The age-old question of function versus form has confounded experts in every field for countless decades.
Jeff Sweenor, president and CEO of Sweenor Builders in Wakefield, Rhode Island, looks at it differently. He asks, why not both? Function certainly comes first, but when the dust settles, his projects look as good as they work.
So when he and his wife, Sheila, renovated their own home last year, they decided to update the domestic water supply and heating system. Sweenor knew right away what direction he wanted to go.
Viega products ended up being the lifelines of the project, including a 36-port Viega ManaBloc, valves, distribution manifolds, a hydronic mixing block and hot-and-cold PureFlow PEX tubing for the domestic water supply.
“I’m very particular about my mechanical rooms, so we installed medium-density overlay plywood on the walls and painted it black before any installation,” Sweenor says. “Everything was carefully laid out and drilled through the plywood for a neat presentation and function.”
Sweenor has come up with his clean look over the years.
“It’s something we do on every house,” Sweenor says. “We paint the utility rooms black so the mechanicals stand out.”
Working with a Viega ManaBloc and PureFlow tubing gave him an idea. Instead of running the PEX out in the open, or trying to bend it through wall or plywood at an awkward angle, he came up with the idea of drilling holes at a 45-degree angle for a smooth look and fit.
“I looked through photos of hundreds of ManaBloc installs and was never quite content with the presentation of any of the styles I saw,” Sweenor says. “So I came up with the thought to neatly guide them in the right direction. Because they’re flexible, I was able to have the chaos of connections behind the wall and then they’re neatly distributed once they’re in the utility room.”
The results are striking. Controls are accessible, while dozens of PureFlow tubes running from the ManaBloc remain hidden.
As to functionality, the Sweenors couldn’t be happier with the finished product. Living in a house originally built in 1998, the 3,400-square-foot home was previously heated by an inefficient forced-air system.
The Sweenors decided to go with Viega’s underfloor radiant heating system instead. With a standard forced-air system, a typical room will be considerably warmer near the ceiling than on the floor. However, by installing radiant heat in both the concrete slabs of the basement and garage, as well as on the first floor, temperatures will typically remain warmer near the floors.
“It’s by far the most comfortable heating there is,” Sweenor says. “It doesn’t even compare to forced-air heating. The heat comes up through your feet and warms you from the bottom up, whereas forced-air is just the opposite. The garage is fully insulated, and we did that primarily for the snow to melt off … and so that the cars are warm when we get in them during the cold winter months.”
When Sweenor first started thinking about the project, he knew right away he’d be leaning on Viega during the 10-month-long renovation.
“I’ve been using Viega products for my business for 20 years,” Sweenor says. “We started using Viega when our plumber brought it to our attention. The product reputation, availability and our prior use of Viega is why we chose them for our own home.”