DIY Home Improvement, Remodeling & Repair Forum > Appliances > HVAC > Repairing Radiant Heat in Ceiling




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Old 02-28-2009, 07:08 AM  
giles45shop
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Default Repairing Radiant Heat in Ceiling

First time poster here!

I live in a 1957 brick home that my parents (deceased) had built. The house has 220V electric radiant heat in the ceilings and window A/C's. Original thermostats are marked "Ra-Heat". Unfortunately, I have a below slab leak in a galvanized hot water pipe and may have to have re-piping done.

The problem is that the roof is a 3/12 pitch tar & gravel and the plumbers indicate they will have to cut 10-12 access holes in the ceiling to run pipes/make connections due to the limited crawl space.

When they do this, they are likely to cut into some of the radiant heat
wires. I've tried do research on line as to whether these can be repaired, but getting mixed results.

Anyone have any knowledge if these systems can be repaired or not?

I live in FL (near Tampa) so heat is not used often, but we do use it on occasion.

I'm struggling w/ paying the $1200 for the repair of the existing leak and not damage the heating vs $4000 to re-pipe and damage a heating system that may not be repairable.

Any help/ideas greatly appreciated!

John



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Old 02-28-2009, 08:08 AM  
kok328
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Just make your contractor aware of your concerns and let them know that they will be held liable for any damages outside what they have already informed you of. Get this in writing and come to an agreement on (replace vs. repair) if damage should occur. If they are good, this won't be a problem, if they are unsure, they will probably walk away from the job.



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Old 02-28-2009, 01:00 PM  
giles45shop
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I discussed at length w/ him. He's willing to repair it if it's just an issue of soldering broken wires, but neither he nor I know if it can be repaired for sure.

My thinking is that it has to be something more than just the resistance in normal wires to make heat, more like a heating element, which I would think may be more difficult to repair. Which is why I'm trying to find out more info about these type of systems.

If it's not repairable, replacement is out of the question. That would be a major effort and if I were him I would either walk away or really jack up the price to cover the potential risk of the unknown.

Thanks,

John

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Old 02-28-2009, 03:45 PM  
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I just finished remodeling a house about the same age as yours with 220v radiant ceiling heat. The home owner wanted some ceiling lights moved but no electrician or hvac company in this area would touch it. Call big electricians and hvac people in your phone book too see what they can do. You might also check with local electrical supply houses to see if they know of anyone that can work on radiant ceiling heat.

hth, Doug

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Old 02-28-2009, 07:46 PM  
erndog
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Default radiant heat cost

Hi I just remodeled a 1957 house in nashville. My impression is that the ceiling radiant heat is extremely wastefull. The idea of heating a ceilling to heat the room below is very antique. I was wondering if any of the experts have an idea of the heating cost for running it is?

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Old 03-01-2009, 07:04 AM  
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Hello erndog,

In my experience, radiant ceiling heat is reasonably energy efficient when there is proper insulation in the attic. It would be compared with electric baseboard heat. Costs are a function of local utility costs and availablity. In many areas of KY electric heat is cheaper than any other source. One big advantage of radiant ceiling heat (or baseboard heat) is that it can be zoned and is efficient with programmable thermostats. You only have to heat the areas you are using.

The home I just remodeled only had old 3" insulation in the attic but they only fully heated rooms they used regularly so their costs weren't too bad. Now the attic has been insulated with Icynene foam and their utility bills have dropped.
hth, Doug

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Old 03-01-2009, 08:38 AM  
giles45shop
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So does anyone know whether the heating wires in the ceiling can be repaired or not?

Thanks,

John

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Old 03-02-2009, 05:52 AM  
jdougn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giles45shop View Post
So does anyone know whether the heating wires in the ceiling can be repaired or not?
Thanks, John
John, the short answer is "yes" they can be repaired. Since you will know exactly where the break is at in the radiant heating wires they can be fixed.

Let me make another suggestion. The radiant heating wires may not cover the entire ceiling. Harbor Freight sells a "non-contact laser thermometer" generally for $15-$30. You can turn on the heat and then use the laser thermometer to see what parts of the ceiling are actually warming up. Perhaps you can find an area where there are no heating wires to do the pluming repair. Still be extrememly cautious when cutting into the ceiling since there may be a lead wire in that area.

If an area bare of heating wires cannot be found then you are back to finding an electrician. As stated in above, do your homework and make sure you have sourced someone in your area that knows what they are doing with radiant ceiling heat. This is not something I would leave up to a plumber to just fugure out. You want to have heat after the repair is done and you don't want the wire to arc out from an inproper connection after a year or two.

Other people may have different suggestions or experience but I hope this helps, Doug
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Old 03-02-2009, 10:13 AM  
giles45shop
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The more I learn and the more I think about it, sounds like I should just repair the leak in the slab and take my chances with other leaks potentially occurring later.

There are wires almost eveywhere they would have to cut, and with 10-12 holes in the ceiling it will take some extensive repairs to reconnect heating wires and re-plaster (it's a patterned plaster ceiling) on top of the $4K to re-plumb.

The house isn't really worth that much, but it sits on 5 acres of lakefront property on a ski-sized lake in the Tampa suburbs. Anyone who bought the place would bulldoze the houes and build an estate home, so any money I put into it is just to keep it comfortably liveable until we decide to sell it.

Thanks for all your help,

John

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Old 07-26-2009, 09:43 PM  
oceanobob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giles45shop View Post
First time poster here!

I live in a 1957 brick home that my parents (deceased) had built. The house has 220V electric radiant heat in the ceilings and window A/C's. Original thermostats are marked "Ra-Heat". Unfortunately, I have a below slab leak in a galvanized hot water pipe and may have to have re-piping done.

The problem is that the roof is a 3/12 pitch tar & gravel and the plumbers indicate they will have to cut 10-12 access holes in the ceiling to run pipes/make connections due to the limited crawl space.

When they do this, they are likely to cut into some of the radiant heat
wires. I've tried do research on line as to whether these can be repaired, but getting mixed results.

Anyone have any knowledge if these systems can be repaired or not?

I live in FL (near Tampa) so heat is not used often, but we do use it on occasion.

I'm struggling w/ paying the $1200 for the repair of the existing leak and not damage the heating vs $4000 to re-pipe and damage a heating system that may not be repairable.

Any help/ideas greatly appreciated!

John
On jobs requiring new pipes, we have added coffered ceiling (soffets) to hide the pipes. The pipe is usually PEx, it is carefully attached to the utmost top of the wall, the crown soffet is installed (or you could consider crown molding). Repair and live on!


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