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Just bought home with Radiant Heating - some questions

sanjayp Member Posts: 19
I bought a home that has radiant floor and cast iron radiators. There is also baseboard in the sunroom. I am new to hot water heating. The system is about 2 years old and was put in when an oil to gas conversion was done. As I've turned this on for the first time, I have many questions about the effort to maintain it. I'm realizing this is not a simple heating system that I can turn and off.

Are there any links for the average homeowner to maintain such a system? I can tell you off the bat, it's incredibly comfortable (although the outside temp has yet to drop to under 25 degrees F. ) You don't even realize the home is being heated, it's so quiet!!

However, I see there is some higher than average work involved here to maintain this. I'm a little concerned if my wife can run this system as I travel at least a couple of weeks every month. A few questions:

1) Who do I call to evaluate this and do ongoing maintenance? Do I call a plumber?
2) The temperature of the floor heating part of the house doesn't go above 67 degrees, no matter what I set the thermostat to. I used an infrared thermometer to measure the floor temps and it's very uneven... 77 at the highest to 65 in other places. The floor has what I believe is the 'staple-up' heating... there is piping running along aluminum plates. Home inspector did mention that I should get the ceiling insulated and put in a drop ceiling to prevent heat loss. But that was the only thing that came out of the report.
3) there is a lot of cackling in the basement under certain parts of the floor. is this normal? it's not banging or very loud per se. But you hear this annoying cackling. It's not silent as I would expect. it appears to come from the sections closest to the boiler.
4) Gas boiler is one of those tankless - hot water combination types.. very small which is nice. From reading the manual, it looks like I have to set some outside temp control to regulate this. Do I have to change the temperature of the control for every major temperature change? Is there an issue to run the boiler constantly at 180 degrees?
5) I have been reading that these systems are subject to air lock problems. The radiators have valves which I need to use to bleed the air... How often does this need to be done? One bathroom radiator is cold and I believe this is the problem. I'm concerned that every week, I will need to run around with a paper cup to bleed the air.
6) How are air lock issues resolved for radiant floors?

I am thankful for any help for this newbie.



  • Harvey Ramer
    Harvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,217
    Well first of all, where are you located? You can use the find a contractor button on this site and hopefully find someone close to you. The average plumber is not the right person to call. Neither is the average HVAC guy. You need an experienced hydronic professional.

    If the system is installed and purged properly, you should never have to bleed any radiators. The exception would be if you drained the system to make changes or repairs.

    The first thing to check when a radiator isn't heating is to figure out which zone it is on and make sure the thermostat is indeed calling for heat. Second thing, make sure the radiator valve is open. Third, get a cup and bleed it. If you get air, that probably was the problem. If you don't get air or just a minute amount, then the problem is elsewhere. Probably in the piping or controls.

    The boiler and the rest of the system should be serviced annually. Make sure whoever does the work has a Combustion analyzer and knows how to use it. You cannot service these boilers without one.

  • sanjayp
    sanjayp Member Posts: 19
    Thanks Harvey! This is great guidance. I very much appreciate your time. I'm outside New York City.

  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    Post some pics, of the install…
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,607
    Outside of NYC in NY or NJ ?
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833