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hoekzebs 03-29-2011 12:34 PM

Radiant floor heating system has major leak, need to replace
Hello. I have a 46 year old home on a concrete slab that has a radiant floor heating system. It's a long 1 level house at about 3700 sq ft. We have identified that our radiant floor system has a major (4x normal water bills) water leak, and we were told that it would be very difficult to locate/repair the leak(s) in our house (since there are no visual signs of a leak right now).

I would like to know what economical and energy efficient options we have to replace it? The gas heated boiler approach seems to be very energy efficient, but I'm assuming we have to scrap the floor heating system. Would an above floor radiant heating system (baseboard + wall + standing units) be a good option? I think there is enough space in all the rooms to run pipes along or in the walls without jeopardizing the space or visual appearence. But I dont know if this is a good option, since you dont see many more of the above floor systems being installed today. What do you recommend?

FYI, We got a quote to replace the boiler system with high efficiency gas furnances (qty 2) plus make the duct work more efficient, but that quote was way too much (~$40k).

Thanks for your perspective!

Daniel Holzman 03-29-2011 01:39 PM

I used to live in a house that had an in floor radiant heat system in a concrete slab, with embedded copper pipes. The pipes failed after about 40 years, and it would have cost more than it was worth to replace. I rented the house, so it was not my issue, but the owner ended up installing hydronic baseboard heating run off a gas fired boiler. The old heating system was drained and sealed.

HVACDave 03-29-2011 02:13 PM

Guess it depends on what you want. There are many options available in the hot water market from baseboard type convectors, (big drawback is they take up a lot of wall space and you shouldn't put stuff up against them) to some fan forced units that take up a very small amount of space in the room. You can also get heated towel racks that would provide heat to the bathroom areas and give you nice warm towels at the same time.

I would assume that you would have multiple loops in the current floor system, could you not identify which loop is leaking and just get rid of that one loop for now?

The other consideration is if you would like air conditioning. You won't have that option with hot water, but you may consider something like ductless split heat pumps with electric strip heat. (depends on where in the country you live as far as how cold it gets, and what you pay for electricity)

The forced air option sounds pretty pricy to me, but I haven't seen the job, you may want to get a couple more quotes to compare prices before you bite at that one.

Really the options can be almost endless, just depends on what you want, and what you have to spend.

how 03-29-2011 03:18 PM

In Richmond, BC where the housing sits on a soft river delta, many of the in slab heating systems have failed from slab cracks. Repairs are often frustrating with one repair following the next. The usual method of dealing with it is to just switch the slab heating system over to baseboard radiators. Walls get broken for the running of pipe but it is much less invasive than ongoing concrete repairs.

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