Mike Holmes founded Holmes Heating & Air, in Denver, CO, after nearly 20 years in the trade. He has intentionally kept the business small with tremendous attention to detail.
In October of last year, Holmes took a call from a local real estate office. The agent was selling a spectacular property just outside the city and needed two estimates, fast; One to fix the boiler systems (yes, systems) at the property, and one to replace them.
“I provided two numbers because that’s what they asked for,” said Holmes. “But I also let them know that I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle fixing it. I don’t want my name on anything that looks that bad.”
The property included a 6,500 square-foot residence served by two, 25-year-old boilers, and a large guest house with a single boiler. In the main residence, fin-tube baseboard and in-floor radiant was used. In the smaller house, in-floor radiant is paired with panel radiators. The whole property was ripe with leaking and inoperable components.
After Holmes submitted his bids, a month went by with no correspondence. Then the new homeowner called out of the blue and said that she wanted to replace both heating systems entirely. She wanted Holmes to start that day, but was satisfied with his promise to complete it in time for the holidays, when the property would be filled with visiting family.
With help from McCoy Sales and Ferguson’s Denver branch, Holmes designed new heating systems for both houses, based on the use of three U.S. Boiler Company K2 high efficiency condensing boilers.
“I had never installed a K2 boiler before,” said Holmes. “But I knew I had backup from the rep and wholesaler if I needed it. So I started the demo and didn’t think any more about it.”
In the big house, all copper supply and return lines were cut out. Thirty-four new pipes were run into two big manifolds. Homles hung two, 180 MBH K2 condensing boilers. Through the boiler’s touchscreen control, he paired the units in lead-lag operation, set to swap lead position every 24 run hours.
“Despite the fact that I’d never used the K2 controls, the set-up was really intuitive,” explained Holmes. “I also selected propane as the fuel source in the controls, and punched in our elevation, 7,500 feet above sea level. After firing the units and checking them with a combustion analyzer, I was shocked by how close to perfect they were running after just five minutes of setup.”
The K2 boiler is a stainless steel, water tube boiler with a 10-to-1 turndown ratio. It’s available in five sizes from 80 to 180 MBH, and has a number of accessories that make it one of the industry’s most installer-friendly models.
After firing the system in the big house, attention turned to the guesthouse. The home’s four zones were wired to a U.S. Boiler Company Sage Zone Control, which allows the boiler to start at low fire and only increase to the firing rate needed for the zone (or zones) calling. It communicates with the boiler through a plug-and-play Ethernet connection.
“Because I’d already installed two K2 boilers by the time I got to the guest house, start-up went really fast,” he said. “The boiler comes with a printed quick-start guide that’s really helpful.”
The job came to a close early December, about a month from the start date, and in plenty of time for the family to decorate both homes for the Holidays.
“The system was perfectly comfortable and responsive from day one,” he said. “Now, after an entire heating season, there hasn’t been a single call or concern!”
Above: Two K2 boilers are used to supply heat for 16 zones of radiant and baseboard in the 6500 square-foot home.