Ceiling and walls radiant heating system from 1968

4 Replies

Bought a rehab in a mountain area and when I purchased it we didn't think it had a heating system, only the fireplace. Yesterday, the old owner stopped by to look at the place and talked to my contractor. He informed them that the house does have a heating system. It has wall and ceiling radiant heat. I've never heard of this before. I knew about radiant floors but had no idea this style of heating existed. 

Does anyone on here have and use this type of heating? We now know what the blank switch panels were used for that are above the regular light switches. I'm trying to find out who I can call to have the system checked out to make sure it's still safe. Also, with the cost of electricity now is it even worth trying to get the system up and running?

Any help and info is greatly appreciated.

@Steve Graves
I've been in the HVAC business for a long time. I have run across a few of the electric radiant heat systems you are describing but non of them have ever been functional by the time I was brought in to work on the houses. Apparently these systems were being installed back in the day prior to the use of drywall. Metal mesh was being attached to the studs and then plastered over to create the finished walls and ceilings. The electric radiant heat was another metal mesh that was attached to the plaster mesh and then the whole assembly was buried in about an inch of plaster. When it worked it would warm the entire surface of the wall or ceiling.

The problem with those systems was that no one would know they were there. Anytime a hole needed to be cut in the wall for a repair or remodeling project the heating system was destroyed. In addition the plaster itself was a lot like concrete and eventually the chemicals in it would eat through the heating mesh or wiring connections.

There are newer modern electric radiant systems that I have seen but have no personal experience with. I believe those systems are only designed to be installed below tile flooring on a small scale. There may be others on this forum who can give more info on that.

I have radiant ceiling heat in a few of my properties. They were the in-thing for a few years, but are horribly inefficient. Radiant ceiling heat that I have seen has wires sandwiched between two pieces of sheet rock. The wires run back and forth the full length of the ceiling and are about four inches apart, so ceiling repairs are tricky. If the wires get cut in the ceiling, baseboard heaters usually get installed rather than trying to fix the broken wires.

@Tom W.

If you're in the HVAC industry then that's good enough for me to go ahead with my original plan and install propane wall heaters. Sounds like it's not worth trying to get the old radiant system up and running, if it's even possible to do that. 

Thanks for the info, greatly appreciated.

@Michael Tierney

I've been reading up on them and yes, that's what I've found, they're very inefficient and electricity in the area is expensive. If I do any wall or ceiling repairs at least now I know to be careful with how it's done.

Thanks for the info, greatly appreciated.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here