Hydronic underfloor heating

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Topic by boneyabba posted 10-22-2012 07:31 AM 12406 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 2471 days

10-22-2012 07:31 AM

Topic tags/keywords: hydronic radiant

Years ago I rented an Eichler where the owner had added forced air ducting heat rather than fixing the radiant heating. It seemed perfectly reasonable to me at the time because I wasn’t thinking about my own home and as a renter only cared that it was warm.

I am now looking at a property with a dysfunctional radiant heating system and wondering about the fixing vs. adding air. I am open to advice, suggestions, or ways to frame the problem.

The area is hot and I would probably want to add central air. There is attic access to the whole house- so it seems that adding ducting will be A) easy and B) required for the cooling. This makes me think I should just close off the radiant system- maybe fill in the space? And move on… But maybe there are some pros to fixing the existing system?



Martin- fix my account! :)

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Dan Lyke

331 posts in 4121 days

10-23-2012 12:53 AM

What’s the symptom? I have no particular experience with hydronic heating, although it’s the sort of thing I’d be silly enough to consider installing, but I both wonder what the failure modes are, and we might be able to help you figure out how to go about solving it (and what the costs around that might be) if we got more information about what’s going wrong.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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8 posts in 2471 days

11-01-2012 05:54 AM

Quick update here.

So, at the time of this post I had not “looked” at the problem at all. The seller disclosure included “property water turned off due to missing pipes in heating system- do not turn on water as it will destroy the house”

The house sits a couple inches above the ground, like my eichler did, and stomping on the floor makes a bit of an echo so I knew there was space. The other day I was able to crawl around a bit and here are some things I learned.

It was hydronic radiant- but ceiling not under the floor! Many missing pipes. Copper thieves it seems. Some removed with tools, some cranked back and forth and snapped. Not sure how thuroughly it was looted.

House has a gas water heater in a closet near the middle of the house. In the same closet is giant boiler. In the mudroom there is an electric water heater. The house inspector (I do not have the report yet) said he found “heat collectors and black pipes” in the attic as well.

I had a plumbing guy out- but he was… old and not in good shape and therefor not a crawling around person… and he asked if when we put in forced air if we would have 2 systems. On for each side of the house. The house is big- but not huge. 2800sf. 3 bedrooms- so mostly big spaces not many small spaces. Will that warrant 2 systems?


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7 posts in 2429 days

11-21-2012 08:45 AM

I do not believe that will warrant two systems, but perhaps firstly it might help if you find out the cost of fixing it as well as the cost of added air? It does seem that your current heating system is confusing. Sometimes, it’s not just about the initial cost, the operational cost may be huge as well. Plus, it might require heavy equipment to add air, not sure if the plumbing guy you have is up for it, but I am sure there are other professionals able to fix it up for you.

-- Christopher Creek - http://www.deepcreekconstructionschool.com

View Puff's profile


11 posts in 2858 days

12-12-2012 12:42 AM

I don’t have any personal experience with hydronic heating, but I’ve looked into it in the past. I like the idea of warm floors (especially as I write this, since the floor under my feet is over an unheated garage, and boy am I feeling it…).

I’m told that in-floor heating is one of the most uniform heating methods, since the heat comes from the whole floor and, of course, rises. The gotcha is that, of course, you have furniture, and the heat can’t rise through the furniture, so couches and beds and etc tend to be chillier than the rest of the room. One fix for this is to install infrared heat lamps that target problem spots (like the couch) but the whole thing is starting to seem complicated.

If your system is/was installed in the ceiling it might not work well since the heat isn’t going to sink down from the ceiling. One thought is, if the heating grid is a lost but the boiler is good, maybe install radiators or baseboard radiators?

-- "Always cut *towards* a major artery... that way you'll be careful."

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