Operational Guide For Your Boiler And Radiant Panel Heating System

The purpose of this checklist is to assist the homeowner in safe and efficient operation of their hydronic radiant heating system. When followed, these procedures will insure many years of proper and safe operation of the system. Note: It is recommended you perform these procedures prior to operating the system in the winter and twice during the summer. These procedures should be performed with a "cold" system only. Ensure the heating system has not been operating for a minimum of "8 hours".

FAILURE TO OPERATE THE SYSTEM FOR LONG
PERIODS OF TIME MAY RESULT IN EQUIPMENT DAMAGE.


Check the following before operating the system:
  • System Pressure
  • Pressure Relief Valve
  • System Pumps
  • Condition of the Boiler
  • Pilot Light
  • Boiler Start-up and Check Out
  • Comments about Boiler Operation
  • Comments about individual room balancing
  • Final Comments about Owner Responsibility

System Pressure: The system pressure should be 10-20 PSI whether or not the system is operating. If your system does not contain a pressure gauge, momentarily release a small amount of water from the system at an air vent or hose bib. The water should exit under pressure.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD
A RADIANT HEATING SYSTEM BE OPERATED WITH
LITTLE OR NO WATER PRESSURE.


Pressure Relief Valve: Lift the release handle on the pressure relief valve (see Figure 1 below). Clear water should be discharged from the system. Release the handle. The system should automatically refill to 10-20 PSI. Verify no water is leaking from the overflow tube after five minutes.

System Pumps: There are two types of system pumps installed on boilers: Oil lubricated and water lubricated assemblies. Water lubricated pumps, manufactured by Grundfos, Taco, Myson and B&G do not require oiling. Oil lubricated pumps, manufactured by B&G and Taco require oiling maintenance. Oiling is required in three places: bearing assembly, front, and rear motor mounts. Place 3-4 drops of 10-30W non-detergent motor oil into each cup per heating season (Note: this should be done once per year).

DO NOT OVER OIL THE PUMP OR DAMAGE MAY OCCUR.

Condition of the Boiler:
  • Check that there are no leaky or rusty fittings.
  • Clean all dirt, cob webs and other debris from around the unit. Maintain a minimum of 6" clearance from any combustible materials.
  • Remove the draft hood and observe the heat exchanger (see Figure 2). The heat exchanger should be free of debris, corrosion and soot. All heating fins should be straight with a clean surface. Using a flashlight, place the light near the bottom of the boiler burner. When looking through the heat exchanger from the top of the boiler, you should be able to observe the light. If the heat exchanger does not meet the above criteria, call your serviceperson and replace the draft hood.

    A CLOGGED OR WARPED HEAT EXCHANGER
    WILL RESULT IN A HAZARDOUS CONDITION DUE
    TO OVERHEATING, FIRE AND POSSIBLE
    CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING.


    Note: Figure 2 is for boilers with a copper heat exchanger: A.O. Smith, Raypack, Teledyne Laars and Lochinvar. Cast iron boilers: Basmore, Bryan, Penn, Thermokit, Racon, Weil/McClain do not have finned heat exchangers.

    Make sure you check the boiler jacket for signs of rust, discoloration and hot spots.

    Boiler Start-Up and Checkout:
    1. Remove the power cord or turn off the main power switch located on the wall.
    2. Set the room thermostat to a temperature higher than the indoor air temperature.
    3. Plug in the power cord or turn on the main power switch. The pump should operate, and the boiler main burner should light.
    4. Set the room thermostat to a temperature below the indoor air temperature. The pump and boiler burner should turn off.
    5. Set the thermostat to the desired room temperature. The system will automatically turn on when the room temperature is below the desired setting. For single thermostat homes, best operation of the radiant heating system will be obtained when the thermostat is set at a constant temperature, for example, 68 F, and not turned on and off. If your boiler size allows faster heat-up of the concrete slab, an automatic setback thermostat can be used for additional fuel savings. If an automatic setback thermostat is used, do not set the temperature back more than 5 F for any period.

    Comments about Boiler Operation:
    1. When the system is operating, it should operate quietly. There shouldn't be any excessive water, air, or banging noises from the boiler.
    2. When the main burner ignites, the flame should remain within the firebox. EXCESSIVE FLAME ROLL OUT CREATES A DANGEROUS CONDITION.
    3. When the main burner is firing, the flame should be blue in color. This indicates a proper gas to oxygen ratio and complete combustion. If the flame appears yellow in color, call your local gas company.


    Comments About Individual Room Balancing: In radiant heated homes, the system is designed to maintain an even temperature throughout the house. All areas should be comfortable and evenly heated. One or two sets of balance valves located in a closet or boiler room are designed to reduce heat in one area while providing additional heat to another area. The balance valves are located on the return manifold. When using these valves, extreme care must be taken not to damage the head of the valve.

    Loosen the retaining nut before attempting to adjust the balance valve. Insert a large screwdriver and rotate the valve either to the right or to the left. Rotating the valve 90 in either direction shuts off the water flow to that area. To balance a room, rotate the valve less than 90. For example, if you rotated the valve 45, you would reduce the water flow to that area by half (see Figure 3 below).

    Allow a complete day for system reaction to determine if the balancing was successful. On manifolds which are not labeled, a process of trial-and-error may require several repetitions before successfully balancing the home. IMPROPER BALANCING WILL RESULT IN GREATER ENERGY USE AND SYSTEM INEFFICIENCY. During normal operation, all the balance valves should be fully open.
    Final Comments About Owner Responsibility: Almost any floor covering is acceptable over a radiant heated concrete slab. This includes but is not limited to: linoleum, wood, ceramic, vinyl, tile and carpet. When installing carpeting it is imperative you use a proper radiant heat pad because of the insulation effects. Before any floor material is used in the radiant heated home, ANDERSON RADIANT HEATING recommends you check with the manufacturer about product compatibility.

    As a minimum requirement, the manufacturer should guarantee it's product against deterioration and discoloration for a period of five years. ANDERSON RADIANT HEATING has observed discoloration in some products, within a five year period, when used with radiant heat. Contact us for a recommendation on acceptable floor coverings.

    NEVER REPLACE ANY FLOOR COVERING
    IN A RADIANT HEATED HOME WITHOUT OBTAINING
    A PRESSURE TEST/INSPECTION OF
    THE CONCEALED TUBING SYSTEM.


    There have been too many cases where recently installed floors were removed after being placed over a leaking radiant panel system because 90% of the leaks are concealed by leaking downward. In other words, most leaks are not visible so why take the chance? Get your system checked!

    Proper maintenance of the system pressure is the most important aspect of maintaining a safe and efficient radiant heating system. As previously stated, the system pressure should be 10-20 PSI whether or not it is operating. Monitor the pressure weekly during the heating season and monthly during the non-heating system. If the pressure falls below 10 PSI, call your serviceperson.

    ANDERSON RADIANT HEATING assumes no responsibility for equipment failure when following these procedures -- they are provided as information only. Please call or e-mail us if you have any questions or need help with your specific system.

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    ANDERSON RADIANT HEATING
    520 East McGlincy Lane, Suite 16
    Campbell, CA  95008
    Phone: (408) 378-3868
    Fax: (408) 559-0818

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