NYC Metro Area’s HVACR Blog

Preventive Maintenance Agreements, Residential HVAC

Love Your Radiant Floor Heating? Don’t Neglect Maintenance

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Last Updated on April 28, 2016


Did you know that radiant floor heat is one of the oldest forms of climate control? Ancient Eskimos filled stone trenches under their dwellings with hot smoke to warm the space. The Greeks and Romans used hypocausts, basically furnaces pumping hot air into floor and wall space, to warm their public buildings and bath houses. Different forms of radiant floor heating have been used for millennia.

Why we love radiant floor heat

More modern forms of radiant floor heating use piped water, air or electricity to warm floors, walls and sometimes even ceilings. Your home or business stays toasty warm without ducts blowing air, dust and allergens throughout your space. Radiant floor heating provides even, consistent temperatures and better comfort levels than other heating systems. That’s because, unlike forced air heat that rises and mostly ends up around your ceiling or escaping through doors and windows, radiant floor heat is concentrated closer to the floor where you need it.

Because so much less heat is wasted, radiant heat is also very energy efficient. Depending on how the space is constructed and insulated, radiant heat can operate as much as 25% to 35% more efficiently than forced air heat. Best of all, these systems can last for decades.

Radiant heat systems need care and cleaning

You probably know that you need to have your furnace and air conditioning systems cleaned and tuned up each year to keep them running at their best. But since it doesn’t have filters to change and ducts to clean, you may not realize that your radiant heat system needs to be regularly inspected and maintained as well. Here’s what needs to be done to keep it in peak operating condition.

Complete inspection and pressure check

Bring in an HVAC service professional with expertise in radiant floor heat to do a thorough inspection of your system, which can be done along with yearly service of boilers and other equipment.

The technician will start by checking the pressure in your system. A radiant heating system is a closed system and should maintain a consistent pressure. If the pressure is low, there’s a leak in the pipes, which is problematic for several reasons:

  • If the system is operating at low pressure, it’s not working as effectively and efficiently as it should, which increases energy consumption and runs up your utility bills.
  • If the pipes are made of copper, leaks can often be repaired fairly easily. If they are made of steel, the entire pipe may need to be replaced.
  • If you have a water-based radiant heat system, leaking pipes lead to corrosion and rust that can mean much more serious problems.

Check condition of pumps and valves

The other important component that needs to be checked in a radiant floor heating system is the pump. Normally it operates so quietly that you don’t even know it’s there. But if it starts getting louder, it may be a sign of a problem.

Your HVAC tech will clean the pump and check the condition of the pressure release valve and reducing valve. Failure of these valves is the main reason that pumps need to be replaced. If yours is in poor condition, your tech can replace parts and prevent your system from going down on the coldest day of the year.

Take care of your radiant heat and it will keep your home or business toasty and comfortable for many years to come.

Did you know that radiant floor heating maintenance can be included in your yearly HVAC preventative maintenance contract? If your service provider hasn’t been taking care of this, take a closer look at your yearly plan to make sure it’s covering all your needs. For more information about devising a plan that’s right for your building, grab a copy of our helpful guide, HVAC Preventative Maintenance Contracts: How to Find the Right One for Your HVAC Infrastructure.
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