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Hydronic Heat?

StevenT Member Posts: 2
I'm considering buying a custom built home with a natural gas hydronic heating system. The home was built in 1955. The house is well designed and built. I am concerned about the hydronic system. It seems to me a lot of pipe leaks waiting to happen. Any advice would be very much appreciated. 


  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    radiant floor ,

    B and G's ,and a couple few items and locations of things might cost you as well.

    last year or the year earlier i re threaded some risers out of an old radiant floor system , pressure tested it and it works . the owners didn't even know what it was it had been abandoned because of leaks near the first fittings ,now a days we have threaders that are electrical hand held that allows us to re thread things cleanly , some of my older hand -helds might not have worked so hot . we have newer style wet rotor circs and controls that tend to bring a reasonably quick return on investment .

    it may work fine now however , you wouldn't lose by bringing it a little higher on the efficiency level. it is sorta like a significant investment as the banks do not pay the kind of interest, dialing it up a notch would bring.
  • that system

    Looks like that crude system was replaced in the late 70's... there nothing that a good hydronic heating guy can't replace on your system. Never hire a forced air company to replace the system... same goes for plumbers without any heating experince.
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 2,761

    What a bizarre little system you've got there. I haven't seen a fil-trol in years.

    I'm sure it all works good enough, but if you buy that house, one day in the not-too-distant future you'll be hiring a plumber to replace that setup and then you'll feel better about the system.

    Hydronic heat, compared to forced air, is a luxury in a residence.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, Master Plumber
    in New York
    in New Jersey
    for Consulting Work
    or take his class.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,510
    Hydronic system inspection

    Hydronic systems are very long-lived, as the water in the system has a very low oxygen content. We have 2 systems installed in 1900, one with the original boiler, and no leaks!

    There can be a rust problem in any iron pipes which are buried underground. The pressure inside that boiler is much less than the pressure in your potable water pipes, and so any leak can be more of an annoyance, than a catastrophe. Any drawbacks in hydronic systems are more than outweighed by the level of comfort and economy which can be achieved when such a system is well maintained. Boiler, and control technology have improved enormously.

    Have you had the house inspected? I would be more concerned by the regular plumbing, than the heating system.--NBC
  • Rodman
    Rodman Member Posts: 9
    piping in the floor?

    If you like flying by the seat of your pants, buy the home.

    While the "system" looks like the 1970s, that would be the boiler and near-side accessories.

    The fact is that if the original system was installed, it likely would have conventional copper piping with a lot of "sweat" joints.  These are notorious for leaking, and the problem is tracking down the location of the leak.  They used conventional straight pipe with elbows, and floor movement (which does and will happen for the life of the home) causes a break.  The water then travels alongside the pipe or cracks in the concrete, and the leak will be in one spot (where the water comes thru the floor), and the damage will be nowhere close. 

    If, in fact, it is copper, or you do not know, I would stay away.  Me, I would not touch it with a 10 foot pole.  The problem is not the boiler, but on the system side.  I would think nothing of a large radiator system this old, but copper or steel in corrosive concrete, I would walk.  Is there new carpet or flooring in any part of the home?  It could be that this homeowner has had his fill of problems.
  • StevenT
    StevenT Member Posts: 2
    RE Piping in floor?

    I spoke with the realtor today. She tells me the piping is in the floor of the basement and in the ceiling of the upper level. 
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,993
    Check it out

    This house clearly has an older boiler and you would be wise to plan on replacing it in the near future.

    As for the system, I think it would be worth having a knowledgeable local pro check it out. It would be fair for you to pay the contractor  for his time and expertise. Many of these older systems were works of art and will last a good long time. Some have problems that a local pro will know about.

    Just do the research and make a sound decision.

    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
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