Original Eichler Radiant Heat
Eichlers were originally built with a copper tubing radiant heating that ran hot water through a dedicated boiler located next to the main water heater either installed in the garage or the side of the house.
Although it can be argued that this type of heating system is very inefficient, due to all the energy required to first heat a huge concrete slab before feeling the heat within the home, it is a desirable feature within a home to an Eichler purist. The other issue is that the heating control becomes more of an on/off switch, so it's either super hot or cold, and also takes a couple hours to get going.
Fixing Eichler Radiant Heating
Is there is a problem, thermal imaging devices can be used to detect the location of the leak, then floor needs to be taken up, concrete broken up, tubing repaired, then finally filled back with concrete.
Replacing Eichler Radiant Heating
If you want to replace the system with a modern heating product, there are several options you have that offer a major improvement:
- Pex plumbing instead of copper - its easier to install and is the new proven product heating product
- Electric radiant - easier to install, but may require additional breakers and lines run throughout heating zones
- Installing the new heating elements closer to the finished surface
Although it seems quite labor-intensive to carve out a channel throughout your home, its better than digging up the entire foundation, right? The goal is to gain efficiency by moving the heating elements closer to the finished flooring, and also install a solution that doesn't raise the finished floor higher than the original height. Water heating is more efficient than electric, but requires more work for installation. Some systems tap into your existing water heater using heat exchangers, but if your tank isn't large enough, you can opt for a dedicated unit.
We've seen original heating systems and boilers still in perfect operation, but many have been abandoned long ago after the first leak detected. Our radiant system was abandoned for a modern central HVAC system which seemed pretty practical seeing how it will heat AND cool. Ducts were ran on the roof to each room, with a new furnace next to the water heater, and condenser on the side of the house.