Finding Leaks In Hydronic Heating Systems

Hydronic heating is a fancy term for any form of home heating that uses water instead of air. Many people think of floor-based radiant heating when they hear the word "hydronic," but these systems also include traditional baseboard radiators. Hydronic heating can often produce a more comfortable environment than forced-air heating, but it has one significant drawback: leaks.

Since hydronic plumbing naturally includes water, leaks tend to be more severe than in the forced-air heating ducts. Poorly sealed air ducts can lead to inefficient heating, but leaky water pipes can lead to disaster. Finding hydronic leaks isn't always easy, and the methods can vary depending on the type of system and the location of the leak.

The Obvious Locations: Exposed Plumbing

Most homes have exposed plumbing in at least a few unfinished areas, such as the basement or utility closets. If you suspect a leak in your hydronic system, begin by checking these areas. Leaks in exposed plumbing are much easier to find, but that doesn't mean that you'll always see a torrent of water. Leaks that aren't severe enough to stop your heating from working may be hard to notice.

While you're inspecting your plumbing, it's a good idea to pay special attention to joints and fittings. These are often the areas where leaks first develop, so they're an excellent place to start. If you have copper piping, then it's a good idea to look for signs of corrosion. Even if corroded pipes aren't yet leaking, they may develop leaks in the future.

Hidden Leaks: Behind Walls

Like any other plumbing in your house, the pipes for your hydronic system likely run through walls, floors, and ceilings. Leaks in these areas can cause significant damage, even if the leak itself is not severe. Keep areas near your baseboard heaters clear so that you can look for signs of water damage on your walls or floors, in particular.

Unfortunately, tell-tale signs of a leak can be unpleasant: wet spots, peeling paint, or even mold. If you notice any of these problems, contact a plumber immediately. Not only is potentially dangerously hot water escaping into your walls, but you are also facing the threat of severe water damage.

Buried Problems: Slab Leaks

Radiant heating plumbing often runs through concrete slabs, especially in basements or first levels that use floor heating. Unfortunately, slab leaks are nearly impossible to detect for the average homeowner. Professionals will usually attempt to find these leaks by first conducting a pressure test to determine if a leak exists and then using an infrared camera to locate it.

Slab leaks can be expensive to repair, but you shouldn't ignore them. Not only can any leak eventually stop your home's hydronic heating from functioning, but a slab leak can also impact your home's structural stability.

For more information, contact a heating system repair service today.