A hot spot on the floor would be abnormal, especially on the kitchen floor.
Unless you walk barefoot at home, you may not discover it on time to make corrections.
But, What Does It Mean When the Kitchen Floor Is Warm to The Touch?
One of the three causes of this phenomenon may be at play.
- Leaks in the floor slab
- Basement electrical wires
- Problems with your furnace ductwork
Let’s dig deeper:
1. Leaks in the floor slab
The most often reported cause of the warm floor is leaking occurring within the slab of the floor.
The definition is in the name – hot water pipes leaking beneath the floor or subfloor.
The water may creep under the concrete slab of your floor and spread far and wide until it’s noticeable in other places.
So there are two signs that your underfloor hot water pipes have burst:
- firstly, a warm spot forms on the floor,
- and secondly, a wet spot – sometimes accompanied with a hot circular region – can be spotted close to the wall or any weak point in the floor.
What part of the plumbing is normally responsible?
The usual culprits are copper pipes but there will always be exceptions. Most homes use copper pipes to deliver both cold and hot water in all outlets including the faucets.
Copper pipes are good conductors of heat, so they quickly attain the temperature of the eater and stay warm the entire time the water remains hot.
This helps keep your hot water at one consistent temperature the whole time it flows throughout the house.
As such, copper is the most preferable material for water transmission lines used in floors and ceilings.
Unfortunately, copper is vulnerable to familiar hazards including the water itself, and that’s why it is prone to leaks.
Here are the causes of copper pipe failure:
- Municipal water systems sometimes carry water with dissolved chemicals including chlorine, all of which may deteriorate the copper pipes with time
- The pipes may be exposed to high water pressure they may not be able to stand up to for a long time
- Corrosion – your pipes were installed the wrong way and/or you don’t maintain them
Why Just The Kitchen Floor?
You could wonder why the heat only builds under the floor of the kitchen and nowhere else.
Well, there’s a reason for that, but chances are that the signs aren’t only noticeable on your kitchen floor but your bathroom floor or walls as well.
If you locate a hot spot anywhere on the floor of the bathroom or kitchen, there’s a strong likelihood the pipe that links to the water heater is damaged. More proof may be required though.
Here are more signs that the leak in the floor slab is the main source of your “hot floor” woes:
- The hot spot has become permanent or keeps returning
- A crack is starting to form on the floor or close to the foundation
- Water is starting to emerge through a crack on the floor
- Drains are blocked or are prone to back up (baths, showers, and toilets may back up too often)
- An unusual odor is detectable in the kitchen or bathroom – it smells musty
- Unexplained increase in the cost of water bills
- You can detect a faint hiss in the room
How To Fix A Leaking Floor Slab
If the evidence points to the leaks in the floor slab, you can embark on repair work almost immediately depending on the extent.
The job will entail digging a hole in the floor to reach the troubled pipes.
Because of the magnitude of the job and stringent safety measures that must be put into place, it is recommended you leave this whole job to a competent plumbing company.
So What Corrective Options Do We Have?
In one word – many. Here they are:
You locate the hot point, break into the floor by demolishing with the correct equipment and repair the pipes.
If you don’t want to make extensive changes to the floor through jack-hammering, you can hire a professional to replace large parts of the plumbing
This entails removing a few parts from the equation. Instead of focusing on repairing the plumbing, you simply cut out the problematic parts and keep the main backbone.
You might need to relocate your plumbing into the wall or attic.
This is very much like re-routing but, instead of uprooting the plumbing to relocate them elsewhere, you add a small line in the leaking line to keep the water flowing through the smaller line.
Can You Stop Slab Leaks Before They Occur?
That sounds like a great idea as it’d save you a lot of money and the agony of repairing the system.
Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to take a proactive approach to prevent the hot floor phenomenon from happening.
After all, the pipes will get old on their own regardless of the steps you take. Also, copper pipes are vulnerable to corrosion and chemicals in the water.
The most you can do is to ensure the water pressure in your pipes is low enough to reduce the likelihood of bursts or speedy deterioration.
2. Basement electrical wires
If you do, then chances are one of your electrical wires has been shorted by a subfloor screw or nail, causing it to produce sparks or even heat up.
You need to get to the bottom of this matter as fast as possible or your home could be razed down.
Descend in your basement and examine the circuit breakers for circuits or wires running into the floor of the kitchen.
Turn off the breakers and check your floor for signs of cooling.
If it does cool down, call a qualified electrician immediately and DON’T turn your breaker back on. Oftentimes, the breaker would simply trip and remove the risk but may fail at times.
3. Problems with your furnace ductwork
A furnace functions by blowing heated streams of air through the ductwork into the entire house via air grills or registers.
This sort of heating arrangement is referred to as forced-air or ducted warm-air distribution systems.
It can use one of the three popular sources of energy:
- fuel oil
- natural gas
- and electricity.
The ductwork is normally encased in a conditioned envelope that’s part of the rest of the building, ideally somewhere within the ceiling, wall, or floor.
The ductwork should be maintained well to prevent surprise leaks. However, through the natural aging process or abrasions sustained during post-installation work in the floor, the ductwork may leak the hot air into the rest of the floor.
Also, the regular expansion and contraction resulting from running with warm/hot air in cold seasons (or vice versa) can cause even climate and weather-resistant materials to deteriorate, leading to holes, cracks, and gaps.
So, if you discover a hot spot on your kitchen floor or anywhere else at home, chances are the ductwork servicing your furnace is responsible for it.
If you can confirm that the duct is indeed the cause, then the delivery line certainly needs to be repaired or replaced.
Repairing your HVAC ductwork and even reinstalling a new line is relatively cheap.
Once the leak has been identified, all you need to do is seal the exposed part with minimal disruption in the home.
It is highly recommended you hire an HVAC expert to work on the ductwork.
It is worth mentioning that furnace-related leaks are the least reported causes of hot floors.
So what does it mean when the kitchen floor is warm to the touch?
If the ductwork of your furnace is not flawed, there’s a likelihood your hot water pipes are the cause.
Problematic electrical wires serving your basement may be responsible as well.