Seeking Advice on Radiators in Cement Slab Construction

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by PlatonicSolid, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. PlatonicSolid

    PlatonicSolid New Member

    Mar 29, 2009
    Hi all, first post here.

    My girlfriend has a bid on a house here in CT, but I'm concerned about the (no basement) slab construction with regard to the forced hot water heating system. The house is 1950s construction - Oil furnace - with radiators throughout except the living room, which has had the radiator replaced with a baseboard. It appears that all the copper pipes are either in or under the cement slab.

    This sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. Won't the copper pipes corrode and leak? And if they do, isn't it possible that they could leak and you wouldn't even know it?

    Also, I notice this house used to have a radiator in the kitchen, but it was removed leaving the one living room baseboard to heat the living room, kitchen, hallway and bathroom. This 1080 sq.ft. house has only one zone. The thermostat is located in the hallway on the end of the wall that separates the living room from the kitchen. If the bedroom doors were closed, I would imagine that they would get quite warm while the single living room baseboard reaches the desired temp.

    Since I see no reasonable way of running new lines in the cement floor, if we want to add a baseboard to the kitchen and a small baseboard in the bathroom, can I run the plumbing up the walls - through the attic?

    Any advice / life experience appreciated.
  2. 99k

    99k Radon Contractor and Water Treatment

    Aug 16, 2008
    Contractor of Radon Reduction, Testing, and Water
    Fairfield Co.,Connecticut
    I suspect the copper lines are not in direct contact with the cement or you would encounter a tremendous heat loss and probably have an asbestos jacket around them. Is this a ranch or 2-story? If it is a ranch, you do not want to run a heating pipe in an unheated space since there is a high liklihood the pipe will freeze.
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  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    Wow, no basement? I didnt' know they were doing slab on grade in the northeast, especially in the 50's. Where is the furnace?
  5. PlatonicSolid

    PlatonicSolid New Member

    Mar 29, 2009
    All I can see of the copper lines is what comes up through the cement. I didn't think to look for any jacket material. It is a 1 story ranch with a large closet sized room for the furnace. Oil tank is outside. Attic is insulated / partially finished, but is only useful for storage as the height at the center is 5' 8".
  6. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Jul 30, 2008
    Tech. Instructor
    S. Maine
    Pretty rare, but not all that uncommon. Many houses were piped with in slab copper in the 50's. Most have long since been re-worked because, just as you suspect, the pipes will eventually corrode through. Sometimes you can run continuous baseboard aroud the house, although it looks like crap and makes putting furniture against the wall a pain. Several times we have scrapped the hydronic system alltogether and install a horizontal gas fired furnace in the attic space with ceiling registers. Ends up being a pretty good install because at that point you can do A\C at the same time. Another possibility is to keep the boiler and install a hydro-coil in the attic with ductwork.
  7. PlatonicSolid

    PlatonicSolid New Member

    Mar 29, 2009
    Interesting, I like the gas furnace in the attic solution. Thank you.

    I've talked my girlfriend out of buying this house as the heating issue is a real problem and after doing some detective work it appears this house is right next to a large parcel of wetland. Combine the poor drainage characteristics of this property with the adjacent wetlands and slab construction and you have a recipe for terminal dampness, mold, and an ideal environment for termites.
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