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Lehmann Radiant Heating warms Marin's Eichler homes with 75 years of local roots
Fridays on the Homefront
The Eichler Network welcomes Lehmann Radiant Heating and its owner, Jim Lehmann (pictured above), a new addition to our roster of preferred service companies. Lehmann Radiant Heating specializes in radiant heat and boiler maintenance, serving the Eichlers of Marin County and San Francisco. Photo: Mike Gordon
Fridays on the Homefront
Eichler Network's 'Home Maintenance Directory 2021'—coming in February 2021. It's where you'll meet more companies you can trust with your next home improvement project. For the current 2020 edition, click here. Photo: Sabrina Huang

Jim Lehmann not only has some of the deepest local roots of any home improvement service provider in Marin County, but he has the right approach for homeowners who want multiple options for improving their heating systems.

"I'm more of a fix-it guy than a ‘tear it out and sell you something you don't need,'" Lehmann says of two options for a radiant heat system diminished by leaking pipes.

These days Lehmann Radiant Heating is based in Lehmann's Terra Linda home-office, three-quarters of a century after being founded locally by his grandfather in 1945 as Lehmann Plumbing.

"My dad took over for my grandfather…and I took over for him, so yeah, third generation," Lehmann relates of the company's history in Marin. Born and raised here, Lehmann himself has worked on hundreds of Eichler homes since graduating from San Rafael High School.

"He was ahead of his time, Joseph Eichler," the plumber says with admiration. "The radiant heat is a great heating system. When it works, it's hard to beat."

Of course, some have aged worse than others, which is where Lehmann comes in. Generally, radiant systems fail either because of in-slab leaks or a failed boiler. When it's the former, repairs depend on the type of tubing and number of leaks.

"It's pretty rare that I find more than a couple [leaks], but if it's more than two or three, I'll recommend changing systems," says Lehmann of leaky copper-tubed systems. Steel tubing is more difficult to repair, so in those cases "you have to switch to alternative heating, like baseboards."

Replacing the entire radiant system with a new in-slab system is "doable but expensive," he explains, adding, "but it's great when it's done."

For a replacement system, "You can zone it, so you have better control," he said in contrast to the original radiant systems, which were designed to heat the entire house at one time. In essence, "The [original] Eichler home is a full-zone system."

If and when the boiler is the problem, once again Lehmann offers options in the form of two preferred replacement models.

"The Allied boiler would be a good base model, and the IBC would be a high-efficiency, high-end option," Lehmann explains. "With the high-efficiency [boiler], you can really save on your gas bill."

Lehmann strives to offer practical maintenance options for Eichler owners. "Around here, I'm known for keeping the old systems going," he says. "I can make systems run as well as they've been running for years."

Words to warm an Eichler owner's soul—not to mention the soles of their feet.

Lehmann Radiant Heating
Radiant Heat Maintenance
Serving Marin County & San Francisco