Three Hydronic Radiant Heating Myths

Myth #1: It’s bad for people with heart conditions

Here’s what you’ll hear. “Your feet determine your body temperature, just like a thermostat. If the blood leaves your brain and upper torso to go to your feet (to cool them off), you will have less blood flowing to your heart and brain and this will lead to a heart attack or a stroke, which will, of course, kill you where you stand.”

And then you’ll hear this one.

“People with radiant floor heating begin to have trouble with their legs. They get aches and pains and phlebitis, that inflammation of the veins that got to Richard Nixon shortly after John Dean did.”

I usually hear these claims coming from people who are in the business of selling either scorched air systems or radiators. People who sell radiators often consider people who sell radiant heat to be their competitors. One fellow from Europe recently told me that all the people in his country who had radiant heat now suffered from leg ailments to such an extent that contractors were no longer putting it in. The government was thinking about getting involved, but had not yet made a decision on this. If I haven’t seen anything about this on TV or in the newspapers it’s only because the government doesn’t want to panic anyone. I should be very careful with what I tell people, though. I’m liable to be responsible for making millions of people quite ill.

This guy sold radiators, of course.

Now why would he lie to me?

Go ask the radiant tubing manufacturers how much tubing they’re selling to the folks in Europe. The answer is “Plenty!” Hey, somebody’s fibbing.

The truth is there is no medical evidence for any of these stories, but it sure helps your marketing program if you’re selling something other than hydronic radiant heat. Radiant heat isn’t going to give you a heart attack, a stroke, or poor circulation in your legs. Don’t let them scare you. This stuff has been around for a long, long time.

But then again, I suppose they could claim that the mortality rate of people who have hydronic radiant heat is a shocking one hundred percent!

They all die, don’t they? Some just take longer than others.


Myth #2: Animals don’t like it

My friend Mark Eatherton, Colorado Madman, was once left alone with a customer’s new home and their two dogs, both of them of the Labrador Retriever persuasion. The woman asked Mark and his fellow workers if they would kindly put the dogs in the garage when they were through working. At that point, the dogs in question were still roaming through the house.

Mark started up the new radiant system and went about the usiness of checking everything out to make sure all was well. When he was done, he tried to get the dogs to leave the house for the garage. Now at this point in the story, it’s important for me to explain that these dogs had a reputation for being very user friendly. We’re talking Labs here, not Dobermans or pit bulls. Anyway, Mark approached the hounds and made the usual human-to-doggie sounds that will get a positive response from a good dog most of the time. Not this time, though. The dogs just snarled at him. He tried again. They bared their fangs. There was no way they were going to leave that warm floor for a cold garage. Try as he might, Mark could not get them to budge. He finally gave up and left them in bliss on their new, warm floor.

Hydronic radiant heat, you see, is something worth growling for.


Myth #3: It costs too much

No it doesn’t. In fact, it pays for itself in fuel savings. The only choice the homeowner really has is whether he would like to pay for the system as a part of the mortgage, or as a part of the fuel bill. The advantage of paying for it through the mortgage is that a mortgage eventually comes to an end. Fuel bills never end. Examine the difference in cost between a hydronic radiant system and a scorched air system because that’s what you’re really selling – the difference in cost, not the whole cost. The difference isn’t much when you figure it out over the life of the mortgage. Those folks will pay far more for basic cable TV than they will for that radiant system. And when you consider the fuel savings, you realize that if they don’t go for the hydronic radiant system, it will be just like signing the contract for a new car, getting the payment book, and then not picking up the car!

The truth is everyone buys hydronic radiant heating when they buy a house and turn on the heat. Some folks just never get to enjoy it.


Want to learn more? Check out Hydronic Radiant Heating: A Practical Guide for the Nonengineer Installer.


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