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Old 12-20-2009, 04:15 PM   #1
Dan White
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Big problem with floor heating under tile

Hi. Been awhile, but it's nice to have a resource where you know you'll get some good answers.

We have rebuilt out house, mostly new construction including a 9.5' x 18' master bathroom. We had a 2 zone electric heating system installed under our tile floor. One zone is an electric mat on one side of the floor, while the other adjoining zone covers the other side. I meant to take a photo, but the heating is only in the walking area, which is probably 9' by 10'. Both zones are controlled by the same thermostat. What I've found is that one zone works fine, and the other one doesn't work at all. The electician said both checked out OK before the tile install, but the wires are fragile.

The tile guys aren't used to heating systems, and I'm afraid they broke the wires. The floor tiles are from Porcelanosa, and are an imitation wood plank measuring about 2' long by about 6" wide. If we take up the floor to redo the broken zone, will the entire floor have to be taken up, or can the affected area be done? My concern is that he redone sections of floor won't match up level-wise with the rest of the floor. On the other hand, we have a free standing air tub on top of the tile I'd rather not have to move.

Anybody have any ideas what to do? My thought is also to hire somebody who knows what they are doing and let my contractor pay for it. I don't think I want his guys doing the work again.

Thanks!
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Old 12-20-2009, 04:37 PM   #2
Snets
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I would have someone who installs your brand mat/thermostat check the thermostat and check continuity with an ohm meter on the mat that is not working. Very simple to resolve if its a thermostat problem.

If the thermostat checks out and there is a break in continuity on the offending mat....that will be a much bigger job.

Many electric floor heating systems come with a "monitor" that you connect to the wires while installing the mat and the flooring above it. The device will sound an audible alarm if a wire is damaged during installation allowing the installer to stop and fix the problem before covering it up with tile. Do you remember the installer using this type of device? If no alarm is used, continuity should be checked with an ohm meter periodically during installation of the mat and the tile.

Hopefully, you have an electrical problem at the thermostat and not under the tile. Find that out first.
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Old 12-20-2009, 04:47 PM   #3
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How old an install are we talking about? If recent, then the contractor who installed should be involved. If you've got a general contractor, have them get the installers to trouble-shoot before ripping into the floor. The general contractor should contact the floor heat manufacturer for specific trouble shooting instructions to maintain warranties. May need input from electrician, tile installer, subfloor prep, etc... involved in the install.

If not recent or the contractor is long gone, the manufacturers recommendations should be followed. Many systems have very good warranties if everything was done according to the install instructions.
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Old 12-20-2009, 04:47 PM   #4
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First, please tell us the name of the heated floor manufacturer. Some manufacturers have a machine that you can rent that will find the break in an energized floor. When you say the electrician check at install and all was good. What kind of readings were you getting then? How close to the factory readings are those at install? Most manufacturers will say +/-5% are acceptable. Larger variances than that will indicate an already starting problem. Also, what are the ohms reading now? Can you confirmthat the second mat is connected correctly at the junction with the other mat and thermostat?
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Old 12-20-2009, 08:17 PM   #5
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as tileguy noted, it could be a simple electrical issue in the box behind the t'stat. shut off the breaker, pull the t'stat, look for a wirenut that popped loose from one of the mat connections. You should get a fairly uniform resistance (ohms) reading across the black and white for each mat.

assuming, that is, you have a conventional type of mat. do tell whatcha got there

good luck, don't shock yourself
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Old 12-22-2009, 06:21 PM   #6
Dan White
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Thanks for all the replies. It's a busy time of year for my business, so haven't been able to reply 'till now. A few notes:

1. Manufacturer is Laticrete. I was at the tile store where the sell Laticrete the other day and saw that there is supposed to be a monitor included in each box. I don't know if my contractor used the monitor.
2. This is new construction. The floor was completed in the late summer.
3. I have a general contractor who uses his own guys to do the tile install. I have generally found them to do things the wrong way, and thank God at least I knew enough from doing my own tile jobs to ask the right questions. In this case, I wondered to myself how they knew the wiring was OK when the work was going on, but I trusted they knew what they were doing.
4. The electrician has already replaced the tstat, which was showing a ground fault. The new tstat seems to work OK (other than 1 zone not heating), although it did go into ground fault once. I still don't live in the house, so haven't used the system much - only to test out. The electrician said the problem is in the floor. I didn't ask him what readings he got, but his diagnosis is a broken wire during install.
5. I have been hoping for something like what tileguy mentioned - a gizmo that can isolate the problem to a specific area.

I'll have to call Laticrete next. In general I should say that I have not talked to my contractor about this issue other than to say that part of the floor is not heating. I don't know for a fact that they did not use the monitor during tile install, but based on their other work I'm 95% sure they didn't even see it (probably left in the box). I am waiting for my contractor to provide me with some of the final costs for the house renovation before I hit him up with something like "redo my bathroom floor."

Thanks for any other feedback.
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Old 12-22-2009, 06:43 PM   #7
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Lucky for you, Laticrete is a stand up company and will help however they can with trouble shooting info. I'd get the contractor involved sooner rather than later so things don't drag out. Follow all Laticrete requirements for testing what you have, trouble-shooting and repairs for the best outcome. Hopefully you can locate the break, repair it and the contractor makes it right for you.
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Old 12-22-2009, 07:05 PM   #8
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I'm supposing the tile is already down. In that case you want to start with the connections at the thermostat/controller as others said. If that all checks ok, then you will need somebody with ,the where with all, to use one of these. http://www.powerprobe.com/powerprobe/ECT2000.html Should be able to locate an open circuit/break within a couple of tiles.
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Old 12-22-2009, 07:57 PM   #9
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One of the things the Suntouch instructions tell you to do is to take at LEAST 3 resistance readings. One when you open the box, one when you lay out the mats just prior to tiling, and one when you finish the tilework.

If you have those readings, you should be able to show that you now have little if any change, assuming you haven't chopped or sliced a wire.

If you borked the wire, then you should see a big shift in the resistance of the mat.

good luck!
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Old 12-22-2009, 10:27 PM   #10
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Big problem with floor heating under tile

If it is a Laticrete FloorHEAT installation and you have a problem please call:

Rick Carino
Laticrete Radiant Heat Coordinator/Tech. Serv. Rep.
1 203 393-0010 x 263
rwcarino@laticrete.com

or send me a PM with your phone number and I'll ask him to call you ..!

Henry
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Old 12-22-2009, 10:58 PM   #11
johnfrwhipple
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Floor mat failure

If the second zone had a short where the ground wire met the heating wire the thermostat would trip and read GFI.

Since one zone is heating and the other not it could be a simple mis wire or bad connection.

Has the electrian tried heating up just the one zone? Sometime the thermostat sensor is a little loose and vibration can trigger a GFI trip.

Are both zones 220 volt or is one a 220 and the other a 110?

Testing and care are so important with these heating systems testing and care are key. I lay all our heating wire myself, cover it my self and show my down stream subs that it works. Everyone listens to the tone.

I have only read good things about Laticrete here in these pages and the tech guys can work wonders.

Check the above it may be just a 110 220 mix up.
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:57 PM   #12
Dan White
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Glad to hear there might be another option short of tearing up the whole floor. I don't know about 110v or 220v, I suspect they are both 110v circuits. I no longer have any confidence in the electrician or contractor on this issue, so I am not keen to go back to them for advice on a fix. Maybe Laticrete can recommend someone to come out.

It looks like I've got enough information to get the right answer, so I really appreciate the expertise on this forum. I'll check back when it comes time to do my kitchen backsplash. Mere child's play in comparison.
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