How to Maintain Radiant Heat Boilers

radiant heat boiler system with many tubes running off one pipe with gauge
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 5-10
What You'll Need
Cloth
Cleaner
Hot water
What You'll Need
Cloth
Cleaner
Hot water

Radiant heat boiler systems are easy to use and have a high degree of reliability. Maintaining your radiant heat boiler is often a job for an expert plumber, as there are many flaws and problems which can develop inside boilers without an amateur noticing. However, some keen home improvement fans might want to take the chance of maintaining their own radiant heat boilers, and basic care of your system is possible if you follow a few simple guidelines.

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Step 1 - Keep Your Boiler Clean

Cleaning is the most basic maintenance step and one of the most essential. Radiant heat boilers attract dust and debris, and it is easy for them to develop blockages if you don't clean this way. A radiant heat boiler is very much like any other form in that the flame inside can sometimes be damaged by debris. Using a cheap household cleaner, wipe down the boiler's front and sides, taking particular note of the solder where the pipes have been added. Cleaning is a good time to look for corrosion or cracking in the solder around the boiler.

Step 2 - Check the Boiler Flame

If you are using a gas flame, you should check inside the boiler for carbon monoxide burning signs. This will often show up as a dark, triangular-shaped stain on the metal surround of the flame. If you see this or have concerns about the flame's condition, you should seek a professional gas engineer to test for signs of carbon monoxide. You should also check that the flame is burning evenly and that there are no blockages or cracks across the surface of the gas pipes.

Step 3 - Run the Water

While you check the boiler, heat a little water and see how the boiler processes and moves it along the pipes. While the water is heating, listen out for any unusual noises or smells. A low booming noise at the beginning of the process can indicate carbon monoxide again. Once the water is heated, run it through all the pipes, and back into the boiler. You can, if you wish, check to see how hot the water is at this point. If the amount of water that returns to the tank is significantly lower, then you may have a blockage or leak somewhere in the system.

Step 4 - Check Your Glycol

If your radiant heat boiler uses glycol in its system, you should check that its pH acidity has not fallen below the regulated level. This is particularly the case in older boilers, where the glycol inhibitors will break down. If your pH is low, add more inhibitors, perhaps including a complete flush and re-installation of both glycol and inhibitors.

Step 5 - Check the Pressure

Once you have run the water, check the water pressure in the pipes. Do this by examining the pressure gauge at the top of the loop. Loss of pressure can mean a leak within the system.

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