Installing Radiant Floor Heating
Are you considering installing a radiant floor heat system? Radiant heating located in the floor is called radiant floor heating. There are several kinds of radiant floor heating systems, which can be installed two ways: wet and dry.
Types Of Radiant Floor Heat
Radiant floor heating can be:
- Radiant air floors
- Electric radiant floors
- Hot water or hydronic radiant floors
Installing A Radiant Floor Heat System
Wet installation uses the abundant thermal mass of concrete slab floors or lightweight concrete fixed on a wooden sub floor. The tubing is installed into the concrete foundation slab or above the sub floor. Extra floor support might be required due to the additional weight. Consult your heating and cooling contractor so he can figure out the floor's weight-bearing capacity.
In dry installation, the radiant floor tubing is installed between two layers of plywood or under the finished floor or sub floor. Some dry installations require suspending tubing under the sub floor, between the floor joists. Reflective insulation is used below the tubing so that the heat can move in an upward direction to warm the floor. Sometimes the tubing is fixed between the old and new sub floor and reflective aluminum sleeves radiate the heat to the sides and away from the tubing. The tubing and reflectors are fixed between "sleepers" that help carry the weight of the new sub floor with the finished floor surface.
Many do-it-yourself radiant floor heating system kits are available on the market today. The easiest to install are the fiberglass mesh-backed matting type with electric resistance cables. You need to consult your electrical contractor about the electrical requirements to consider as it will require a dedicated circuit and protection by a ground fault circuit interrupter. An electrician must rig up the wiring.
Finally, when installing underfloor radiant heat, you'll want to consider what type of flooring you should use. Laminated wood flooring is highly recommended, as it protects the floor from the shrinking and cracking that can occur from the drying effect of the radiated heat.
Radiant heating systems supply heat to the floor, ceiling or panels in a house by delivering heat directly from a hot surface to the room. It is more energy efficient than forced air heating, which tends to lose energy through its ductwork. Radiant systems can also be heated with various sources of energy such as gas or oil, or wood-fired boilers, solar water heaters, or combinations of these.