Cold Is Not Fun

Your Eichler radiant heat deserves a timely check-up to avoid winter heating hardship
Fridays on the Homefront
No one who is lucky enough to own a beautiful home like this Eichler wants to brave the elements when they're inside it. What's more, with Eichler radiant heating, there are few qualified technicians around the Bay to help. Heating professionals advise to keep your Eichler's radiant heat in tip-top shape—year round. Photo: Sabrina Huang
Fridays on the Homefront
Today's high-efficiency boilers (right) need much less tuning than the Eichlers' original A-O Smith model (left).
Fridays on the Homefront
Lance Eastman of Bay Area Plumbing & Heating. Photo: Jonathan Braun

Seems like you can't watch the news or open a newspaper or link these days without seeing some unfortunate homeowner having to do without basic needs—like shelter, clean water, or heat.

Blame climate change, blame the 24-hour news cycle, whatever, but one thing is certain: no one who is lucky enough to own a home wants to brave the elements when they're inside it.

Of course, heating system failure is not the same as being struck by a hurricane—but why invite comparison?

When you own a home with heat, you feel secure—until the heat doesn't work. And with Eichler radiant heating, there are fewer qualified technicians around the Bay to help warm your shelter. And in the winter, they do get busy.

"Everyone seems to call all at once in November and December," says Mike LaChance of South Bay-based LaChance's Radiant Heating, one of three veterans in radiant heat repair and maintenance to weigh in on the topic. Acknowledging occasional backups of several weeks in the winter, LaChance admitted, "There are times when people just have to wait."

Some radiant systems survive years without regular annual inspection, experts admit—but why take the chance? When the weather turns—as it has shown signs of lately in California—people go to crank up their basic necessity and are sometimes disappointed.

"That really happens around Halloween," notes Lance Eastman, president/owner of Bay Area Plumbing & Heating, based in San Carlos. Expressing an industry-wide refrain, he stressed the importance of non-emergency service calls.

"You want to do that in the late summer," advises Eastman. "Really, any time's a good time except the dead of winter, because then our schedules are full."

"Wait, what? I have to wait to be warm in my own home?" So cries many the owner of a radiant-heated home who relies on a vintage system untended all the way into the first cold snap.