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What Is Required by Hydronic Manufacturers and What Installers Actually Do

Basic Problem

All the manufacturers of modern high-efficiency boilers and hydronic heating equipment require annual maintenance to assure maximum boiler efficiency, reliability, prevent failure and maintain the equipment warranty.

Most Hydronic Heating and Radiant Heating installers have no experience in maintenance or any interest in maintenance. They choose the $10,000 to $40,000 install over the $200 to $300 annual maintenance. Most do not have a service department. They do not install with maintenance or service in mind. Because they are not financially motivated and have no service department they do not inform the homeowner of the crucial need for annual maintenance. Mostly they take home the installation guide as they regard it is a dangerous document in the hands of the homeowner. Who would discover the boiler was installed incorrectly, or that it required maintenance?

For systems that are not maintained the problems begin at five to eight years as the components begin to age, and the boiler starts running inefficiently. At this point the damage and failure of components have already set in.

Installers often install systems that lack isolation valves, unions, or control systems that would allow regular maintenance to be performed. These valves, purge valves, unions, and controls are clearly called for in the manufacturer's installation instructions, and also in the plumbing and mechanical codes.

As a hydronic maintenance and repair company we very often have to retrofit these basic items to hydronic systems to enable us to repair or maintain the equipment. This is an expensive pill to swallow for the homeowner who has already invested a large amount of money in their heating system.

Many systems are installed contrary to the manufacturers written installation instructions and piping drawings. It is difficult for us to educate an owner on how or why the system is not installed correctly. Hopefully this summary can explain the basics required to have and maintain a good system.

Hydronic systems are fluid-filled, pressurized systems with many moving parts. They are very similar to owning or maintaining a car. If you don’t regularly do maintenance your system will surely fail.


Maintenance Lochinvar “The boiler should be inspected annually by a qualified service technician. In addition, maintenance and care of the boiler designated in table 12A and explained on the following pages must be performed to assure maximum boiler efficiency and reliability. Failure to service and maintain the boiler could result in equipment failure” ( similar statements from Heat Transfer Products, Triangle Tube including pages of procedures to be performed annually). If your boiler fails the manufacturer may refuse the warranty due to lack of maintenance. Mostly ignored by the installing contractor.

Zone values, hydronic installation


Lochinvar: “It is recommended that all near boiler piping systems utilize Primary Secondary configurations as shown in Fig 6-3 through 6-9. The use of other boiler piping configurations could result in improper building and system flow, and poor system performance. ( similar at HTP and Triangle Tube ). The use of other piping configurations will result in poor performance and problems that we deal with all the time. This installation recommendation is ignored 60% of the time.


“Install unions for easy removal of the Prestige Boiler from the system piping” California Code 609.5

“Unions shall be installed in the water supply piping not more than twelve inches of the regulating equipment that requires service by removal or replacement in a manner that will facilitate removal” Mostly ignored by installing contractors. If we have to remove the boiler to make a repair we have to cut them out. Which costs more money.

Unions for triangle tubes

Unions allow a piece of equipment to be easily disconnected with two wrenches.

Without unions the pipes have to be cut with a saw.


HTP “ install purge and balance valves or shut off valve and drain (same things) on system return lines to purge air out of each zone”  90% of installers miss out these valves which makes it impossible to isolate and purge the systems

Shut off valveThis simple valve isolates a boiler
for maintenance, and the hose
connection allows the purging of
air from the system

Probable cost to a new system $50 for two


California Code 763. All low pressure boilers shall be equipped with a pressure gauge as required by code. All water boilers shall be equipped with a thermometer to indicate temperature condition at or near the boiler. Absolutely the first things we look at for in maintenance or repair – 50% of installations omit the temperature pressure gauge ( and it usually comes in the box with the boiler ).

Temperature pressure gauge

This type of Temperature & Pressure gauge
is the type supplied by many manufacturers
in the boiler packaging. It is often omitted
by the installer.


Code required – prevents boiler water from contaminating the potable drinking water –

Often omitted by installers – inspectors don’t catch this.


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