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Infloor Radiant Heat issue
Hello. We just recently purchased a property that has this system in the concrete slab. The cottage is under 1000 sq ft and has 2 loops in the floor with an Electromate electric boiler. The problem we are having is that the system can't maintain the set temp of 68 or 69 once it gets dark at night. The temp will drop 6 - 8 degrees and won't catch back up until late AM the next day. Of course we realize that it takes the system sometime to heat up from the 55 degree setting we keep it at when we are not there. We have found a solution to this situation as a neighbor is going to turn the heat up 10 - 12 hours before our arrival. But the 3 times we spent there thus far, the system will be right on at the set temp during the day but drops at night.
We have a vaulted ceiling which is 23 ft in height. One half of the cottage has a loft above. We also have 3 windows side by side on both the northwest and northeast corner as well as 6 windows (3 on each side) on the north side. These are quality Andersen double pane units. This property was completed in 2009 by the former owner. We understand from the builder that their is R19 insulation in the ceiling.
We had a local plumbing/heating contractor recommended by our realtor in to inspect the system. We had to do this via phone and help from our realtor as we are 275 miles away. The contractor indicated that the system seemed to be working as it should and seemed to be sized adequately for the square footage. He spoke with a contact at the local electric provider to find out what setup for usage we were at...restricted or unrestricted. We have no restrictions and, of course, are paying the higher rate for electricity as we don't have a dual fuel source. His recommendation was to install a gas wall heater to assist the radiant heat in keeping up. His opinion was that even though the system was adequate for the square footage. It didn't account for the vaulted ceiling, loft area, windows, and lower insulation value of this type of ceiling. His recommendation with the gas heat was to enable us to have a lower electric rate for our heat to bring the electric costs down.
I believe that is one option. However, it doesn't address the inefficiency or inabilility of the current radiant system keeping up with the demand. I'm not sure I want to spend the $2000 - 2500 to install this gas heat, tank, and meter/electric hookup to see how this will work. There is also the unknown as to how much gas we will be using to supplement the system. The other issue is the space for the gas heater.
I realize that I don't have a lot of info regarding the current system but plan to find out the boiler size and take pictures if necessary. I've talked to various contractors, company reps, and other owners of radiant heat systems. I guess there are just too many variables to give different views on the problem. We plan on talking with the builder and hopefully the cement contractor to see if the slab was insulated properly. I've been told that you would be able to see heat loss around the foundation if it wasn't insulated on the sides and also the reverse. That the heat would go down into the ground?? I also do not see any snow melting off the roof of the property so it must be fairly well insulated.
Anyway, in closing, I would appreciate any help, suggestions, things to check for, or other advise you might have.