Retrofitting Your Floors for Radiant Heat
Retrofitting your floors can be an economical choice for homeowners who want to convert to radiant heat. (Of course, although radiant heating systems are usually installed in the floor, they can also be installed in walls or ceilings). They typically consist of pipes conducting steam or hot water or heated electric coils sending warmth to the floor's surface.
Many Retrofit Options
If you're thinking about a retrofit to radiant heat in your floors, you have a number of options.
- Staple-up: In staple-up aluminum plates or radiant tubing are stapled to sub-flooring; a layer of insulation is added underneath.
- Sub-floor modifications: In this option, the original sub-flooring is changed out for one layered with aluminum to hold tubing; the same type of aluminum is fixed on top of the sub-flooring with support underneath, with hardwood floors above.
- Heating joist space: In this method, tubing is hung a couple of inches under the sub-floor and insulated.
- Electric mats: Electric heating elements in thin mats are placed on top of flooring in this method.
- Thin slab: This option involves installing heating tubes over wooden sub-floor with a thin slab of concrete or gypsum covering to evenly distribute the heat.
Radiant Heat Ratings
The government hasn't set specific efficiency rating standards for radiant heat floors -- however, you typically heat the water that circulates through the floor with a boiler. The US government measures the efficiency of boilers by their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE. The minimum AFUE for a boiler is 78%.
You may also want to read consumer satisfaction ratings of boilers.