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Case Study - St Joseph's Church, Bishops Stortford

One very happy church! ‘We never realised how cold our church was until we had the JUPITER Underfloor Heating System installed’

Fr Peter Harris - St Joseph’s Church, Bishops Stortford

On our recent church project in Bishops Stortford, we were responsible for the entire heating system, from start to finish. This included installing dry floor levelling, underfloor heating panels, a load bearing surface and an Air Source Heat Pump. This combination of products ensured a swift delivery of the project by completely removing the drying-out time that would otherwise have been associated with a limecrete or traditional pipe-in-screed system.

For further information about our ecclesiastical work, please see our dedicated website

St Joseph’s was founded at the initiative of the Redemptorist Fathers in 1900 in an area where there were only a few Catholics. The Redemptorist Fathers had purchased a large property near the middle of the town and the church was built on the site of the stables of the estate.

The floor was first levelled, using our dehydrated floor levelling slate. The clay slate is rough-crushed, sieved and subsequently broken down to the specified grain size. The clay slate is heated to a high temperature, so it becomes molten. As it burns, gas is released, forming bubbles in the surface, and resulting in a gritty surface texture. It is this texture that enables the slate to bind together under loading.

Pictured centre above, our 30mm IDEAL EPS heating panels are installed on top of a layer of Kingspan GreenGuard GG500 insulation which sits on top of the levelling slate.

Our IDEAL EPS panels are made of an ultra-high compressive strength expanded polystyrene (240 kPa) which will not sag or compredss over time as inferior materials sometimes do. The heating panels feature rigid aluminium plates that rapidly and evenly diffuse the heat across the floor. The aluminium plates are fixed to their EPS backing during manufacture to ensure they do not squeak when walked upon as can happen when ‘spreader plates’ are offered separately.

Our unique, tongue-and-groove Screed Replacement Tile is installed on a slip membrane over the heating panels. The SRT system is bonded together, but not down, forming an inherently decoupled floor that is just as strong as ca 65mm thick sand and cement screed. No expansion or movement joints are necessary as the SRT system expands and contracts minimally across its normal range of operating temperatures.

We like to use our thermal imaging camera to demonstrate the difference in heat diffusion between using radiators and underfloor heating in a heated space.

Radiators are a convective heating system: the air is warmed, but the fabric of the building is not. A radiant source of heat, such as underfloor heating, serves to improve the radiant temperature of all the objects in a room. This begins with the floor, which in turn re-emits infrared radiation to then be taken up by the walls, furniture, and any bodies inside.

The images above show the completed Church with thermal images to highlight the heat distribution throughout the whole building. With the columns reading 18.4°C and the pews reading 22.1°C we can demonstrate that the whole church absorbs the heat!

Originally the intention was to replace the original oil fired boiler with a new gas boiler. This would have involved the installation of a new subterranean gas main approaching 50 metres in length. We suggested that they should consider installing an Air Source Heat Pump instead. A 3 phase 35 kW Mastertherm heat pump was installed directly adjacent to the basement plant room which via a 100 litre buffer served the new underfloor heating in the nave.

Along with the main plant the underfloor heating manifolds were also installed within the basement but mounted upside down. In order to provide optimun performance and to prevent air getting trapped in the near kilometer of underfloor heating pipework, a Reflex Servitec Mini vacuum degasser was fitted.

So you would like to know how we came to saving someones life? All of our staff are trained in first aid. As a reputable company employing staff on buiding sites it is our duty to ensure that they are trained in all things related to health & safety.

While we were busy installing at the church a member of the public poked their nose through the door to say that they had finished with the defibrillator and handed to us. No one had actually realised that it had been missing from its box! It was duly returned to its home. The following day a member of the public was walking past the open doors of the church and collapsed. Two of our installers rushed out to help and as they now knew where the defibrillator was kept, proceeded to perform a life saving procedure. Their knowledge gained from us insiting that they do regular first aid training saved this persons life. You can read more about this story below.

If you've found this post interesting and would like to discuss a project with us, please get in touch.

Also, consider subscribing to our newsletter for more stories about our specialist work in sensitively heating listed buildings, and ensuring they are comfortable and fit for use for many more generations to enjoy.

Contributor - Sophie D.

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