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Thread: radiant heat noise

  1. #1
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    Jun 2006
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    My nearly completed mountain home has a problem in the radiant heating system. When the system turns on, the whole zone makes a sounds that can only be described as what it would be like to stand in the middle of a bowl of Rice Crispies....snap, crackle, pop. This happens every time it heats up and cools down.

    The plumber who installed the system used standard 1/4 by 1 1/4 inch staples to attach it between the joists.

    One guy tells me that the plumber should have used special staples for radiant tubing and that noise is caused by expansion across the staples.

    Can someone give me some clues about this situation? At this point we'd have to take down the ceilings if we had to replace these staples.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    May 2006
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    The installer should have used a special heat resistant caulk on the grooves of the staple up heat transfer plates, in not=snap, crackle pop

  3. #3
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    Jun 2006
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    Thread Starter
    Thanks for the reply.
    He didn't use any transfer plates. Just stapled them to the sub-floor.

  4. #4
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    Feb 2004
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    Plates will improve the heat transmission so immensely you will be amazed. Careful what caulks, glues, sealants are used with PEX as it isn't compatible with some products. Check with manufacturer for approved sealants. The staples could cause friction wear on the PEX (aka major leaks at some future point).

    Is the tubing still accessible from below? If so, it's certainly not too late for permanent repairs. If it's covered up, well that means it's decision time. If visible and accessible, then there is no insulation beneath the PEX. No insulation will also reduce the ability to drive heat up through the subfloor. Remember, heat does NOT rise. The heat will radiate or conduct itself lazily to a path of least resistance. Heat does not rise without help. It must be guided with insulation, reflective surfaces and such to make it do it's job of heating the desired surfaces.
    Don't confuse me with facts, my mind is already made up.

  5. #5
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    Some forms of tubing used for radiant heating expand quite a bit. What you're hearing is the tubing rubbing across the staples as it "grows". The on and off cycles of hot water and then cooling off makes this situation as bad as it can get.
    The simplest solution to your problem is to have the control system and possibly some other mechanical items replaced or added at the boiler. You want to have a outdoor temperature reset control and needed associated items added. These items will only send water to your tubing that is just warm enough to maintain the temperature you have the thermostat set to.
    In a perfect world this fix and the correct settings on the controls will allow your house in all different temperatures to stay at a constant temperature without the on and off cycling and the noises you're now hearing.
    These changes will actually improve the comfort of your new heating system.
    Now let's hope your heating contractor knows what I'm talking about....... if not find one that does.
    Good luck.

  6. #6
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    Thread Starter
    Great!! Sounds like we're getting somewhere.

    Can you tell me what kinds of parts you're thinking about? The plumber will tell me that I'm cracked in the head if I don't give him some details. (He still thinks that this condition is normal and that we have to live with it)

  7. #7
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    Pex tubing makers usually have a plastic clip than gets nailed to the underfloor, not a regular metal staple. I wouldn't want PEX rubbing for years against a metal staple! I see leaks years down the road.

    Most radiant systems are constant circulation and the water temps are varied up and down slowly via a mixing valve. This prevents rapid expansion and contraction.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    The clips... http://www.pexheat.com/catalog/produ...roducts_id=339

    The plates... http://www.pexheat.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=20008_62

    The outdoor reset type will depend upon his supplier but as a pro he should know what it is and where it goes!
    The posts and comments made by me are in no way affiliated with any company or organization. They are simply my personal opinions.

  9. #9
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    Chris....... hate to say it but your plumber making the comment that it's normal tells me he's not the person you should be talking to to get the problem fixed. The noises are NOT normal and are a sign of an installation that possibly done using things that are not approved by the manufacturer of the tubing.
    I read where you said the ceiling is sealed so I didn't suggest a "fix" to the tubing situation.
    Like I said last night, you need to get in touch with a contractor that specializes in radiant heating systems. You can pre-screen them over the phone by explaining what problems you're having and listening for them to suggest possible solutions. My suggestion is to nicely end any conversation with people wanting to tear your ceilings apart.
    Understand that I'm not saying my suggestions are the only right ones. As I haven't seen your home and the heating system I would be a fool to assume I have all the answers. What I did was give you an answer that comes from almost 20 years of doing radiant heating and going in behind other contractors to fix what they called working as it should.
    Good luck.
    P.S. As for your plumber..... ask him if water hammer is a normal noise and if someone should have to live with it in a new home.

    [Edited by firecontrol on 06-29-2006 at 11:15 PM]

  10. #10
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    Aug 2002
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    manitowoc wisconsin
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    One of the largest benefits of radiant pex is how quiet they are.It is not normal by any means to have any noise in a radiant pex application.staple up or fins is not my choice for pex either.To bad you didn't put in gypcrete IMO.
    Take your time & do it right!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Thread Starter
    Thanks to all of you for your suggestions!

    Needless to say, I don't want to rip the ceiling off, but I told the plumber that if it were determined that it was the only fix he'd be paying to have the job done. He agreed to that because he thinks that the staples he used aren't the problem, it's the staple-up method in general that is the problem.

    I'll try to get a hold of another contractor took assess the situation and see what happens.

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