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Old 04-03-2017, 07:58 AM   #1
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Default radiant heat ceiling wiring

How do you find a broken wire in the ceiling with radiant heat?
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Old 04-03-2017, 08:12 AM   #2
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Last year I tried to find a broken wire in an in floor system. The manufacturer
sent a special test machine designed to aid in doing so. It was helpful in that
it let us eliminate some types of problems, but was not able isolate the area
of the actual problem. That floor still doesn't work -(
None the less, I'd suggest by starting by contacting the co that made the heating
system and talking to their techs. It can't hurt.
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Old 04-03-2017, 08:26 AM   #3
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I would start by looking for any new damage in the ceiling or even something in the attic that could have affected the ceiling some how.
That is going to be really tough to trace, might try a toner or something like that as any type of wire locator is going to be to strong.
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Old 04-03-2017, 12:04 PM   #4
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Welcome aboard Robert!

More often than not you aren't going to find where it's broken.

Time to think about a new means of heating.
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Old 04-03-2017, 02:00 PM   #5
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How do you find a broken wire in the ceiling with radiant heat?

More often than not, you really can't fix the cable without doing serious damage to the plaster (usually its plaster). Plus it is almost impossible to get a repair kit from the manufacture as they for the most part, stopped selling these cables because people were not following the instructions for the right base coat, thus causing problems with safety.

Sometimes, its the easy things to check first.
1. Do you have proper voltage at the T-Stat (usually 240V)
2. Is breaker good?
3. Turn the heat up, use a thermal imaging camera to scan the ceiling, or at least a laser pointer to see if you are getting any heat.

I have had it twice, once where the problem was as simple as bad breaker on one leg, and the other a bad t-stat.

If you have power going to the stat, and the stat does indeed engage and no draw, then you will most likely as others have suggested, need to look at an alternative heating source.

In which case, you may want to consider having a split system heat pump installed, so hopefully you have a good hvac contact to get the referral from otherwise its little money for you.

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Old 04-03-2017, 02:27 PM   #6
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Many years ago when working in Florida where a lot of older homes implement ceiling heat, I used a neon transformer to identify the location of a broken wire. It would either fix the broken wire or as in many cases discolor the plaster enough to locate. then the use of an listed fix kit to repair.

There are probably many safer ways of doing this that I am not aware of.
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Old 04-03-2017, 02:33 PM   #7
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How do you find a broken wire in the ceiling with radiant heat?
You completely replace it.

Pray that it, the problem, is confined to the thermostat and the like.

BTW, radiant heat is way out of favor... being mighty expensive.

In California, with our tariffs, it's prohibitively expensive.
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Old 04-03-2017, 03:06 PM   #8
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I don't know, could it be reaching end of life? Every heating element is destined for burn out, although it could be a very long time
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Old 04-03-2017, 04:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
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How do you find a broken wire in the ceiling with radiant heat?
Are electric baseboards an option?
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Old 04-04-2017, 02:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mouser View Post
Many years ago when working in Florida where a lot of older homes implement ceiling heat, I used a neon transformer to identify the location of a broken wire. It would either fix the broken wire or as in many cases discolor the plaster enough to locate. then the use of an listed fix kit to repair.

There are probably many safer ways of doing this that I am not aware of.
Safer than using a few thousand volts to burn the ceiling in the location of the broken wire? How do you figure?

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Old 04-05-2017, 06:01 AM   #11
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I don't know, could it be reaching end of life? Every heating element is destined for burn out, although it could be a very long time
This was my thought as well.


I've always been confused why some buildings chose ceiling radiant heat. I understand sometimes it's the only solution but it's so inefficient since heat rises. It's just never made sense to me. If someone wants it installed and they ignore my recommendations, there's only so much I can do.
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Old 04-05-2017, 06:14 AM   #12
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This was my thought as well.


I've always been confused why some buildings chose ceiling radiant heat. I understand sometimes it's the only solution but it's so inefficient since heat rises. It's just never made sense to me. If someone wants it installed and they ignore my recommendations, there's only so much I can do.
It was all the rage -- only for a certain period.

Like the tariffs for electric water-heaters... price breaks from the Poco were obtainable.

Yup.

In a modest sized room ( dorm room ) the fact that the heat was from above was balanced by the fact that the ceiling was well insulated -- to drive the heat into the room -- not the attic.

In such settings, the ability to shut off rooms -- by the room -- made such a scheme energy attractive.

In a blown-air scheme -- shutting off the heat to this or that room ~ not viable, not practical, not in an institutional setting.

My old university fell in love with radiant heating from above -- for this very reason.

So... now you know.
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Old 04-05-2017, 06:36 AM   #13
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In a modest sized room ( dorm room ) the fact that the heat was from above was balanced by the fact that the ceiling was well insulated -- to drive the heat into the room -- not the attic.

In such settings, the ability to shut off rooms -- by the room -- made such a scheme energy attractive.
When I was younger I lived in an apartment building that they had mounted the heating elements on the wall near the ceiling which was based on that principle. After living there for a few months and experiencing the noise, etc, I could tell how little insulation there was in the building. Being on the second floor, the neighbors below me heated my room enough I rarely turned my heat on.
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Old 04-05-2017, 07:52 AM   #14
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In floor radiant (water or electric) has experienced a resurgence starting about 20 or so years ago. There was a boom of in floor radiant in the 1950's using copper tubing. Only downfall: 50+ years of service the water circulating actually wears out the elbows.

Maybe it has gained more traction with the advent of PeX and it ability to not "wear out" the elbows. Since then, there has been a lot of research and experimentation and the new trend is in the ceilings and some walls. I can't articulate exactly why it is trending, but it has to do with efficiency (yes they are getting efficiency gains out of putting it in the ceiling) and construction methods as well as they can now circulate cool water in the summer to effectively cool the building as well. It probably has to do with the increasing heat pump technology and/or geothermal.
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Old 04-05-2017, 07:54 AM   #15
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I've always been confused why some buildings chose ceiling radiant heat. I understand sometimes it's the only solution but it's so inefficient since heat rises. It's just never made sense to me.
I have seen some infrared heaters that were made to mount up in the cove area. The idea was they shine infrared light down onto the contents of the room and heat up the furniture and the floors, rather than heating up the air. So you didn't install them along the baseboards, you installed them up high where the infrared wouldn't be obstructed by the first object in the way.

It made some sense but I never got to any really convincing reviews. I found it hard to believe these heaters were really more radiant and directional than regular baseboards or etc.

In some of the very old industrial buildings around here they have steam radiators on the ceiling (10' ceilings), probably because the floors had to be wide open. But I don't know if they were supposed to heat the floor below or the floor above. You'd be hard pressed to find what you'd call a warm spot anywhere in those buildings on a cold day.
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Old 04-05-2017, 08:10 AM   #16
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I have seen some infrared heaters that were made to mount up in the cove area. The idea was they shine infrared light down onto the contents of the room and heat up the furniture and the floors, rather than heating up the air. So you didn't install them along the baseboards, you installed them up high where the infrared wouldn't be obstructed by the first object in the way.

It made some sense but I never got to any really convincing reviews. I found it hard to believe these heaters were really more radiant and directional than regular baseboards or etc.

In some of the very old industrial buildings around here they have steam radiators on the ceiling (10' ceilings), probably because the floors had to be wide open. But I don't know if they were supposed to heat the floor below or the floor above. You'd be hard pressed to find what you'd call a warm spot anywhere in those buildings on a cold day.
Yes, infrared radiant heat warms up objects, not necessarily the air. We see it here at bus stops and hockey rinks. Thermostats don't work well with infrared.
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Old 04-05-2017, 08:21 AM   #17
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How we perceive temperature, i.e. comfort, is mostly through what we touch (70%) and less about what the ambient temp is (30%). That is why radiant heat is far more comfortable to us because the radiant heat warms the objects in the room, making us perceive the room as warm. That is also why as soon as the forced air heat cycles off, we catch a chill because the tstat is satisfied via ambient temp, but everything we touch is still cool to the touch.

The example given to me was walking through the grocery store which is set at 68*, but as soon as you hit the frozen foods section, you catch a chill. It's still 68*, but everything you're touching is cold.

Applying this concept, radiant in the ceiling makes sense.
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Old 04-05-2017, 08:47 AM   #18
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I use these all the time. Customers love them, quiet pretty cheap and they last forever.

http://www.radiantsystemsinc.com/
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Old 04-05-2017, 08:52 AM   #19
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House we bought in the '70s had radiant heat in the ceiling. The first winter our feet were freezing and there was a noticeable temperature difference going from sitting to standing, but the electric bills kept me hot. We added insulation in the attic and the floor but the best result seemed to come from fans slowly moving/mixing the air. Only problem we had with it was a bad thermostat.
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