How to Keep Your Radiant Heater in Good Condition This Spring

Radiant Heating Maintenance

Radiant heaters are a reliable and rather invisible piece of HVAC equipment. They don’t need extra floor, wall or ceiling space and they do not present an eyesore either. They deliver economical, energy-efficient heat without even being seen!

Plus they can last and last….provided you remember they are there.

Radiant heaters are easy to forget about….until they stop working. That is when we remember all those coils hidden under our flooring, behind our walls or up high on our ceilings.

All of a sudden we find ourselves shivering and irritated – wondering why we feel so uncomfortable.

This is also the moment you may begin to wonder when your radiant heater was last serviced. Was it a year? Five years? 10 years?

What kind of service does a residential or commercial radiant heating system even need? Read on and find out!

How Much Maintenance Does a Radiant Heater Need?

The truth is, radiant heaters need regular, routine, preventative maintenance just like all HVAC systems.

Most importantly, they need it at least once a year to keep reaping all the benefits of your radiant heating investment.

What Type of Maintenance Does a Radiant Heater Need?

The precise type of preventative maintenance your radiant heating system needs depends on what type of system you have.

There are three main types of radiant heating systems: gas-fired, hydronic (water-based) and electric.

Let’s address the maintenance needs of each type of system.

1. Gas-fired radiant heater maintenance.

Sometimes called radiant tube heaters or gas infrared heaters, this special type of radiant heater is most commonly found in commercial spaces such as office buildings, warehouses and industrial distribution centres.

These specialized radiant heaters need equally specialized attention to each of the following.

  • Impeller fan mechanism and fins
  • Blower motors 
  • Reflector panel(s),
  • Exhaust vent pipes and openings
  • Intake vents
  • Tubes and gas lines
  • Gas inlet pressure
  • Combustion chambers and burner observation windows and orifices
  • Igniters and electrodes
  • Electric connections
  • Thermostat calibration
  • Sensors
  • Ceramic tiles and burners
  • Suspension systems (as applicable)

Unless you are quite familiar and well-versed in this type of detailed preventative maintenance, it is best to bring in an expert HVAC technician to tend to the fine details of maintaining these systems.

2. Hydronic water-based radiant heater maintenance.

Hydronic radiant heating is most commonly found in residential spaces, although these systems work equally well in workplaces and industrial locations as well.

Now, don’t be put off by radiant heaters that are advertised to be “maintenance-free.” This may be true in the carefully controlled manufacturer testing environment. But those perfect conditions are rarely found in real-life daily applications.

Insects, birds and small animals, weather events, water quality and other factors can quickly degrade radiant heater performance. This is why annual hydronic radiant heater maintenance is a must – to protect your investments and safeguard your energy budget! 

A properly maintained hydronic radiant heating system can easily last you three to four decades. Their pumps, however, may need to be replaced every 10 years or so to maintain the integrity of your system.

Hydronic radiant heaters need annual attention to each of the following components.

  • Check pipes and expansion tank for corrosion and leaks.
  • Check pH levels for glycol-based systems.
  • Check pressure relief valves and reducing valves.
  • Troubleshoot excessive operational noise or random noises.
  • Conduct a complete visual inspection and pressure test.
  • Recalibrate the thermostat as needed and do a general cleaning of any visible components.

What you should not do is attempt to flush the system. Unless a certified service professional, familiar with your specific make and model of hydronic radiant heater, has stated this is necessary, don’t do it. In most cases, hydronic radiant heating systems should never need complete flushing.

3. Electric radiant heater maintenance.

Electric radiant heaters (not to be confused with gas-fired radiant heaters that also use electricity) are not as common here in the far north where winter is a long, cold affair. Why? Electricity can quickly become expensive (as many homeowners have probably witnessed this past winter).

But for smaller applications or add-on spaces such as small bathrooms or work areas, electric radiant heat can represent a reasonable investment.

What maintenance does an electric radiant heater need?

  • The most important components of an electric radiant heating system are the electrical connections and thermostats. You want to be sure the connections are strong and sturdy and that the thermostat is properly calibrated for heat output.
  • The electric cables also need to be inspected (as is possible depending on how your system is installed). 
  • You should also check for even heating throughout the space where the electric radiant heater is installed. Uneven heating could indicate a problem with the cables caused by pests, animals, corrosion, rust or even shifting land.

What Is the Best Way to Maintain a Radiant Heater?

It is important to have your Shipton’s service technician come out to do an assessment and baseline maintenance service on your radiant heater. If you have inherited a radiant heating system along with a home or commercial building purchase, you may not  know how well (or even if) your system has been maintained in the past.

If you have a brand new electric, gas-fired or hydronic radiant heating system, be sure to read your manufacturer’s warranty to find out what is needed to keep your warranty valid. Failure to schedule annual preventative maintenance, for example, may cause a warranty claim to be denied.

Over our nearly 100 years of installing, servicing and maintaining radiant heating systems for our residential and commercial customers, we have seen the benefits of scheduling annual radiant heater preventative maintenance. 

Benefits of Scheduling Annual Radiant Heater Maintenance: 

  • Financial Protection
  • Functionality and Performance Improvements
  • Peace-of-Mind

Shipton’s Heating and Cooling in Hamilton Is Hamilton’s HVAC and Air Quality Expert

Here at Shipton’s, we are proud to serve our residential and commercial customers in the Hamilton, Oakville, Burlington and surrounding areas for all your heating, cooling and air quality needs.

Give us a call at 1-905-549-4616 or visit us online to schedule maintenance, service, repairs and new equipment installation.

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