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  1. #1
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    Default Ceiling radiant heater

    Did an old house today with some type of heating system that is mounted into the ceiling. Nobody knew anything about it other than it was what they were using to heat the house. There was too much insulation in the attic for me to get a look at it and my only pic of the thermostat did not turn out so I know very little. There were individual controls in each room and the ceiling was getting up to abour 85 degrees when set at high. The ceilings were sheetrock and I could not tell if there were heat strips or how they were set up when in the attic.

    Any advice as to what type of system and what types of issues may be present? Should I just recommend having it evaluated by an HVAC person that knows something about these systems? They seemed to be functional, but I have no clue as to what to look for in temps or whether they can be covered in insulation etc.

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  2. #2
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Bombardiere View Post
    Did an old house today with some type of heating system that is mounted into the ceiling. Nobody knew anything about it other than it was what they were using to heat the house. There was too much insulation in the attic for me to get a look at it and my only pic of the thermostat did not turn out so I know very little. There were individual controls in each room and the ceiling was getting up to abour 85 degrees when set at high. The ceilings were sheetrock and I could not tell if there were heat strips or how they were set up when in the attic.

    Any advice as to what type of system and what types of issues may be present? Should I just recommend having it evaluated by an HVAC person that knows something about these systems? They seemed to be functional, but I have no clue as to what to look for in temps or whether they can be covered in insulation etc.
    Put an Infrared Camera on it...


    Best

    Ron

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    It is most likely heating wires adhered to, and embedded in gypsum to, the backside of the gypsum board ceiling.

    *NEVER* put holes, hooks (such as swag hooks) or mount anything to the ceiling as you could easily break a heating wire, which would make that entire ceiling no longer work, besides energizing whatever metal was put through the hole.

    Look at the infrared photos Ron posted for the floor and think of that, minus the toilet, of course, as though it was the ceiling.

    You can use your tick tracer and check them (usually works) by turning the thermostat to on and holding your tick tracer near the ceiling. Depending on the sensitivity of your tic tracer, it will either go off everywhere in the room, or you might be able to trace the wires out.

    That is one good case where an infrared camera is handy: take it out, take a photo of the ceiling, you will see it 'On', and you will document (for your client's knowledge and your protection) that it 'was working' at the time of the inspection.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Oklahoma City
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    Default Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    Nice, but can't do that. Just a Poboy inspector. Not much demand yet around these parts for this. Definately have been thinking about it though. Not to get off subject, but is it paying for itself?

    Know anything about the sytem I described?

    If it weren't for lawyers, we would never need them.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Bombardiere View Post
    Know anything about the sytem I described?

    That is what my post was about ... radiant ceilings.

    Go back and re-read my post, ignore the little bit about the infrared camera, the rest of my post was about that system.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    Jerry, I typed that before your post was visible to me. Thank you.

    If it weren't for lawyers, we would never need them.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    Oops ... sorry.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
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    Default Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    Very gentle heat. People that I have talked to love them. Individual room control, no drafts. Most of the problems seem to be with the thermostats from what I can tell. Hard to test without an infrared thermeter.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  9. #9
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    You can rent a camera cheap just for the day. Or buy the week.
    Look around and see if there is a place that will rent one to you. you could go back to the people you inspected the home for and ask them if the would like you to IR that ceiling add the rental fees to your time...

    Show them the Images I posted. The IR will help the have a ground zero to start from and the something to compare to some time down the road.

    Best

    Ron


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
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    Default Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    With radiant heating cable you are likely to have ghosting and/or fine cracks in plaster where the cables are placed. The radiant heat only heats what it hits. So under tables and chairs your legs may feel cooler.

    You can also get a water mister and spray the ceiling, if the cable is working you will see the water dry quicker where the cables are.

    A number of years ago there were recalls on several radiant panels, but if this is an older house its most likely a continuous cable run rather than panels.

    Might be wise to check with home insurer to see if they have any caveats re coverage.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Zeeland Michigan
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    143

    Smile Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    I use my Raytek miniTemp thermometer. Cheap and easy.

    If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest
    Benjamin Franklin

  12. #12
    Bruce Thomas's Avatar
    Bruce Thomas Guest

    Default Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    Read Jerry's post but here is what it looks like. It's imbeded in the ceiling plaster and you can't see it from the attic.

    Hope that helps
    Bruce

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  13. #13
    Blair Pruitt's Avatar
    Blair Pruitt Guest

    Default Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    I see radiant ceiling heaters in some townhouses and condos from the 70s. As mentioned earlier, an infra-red thermometer will quickly determine if the heaters are functioning.

    The ceiling systems I encounter commonly are inoperative in one or more rooms. Repair is difficult and the usual fix is to install in-wall or baseboard heaters.

    I would advise the client that a ceiling radiant heater is not comfortable, which is opposite of an earlier comment. As with any radiant heating system, objects are heated, not air. The objects closest to the source of heat are heads, and the objects farthest away are feet. People radiate much of the heat they produce from their heads, and are more comfortable when their feet are warm and their heads are cool. That's why a floor radiant heating system is more comfortable.

    I believe the comfort factor, along with being difficult to repair, are why the ceiling radiant system didn't endure.


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Charlotte NC
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    2,303

    Default Re: Ceiling radiant heater

    My sisters house had ceiling radiant heat, everyone hatted it. Dried out your nose and mouth, eyes felt like sand was in them. Very dry air!


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