Hydronic heat radiators not used for long time - should they be drained?


It is better to keep a hot water hydronic heating system full of water all the time. This keeps air out, and prevents the inside of the radiators from rusting (assuming these are traditional cast iron rads). Recirculating the same water also helps limit the introduction of minerals from your water supply, so your rads and boiler won't clog up with mineral deposits. For these reasons, you shouldn't empty and re-fill your system more often than needed.

The exception is if your home will experience very cold temperatures, and the water could freeze. In this case you definitely want to drain the system to avoid having ice form and crack the rads.

If your system has had water in it for the last 3 years, I would not drain it unless you have reason to do so when repairing/replacing your boiler. Just bleed your radiators to ensure they are full of water. If the system has been empty, you may want to flush some water through to rinse out some sediment before reconnecting it to...

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I keep having to purge air from one of the 2nd floor circuits of my hot water heating system in order to get adequate heat out of it: I purge the system, then several days later I hear gurgling (although the noise "seems" like its coming from a different circuit upstairs), then the heat output starts to diminish in the convector over time. I bleed and everything's fine for a week or so. Let me give you details of my system...

I have a pump circulated hydronic system (circa 1950's) in my old colonial (circa 1910's). The boiler is a gas fired (80,000 BTU?) 80% efficiency New Yorker unit (circa 1990's) and the house is ~1,300 sq.ft. There is a single pump on a single zone feeding all circuits which have a mix of newer baseboard radiators (living room & bathrooms) and original-to-the-system fan-coil hydronic convectors (bedrooms, dining room, kitchen). The electrical circuits for the hydronic convectors, however, are split into two zones: 1st floor convectors on one...

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Hydronic heating systems are systems that circulate a medium for heating. Hydronic radiant floor heating systems use a boiler or district heating to heat water and a pump to circulate the hot water in plastic pipes installed in a concrete slab. The pipes, embedded in the floor, carry heated water that conducts warmth to the surface of the floor, where it broadcasts heat energy to the room above.

Hydronic systems circulate hot water for heating. Steam heating systems are similar to heating water systems, except that steam is used as the heating medium instead of water.

Hydronic heating systems generally consist of a boiler or district heating heat exchanger, hot water circulating pumps, distribution piping, and a fan coil unit or a radiator located in the room or space. Steam heating systems are similar, except that no circulating pumps are required.Hydronic systems are closed loop: the same fluid is heated and then reheated. Hydronic heating systems are also used with...

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With an understanding of how radiant heating works, we are going to take a look at the various options that are available when it comes to a hydronic heating system for the home. Heating designs for a radiant system can be tailored to most residential needs, whether it is a new custom home, or a remodel in a historic area. The flexibility of this type of advanced home heating system, as well as the high levels of energy efficiency, have made radiant heat an increasingly popular choice for contractors and families alike.

Basic Equipment

Every residential hydronic heating design will require the following basic elements to heat the home:

Boiler – The means to heat the liquid. Liquid Medium – Traditionally, this has been water, but some systems allow for other liquids or water and antifreeze mixes. Manifold/Thermostat – Connected to the thermostat, the plumbing manifold is the hub for directing water flow and room temperatures. Tubing – PEX or some other form of...
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UPDATED on April 18, 2014

Hydronic Systems Circulate Hot Water

Bird's Eye View

Hot-water systems are clean and quiet

Hydronic heating systems work by circulating hot water to wall-mounted or baseboard radiators, cast-iron radiators, or through loops of tubing embedded in the floor. Hot water can come from a variety of sources, including a gas- or oil-fired boiler, a water heater, a solar hot-water system, or a combination of these sources. Hydronic systems provide heat, but in most climates they can't supply air conditioning.

See below for:

System Types

IF THE FLOOR FRAMING CAN HANDLE THE LOAD it's possible to install hydronic tubing in a concrete slab placed over a plywood subfloor. If the added weight is an issue, a lightweight alternative like gypcrete can be used.

Heat distributed via radiators...

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Hydronic radiators are heating devices that use hot water as the source of heat. Hydronic radiators can be more energy efficient than forced air heaters because heat is not lost through the transportation of the heated air. Hydronic heating systems are quieter than forced air systems since they do not rely on a blowing fan to distribute heated air. They also do not dry out interior air as a forced air unit can. In addition, the lack of air movement and no circulation of airborne particulates have made hydronic radiators popular among consumers who suffer from allergies or respiratory ailments.

Hydronic radiators heat a room through radiant and convection heating. Radiant heating means that an object is heated by another object, without coming into direct contact with it. An example of this would be the warming effect of an outdoor fire. The people sitting around a fire are warmed by it, even though they do not come into direct contact with it. In interior radiant heating,...

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Hydronic Heating System - Configuration and Components

Shared Knowledge

"Hydronic Heating System - Configuration and Components"

25 Oct 2010

Summary: at first glance, a home hydronic heating system can intimidating, all those pipes and valves, but once you understand each of the basic components, the system is not all that complicated. In this document, I provide information as the purpose of each hydronic system component and various system configurations.

1. A single zone and loop system. This sort of configuration is normally found in a small, single story home. The blue and red arrows show normal movement of water through an operational system. Blue = cool water while red = furnace heated water.

The basic components of this configuration and all home hydronic heating system include:

- Inlet water control valve. Water gets into the hydronic heating system from house water through a inlet water control valve....

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Hydronic Heating & Cooling

SmartHeat are the leaders in Next Generation Hydronic Heating and Cooling Systems, partnering with iconic brands here in Australia and from around the globe to bring you state of the art designs.

Most people want to be warm and comfortable throughout winter, but also healthy, relaxed and sensitive to the environment.

SmartHeat works with you to bring all of these features together in the design of your Hydronic Heating and Cooling Systems are not new, the ancient Romans used them, as did the Koreans.

Large scale buildings such as educational campuses and hospitals have been using hydronic heating and cooling for a very long time. You will even find large European cities heat entire districts with pipped hot water much as we receive our gas and cold water today.

As you can see, hydronic heating and cooling has a long history. The good news is it can be used just as effectively today in your house to achieve...

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Some hydronic systems continuously have trouble. The owner of such a troubled system is paying service bills to repair or replace various components that are constantly failing. Service technicias such as unheatable circuits, noise, air binding, excessive component failure, especially pumps, etc., needs to be analyzed to discover the reasons for the constant trons find the failed component, replace it, and tell the owner the system has been “fixed.” Any system that has continuous problemuble. Properly designed, installed, and started hydronic systems will be trouble-free for many years.

Hydronic engineers who have plans and specifications usually design large hydronic systems. As long as the installing contractor follows the plan and spec, no system problems should be encountered. Smaller systems, residential and commercial systems, are usually “designed” by the installing contractor. These systems can exhibit ongoing problems, and instead of just replacing parts, need...

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RESTARTING either hot water radiators or steam radiators at the beginning of a new heating season sometimes requires more than merely opening the supply valves.

During a period of inactivity, or if the heating system has been drained, air enters the pipes, collecting near the top of one or more radiators. When air prevents water or steam from filling the radiator, the radiator may fail to heat completely or to develop sufficient heat.

The solution is to remove the trapped air by ''bleeding.'' Hot water radiators should be bled at least once each year, usually at the start of the season.

To bleed a hot water radiator, first turn the heat on and let the system come up to capacity. Be sure that the circulating pump, which supplies water pressure, is operating; it is on the furnace. Turn the radiator on also, in the usual way by opening the supply valve, to admit hot water. Then find the small vent valve at or near the...

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Hot water heating systems need a little maintenance, like venting the radiators and draining the boiler, to keep things running efficiently. Gravity and hot water furnaces are not often installed in new homes today, but similar systems with the old cast-iron radiators throughout the house were fixtures in homes built around 1900, and some of them are still working. Clanking, popping, and gurgling as they swing into action whenever the thermostat detects room temperatures dropping, they provide a relatively steady flow of heat without the drafts you get in forced-air furnaces.

Hot water systems are closed, meaning that the water constantly circulates through the pipes and into the boiler. Newer units have many zones with two water pipes linked to each zone: one circulating heated water to the rooms and the other returning the much cooler water back to the boiler to get reheated. In the older one-pipe series systems, hot water flowed from room to room, and then back again to...

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It spreads heat more evenly around the room, eliminating cold spots and cold blasts of air from registers. It is a steady, even source of heat. Cold floors are virtually eliminated. Radiant systems are quiet — they have no blower fans. Rooms with vaulted ceilings are easier to heat and homeowners have more flexibility in room arrangements without concern for blocking vents. Systems with glycol-filled tubing won't freeze, so they can be installed in cabins or other seasonal facilities, or beneath driveways and walkways to melt snow. They don't need to be drained when weather turns cold.

Radiant systems can be substantially more efficient than standard space and water heating systems. The unique combination of radiant technology and natural gas energy helps lower operating costs for budget-conscious homeowners. Heating can be directed to specific zones or rooms and equipped with individual thermostat controls for added...
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