Common Hydronic Heating Problems
Some hydronic heating problems are more common than others, so being aware of them is certainly useful and will go a long way in helping you to sharpen up your troubleshooting procedures.
Essentially all hydronic heating systems have a central theme: hot water. Commonly referred to as radiant heating, this type of system relies on tubing, radiators or baseboard heaters to transport the hot water through the property. Alternatively, hydro-air heating utilises a heat exchanger and ventilation to provide homes with a supply of warm air.
Systems can vary tremendously, yet having a good idea of where to begin troubleshooting is often an advantage, helping you save both time and money. With that out of the way, we will explore some of the most common problems that occur in hydronic systems, from the boiler to the loop.
Power Supply Issues
When there are obvious issues with the central water heater, such as a loss of power, there are usually a few common causes. If there is a loss of power first check the main fuse box in your home and determine if a breaker switch has tripped. If so, you may need to replace the boilers broken or faulty fuse.
Another common supply issue is when the valve end switch does not make connection. This often means that there is not enough voltage, typically caused by a broken transformer, in which case changing the transformer should fix the issue.
Has the Valve Failed?
Hydronic systems that make use of a
close-loop system are particularly vulnerable to
valve failures, since they have a difficult time
dealing with oxygen. Once in the system, oxygen
can degrade key components such as the rubber
plug or plug shaft.
If you are working on a hydronic system that utilises oxygenated water, then you may want to install a valve made especially for these types of systems. Without this, degradation of the inner components is often just a matter of time. In the long term this means frequent valve and component replacement.
Has the Ignition or Power Light Failed?
Often pilot lights can become faulty or less reliable. This can be caused for a number of reasons, but typically over time the ignition can become covered with dirt, affecting the connection between the ignition sensor and electronic ignition.
The majority of modern boilers will have a certain error code to highlight these types of errors, but I always find giving it a clean as part of a normal service to be a useful preventative measure. In any case, it is certainly worth giving it a clean as it’s a relatively common cause of system malfunctions.
Feeling that the heating system isn’t providing the right temperature is a common issue. Here are some of the most common causes:
One of the main causes of a misbehaving thermostat is one that has been installed in an inappropriate location. It’s important to remember that the thermostats role is to read the internal temperature of your home and make necessary adjustments by modulating your heating system.
This process can be impacted by a thermostat placed in a location that will lead to a false reading. For example, if you install the thermostat in a place in your home that receives a lot of sunlight this may cause thermostat readings to increase – not reflecting the actual temperature of the interior of your home.
Equally a thermostat placed on an outside wall may be cooler than the rest of the home. The best place to install a thermostat is for it to be wall mounted on an inside wall.
If you feel that your home is not quite reaching the right temperature you may want to consider your home zoning. For instance, the room you use most should be set the higher temperature than rooms that are used less frequently e.g. bedrooms. This will help ensure your home does not become unnecessarily hot.
When it comes to hydronic systems, issues with noise really aren’t that common. After all one of the major advantages of these systems over furnace alternatives is their quiet operation. However, from time to time there are some problems that can result in noise complaints.
Typically noisy systems are most likely if you have a large system with multiple pipes extending into multiple different zones or areas. There are many ways to help reduce noise, firstly begin by trying to stabilize any long pipes, since water pressure can cause quite a lot of movement.
If you have installed more than a few zone valves and a single pump you may want to fit a bypass loop with a pressure regulator. This will enable the water to bypass when a single valve in the group is open.
You can also slow down the closing speed of a motorized valve, which will again help to prevent sudden bursts of water pressure, which can reduce the amount of loop movement and therefore noise.
There are many common issues related to hydronic heating systems, typically these are related to the noise, power, temperature or more general issues.
Either way, it’s always advised to start at the most probably cause and through the process of elimination find the root cause. In addition, you can also find lots of great information and troubleshooting tips from your systems manual.