How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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How does a hydronic heating system work?
Saturday, August 18, 2018
The principle of hydronic heat is simple. A hot liquid, usually water, is circulated continuously through piping to transfer heat to the air of a home. A sophisticated system that utilizes zig-zag loops of plastic tubing running under the floor to make the floor surface itself into a radiant heating panel is used in colder climates than ours. Also, old-fashioned radiators and baseboard heaters are an earlier version of hydronic heat technology.
But the type that we have in our North Central Florida area utilizes the hot water created in the home’s water heater. It is piped into a cluster of finned pipes in a box placed above, or as integral part of, an air conditioning air handler (indoor unit) and in-line with the air flow into the ducts and registers around the home. An electronic solenoid valve opens when the thermostat requests heat to start the flow of hot water to heat the piping and warm the air flow.
Here’s how one manufacturer describes the system:
“Water from your hot water source is circulated through the coil unit while the central air system blows air through it. The air temperature is raised by 30˚ to 60˚ F while the water’s temperature is lowered about 15˚ to 30˚ F. The warmed air is delivered to your home and the water is returned to the source to be reheated.”
Because the water is recirculated, the system does not increase water usage. The water heater is typically natural gas and a larger unit than normally required for a home without a hydronic heating system.
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To learn more about heating and air conditioning systems, see these other blog posts:
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