Couple on laptop researching why their in floor heating isn't working

Eek – cold floors!

Your heated floors are highly durable and built to last, but, like all heating systems, they may malfunction and stop working properly. At this moment, you’re probably thinking, is in-floor heating worth it?

Not to fear! If this happens, it’s best to troubleshoot common underfloor heating issues so you can quickly get back to toasty warm feet as well as floors that provide consistent, efficient heat.

Why Is Your In Floor Heating Not Working?

The trouble with your radiant in-floor heating system will depend on the kind of system you have.

Most households have either an electric floor heating system or a hydronic radiant system. Electric systems heat up cables under your floor to heat your home, while hydronic systems send hot water through a heating coil installed beneath your floor.

Here are the most typical radiant heat problems we see:

1. Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

If you are experiencing a tripped circuit breaker, the root cause may be the electrical box. It’s likely that your heating system trips because there isn’t enough electrical power to support the system. To determine if you have the correct circuit breaker type and rating required, check the installation manual. It will state the electrical power needed for your system.

However, radiant floors don’t require a lot of electrical power, so faulty wiring may be to blame. As this is an electrical project you shouldn’t attempt on your own, call a licensed electrician to perform resistance tests and safely repair your system.

Overloaded Circuit

Overheated thermostats, frequent power failures, and malfunctioning hot tubs are signs of breakers tripping due to circuit overload. As a result, you should consider upgrading your electrical panel. Or, in some cases, if you have an older home, for example, it may make the most sense to install a dedicated circuit for your heated floors. Speak with an electrician to discuss your options.

2. Faulty Wall Thermostat

Many radiant floor heating issues stem from the thermostat—thankfully, this is one of the easiest problems to fix.

To establish if your thermostat is the culprit, first make sure power is reaching the unit. How? Use a non-contact voltage tester to identify if there is voltage present. If there is none, head to the service panel and look for a blown fuse. Then, simply replace the fuse or reset the breaker to solve the problem.

If you see that you do have power at the thermostat, use the same non-contact voltage tester to check for voltage at the splice box (for an electrical system) or the zone valve (for a hydronic system). No power at these locations means that your thermostat is broken, and you need to purchase a new one.

Before rushing to the store, take a moment to turn off the circuit breaker and grab a screwdriver because it’s best to remove your old thermostat and bring it with you. (That way, you can buy an exact replacement!) To accomplish this, detach the cover and loosen all the screws. Next, carefully slip out the wires to fully disconnect the unit from the wall.

Note: If you have a programmable thermostat, it may come with a floor sensor that prevents your heated floors from reaching an undesirably high temperature. These sensors can fail and require repair. If so, an error warning on the thermostat display screen should appear.

3. Damaged Heated Floor Mat Or Cables

It’s a rare occurrence, but radiant heating cables or heated mats in an electrical system can become damaged. This might happen during the installation process or if something heavy is dropped on the floor. Cracked tiles can also cause floor heating systems to stop functioning.

Locating the defective heating cable or heating mat is very difficult. The heating element is either sandwiched between the subfloor and finished floor covering or installed beneath rough flooring. Call a Calgary-based radiant floor technician to inspect the entire floor and gain access to the heating cable or electric mat that is causing the problem.

4. Damaged Zone Valves

A hydronic radiant system is dependent on several valves that regulate the circulation and temperature of the water flowing through the pipes. If these valves break or bend, it will impact the performance of your heated floor.

Another problem specific to hydronic systems is something called an airlock. Essentially, air bubbles can form in the pipe leading from the boiler system to the heating coil, causing potential blockages that don’t allow warm water to flow through the system.

5. Lack Of Insulation

If you find your floors don’t produce adequate heat or take a long time to heat up, it may be due to a lack of insulation.

The heat in the cables (or pipes) will radiate in all directions. Proper insulation redirects the heat and sends it to your floor instead of the space below it!

Get Your Radiant Heating System Working Properly Again (Safely!)

Contact the specialists at Sun Solar and Electrical for radiant heating repairs in Calgary. We know how radiant floor heating systems work and what to do when they break. Our certified electricians will assess your heated floor problems and safely conduct any repairs following Alberta’s electrical code. We’ll also give you tips on how to maintain your heating systems and save on electricity this winter.

Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the pros of in floor heating systems again, including significant energy savings and warm toes!