Hydronic radiant heat is an energy-efficient and effective way of providing an even mixture of warm air throughout a house or building. Hydronic systems are typically built into houses upon construction, but they can also be added later on. Due to the lengthy and expensive installation process, however, it is helpful to consider the overall life span of a hydronic radiant heat system before purchasing a home or installing a heating apparatus.
Overview of Hydronic Radiant Heat Systems
Hydronic radiant heat systems operate by spreading warmed or cooled water through pipes that lay just underneath the surface of the floor throughout a building. The water in these pipes spreads heat through a process of radiation, whereby the heat energy diffuses through the pipes and into the surrounding atmosphere. Radiant heat apparatuses function in contrast with convection-style heating systems.
Factors that Influence the Lifespan of a Hydronic Radiant Heating System
One of the primary factors that can influence the functionality of a hydronic heating system is the water heater itself. If the water heater doesn't function properly or works too slowly, warm water cannot spread through the pipes and the heater doesn't operate. There are a number of potential causes of water heater malfunction, and most water heaters have a lifespan of a few years, particularly if they are used frequently.
If the heater itself functions well but there is a missing connection or an improper installation, the warm water may not be adequately spread throughout the pipes and the heater may consequently not function properly. These problems tend to occur immediately after installation, however, and do not typically influence the long-term lifespan of a radiant heater.
Pipe breakdown and damage is a serious concern for all hydronic radiant heat system owners. Failure to properly clean and maintain the pipes will result in leakage and damage to the floor and other parts of the building. As a result, the heating system will also fail to work to full capacity.
Between these factors, the typical hydronic radiant heating system functions adequately for between 10 and 20 years, assuming that no major errors or damage occurs during that period. The lifespan of your heating system also depends heavily upon the quality of the products that were used during installation and the care and methods used when setting up the heating system as well. A properly installed heating system with good quality materials may last for additional years on top of this estimate.
In order to maintain your hydronic radiant heating system, work with a licensed cleaner and heating system repair person every few years. Although prevention costs you additional money up front, taking action to stop damage from occurring before it begins will dramatically improve the lifespan of your heating system. For recommendations of professional maintenance services or for further advice, consult with a home improvement specialist or with the manufacturer of your hydronic radiant heat system.