New to hydronic heating?
Hydronic, or radiant heat, has become increasingly popular in newer homes, bringing with it added comfort, heating zone control, and savings. With a lower environmental impact, it has become a smart green choice. Imagine stepping onto a warm heated floor in the dead of winter, or having silence instead of the noise produced by forced air systems.
Three ways heat is transferred.
- Conductive – The movement of heat through objects that physically touch another object, where heat moves from the warmer object to the colder.
- Convection – When fluids or gases transfer heat while they are being circulated from one area to another. Traditional heating systems that use forced air are perfect examples of this type of heat movement.
- Radiation – Thermal radiation is heat that travels in invisible waves through empty space. It is not something that can be blown away by the wind or moved. It is simply absorbed by the person or object that is in the path of the beam of energy, and is a far more effective means of transferring heat.
- It consists of a boiler system that uses conduction to quickly and efficiently heat water.
- The hot water is pumped throughout the house, heating the concrete, tile, or other type of flooring through conduction as well as through radiating heat, sending warmth into designated zones.
This produces a consistent, comfortable temperature radiating from the floor as well as the solid objects around the room. The surprising outcome is that the radiation of heat in a hydronic system will allow you and your family to feel warmer at lower air temperatures than conventional heating. You will find a significant reduction in your heating bills and energy usage, while increasing your comfort level.
What are some of the benefits?
Anyone who suffers with allergies and asthma knows the discomfort brought about by dust and allergens. And it doesn’t stop there. Forced air systems recycle many pollens and dust particles throughout the house. This is why it is so important to frequently replace or clean filters. Hydronic and radiant heat will completely eliminate this situation, providing a much healthier environment for you and your family.
How is a hydronic system more efficient than a traditional system? To start with, water is a better heat conductor than air, making warmth more easily transferred throughout your home. Less energy is needed, plus forced air units create pressure, pushing heat out through gaps in the insulation. When there is poor insulation this will cause heat loss. Radiant heat does not raise the air pressure of a home. In some instances, radiant heat systems have lowered energy costs from 20 – 40 %.
In fact, due to these savings, government programs have been established to offer discounts to home owners, reducing the upfront cost of radiant heat installation.
Radiant heat has no bursts of air to push warmth away from the areas where you want it, and in the spaces you don’t. You can personalize the temperature through multiple zones of your home, enabling parents and children or the elderly, to set their room to their personal taste. No closing doors to trap heat.
Your tile or other composition flooring stays warm. No more stepping onto a frigid floor when you awake on winter mornings. And your pets will luxuriate in stretching out for a cozy nap on their warm bedding.
The humidity levels in your home will stay well balanced and keep your skin from drying. Cold winter days do enough to cause dry skin without the added problem caused by a forced air unit sucking additional moisture from the air it is heating.
Radiant and hydronic heating equipment is silent. There are no sounds of the gas lighting, the unit kicking on and blower motors revving up and shutting down.
Whether your fuel source is propane, natural gas, electricity or oil, you’ll be able to find a hydronic boiler that works for you. Piping can be built into the walls or flooring – unlike traditional systems that require extensive ductwork and return air systems.
What are some signs that your existing boiler system needs maintenance?
Of course, after having stayed idle during the warmer months, starting up your system for winter is the time when the majority of boiler breakdowns occur. Some common problems can be addressed without the need to call in an expert, other situations will warrant the help of qualified experienced professionals.
- No heat or hot water – potential reasons are from broken diaphragms and airlocks, failure of motorized valves, or issues with your thermostat.
- Banging, whistling or gurgling noises – air in the system is a common cause of this, or the water pressure may be too low, called kettling. Perhaps pump failure, particularly in older systems, could be the reason for strange banging sounds.
- Dripping and leaking – Several things could cause this, and the determination will depend on where the water is leaking from.
- Is your pilot light out? – A broken thermocouple that removes the gas supply from the pilot light could be the reason, or a draft is blowing out the flame. Maybe a deposit has built up in the pilot light nozzle.
- Loss of pressure – Is there a leak in the system? This is the most common reason for a loss of pressure. It could also mean the pressure relief valve needs to be replaced.
- Thermostat problem – It could be losing its accuracy, or incorrectly turning the heating on or off. You may want to invest in a new, more efficient one.
- Perhaps you have a frozen condensate pipe – Don’t try to thaw this yourself, it may cause greater damage. Ideally have it done by a qualified engineer.
- No radiating heat? – Corroded pipework can cause a sludge to build up in the system, thus preventing the free flow of hot water to the heating element, radiator, etc. This could call for a chemical flushing of the system.
- Does your boiler keep switching off? – This could be caused by low water pressure, a faulty thermostat, or lack of water flow due to a closed valve, or the pump is not circulating the water in the system for some reason.
Installing a new hydronic/radiant boiler system?
Do your homework, ask the experts and decide what system is best for your home. When shopping for a high-efficiency hydronic radiating system, it usually makes sense to look for the highest efficiency system, especially in cold climates. The extra investment required to go from 56 – 70% efficiency (AFUE) to 90 – 95% will be well worth it.
So, is a hydronic radiant heat system what you’re looking for? Do you have more questions you’d like to ask? Do you suspect your existing boiler system is not operating at top efficiency?
For answer to this, and for more information, or to schedule an inspection, give us a call at 952-472-COOL (2665) or Contact Us