Radiant flooring systems are becoming more popular among homeowners because they provide consistent, even heating as well as significant energy savings. However, just like any other type of heating system, radiant flooring heating can malfunction. In this post, we’ll explain the various problems that can cause your heated floor system to stop working and what to do if this happens.
The issues that may prevent electric radiant heating from working differ from those that may prevent hydroponic radiant heating systems from working. The following are the most common problems with each system:
Electric Radiant Heating
- Tripped circuit breakers
- Electrical mat or wiring damage
- Problems with the thermostat
Radiant Water Heating
- Valves are not working.
- Tubing problems
- Boiler issues
- Pumping of injections
- Floor covering replacement
When a heated system fails, it can cause significant inconvenience and disruption in a household, so knowing how to troubleshoot the potential source of the problem is beneficial. Continue reading to find out how these common problems can affect your radiant heating system and what you can do about them.
Troubleshooting Radiant Flooring Issues
Let’s take a closer look at how to troubleshoot radiant flooring issues in electric radiant heating and water radiant heating systems.
Problems With Electrical Radiant Heating
Here are a few common reasons why an electric radiant heat system may stop working:
Circuit Breakers Have Tripped
Your radiant system can trip your electrical box due to damaged wiring, bad wiring, or excessive power consumption. Electric floor heating does not require a large supply of electricity; however, your home must have enough electricity within the box to support your radiant system and keep your panel from becoming overloaded to the point where it trips your breaker box. The electrical panels in most homes can handle 100 to 200 amps of power.
A breaker that is incorrect or under-sized will continue to trip until it is replaced with one that is appropriate for the home’s power requirements.
If you suspect this is the source of your radiant heating problems, have an electrician inspect your system to perform resistance tests and recommend the proper setup.
Damage To The Electrical Mat Or Cables
The electrical mat and cables for radiant heating are made to be long-lasting and durable. They can, however, be damaged by heavy furniture, home renovations, and cracked stone flooring, in which case they will need to be replaced or repaired.
You can use an Ohm-meter to check the resistance of your mat or heating cable to see if it is working properly.
These types of checks should be carried out at each stage of the radiant flooring installation process because they aid in determining the source of any potential electrical issues. If problems such as damaged wires or mats are discovered during the tests, they can be addressed immediately to avoid further damage and malfunctions.
Problems With The Thermostat
A faulty thermostat can also be the cause of an inoperable radiant flooring system. When a thermostat becomes stuck in the “on” position, the electrical contacts remain closed regardless of the current thermostat settings or desired temperature, and power is still provided to the floor.
When this happens, turn off the heating system immediately and contact a technician to have the thermostat repaired or replaced.
Problems With Hydroponic Radiant Heating
Here are a few common problems that can cause a hydroponic radiant system to fail:
Not Working Mixing Valves/Ports
If your hydronic radiant system has stopped working or is not getting warm, your mixing valve may be faulty. The valve has three ports that allow water to flow through at the appropriate temperatures, heating a hydroponic flooring system.
If the valve malfunctions, it may be unable to supply warm water to the flooring system. For example, if the valve is no longer turning due to rusting or its ports have become clogged with residue or any other type of build-up, it must be cleaned or replaced.
Problems With Tubing
A hydroponic flooring system can also fail due to clogged tubes. Over time, the tubing in a hydroponic system can become moldy or rusted, especially if it contains cast iron or steel fittings.
When this occurs, flooring technicians will typically replace these tubes with SoloRoll, a type of tubing that can be easily treated by blowing out the tubing with compressed air.
Problems With The Boiler
Problems with a home’s boiler can lead to problems with hydroponic flooring systems. The most common problem is that the system does not generate enough heat. If this is the case, your boiler may not be cycling on and off properly, preventing the system from reaching the desired temperature, or it may simply be too small to support the system.
If the latter is the case, the boiler will need to be replaced with a larger model.
Pumping Of Injections
Issues with the supply and injection pipe sensors can cause a hydroponic radiant system to malfunction if it uses injection pumping. If the outdoor sensor on the pipe is faulty, it will be unable to provide the correct temperature for the water supply, resulting in a system shutdown and low heating issues.
An electrician can use an Ohms meter (aka “multimeter”) to check the sensors to see if this is causing the problem, and if so, they (or the pump itself) will need to be replaced.
Floor Covering Replacement
The ideal temperature for the water that heats a hydroponic floor system varies depending on the top flooring used with the system. If the water temperature is too hot or too cold for the type of flooring used, the system may fail due to inconsistencies in the thermostat setting and the maximum temperature capabilities of the floor (which can trigger shut-offs in some systems).
When installing new flooring or replacing existing flooring, it is critical to ensure that the recommended temperature for the home’s boiler corresponds to the appropriate temperatures for the flooring.
Why Is The Underfloor Heating Inconsistent?
If an underfloor heating system appears to warm up only in certain areas, it could indicate that there are problems with the top flooring or the system’s installation. The following are the most common causes of this problem:
If you notice that some areas of your heated floor system are warmer than others, it is possible that your electric heating cable was not properly spaced when it was installed. Electrical cables that are irregularly spaced can cause a floor to become warmer above the closer cables but cooler below them.
If the entire floor feels colder on some days than others, it could be due to a lack of insulation in that particular room.
A mismatched subfloor can also result in patchy radiant heat heating. Because of the different electrical conductivity levels of the materials, using different materials in different areas of the subfloor can cause inconsistencies when installing a radiant heat system. In that case, depending on the area, the amount of heat absorbed and lost by the subfloor will affect its surface temperature.
Hydroponic systems can also suffer from patchy heating due to tubing issues. The tubing can become clogged over time due to water scale buildup, causing system blockages. The presence of oxygen in the tubes can also cause blockages because it corrodes tubing seals, plumbing connections, and pumps.
What Is The Procedure For Resetting Underfloor Heating?
For the most part, resetting underfloor heating is as simple as resetting any other type of home heating system. Radiant heat systems are typically shipped with a thermostat that is specifically designed for that system type. The resetting procedure will differ depending on the thermostat model and radiant system configuration. They may also include a floor sensor to prevent the flooring from reaching dangerously high temperatures.
The ideal operating temperature for a radiant heating system will vary depending on the materials used for the top floor and the home or space’s insulation efficiency.
Is There A Pilot Light In Radiant Heat?
Electrical radiant systems, which use electric resistance cables and get their energy from a home’s electrical panel, do not require a pilot light. Because heated water from a gas boiler is used to warm the water flowing through the system’s tubing, hydroponic radiant systems do require a pilot light. A pilot light in a gas boiler is responsible for lighting the gas to heat the water in the boiler.
How Should Radiant Floor Heating Be Winterized?
Winterization isn’t really necessary with electrical radiant heating, but it’s always a good idea to make sure your home has adequate insulation during the winter months. Also, if you are going to be gone for an extended period of time, it is recommended that you leave a small stream of water running through your faucets to prevent your home’s plumbing pipes from bursting.
For hydroponic radiant systems, simply keeping the system running during the winter will keep it in working order (even at a lower thermostat setting). The tubing used in hydroponic radiant systems is designed to be tough and resistant to cold temperatures.
The hydroponic tubing is flexible and will expand with frozen water rather than burst. Prolonged exposure to subzero temperatures, on the other hand, can cause it to burst. This can be avoided by adding Propylene Glycol antifreeze solution to the system.
It is best to have an HVAC technician familiar with this type of system perform this task for you, as adding the incorrect amount can result in disastrous freezing damage as well as major issues with your home’s plumbing system.
If you are troubleshooting your radiant flooring system and it is still not working, it is best to contact a knowledgeable radiant flooring technician so that they can safely get your system back up and running.