Radiant floor heating systems are the ductless alternative to warming up your home during the cooler months. They are an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way to produce heat, and they are beloved by those who suffer from allergies since they don’t distribute allergens like forced air systems tend to do.
Radiant heating can be installed as floor or ceiling systems, which use cables or tubing that can feed electricity or water under the floors or ceilings throughout the house. They can also be installed using wall panels. They work by transferring heat directly from a hot surface, such as floor tiles, to the space, creating an even distribution of heat across your living quarters.
Most homes favor the floor-based systems known as hydronic radiant systems. These liquid-based systems can tap into a wide variety of energy sources to heat the liquid that flows through the floors with methods including solar water heaters, gas or oil-fired burners, or a mix of these sources.
Today, we will review some of the common repairs you can expect with a hydronic radiant heating system and the proper steps to take when addressing any of these issues.
- Damaged mixing valves
- Zone valve issues
- Air locks
- Damaged panels or tiles
While it may be tempting to tackle a radiant floor heating problem on your own, hiring a professional for these projects is highly recommended since you could do more harm than good in many situations. Accessing the pipes and equipment can be tricky and time-consuming, but technicians with the proper equipment and training can get the job done with precision and in a timely manner.
Damaged mixing valves
The mixing valve is a self-acting thermostatic valve that mixes the flow from the boiler with the return from the floor heating system. When this piece stops working properly, it can cause the water pressure in your home to become inconsistent or render the temperature unreliable. When the heat rises too high in these situations, you can end up with warped panels or tiles.
This is a common repair homeowners face when they realize there is an issue with their radiant heating system. But before you go too deep, the first step in this situation would be to examine your radiant heat valve’s temperature setting. It could be as simple as adjusting the valve to the correct temperature!
If your valves are set correctly, the next move would be to check your thermostat sensors for accuracy. They could be sending incorrect signals to your heater.
Sensors check out? Your mixing valve could be broken. Contact your local Plumbing professionals to come in and assess your mixing valve to determine if it can be repaired or whether it requires a replacement to avoid any damage to your flooring before high temperatures cause your floors to flex.
Zone valve issues
Water moves from the boiler to your radiant floor system via zone valves. Normal wear and tear or a faulty installation of these valves could cause them to malfunction and create inconsistent water flow. In these instances, water flow can stop or become tight, which causes your system to work in overdrive and not perform efficiently, resulting in unsteady heat function.
The first action to take with this problem is to check your transformer. Confirm the status of your fuses. If you notice a burnt fuse, then you’ve isolated the issue. If that doesn’t seem to be the case, call up a professional to come out and assess the situation. There could be a bigger issue at hand, and they can determine the root cause of the problem.
Even if your radiant heating system was installed by the best of the best, pipes are no match against sagging floorboards, corrosion, or stones that may have fallen on top of them. Remodeling projects can also sometimes cause issues with piping when a worker accidentally or unknowingly hits a pipe.
All hydronic systems can suffer from leaks, but luckily, Plumbing experts have access to leak detection systems that help them pinpoint the source of the leak.
A professional can use their leak detection systems to detect where the leaks are happening in your pipes or panels and use their precision tools to create a small access point from which to perform the repair. Once the repair is complete, they replace the flooring. The process of repairing such leaks is delicate and requires training, so it’s recommended to reach out to a professional to identify the source of the problem and execute the repair safely.
Some hydronic radiant heating systems are installed with an open-loop process. When this happens, your system is vulnerable to interruptions in water flow from your water company, your well, or whatever other water source you’re using, which can result in uneven floor heat.
The telltale sign that you have an air lock situation on your hands is when only part of your floor is heated or if your heating stops altogether.
While air locks aren’t necessarily a common repair to your radiant heating system, they can still happen. A bubble of oxygen, or air lock, can cause a blockage in the piping, preventing water from traveling throughout your system. If left unattended, it could cause overheating or, worse, flooding. The good news is that you can flush your system to push out those air kinks.
If you’re handy with your radiant heating system manual, you can figure out how to follow the same flushing process your installer performed upon starting the system. This process will help flush the air lock out of place and help get your system back in order. However, if you’re uncomfortable executing such a task, it’s best to leave it to professionals who are familiar with hydronic radiant heating systems.
Damaged panels or tiles
One of the most common repairs you can expect from a radiant heating system can result from damaged panels or tiles caused by faulty installation of the system or equipment malfunctions like mixing valves going bad.
When a hydronic heating system is installed, it’s recommended to use materials that are conducive to radiant floor heating. Ceramic tile is the most effective floor covering for radiant heating systems since it adds thermal storage and conducts heat effectively.
It’s important to consult a professional about what flooring to use over your radiant heating system. Using the wrong material could cause issues with the amount of heat your system produces, leading to warped floors and damaged panels.
Benefits of radiant heating systems
Homeowners most commonly embrace a radiant heating system to improve their indoor air quality. Since hydronic heating systems don’t require air ducts to disperse heat, there are fewer contaminants flowing through ductwork and forced-air heating systems.
Radiant heating is a great way to disperse heat evenly throughout your home. It reduces dreaded cold drafts and spreads heat uniformly throughout your floors. Since floor heating systems are so efficient at retaining heat, they also tend to keep the cost of heating relatively low.
Aside from better air quality and energy efficiency, one of the biggest benefits of a floor heating system is that it has fewer moving parts than traditional heating systems. This means you shouldn’t have as many issues, and repairs are typically few and far between. That said, it’s always recommended to have routine maintenance performed on your system at least once a year.
Ongaro & Sons — Your Radiant Heating Experts
Ongaro & Sons is a family-owned business in its fourth generation of operation. When you need heating help in the North Bay area, you’ll get great prices and exceptional service when working with the Radiant Heat specialists at Ongaro & Sons.
Our NATE-certified technicians are experienced industry veterans capable of maintaining and repairing any furnace, heat pump, or boiler system. We are a licensed state contractor with fully insured, qualified, and professional technicians dedicated to industry-leading heating solutions.
With decades of institutional knowledge and experience, our service technicians are among the most capable in the industry. We’re committed to providing ongoing training and education opportunities, helping our technicians develop and learn new skills. As Radiant Heating technologies continue advancing, we always work to bring our customers the best heating services and solutions.
Contact Ongaro & Sons here or call us at 707-419-3135 today if you’re having heating issues. Before beginning our work, we’ll investigate the cause of your issue and provide detailed quotes and recommendations. No matter the project, you’ll always know exactly what to expect and what you’ll pay.