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AHI in AR

Apollo HydroHeat -- known problems?

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I just inspected a home with an Apollo HydroHeat system circa 1991. It was paired with a conventional electric A/C. Hydronic heat is really rare around here. I last saw one about 8-9 years ago as best I can recall. The unit takes water from the water heater adjacent to it and pumps it through a coil when in heating mode. The slightly cooled water is then recirculated back into the water heater tank.

Anyone have any info on typical problems or other cautions about these? I Google'd it and can't find much. The company's own site is pathetic.

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Originally posted by AHI in AR

I just inspected a home with an Apollo HydroHeat system circa 1991. It was paired with a conventional electric A/C. Hydronic heat is really rare around here. I last saw one about 8-9 years ago as best I can recall. The unit takes water from the water heater adjacent to it and pumps it through a coil when in heating mode. The slightly cooled water is then recirculated back into the water heater tank.

Anyone have any info on typical problems or other cautions about these? I Google'd it and can't find much. The company's own site is pathetic.

I've seen several of the Apollo systems. I think they're dandy. Two of the systems I've seen were brand new and were leaking. Look for leaks in the connections to the hot water coil in the air handler.

Other than that, the system seems to work very well and the occupants seem to like it.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Here is boilerplate I include:

This system produced an output temperature of about 100 (or whatever) degrees. This is fairly typical for hydronic heat. Due to the output temperature, these systems take a while to heat the home but do economically maintain a normal temperature. It is best to leave the thermostat at the ideal temperature rather than changing it constantly when leaving the house, etc. In addition, you may need to increase the heat setting at the water heater in the winter.

Use caution to avoid scalding in the showers if the water heater is turned up in the winter. Installation of temperature regulating shower fixtures is recommended.

Some tips for better operation:

Increase the temperature setting at the water heater in the winter (be careful of possible scalding)

Change the filter often. A damaged filter can allow dust to clog the heat exchanger.

Periodically drain some water from the water heater to help prevent scale buildup in the heat exchanger (monthly drain out 5-10 gallons).

Turn off the valves to the heat exchanger and reduce water temperature in the summer.

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Originally posted by homnspector

Here is boilerplate I include:

This system produced an output temperature of about 100 (or whatever) degrees. This is fairly typical for hydronic heat. Due to the output temperature, these systems take a while to heat the home but do economically maintain a normal temperature. It is best to leave the thermostat at the ideal temperature rather than changing it constantly when leaving the house, etc. In addition, you may need to increase the heat setting at the water heater in the winter.

Use caution to avoid scalding in the showers if the water heater is turned up in the winter. Installation of temperature regulating shower fixtures is recommended.

Some tips for better operation:

Increase the temperature setting at the water heater in the winter (be careful of possible scalding)

Change the filter often. A damaged filter can allow dust to clog the heat exchanger.

Periodically drain some water from the water heater to help prevent scale buildup in the heat exchanger (monthly drain out 5-10 gallons).

Turn off the valves to the heat exchanger and reduce water temperature in the summer.

Whew! That's a lot for a homeowner to swallow.

Let me gently suggest something like this: The Apollo heating system is functional. As with any such system, it will require maintenance from time to time.

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AHI, A couple of other points.

These often seem to be undersized. I have had homeowners complain that they cant keep their house warm, so you may want to put in a disclaimer about proper sizing being outside the scope of the inspection.

Also be sure the water heater is a fast recovery type. Sometimes the water heater gets replaced with a standard water heater and won't heat adequately.

I also warn them that the water heater will usually have a shorter life due to nearly constant use in the winter.

Around here, the heat exchangers eventually get clogged with calcium, obviously you won't have any way to check this but the homeowner will call you when the repairman gives them the bill.

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My service technician discovered that the electrically operated hot water valve had failed and was allowing hot water in the airhandler during the cooling season. He pointed out a manual valve for me to shut off during the cooling season.

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My service technician discovered that the electrically operated hot water valve had failed and was allowing hot water in the airhandler during the cooling season. He pointed out a manual valve for me to shut off during the cooling season.

Interesting, did he mention whether this is a frequent issue with these Appolo units?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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As a HVAC tech, I haven"t ran into many solenoid valves sticking open. The main problem is the leaks. These units are typically located in the attic around here and with a leak comes the water damage, mold, and mildew. Once one system goes in a neighborhood we usually get calls from the neighbors to replace theirs with a heat pump.

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My service technician discovered that the electrically operated hot water valve had failed and was allowing hot water in the airhandler during the cooling season. He pointed out a manual valve for me to shut off during the cooling season.

Interesting, did he mention whether this is a frequent issue with these Appolo units?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

No, he didn't seem familiar with the unit and was just a good diagnostician.

He felt the hot pipe entering the handler and figured that wasn't right.

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I was formerly a apartment maintenance tech for several years. The complex had hydronic coils in every unit.

Some advice, these units can be very problematic. I always reccomend manual shutoff valves on the coil. Also i advise a drain valve on the output line of the coil before the shutoff. the drain inside the unit is cheap plastic and because i think the exchanger should be flushed before every heating season, an external valve is best. If maintained properly, these units run very well with little breakdown.

hope this helps[:-paperba

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Hi

I am in need of securing parts for an appolo system in the west burbs of Illinois

My Hvac has advised they are out of business

the client is without heat- part cannot be rebuilt

i might be able to change the system entirely but her unit is in a bathroom

perplexed

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What's the part that you need?

Those things are pretty much just a radiator coil with a bunch of off-the-shelf components attached to them.

What is the part that you need, maybe you can get something similar from one of the other hydronic system manufacturers?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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In my opinion and from my vast experience with the Apollo heating systems they STINK! They are very, very inefficient and very uneconomical. They run forever to raise the ambient temperature 2 degrees. I am heating about 1700 sq. ft to 65degrees and it costs me an bundle to heat during our mild winters. I purchased the home new and have been greatly disappointed with the system from the first winter. Gas packs seem the way to go.

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That system is pretty popular around here and, curiously, the above complaint is the only one I've ever heard. For whatever reason, no one else has ever been compelled to express such disappointment. I've always shared Jim's opinion: they're dandy - darn near maintenance free. There's just not very much that can go wrong with such a simple system. I've only experienced one problem one time - PB distribution pipes leaked all over the place in a vacant foreclosure home. When I turned the water on, it ruined a ceiling over a vaulted foyer. Other than that, they seem to work just fine.

Umm, has anyone noticed the number of views on this subject = 3400 and counting since September of 2008... Apparently a hot button??...

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Umm, has anyone noticed the number of views on this subject = 3400 and counting since 2008... Apparently a hot button??...

Well, it has been 15 months since the OP initiated the thread.

FWIW, I've inspected some of them and they were performing well and the residents weren't complaining about them. I'm kind of wondering whether the disappointed fellow's system is installed wrong or something. A few years ago I looked at one where the folks didn't know there was an air filter and had never serviced it. The thing didn't provide a lot of heat with a completely clogged filter.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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In my opinion and from my vast experience with the Apollo heating systems they STINK! They are very, very inefficient and very uneconomical. They run forever to raise the ambient temperature 2 degrees. I am heating about 1700 sq. ft to 65degrees and it costs me an bundle to heat during our mild winters. I purchased the home new and have been greatly disappointed with the system from the first winter. Gas packs seem the way to go.

Vast experience? It sounds like you're a homeowner of a home with a poorly installed heating system and you're making a sweeping generalization about that entire class of heating system based on your experience with one of them. Your system might be poorly designed, poorly installed, or pooly maintained. But that's not a reason to condemn the entire class.

Gas packs are fine but they have their own problems.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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When I turned the water on, it ruined a ceiling over a vaulted foyer. Other than that, they seem to work just fine.

Now that's funny.

Yeah, it was one of those rare times I agreed to turn on the water in a vacant house. After an extremely cautious initial 10 minute wait and watch period, I began inspecting the exterior. I had no idea yet the big home even had Apollos. They were tucked away in the eaves over the grand foyer. The twin heating systems were, of course, the last thing to finally begin attempting to fill. When I stuck my head inside for one of my repeated nervous checks, water was dripping from the chandelier. That'll raise the hairs on your neck. Dang it! [:-banghea

The plumber that winterized the home, apparently didn't think about the heating systems needing to be drained and the lines froze and split in couple of places close to the air handlers.

Such is life...

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Terance,

Now that you've mentioned it, I see what you mean.

Communication is the eternal challenge isn't it? I just attended, for the second time in twenty-five years, a Fred Pryor Career-Track Seminar called Business Writing for Results two weeks ago. A part of the seminar is devoted to reading sentences with missing or misplaced comas and other such sentence constructions which make it easy to derive an array of different and completely incorrect interpretations.

Another part is devoted to what you're experiencing. And, rereading my original statement from a reader's perspective, it IS funny.

Communicating in print certainly ain't for sissies. [:-wiltel]

I love a quote my cousin's husband, who is a photo-journalist for the SBC, has on his FaceBook page.

"Good writing is clear thinking made visible." [:-eyebrow

I suppose I'll be eternally scaling that mountain...

Well, Merry Christmas all!

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I live in a 20+ yr old condo that had an Apollo Hydro Heat system. I replaced the hot water heater 2 yrs ago with an identical (apparently discontinued) Apollo water heater. This past summer, I needed to replace the A/C and chose to also update the heating unit. I was sold a Kenmore compressor and air handler installed by Sears. (I think that's what I got--whatever costs about $8000.00) The system doesn't seem to be working properly. The installer has been wonderful and has tried troubleshooting but we're not sure what else could be the cause of all the inconsistent heating and water temp problems. Are other manufacturers compatible with Apollo? [:-weepn]

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I live in a 20+ yr old condo that had an Apollo Hydro Heat system. I replaced the hot water heater 2 yrs ago with an identical (apparently discontinued) Apollo water heater. This past summer, I needed to replace the A/C and chose to also update the heating unit. I was sold a Kenmore compressor and air handler installed by Sears. (I think that's what I got--whatever costs about $8000.00) The system doesn't seem to be working properly. The installer has been wonderful and has tried troubleshooting but we're not sure what else could be the cause of all the inconsistent heating and water temp problems. Are other manufacturers compatible with Apollo? [:-weepn]

Yes, pretty much anything is compatible with any hydro-heat system.

Exactly what did you have installed? For $8K it must have been some pretty fancy stuff.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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