Nearly New Northern MN Slab In-Floor Heat Home Needs New Water Line

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Built in 2010, I moved in to my 3-bedroom, 2 bath home in Jan. 2011. The house has radiant in-floor heat (natural gas) and sits on a slab. This past late fall the City notified me of an unusually high use of water. A plumber broke down all the valves and added shut-offs. He narrowed the leak to the master bedroom bath. Once that room was shut down - the problem was solved - at least for the water bill.

We know the leak is somewhere between the master bathroom (tub/shower combo, toilet and sink) and the furnace room - each to the opposite end of the house from one another.

Some have suggested the only fix is to re-route the water lines in to the unheated attic using a trough, insulation and heat tape. I have already had one frost quake that broke the concrete and caused a shift in my house. I just think water lines in an attic in Minnesota is a huge disaster waiting to happen.

What else could I do to get my master bath back in working order? I just want to get...

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If your going to go with copper I would run a 3/4" trunk line up the wall, and then drop down to 1/2" to the fixtures.

As for bracing the pipe you could use pipe clamps like this

or this

Just make sure the clamps are copper, if you mix metals you could risk corrosion and eventual leaks. You'll want to clamp the pipe as close as you can to where it enters and exits the first floor wall, though you may still get banging in the wall where there are no fasteners.

As much as you may want to avoid it, it might be better to open up the wall on the first floor and clamp which ever type of pipe you decide to use properly. It might be a headache now, but just imagine the headache when every time somebody flushes you hear the pipes bang (especially at 3 AM in your bedroom...

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A quick and cheap fix is a warmer pair of socks.

As MDMoore313 says, the ceiling is not an ideal place for a heat register since the warm air will tend to stay at the ceiling. I can only speculate why your contractor installed them there: possibly as a cost-saving solution because access was easier or there was existing AC ductwork?

You may be able to mitigate the problem with a couple carefully placed fans to circulate the warm air off the ceiling. You want them on low speed and not directed at people, or else they will have a chilling effect. A ceiling fan blowing UP would be perfect for this situation, but even a small adjustable fan like a Vornado would probably help a lot.

You also mention that you can "feel the cold come in". Do you mean there's a draft? Getting your building envelope as airtight as possible should be your #1 priority. The most efficient furnace in the world is useless if all that hot air leaks out of your house. A tube of caulk or can of...

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Concrete slab floors come in many forms and can be used to provide great thermal comfort and lifestyle advantages. Slabs can be on-ground, suspended, or a mix of both. They can be insulated, both underneath and on the edges. Conventional concrete has high embodied energy. It has been the most common material used in slabs but several new materials are available with dramatically reduced ecological impact.

Different types

Some types of concrete slabs may be more suitable to a particular site and climate zone than others.

Slab-on-ground

Slab-on-ground is the most common and has two variants: conventional slabs with deep excavated beams and waffle pod slabs, which sit near ground level and have a grid of expanded polystyrene foam pods as void formers creating a maze of beams in between. Conventional slabs can be insulated beneath the broad floor panels; waffle pods are by definition insulated beneath. Both may benefit from slab edge insulation.

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Energy costs are at an all-time high and still rising. So, what can we do about it? These pages will give you an insight into our range of energy efficient solutions which could save you many hundreds of dollars each year.

Studies have shown that in-slab heating provides a most enjoyable warming experience!

Heating a concrete slab from cold takes a relatively long time, at least several hours, but once at operating temperature, it will radiate heat consistently. For this reason, in-slab heating is generally best suited to buildings with permanent or high occupancy.

Geothermal or Air Sourced Heat Pump ?

Easy! Use an Air Sourced Heat Pump!
Invest the GEOTHERMAL groundworks money into solar electricity and get a much better return on investment, and a much more environmentally sound system!

A GEOTHERMAL heat-pump costs about the same...

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Most people that own heated floor systems prefer them over more traditional types of heating systems associated with the home for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons is because radiant floor heating systems provide a very comfortable feeling and do not make any noise while in operation. They heat each and every room from the ground up giving warmth to the feet and the body first. This heat is also distributed evenly throughout the entire floor. This is what makes heated floors completely unique and different from other warming arrangements such as wood stove units, hot air systems and other types of radiators which only warm localised areas. Heating bills can be lowered quite substantially when a switch is made to this floor heating system as it prevents common problems such as drafts and the circulation of dust associated with forced air heating systems occurring. This is of special benefit to allergy sufferers and the likes who are looking to get rid of all the...

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Solar Sandbed Storage Home in Northern Minnesota

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The Renewable Energy site for Do-It-Yourselfers

The House

The house size is just under 600 sq. ft. One story. The sandbed is two feet deep and extends under the full house.

The solar thermal collectors total 160 sq ft., and are conventional panels manufactured by Solar Skies here in MN.

The walls are straw bale, attic insulation is 18' inches of blown in cellulose.

The Sandbed

The highest temp we have ever seen at the sensor down in the sand at the depth of the tubes is 97 F, lowest 50 F. Our slab temp (the actual floor we walk on) has gone as low as 49 during an extended absence in January, and as high as 90 F. (90 F is unusual for the slab.) Slab temp between 68 F and 75 F for probably 90 percent of the year.

The guys at Artha designed the system, sized of panels relative to floor, chose the length and diameter of PEX,...

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Occasionally I wonder if I have some sort of masochistic streak — somehow enjoying the grief I get when bursting people’s favorite bubbles. I’ll brace myself for such a response to this column, when I point out why radiant-floor heating systems don’t make sense for new, energy-efficient houses.

Radiant-floor heating is a way of delivering heat through the floor — usually with hot-water tubing embedded in a concrete slab. It’s a very popular heating system advanced by zealous proponents. If you want to pick a fight in the building industry, simply criticize such sacred cows as radiant-floor heating or ground-source heat pumps (stay tuned on that one).

Don’t get me wrong. Radiant-floor heating makes a lot of sense for the right applications. In fact, I think it’s a great heating system…for lousy houses. But with new construction, if the house is designed and built to be highly energy-efficient (something I always encourage as the number-one priority), it doesn’t make...

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The two most common methods of delivering radiant floor heat are:

Electrically, through heated cables, mesh, preformed mats or elements embedded in plastic films Hydronically, through tubing that circulates water heated by a boiler or water heater

Your choice will often depend on the energy costs in your area and the size of the project. Electric systems tend to be less expensive upfront than hydronic systems, according to the Radiant Panel Association, because they are simpler in construction. If you live in an area where electricity is more affordable than other power options, electric could be the way to go. Most systems operate on 120 or 240 volts and require a separate circuit breaker. However, low-voltage systems are available that can operate on as little as 24 volts, using a transformer to reduce the line voltage, according to RPA (see Radiant Heating with Electricity). Some electric radiant systems are intended only for warming floors in specific rooms; others...

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Radiant Floor Heating Offers Unique Energy Saving Efficiencies

Radiant floor heating is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because it eliminates duct losses.

Radiant heating systems supply heat directly to the floor or to panels in the wall or ceiling of a house. The systems depend largely on radiant heat transfer — the delivery of heat directly from the hot surface to the people and objects in the room via infrared radiation. Radiant heating is the effect you feel when you can feel the warmth of a hot stovetop element from across the room. When radiant heating is located in the floor, it is often called radiant floor heating or simply floor heating.

Radiant heating has a number of advantages. It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because it eliminates duct losses. People with allergies often prefer radiant heat because it doesn’t distribute allergens...

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[All photos by BUILD LLC]

When designing a new residence, one of the first design decisions we review with the homeowners is the heating system. In-floor radiant heat has come a long way in the last couple of decades and it should at least be a consideration for a home’s heat system. The technology of in-floor radiant heat is an evolution from the traditional free-standing radiators (like in turn of the century homes), in that hot water is circulated through the house via pipes that transfer the heat to objects, subsequently heating the interiors. That’s about where the similarities end, though, and in-floor radiant heat is much more effective and efficient.

For typical wood frame house construction, modern in-floor radiant heat uses a network of 3/8” or 1/2” diameter flexible tubes located within the floor system that wind through each room of the house. These tubes are equally spaced and are attached to the underside of the floor sheathing. This system can be...

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Active solar heating systems use solar energy to heat a fluid -- either liquid or air -- and then transfer the solar heat directly to the interior space or to a storage system for later use. If the solar system cannot provide adequate space heating, an auxiliary or back-up system provides the additional heat. Liquid systems are more often used when storage is included, and are well suited for radiant heating systems, boilers with hot water radiators, and even absorption heat pumps and coolers. Both liquid and air systems can supplement forced air systems.

Liquid-Based Active Solar Heating

Solar liquid collectors are most appropriate for central heating. They are the same as those used in solar domestic water heating systems. Flat-plate collectors are the most common, but evacuated tube and concentrating collectors are also available. In the collector, a heat transfer or "working" fluid such as water, antifreeze (usually non-toxic propylene glycol), or other type of...

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InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Radiant heating system design or installation mistakes that must be avoided. This article explains how to avoid some fatal mistakes when installing radiant heat in a concrete floor slab by describing an incompetent radiant heat floor installation along with an explanation of why things went wrong and how to avoid these errors.

The workers in the photograph at page top, where our concrete slab was being poured, were not guilty of a thing. But the contractor who prepared the forms and under-slab insulation placed radiant heat floor tubing too deep in the slab and he omitted proper under-slab insulation. The result: the owners ultimately had to abandon the entire radiant heated floor system.

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How to Really Foul Up a Radiant Heat...

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UPDATED on March 13, 2015

By designing a tight envelope with thick insulation, Passivhaus designers work hard to whittle a home’s space heating loadRate at which heat must be added to a space to maintain a desired temperature. See cooling load. to a bare minimum. Many European designers strive to get the heating load so low that all space heat can be provided by raising the temperature of the ventilation air.

In a home with an area of 1,600 square feet and a ventilation rate of 0.3 ac/h, ventilation air flow is only 64 cfm. Since Passivhaus designers try to keep the temperature of the ventilation air below 122°F (or, according to some sources, 131°F), it’s hard to pack much heat into the small volume of air that flows through typical ventilation ducts. That’s why it’s such a challenge to insulate a building’s shell well enough to deliver all of a home’s heat through its ventilation system.

In central Europe, where winter temperatures are much milder than they...

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What’s right, what’s wrong & what will cause problems

Improving performance & appearance. A vented crawl space (above) often has falling fiberglass insulation and moisture problems.

Builders love crawl space foundations because they’re quick and inexpensive to build. You don’t need heavy equipment to excavate a giant hole for a full basement. Instead, you’re erecting short walls to get the first floor framing up off the ground. If soil at the building site is rocky or wet, a crawl space minimizes the risk involved in digging and building a full basement.

The failure of fluffy stuff

The encapsulation process results in a clean, dry interior space, as shown here.

For many years, the standard way to build a crawl space involved venting the crawl space walls and installing fiberglass batt insulation between joists in the crawl space. The widespread availability of fiberglass insulation, along with its low cost, went along well with the...

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