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60 Year Old Radiant Floor

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House have basement? Mosy likely not.
Next thing to do is have the system pressure tested by a real boiler pro. I presumed the boiler been replaced and pipings for the present system is crictal(sp)...

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  • Ken_48
    Ken_48 Member Posts: 5
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    60 year old radiant floor

    I'm considering purchasing a home builtin 1949 and it contains its original radiant floor heat on the first floor and original radiators on the second. How do I go about making sure the system is still sound? Any telltale signs of radiant floor failure (there are no water stains that I can see, although the wood floor is loose -but not warped- in several places)?
  • ALH_4
    ALH_4 Member Posts: 1,790
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    thoughts

    No worries about the radiators. The only modification you might make would be to add thermostatic radiator valves.

    The radiant floor could be fine for years, or it may be just about to fail. If there is a boiler autofill valve, make sure it is turned off and see if the pressure drops over time. I would assume the radiant floor is nearing the end of its lifespan even if it is not currently leaking. Plan for a retrofit to radiators or radiant walls/ceilings in this area if possible. Scope out where pipes might run from the boiler to each room. Depending on the floorplan and pipe sizing, there may also be a possibility of tapping into the upstairs radiator piping and dropping lines to new radiators below.

    Also of primary importance is the boiler and associated piping. How old is the boiler? In the interest of reducing fuel bills, this may be something to address sooner rather than later if the system has not been updated in quite a while.
  • Ron Huber_2
    Ron Huber_2 Member Posts: 127
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    \"60\"

    Must be one heck of a system, if my systems' last that long (and I will not be around to Know) I'd be a happy camper. If that system needed a major overhall, it would be worth it. It is a slab radiant system I would assume?
  • J.C.A._3
    J.C.A._3 Member Posts: 2,981
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    Ken,

    1st question...where are you located? Anywhere near an old shipyard or jet engine manufacturer???

    2nd, What type of mixing is being used?...name the components...if possible.

    The reason I ask is because some of the oldest radiant systems I've ever worked on had monnell tubing in the floors, and ceilings in one case. This stuff was "lifted" from "scraps...at the time" in our immediate vacinity. The ceiling system was over 40 when the boiler got replaced.We pressurized the tubing to 60 psi for 2 days before hooking up the boiler, and it held fine.

    Another, was a house that was built by a former G.E. Engineer. 1 1/4" monnell tubing set in concrete in the early 50's. In 2001, we were ready to replace the 2nd boiler in the home and did the same test without any different result.

    I'd say it depends on the choice of tubing being used.(apparently!) The only folks who have monell anymore are the makers of submarines and the few lucky guys who run across an old gravity water heater now and then. We used to sell those tanks to a guy who made whirly-gigs that are still going strong after 23+ years! Chris
  • Ken_48
    Ken_48 Member Posts: 5
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    > Must be one heck of a system, if my systems' last

    > that long (and I will not be around to Know) I'd

    > be a happy camper. If that system needed a major

    > overhall, it would be worth it. It is a slab

    > radiant system I would assume?



  • Ken_48
    Ken_48 Member Posts: 5
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    \"60\"

    Ron,

    It is a slab radiant system. How exactly does one overhaul a system that has been wet-poured? I've seen some of the other responses that talk about the possibility of radiant wall or ceiling heat, but that doesn't that defeat the purpose of the radiant floor to begin with?

    Ken
  • Ken_48
    Ken_48 Member Posts: 5
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    Thoughts

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Is there no way to retrofit the existing system? If the current system were to fail, what kind of damage would it cause to the wood floor above - or would I just have leaks into the ground?

    I must admit I've never heard of radiant walls or ceilings. Would these by efficient ways to heat a room? Would I be better off retrofitting to a forced air system?

    Ken
  • Ken_48
    Ken_48 Member Posts: 5
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    Believe it or not, I live in the Cincinnati area which is home to GE's jet engine division.

    I'll see what I can find out about monnell tubing.

    Thanks for the tip.
  • ALH_4
    ALH_4 Member Posts: 1,790
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    leaks

    It could go either up or down depending on how where and why the system sprung a leak. My guess is that if this is a steel pipe system, it must be extremely water tight because make-up water would introduce oxygen and therefore cause the iron components to rust.

    Assuming the floor passes a pressure test, there is no reason to do anything immediately. Make sure the auto-fill, if so equipped, is shut off to limit the volume of water that will leak from the system if a failure does occur.

    Radiant ceilings are 2nd only to radiant floors for vertical temperature distribution. Depending on the ceiling, it could be installed almost invisibly.

    Forced air is much more intrusive into the rooms than hot water heat.
  • J.C.A._3
    J.C.A._3 Member Posts: 2,981
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    Ken,

    Are there many homes in your area that have a radiant system? If not, I'd be pulling a title search to see if the original owner worked at the engine plant. Ya JUST might have struck some gold!

    On the flip side...If the ceilings on the first floor are high, consider an overpour with something like quicktrac/climate panel or the like. It will raise the floor level minimum 1 1/4", but you'll get the same comfort. Just a thought. Chris
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,158
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    There are a bunch of products

    sold that could be used over that current slab. They all add some "thickness" to the floor of course. Antwhere from 1/2 to 1" plus floor covering.

    I'm about to try the Roth system which has a foam component with an aluminum surface.

    Impossible to tell how long that system may last. The 50's vintage systems around here were all welded steel pipe. They seem to fail where the pipe ended up at the bottom of the slab pour and rusted from the outside in.

    Plenty still operate. Determine what type of tube you have.

    hot rod
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
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