I just heard of an unfortunate circumstance where an ower installed new flooring, and discovered serious leakage in the hydronic floor heating system. Everyone out there who is considering new flooring should really consider investing a couple hundred dollars in having the system pressure tested prior to proceeding with new floors, if you have not already done so. If you have leaks, you can schedule a repair once the old flooring is removed, and it can be done far more efficiently than after; (particularly if you are installing "floating" wood floors or laminate products like Pergo, which usually have a vapor barrier that makes helium detection more difficult), and sheet vinyl may make detection more difficult.
Carpet, vinyl tiles, and cork flooring have little impact, being that the repair is easy and these products do not inhibit detection much; and while tile is fairly easy to repair, most home owners shudder at the thought of tearing into a new tile or stone floor.
Part of improving an Eichler successfully and efficiently often is in preventative and proactive measures, whatever the project may be; it is aways a good idea to ask for advice from people that are experienced with these unique homes; speculation is no substiute for experience.
These radiant systems are designed to heat and circulate water in a closed loop system. I would also make the point that a leak in the tubing allows water to escape this close loop system. The boiler is then required to introduce water from the main line. Depending on the size of the leaks this ultimately drives up the cost of your water and gas bill. Aside from being costly it is a waste of natural resources. Also, the boiler will work over time to constantly introduce and heat more water. Leaks can put an unnecessary stress on the boiler and reduce its longevity.
I am an advocate of regular, proper system pressure testing. In the long run it can save your thousands of dollars.
thanks for those other practical concerns in support of my posting.
My perspective in posting on this site is entirely from a contractors' standpoint (cost and impact to the structure, generally) and I am very pleased to get practical input (such as enivonmental impact and impacts on long-term cost and maintenece ramifications).
That reminds me; growing up in the Highlands, I was good a friend of a son of a very handy gentleman. He had a copper radiant heat system that was about 6 years old when he puchased the home (he was the second owner). Over the years, he has remodeled, added and maintained his home carefully; and after 36 years, he has had no leaks in his tubing. I asked him what he did, and he (he still lives in the same house today) stated that he ran the heat year-round (even in summer months at a low enogh temp to have it run periodically) to keep the water circulating in the closed sytem. He also said that he bled the system twice (water can and does contain minerals, as well as obtain them from whatever it remains in contact), and he attibutes that to his success. Now obviously, from a scientific perspective, (the asbence of control groups and the impossiblity to completely replicate the conditions in the building, such as concrete slump, exact alkaline properties of the concrete due to variables in the sand/aggregate/cement
mixture that occurred 42 years ago, soil/geotechnical variables, the type of solder and flux or baising used and so on) there would have to be quite a bit of study to really merit proof that this indeed why he has been successful at avoiding leaks all these years; but it seems reasonable to me; and it, along with regular pressure testing, is a good model of proper maintenence to these hydronic systems. Many homeowners today take an active part in maintaining their homes, and due to their increasing value and increasing interest in proactive measures to protecting these investments, I hope we'll see more trends toward preventative maintenance.