects of radiant floor heating and zoned forced air systems, combined with the most efficient heating and cooling source available.”

A Passion for Geothermal

Sigman Heating & Air Conditioning was founded in 1988 by John Sigman. “I graduated from trade school in 1971, worked for a Carrier dealer for 17 years, apprenticed at the local plumbers and pipefitters union, then followed the Great American Dream and started my own company,” recalls John Sigman. The company has grown slowly and steadily since, and today has 15 full-time employees. Along the way, it gained a reputation as the company of choice for geothermal systems.

“We never started out thinking we’d become the geothermal experts in the area,” John says. “But my son (company vice president Joel) has a real passion for geothermal, and that’s what has made us so successful with it.”

Joel’s passion for geothermal led him to press custom home builders in the area to offer geothermal comfort systems to their customers. Builder Ron Padgett, of Padgett Building and Remodeling, Belleville, IL, says that over the past five years, about half of the homes his company has built have featured geothermal systems.

“We have worked with Sigman Heating & Air Conditioning for many years, and Joel really spearheaded our interest in geothermal,” Padgett says. “Although it costs more upfront, it’s easy to sell because of the track record we have of customers who are so very satisfied with it.”

Padgett suggested that the owner of this home learn more about geothermal heating from Joel, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Courting a Challenge

One of the most interesting and challenging aspects of this project is the pavilion. Sigman envisioned the basketball court, with its 21-ft. ceilings, to be the perfect application for radiant heat. However, the floor was layered for cushioning, with dead air space between the concrete and the hardwood floor. After discussions with the flooring contractor, it was determined that radiant wouldn’t be a good choice for this application. This meant the challenge then became how to heat the building from 21-ft. high.

As Sigman Heating & Air Conditioning has extensive experience with geothermal systems, a 6-ton geothermal unit with hot water assist and a variable speed blower became the system of choice for the pavilion. A small office the overlooks the basketball court is zoned with a 34-ton geothermal console. These units are on their own pond loop, and cycle through a two-pump flow assembly.

The building was zoned between heating and cooling cycles using two dampers, a simple relay, and a combination thermostat/humidistat. The heating supply registers were run down the outside walls and located as low as possible to the floor, while the cooling registers were located in the ceiling.

The combination thermostat/humidistat controls the by-pass humidifier that was necessary to protect the hardwood floors. The humidity is controlled by set point compared to outdoor temperature. For dehumidification, the thermostat/humidistat varies blower speed with first-stage cooling to maintain the proper set point without compromising the room’s temperature.

The swimming pool and spa area, which is also part of the pavilion, gets additional comfort and control from the geothermal units that serve the main house.

Takin’ It To the House

Comfort and efficiency were the top priorities when it came to the main house.

The primary source of heat in the basement and the main floor is a radiant floor system powered by three, 5-ton geothermal water-to-water units.

Sigman Heating & Air Conditioning’s load calculations called for a split of the main floor of the house and the basement with two 4-ton, two-stage, forced-air geothermal units.

The first unit controls the north side of the main floor and the basement. The first zone of this system covers three areas in the basement: the office, exercise room, and part of the storage area, with the thermostat located in the office.

The second zone controls the master bedroom/bathroom suite, which the owner wanted to be able to control independently from the rest of the house.

The third zone on this system is the living room, study/office, foyer, and dining room.

The second 4-ton unit controls the south side of the house. There are two zones on this system. The first is the basement zone, including the recreation room, bar, entertainment area, and part of the storage area. The second zone controls the family room, kitchen, laundry room, and service area.

The second floor of the house is heated and cooled by a 4-ton geothermal split system attached to a variable-speed fan coil.

All three systems feature electronic air cleaners, by-pass humidifiers, variable speed fan motors, and combination thermostat/humidistats.

“The thermostat/humidistats give us control of the humidity levels; the two-stage units and variable speed fans for maximum efficiency, comfort, and quietness; and the air cleaners to ensure air quality in the home,” explains Sigman. “In addition, five zones on the main level and basement and a sixth on the second floor allows us to maximize comfort and efficiency.”

The System Takes Shape

A 10-zone radiant heating system powered by three 5-ton geothermal water-to-water units provides the main source of heat in the cold Illinois winters.

Each 5-ton unit has a 50-gal. storage tank and cycled-on electronic temperature controls set at 100F, 101F, and 102F. When the system is started and checked at the beginning of each heating season, the temperatures are rotated to equalize usage of each unit. The storage tank temperatures at these set points are approximately 120F.

The 24 loops for the geothermal systems are at the bottom of a lake behind the house. A single 6-ton loop with 34-in. X 500-ft. coils serves the pavilion. There’s a 14-ton loop with 1-in. X 500-ft. coils for the four water-to-water units and two packaged units that serve the main floor and basement, and a single, 4-ton loop with 34-in. X 500-ft. coils for the second floor of the house.

An interesting aspect of the pond loop is that it was “installed” in the winter. “We just pushed the loop field out onto the ice,” Joel Sigman says. “Then we kept an eye on it as the ice melted and it sank to the bottom.”

The home’s basement is separated into four thermostatically controlled zones, while zones five through 10 are on the main floor.

On the main floor, the laundry room and master bath have tile surfaces, while the other areas of the main floor are wood. Sigman’s team made sure the tiles were zoned separately from the wood areas, and dual sensing thermostats were used on the main floor to help protect the wood floors while maintaining maximum comfort on the tile floors.

A snowmelt system between the main house and pavilion features an additional 1,300 ft. of 12-in. oxygen barrier tubing.

The circulation of water to each zone is controlled by a 115V pump and relay. The snowmelt system is separated from the radiant floor system with an 80,000 Btu plate heat exchanger, and is filled with a propylene glycol solution to keep it from freezing.

To maximize their usage, the 5-ton water-to-water units are also used to heat the pool and spa. There are 2-in. polyethylene pipes running from the mechanical room to a boiler, then to the pool, and 114-in. pipes taking a similar route to the spa.

The boilers only kick in when the water from the geothermal system doesn’t satisfy the desired temperature in the pool or spa. There are two 120,000 Btu plate heat exchangers piped in parallel for the pool, and one 80,000 Btu plate exchanger for the spa

As a final touch, the geothermal system has the option for assisting heating domestic hot water.

“Because the forced air geothermal units aren’t used during the winter, and because of the amount of hot water the homeowner required, we felt we wouldn’t get the full potential from the units’ built-in hot water assist,” Sigman explains. “Instead, we decided to use a 3-ton water-to-water unit to provide domestic hot water year-round. This gives the homeowner the capacity and recovery necessary to satisfy the home’s hot water needs.”

The water-to-water unit is hooked to a 50-gal. water tank that’s cycled with an electronic digital temperature control. The water is disbursed from the 50-gal. tank to three 80-gal. tanks, providing excellent recovery and efficiency.

A Championship Team

Joel Sigman tips his cap to the members of his team who put together this impressive project: Jerry Call, service manager; Scott Wright, installation manager; and installers John Adams, Matt Giebe, Nick Kokotovich, Bob Rule, Matt Truttman, and Ron Wilson.

“We’re very fortunate to have the team that we have,” Joel Sigman says. “Everyone here takes great pride in their work, from the smallest job to the biggest.”

John Sigman also credits part of Sigman Heating & Air Conditioning’s success (and this award) to the company’s involvement with both the St. Louis and Southern Illinois chapters of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).

“Contractors need to realize it’s important to get in tune with the rest of the industry,” he says.

As Sigman Heating & Air Conditioning celebrates its first Quality Home Comfort Award (the company was a runner-up in 2001), what is likely the best tribute to its award-winning project comes from the homeowner: “We’re thrilled with it.”

As the homeowner and his children enjoy the comfort and efficiency of their home and pavilion, you can almost imagine famous basketball announcer Dick Vitale summing up Sigman’s work with a modification of his famous yell: “Unbelievably comfortable and efficient, baby!”


EQUIPMENT LIST:

Main house

  • 2 ClimateMaster VT048 4-ton, two-stage packaged units
  • ClimateMaster GSS048 4-ton split system
  • 3 ClimateMaster GSW060 5-ton, water-to-water geothermal units
  • ClimateMaster GSW036 3-ton, water-to-water geothermal unit
  • Bryant FK4CNF005 variable-speed air handler with 15kW auxiliary heater
  • 3 Bryant AIRAAXBB20 200 cfm electronic air cleaners
  • 3 Bryant HUMBBLBP2018 18 gal/day humidifiers
  • 3 Bryant TSTATBBPRH01-B Thermidistats
  • 2 Honeywell TZ-3 zone control boards
  • Grundfos 1026 34-hp loop pump
  • Grundfos Geo flow loop pump module

Pavilion

  • ClimateMaster GSV070 6-ton packaged unit with variable speed ECM blower and hot water assist
  • ClimateMaster CL009 34 ton console unit
  • Bryant HUMBBLBP2018 18 gal/day humidifier
  • Bryant TSTATBBPRH01-B Thermidistat
  • Grundfos geo flow loop pump module

Radiant heat

  • Infloor 13,000 ft of 12-in. oxygen barrier tubing
  • Infloor 80,000 Btu plate heat exchanger for snow melt
  • Infloor 80,000 Btu plate heat exchanger for spa
  • Infloor 120,000 Btu plate heat exchanger for pool
  • Infloor copper manifolds
  • 6 Infloor 29002 dual-sensing thermostats
  • 4 Johnson Controls A419 electronic temperature controls
  • 14 Grundfos UP2664-F circulating pumps
  • 2 Honeywell AM102C-1 mixing valves