Recognizing Common Issues With Radiant Heating Systems

Although they are far from a new concept, radiant heating systems have become extremely popular in recent years. These relatively simple systems offer energy efficiency and reliability and create an extremely cozy home during the cold months. While most radiant heating systems require little maintenance, they do occasionally develop issues. Many homeowners are familiar with the problems commonly found in more traditional heating systems, but it may be more difficult to spot trouble with radiant heating.

Thermostat and Heater Issues

As with any HVAC system, problems with your thermostat can cause the system to function incorrectly or not at all. Unfortunately, thermostat problems can be more difficult to detect in radiant heating systems since these systems react more slowly to change. A thermostat that isn't functioning properly may cause the system to shut off too soon or run for too long, but the rapid cycling that can occur in AC systems or more traditional heat systems is likely to be less apparent. If you suspect a thermostat problem, you will likely have to test or replace the thermostat to be certain.

Of course, the actual heater can fail as well. Depending on the design of your system, the hot water for your radiant heating may be provided by either a hot water heater or a traditional boiler. Hot water heaters tend to be more energy-efficient and require less maintenance. On the other hand, boilers should be inspected by a professional technician at least once per year.

Pumping Problems

Most radiant heating systems use an electric circulating pump to deliver water for heating. Depending on your particular setup, this water may be delivered to radiant pipes alone or it may also be directed to baseboard heaters. If your heat fails entirely, the pump may be to blame. While a professional should be called in to confirm this diagnosis, one quick option is to simply check if the pipe leaving the pump is warm. If the pipe remains cold even when the heat should be running, then your pump is most likely not functioning properly.

Since the pump is plugged into your home's electrical system, a good first step is to check your fuse box or circuit breaker. A pump that trips a breaker one time is probably not a cause for concern, but if it happens repeatedly then it is likely either an underlying electrical issue or a failing pump. Never use any piece of electrical equipment that is repeatedly tripping circuit breakers.

Stuck Valves

Depending on your particular set-up, your radiant heating system will have one or more valves controlling the flow to each zone of your house. These valves may simply allow or block the flow of warm water or they may be mixing valves which blend warm and cold depending on demand. Whatever the case, a stopped valve will prevent heat from reaching one zone. If you notice that only one zone in your home is unheated or if one zone appears to have much weaker heating than other zones, then it is possible that a blocked or restricted valve is to blame.

Contact a company that offers residential heating repair near you in order to get help with these and other similar issues today.


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