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56 year old copper pipe radiant floor heat. Leaks.

jkjt Member Posts: 1
Hi, I am in spokane wah. My dad built the family home in mid 50's Copper in concrete in basement floor and also floor (concrete) between main floor and basement. For the past 8 years, about every 2 years another leak develops in main floor tubing. Leaking into basement. No serious damage yet, But< main floor has sculptured wool carpeting that is still like new, and eventually, one of the leaks is going to be over the pool table, or ????. Is there a stop leak type product ? Or, a very flexible pipe that could be somehow inserted into the copper pipe. I HATE to pull up the hardwood and wool carpet to repair/replace system. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. Or, am I in deep trouble? Thanks for any and all ideas. john in Spokane :)


  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
    Levitt System

    You have a Levitt system that used copper serpentine loops embedded in concrete. It was not known at the time that concrete attacked the copper and would ultimately pinhole and fail in 40-50 years. That's why modern systems use PEX piping, which is inert to concrete alkalyds. More on the Levitt systems can be found in Dan's library on this site.

    You'll need to consider isolating the leak or zone and either install wall panel radiators, or re-do the radiant floor. Fixing the leak is not easy and there will be additional leaks further down the road. Leaks also allow fresh boiler water into the appliance which can quickly shorten the life expectancy of the existing boiler.
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    A+ to Paul for the text book reply

    Very well done sir...
  • ricking
    ricking Member Posts: 34
    Plaster and copper pipes?

    Interesting read on concrete and copper pipping. Does make sense to even someone like me. My system is embedded in plaster on the ceiling. It was installed in the late 40's. Has'nt leaked as of yet and hoping it won't. Does plaster pin hole copper as well.

    I am in the process of updateing my boiler and am wondering if I should go to another complete system.

    Thanks in advance
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
    Plaster Ceiling Radiant

    I've seen leaks where the copper tubing was tied to the lattice with stove wire, creating a dielectric current and corrosion. Plaster alkalyds are also corrosive to the piping, but ceiling systems seem to last longer than copper embedded in concrete.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    No leaks with mine

    Plaster with copper tubing ceiling radiant still goin.

    I've even done some remodeling were tubes were exposed tubing looks brand new. I have plaster board of the celotex variety.
  • ricking
    ricking Member Posts: 34
    All sounds encouraging

    I did notice that the 3/8 copper tubing was attached with small copper strips. I was drywalling the ceiling in the back room a while back (over the plaster) and screwed into a pipe. After some fancy digging and cutting, patched er up and all good. That was when I think I noticed the small copper strips. Lets hope there are many good years left in the copper.

    I could use some help choosing the correct size boiler and some set up ideas if possible. If one of you guys lived close, I would hire you for the install. But I am a long way away. I do not trust any one here that I have met so far. I mention my system and they scratch their heads. Also the Navian is popular out here but from what I have read and heard, they are not so good.

    If I spend the time explaining my system, would there be some help?

    Thanks in advance

  • Bill69
    Bill69 Member Posts: 1
    Leak in Radiant flooring

    Good Morning:

    I pruchased a house in LI, NY 5 years ago w radiant heat (by oil), I converted to gas almost 3 years ago, when the conversion went well my interaction w the contractor did not go well, the system was working fine up to Jan of this year, I have a leak and I want to know if there is a way to properly detect that leak, I am on slab so breaking up the floor is truly some thing I would like to avoid, do you have a way to detect directly where the leak is? My uncle is a plumber and is going to test all of the lines this weeked but he is not a radiant heat expert and does not have a device that can pinpoint where the leak is.
  • Bob Gagnon plumbing and heating
    Bill, Just Google

    Leak detection, Long Island, Ny and a bunch of contractors come up, you should fix it before you add too much fresh, make up water to the system which will cause more leaks.

    Thanks, Bob Gagnon
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,575
    Thermal imaging

    Many times these can be found using a thermal imaging camera.The leak will look like a blob among your tubing stripes.

    You may be able to rent one in your area.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • FWDixon
    FWDixon Member Posts: 78
    Not sure if it's true

    But read (in one of Dan's book iirc) that a cat would find the leak very quickly.
  • Pughie1
    Pughie1 Member Posts: 135
    Cat Scan

    Dan calls that a "Cat Scan"