You think you're passionate about radiant? Polish hydronics expert Zbyszek "Ziggy" Jonak loves radiant heat so much that he left his native country in '86 to pursue his interests in Austria where they've refined it to an art form. There, for nine years, he worked with a few masters of the craft.
Those were especially good years for Ziggy. He honed his skills, met and married his Polish bride, Marzena. Together, they emigrated to the U.S. in '95. They settled in Chicago and quickly formed a relationship Piotr Zelasko, indisputably one of Chicago's top hydronic pros. Zelasko also left Poland, though a decade before Jonak did, to bring his passion for hydronics here; today, he's a manager and ace trouble shooter for Chicago-based Able Distributors.
Zelasko and Mike Bleier, president of Able, were quick to see the many common interests they shared with Jonak, offering to help him get his business established there. Jonak's enterprise has since flourished and he's now one of the most sought-out hydronic/radiant heat installers in the area.
Among the products that Ziggy uses routinely are those manufactured by Watts Radiant. A recent residential job entailed the use of 3,000 square feet of SubRay, several stainless steel manifolds, 2,200 lineal feet of Onix tubing and another 3,500 lineal feel of RadiantPEX tubing for an extensive snowmelt system.
Another recently completed project is one that Ziggy did for their own enjoyment, and as an investment. In '04, he and Marzena - a real estate pro - purchased a 70-year-old home in Highland Park, IL, one of several high-end suburbs that make up the North Shore area skirting Lake Michigan north of Chicago.
"I wanted nothing less than for my wife and children, Kevin and Daniel, to be able to walk on any floor surface in the home with complete comfort," commented Jonak. But he didn't stop there. The project soon grew to include a radiantly-warmed walk-in shower, tub surround and a sitting bench in the home's master suite.
"We also wanted radiant because it's perfect for families with allergies," added Marzena. "Fans aren't kicking-up and circulating dust and allergens in the home, making it a much healthier environment."
Throughout their home, Ziggy used RadiantPEX - some of it is stapled-up with plates, some of it is embedded in concrete (parts of the basement, and the master suite), and yet more of it is wound within the engineered channels of Watts Radiant's sleek SubRay. He used it plentifully within the snowmelt sections outside, some of which is concrete, and some of it lies under a bed of sand and brick pavers.
"One of the key challenges we as Europeans have here in the US is the tendency for Americans to see mechanical systems and components as unimportant, favoring an attention to amenities like granite counter tops and formal dining rooms," said Jonak. "The comfort of radiant heat - and the mechanical space needed to provide it - are just now beginning to find share of mind (and space!) among homeowners and builders.
"Americans are finally warming to the concept, the comfort and the romance of radiant," added Jonak.