Homeowners love radiant-heat flooring because it is quiet, energy-efficient, warms evenly, and reduces allergens because no air and accompanying particles are being blown into the home.
Radiant floor heating warms everything in the room—the furniture, the flooring, and you—not just the parameter of the room wherever the vents may be.
Radiant heating relies on hydronic (water) power. Because it’s a water-centered system, it doesn’t have many moving parts. This helps cut down on the need for frequent radiant heating repairs. But no HVAC system is perfect. Here are some common radiant heating repairs you might need. These repairs should only be undertaken by radiant heat installation contractors.
Common radiant heating repairs
Damaged flooring or mounted ceiling or wall tiles: Installation of flooring that cannot absorb the amount of heat the radiant heating system produces will cause damage to the floors. It will eventually cause cracking and warping. Repairs, in this case, mean removing the damaged flooring or tiles and replacing them with a better flooring that can’t withstand the constant, direct supply of heat.
The best flooring options to use with radiant heat are usually ceramic or porcelain because it conducts heat well. Laminate, engineered hardwood, and natural stone work great too.
Damaged mixing valves: The mixing valve is located on the hot water tank that supplies the hot water source for the radiant heating system. The mixing valves control the water temperature sent through the pipes. A malfunction can lead to poor heating or heat so high it damages the flooring material. The mixing valve is important for proper temperature control, so it is best to hire a professional who specializes in radiant heating repair.
Sealing leaks: Hydronic systems can be susceptible to leaking, leaving you in need of radiant heating repair. The closed-loop tube system of radiant floor heating is highly resistant to corrosion, but not from damage due to outside stress, such as floor repairs or home improvement work in the area that can disturb the radiant heat system beneath.
A radiant heating repair specialist uses a leak detection systems to pinpoint where the leaks are coming from in pipes. The radiant heating contractor will then make a small hole for access to make the repair.
Problems with the boiler: Boilers don’t have as many moving parts as a furnace and are fairly durable, but time can and will eventually get the best of any HVAC system. If your boiler isn’t working as well as it should due to old age, your radiant heating won’t work well either.
Airlock: Bubbles can get into the PEX tubing used for your radiant heating and cause a blockage in the flow of the steam or water, creating a cold spot where there should be heat.
Not all radiant heating is hydronic. Some radiant heat is electric and has a different set of issues that can lead to radiant heating repairs.
Electric radiant heating uses cable coils that heat when electrified. The cable can be installed directly to subflooring, be installed as part of an electrically-conductive mat or set in cement.
Tripping circuit breakers: Depending on the size of your radiant flooring space, you may need to upgrade your electric box in order to accommodate the extra electrical load the flooring requires; if you don’t, you could end up with tripping circuit breakers, cutting off the electricity and your heat.
Uneven heating: If the electric cables suffer damage or are defective, you could have sections of your flooring that are not receiving any heat, resulting in uneven heating.
What to keep in mind when you have radiant flooring
It’s not uncommon for a radiant heating system to be installed properly and work well, but then a homeowner later runs into a problem after a seemingly minor home improvement. It is very important to let a contractor or handyman know that radiant floor heating is installed in the area where he or she is working.
Installing baseboards, a new bathroom vanity, electrical work, etc., can cause unintentional damage to the piping loops in the flooring or walls, depending on where the radiant heat is installed. This leads to a need for radiant heating repair that could have been avoided had people been aware and care was taken.
Average cost of radiant-heat flooring repairs
The average cost of radiant heating repair is around $400, but the price you pay for repairs depends on the size of space needing repairs, the source of damage, and the area in which you live.
If you suspect you need radiant heating repair, contact an HVAC contractor who specializes in radiant heating installation. Even though radiant heating systems don’t have many moving parts, they do require an expert to install and repair.