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I am trying to understand what the manifold does in a UFH system. It seems to just be an overpriced collection of T joins connect in a row with a basic valve on each.

What am I missing?

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The manifold is used to distribute fluid evenly throughout the system, as well as allowing you to turn on/off zones (for maintenance and whatnot). Without one you may find that some zones get more heat than others, since the flow could vary from zone to zone (depending on the plumbing).

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    +1, Think of it like you would the adjustments on the vents in each room that you have on HVAC systems. – BMitch Oct 12 '11 at 14:04
  • So way can a set of 7 joints and keep values be used instread? Or does a manifold do some sort of "auto balancing" of flow rates? – Walker Oct 12 '11 at 14:15
  • @Walker: I haven't seen any auto-balancing (which would defeat your manual control), but they often include air eliminators (e.g. bleeders that we had for radiators), adapters for different pipes (e.g. PEX), ball valves, mounting brackets, etc, each of which adds to the cost. – BMitch Oct 12 '11 at 14:35
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    @Walker: here's a diagram that gives you an idea of what goes into one of these: houseneeds.com/shop/manuals/hnmanifold_diagram.pdf – BMitch Oct 12 '11 at 14:39

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