Hydronic heating system leaks aren't always catastrophic affairs. Depending on your system's design, you may not lose your heating capacity, even if your system is losing water. Many homeowners only discover leaks during routine checkups or when they notice water damage on flooring or walls. Unfortunately, waiting this long to find a leak can often mean a more expensive repair.
Pressure changes, increases in your monthly water bill, or unusual sounds can indicate a potential leak in your hydronic heating system. If you spot these symptoms, it's a good idea to have a plumber investigate the system for leaks. Although your hydronic plumbing can leak from nearly anywhere, this article will discuss three common sources.
1. Boiler Leaks
Your boiler can leak from numerous locations. Fortunately, detecting a boiler leak is relatively straightforward. Since your boiler should be easy to access, you should get in the habit of looking for signs of water at least every month. Water generally shouldn't be present, even near the relief valve, so any signs of leakage are worth investigating right away.
Unfortunately, it's not always easy to diagnose a problem with your boiler. For example, leaks can result from damaged pipe joints or corroded copper plumbing. On the other hand, a leaking relief valve may point to an entirely different problem, causing excessive system pressure. Unless you're sure of the issue, hiring a plumber to diagnose a leaking boiler is usually a good idea.
2. Slab Leaks
Slab leaks can occur in homes with radiant floor heating, and they can be potentially damaging. Since this leak occurs underneath the floor, your plumber will usually need to remove the flooring and excavate some concrete to access it. Minor leaks may not be obvious, except for a slight increase in your utility bills.
Modern plumbers use various techniques to locate these leaks and minimize the disruption necessary to repair them. These methods include thermal imaging cameras and specialized leak detection hardware. Relying on a professional to fix these problems is usually the best course of action if you want to avoid tearing up large portions of your floor.
3. Radiator Leaks
Radiators can come in numerous styles and sizes, but they're typically subject to the same types of leaks. While radiator leaks can sometimes be severe, it's just as common to only notice a few drips or a slightly damp spot on the floor. Since even relatively minor leaks can cause water damage, it's a good habit to check around your radiators for moisture occasionally.
You'll find leaks at the air relief valve or where the radiator meets the fill pipe in most cases. A plumber can repair either issue without needing to replace your radiator. However, leaks from the radiator itself can indicate rust or other problems, often requiring you to install an entirely new unit. Go to websites that further explain water heating repairs you may need.