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Radiant Floor Heating/1955 Radiant Heat Preventive Maintenance


I have a home built in 1955 which has a copper radiant heat system.  I'm not experiencing any problems with it right now but I've grown increasingly panicked to learn that this type of system eventually fails.  

I understand that there is an issue of the concrete slab and the copper in the pipes having a chemical reaction which eventually corrodes the pipes.  I saw a comment on This Old House that there is a technique whereby epoxy can be injected into the pipes.  The epoxy coats the inside of the pipes and prevents erosion.  

Can you please comment on any knowledge you have on this epoxy coating technique?  Also, do you have any preventative maintenance suggestions?  Thank you.

Badger Boiler 1950 Frank Lloyd Wright radiant floor spec
Badger Boiler 1950 Fra  
I have consulted on many radiant floor installed between 1945 and 1960. Some were installed with steel piped welded at the turns and others with soft or hard copper buried in the concrete. Most were not insulated in any way.

A recent radiant slab from the the 1950's was an original Frank Lloyd Wright house piped in 2" rigid copper! I was leaking in one section, probably from neglect and that lack of insulation, which allowed the pipe to freeze.

At any rate the answer to prolonging the life of older radiant heating systems, be they copper or steel, in-slab or in-ceiling is water quality and temperature. If you have a leak the first thing I want to do is dig it up and see if it failed from the inside or out. Most residential hydronic heating systems could use and good cleaning and treatment. We in fact just made a commitment to boiler water quality as we see many systems badly fouled. We use non-toxic Fernox products, common in Europe, where boiler water quality is mandated for increased fuel efficiency and incidental increase system life.

We also promote the use of condensing boilers with all of our radiant designs. As an added benefit to high efficiency every condensing boiler features weather sensitive controls moving supply temperatures up and down as the outdoor temperature falls and rising. This allows the modulating boiler to run more at lower fire and temperatures. The result; more comfort, lower fuel bill and less stress on system components such as radiators, panels and old copper and steel tubing.

If you have an old radiant ceiling or floor have a qualified technician check the water quality and fit out door reset to your old boiler or buy a new high efficiency condensing boiler.

As for lining, I have not seen positive results for the expense. I will look into this option further for the latest news on the various epoxy lining techniques.  

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Morgan M. Audetat


Radiant panel heating design, including floors and ceilings, European wall panels and snow melting for residential and light commercial buildings..............................................................-Master of Steam and Hot Water,City of Minneapolis....................................................--- Master Plumber, State of Minnesota...........


30 years..... Charter Board Member - Radiant Panel Association, former manufacturer of condensing boilers, former national distributor of radiant floor products, son and apprentice of mechanical & plumbing contractor. Current mechanical/plumbing contractor specializing in hydronic based, integrated HVAC systems. Radiant floor heating/cooling. Snow Melting. Condensing Boilers. Indirect water heaters. System design, consulting and technical training world-wide. Licensed contractor, designer, installer and consultant.

B.S. University WI 1981 CONTINUING EDUCATION: Viessmann Condensing boiler and Solar water heating certification 2010, N.D.S.U. Lead Worker RRP certification 2010, Knight condensing boiler certification 2009, Wrightsoft Manual J CAD certification 2009, RPA Designer & Installer Certification 2008, Nate Hydronic/Forced Air Certification 2008, Uponor/Wirsbo advanced design school certification 2007, Buderus Wall-hung certification 2007, Power Limited License (low voltage controls) 40 CE credits 2005, Basic Hydronic Certification IPEX & Northern Alberta Institute of Technology 1998, Charter Board Member - Radiant Panel Association 1994, Residential Off-Electric to Hydronic Conversion Heating School Canadian Hydronics Council 1994, B&G Little Red School House 1993, Rood Utilities (now Auburn Technical Institute) Oil Burner School 1993 ,Tekmar Controls residential and commercial 1993, Division Manager and Advanced Hydronic Seminar Instructor for the first Exclusively Hydronic Radiant Floor Distributor in the USA 1990, Hydronic Radiant Heating Association Workshop participant with Richard c. Bourne, PE spring 1988, Master Plumbing, Hydronic, Solar Course Red Rocks Community College 1987.

Awards and Honors
2009 System Showcase Award - Radiant Panel Association

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