Joint of No Return - Page 4

Are Eichler's surviving radiant heat systems destined to be 'goners'?
Joint of No Return
In this home, Big Blue Hydronics of the East Bay maps out where the new radiant lines will run for this replacement install. A pipe path will soon be grooved into the slab.


So, what does one do after trying everything? It's then time to explore replacing that now-defunct radiant heating system.

The most common replacement systems today are wall and ceiling mini-splits; low-profile ducting on the ceiling (such as the Unico System); and wall radiators and baseboard heaters, which can work off of the existing radiant boiler. Each has its pros and cons.

But there's nothing like in-floor radiant heat, both for comfort and aesthetics. For an Eichler owner, installing a new one can feel like having a new lease on life. Just ask X-100 owner Marty Arbunich.

"We were at that crossroads in 2005—rotted steel piping," he recalls. "We decided to go for re-grooving the slab and installing PEX tubing—a brand-new radiant system."

Since the house was empty at the time, it was an ideal opportunity to take on the replacement project. But the re-grooving phase was still quite messy.

"In the aftermath, I don't regret the decision one bit," Arbunich recalls. "The X-100 is an iconic Eichler, and it would just not be the same without radiant heat. Lots of other Eichlers deserve that special care too."

"With technology being the way it is today, it's easy to put new radiant heat in," adds Mike LaChance. A replacement in-floor radiant system, he says, can be installed in a month. "After a contractor removes all the flooring, we're usually in and out in two to three weeks."

Replacement radiant systems today are commonly comprised of PEX tubing, a flexible polyethylene plastic. "The new PEX we use has a 25-year warranty, and is supposed to last like 100 years," LaChance says.

Joint of No Return
Using PEX tubing, this Eichler's radiant is being extended into a new addition by the LaChance crew.


To keep your existing radiant heating system at the top of its game, all our radiant experts recommend regular inspections and routine maintenance.

"Eichler homeowners should have pressure tests each year," advises LaChance. "If not for inspecting the boiler, then at least for checking to make sure the pipes in the slab are holding water. A good 24-hour pressure test, even a 20-minute pressure test, helps."

And before installing new flooring or initiating a remodel, a radiant inspection is imperative.

Face it, radiant heating—like mahogany paneling, expansive panels of glass, and the atrium—is what makes an Eichler an Eichler. Many homeowners rate radiant heat as one of the top three joys of Eichler living. You'll get no argument from us about that.


Photography: Ernie Braun, David Toerge, Mike Gordon, Jonathan Braun, Marcela Gara; and courtesy LaChance's Radiant Heating, American Leak Detection, Big Blue Hydronics

  Joint of No Return
At work with Lance Eastman of Bay Area Plumbing & Heating.


American Leak Detection
Entire Bay Area •

Bay Area Plumbing & Heating
Peninsula & South Bay •

Big Blue Hydronics
East Bay •

Hydrotech Radiant Heating
Marin & San Francisco •

LaChance's Radiant Heating
Peninsula & South Bay •

Lehmann Radiant Heating
Marin & San Francisco •

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