Radiant Ceiling Heat Repair: How To

Radiant ceiling heat usually works as a seamless and reliable system that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance or upkeep, but as with everything, it’s not 100% perfect so sometimes needs a few repairs.

In the case of a malfunction or system error, you can follow a few simple steps to troubleshoot the heater:

  • Check the circuit breaker
  • Repair faulty wire
  • Replace heating element

We always recommend using a trained professional when dealing with electrical or plumbing items, so do not carry out any of this work yourself if you are not trained.

White lounge

We’re an affiliate: We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!

How Does The Heating System Work?

Radiant ceiling heating essentially depends on thermal radiation to heat up a room or building. The heating element in the radiant panel transmits infrared waves directly to the occupants and objects in a room. The system can use electricity or heated water to generate this heat. 

You can also set up a different thermostat for different zones in the building. The system is super effective as radiant heat has a quick response time. This makes radiant heating quite energy efficient for most interior spaces as well as being quiet and safe.

Read our full guide on what radiant ceiling heating is here.

How Long Does Radiant Ceiling Heat Last?

Radiant ceiling heaters are a good investment as they have an adequately long lifespan, provided you get it installed professionally and use the system correctly.

Electric radiant heating rely on electric cables for generating heat. As long as the cables are in good condition, the system should not break down. On average, electric cables used in the system should last for at least 20 years or more. 

If you opt for a hydronic radiant system, it will use a boiler for heating water that travels through pipes. Typically, propane, gas and oil-powered boilers have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years. 

There are pros and cons to both types of systems. Generally electric systems are used for rooms that require instant heat and once finished using the room, it can be turned off, for example a bathroom. Water based systems take longer to warm up, but they are great to be able to leave on for ambient heat, much like under floor heating.

Can Radiant Ceiling Heating Malfunction?

Once installed properly, radiant ceiling heat usually works smoothly and hardly needs to be repaired and doesn’t require much maintenance.

However, like any mechanical or air based system, radiant ceiling heaters can also fail at times. The problem can arise as a result of faulty panels or wires, or any damaged component in the system. It is usually easy to detect the source of the problem and most repairs are simple. 

So, if you suspect that your radiant ceiling heating system is malfunctioning, what should you do? 

We advise to always use a skilled professional when dealing with heating, electricity or plumbing.

Check The Circuit Breaker

If you suspect there is a problem, the first thing you should do is check the circuit breaker. Usually, the heating elements in a radiant heating system are wired into a 120 or 240 volt power supply. In case the circuit breaker has tripped, you can simply reset it. This should restart the heater immediately. 

If the circuit breaker continues to trip, there might be a bigger issue and it would be best to consult an electrician. 

Repair Any Faulty Wiring

Another possible cause for a radiant ceiling heater malfunction could be faulty wiring. This can result in an incomplete circuit or even worse, a short circuit that can be a potential fire hazard.

First, take a look at the visible wires and trace them all the way from the breaker box to the walls. You should be able to spot any snapped, frayed or corroded wires, if there are any.

Repairing these damaged wires is usually an easy and inexpensive job for a professional. 

Replace Burned Heating Elements

The heating element is an essential part of a radiant ceiling system. If the heating element is burned out, it will simply stop working and put the system to a halt.

In older systems, the wires were usually enclosed under layers of plaster and drywall. This made it difficult to access the wires and repair the system in the case of a burn-out.

These days, repairing a radiant ceiling heat panel is relatively easier and does not require tearing into the ceiling. You can unscrew the panel from the ceiling and replace the faulty elements. However, if you do not have technical know-how, it is best to leave this job to a technician. 

Signs It May Be Time to Replace Your Radiant System

Sometimes, recurring problems in your radiant ceiling heater can indicate that it’s time to replace the system or get it professionally examined. Some main signs include:

Consistent leaking

If you have a hydronic radiant system that is persistently leaking, this may be a sign of a bigger issue. Water leaks can be quite damaging to the system as well as your ceiling. Plus, dealing with multiple leaks can be expensive. So, it might be a good idea to replace your system.


It is important to consider the average lifespan of your radiant ceiling heating system. If your system has been running for 20 years or more, it might be time to consider a replacement. At this point, it’s not uncommon to start experiencing problems. 

Persistent Electric Issues

If you have an electric radiant system that constantly has electrical issues, you can consider replacing the panel. 

Decrease In Energy Efficiency 

Your radiant ceiling heat should be reasonably energy efficient. If you haven’t changed the heat settings and are noticing an increase in your energy bills, the system might be facing some issues. Inefficiency often indicates that the system needs to be replaced.