What Should You Do If You Think Your Radiant Heating System Is Leaking?

If you notice inexplicable water stains on your floor or if your water bill has recently become significantly higher, you may have a leak in your home's radiant heating system. The pipes used in these heating systems (whether copper or PEX) are quite durable, but they can still develop leaks. It's often caused by the concrete around them shifting due to changes in temperature. If you think that your radiant heating system may be leaking, read on to find out how you can find the leak and what you should do in order to fix it.

How Can You Tell if Your Radiant Heating System Is Leaking?

One way that you can confirm a leak in your radiant heating system is to close the make-up water valve and monitor the water pressure gauge. Radiant heating systems lose small amounts of water due to evaporation in the expansion tank, so replacement water is drawn from the make-up valve in order to maintain a constant water pressure within the pipes.

Note the pressure on your radiant heating system's pressure gauge and then close the make-up water valve. This prevents any more water from being added to the system. Continue to monitor the pressure gauge. If the water pressure inside the radiant heating system drops, it's very likely that you have a leak in your pipes. Less water flowing through the pipes will reduce water pressure inside the system.

When you're performing this test, you shouldn't adjust anything but the make-up water valve. If your radiant heating system is running, you should keep it running during the test. Allowing the water inside the pipes to cool off will reduce water pressure on its own. You want to make sure that the pressure drop is due to a leak in the pipes rather than a change in water temperature.

How Do You Locate the Leak in Your Radiant Heating Pipes?

Once you've confirmed that your radiant heating system is leaking, you need to find where the leak is located. While most of the pipes in a radiant heating system are located in the concrete slab, there are a few above-ground locations you can easily inspect.

The first place you should check is the manifold, which is where water from the boiler or water heater is separated into several pipes leading to different rooms in your home. It's a common location for leaks. If you notice that the manifold pipes appear damp, tighten the connections using a pair of pliers. If the manifold box itself is leaking, you'll have to replace it.

Next, check the air escape valve and the pressure relief valve next to your boiler or water heater. These connections can also become loose and begin to leak. Tightening them will fix the problem.

If you can't find any obvious leaks in the pipes that are visible to you, you'll need to have a heating system repair professional inspect the pipes in the concrete slab. A professional can use thermal imaging to quickly find where the leak is located. If a pipe within the slab is leaking hot water, the puddle of water can be seen easily using thermal imaging.

What Should You Do if Your Radiant Heating System Is Leaking?

Whether you're able to find the leak on your own or not, it's important to call a heating system repair contractor as soon as possible when you know that your radiant heating system is leaking. The leaking section of pipe needs to be replaced.

If water can leak out of the pipes in your radiant heating system, it means that air is able to enter them. Air bubbles inside your radiant heating system can severely damage your pumps, so it's important to fix the leak and stop air from entering. In addition, the leak can lead to water damage inside your home or damage to your foundation. In order to prevent further damage, call a heating system repair company and have them replace the leaking pipes.