HVAC For Beginners

Radiant Floor Heating System

An Innovative Approach To Heating

A radiant floor heating system can be an innovative option for home comfort. These systems can provide quiet and comfortable heating for the home if they are properly designed.

If you have floors that are not carpeted, you have probably noticed how cold the floors can be. A radiant heating system can eliminate these uncomfortable floors as well as keeping the room's air temperature comfortable.

The systems can use electric heaters or tubing with water in it embedded in the floor.

The latest innovation is wood flooring with a track for the tubing built into the flooring. This makes the installation very easy and ensures proper spacing of the tubes. The electric units can be purchased in the form of mats.

Types of radiant floor heating systems

There are two groups of radiant systems. The first is underfloor radiant systems. These systems are attached to the bottom side of a floor and use metal reflectors to contain the heat in the floor. The main advantage of these systems is they can be installed in existing homes which have a basement or crawlspace without major renovations.

The other group is called infloor radiant systems. There are two main methods of installation. The first method is called wet installation. This is where the tubing or electric mat is embedded in a concrete slab or tile underlayment.

The other method is referred to as a dry installation. In this case, the tubing or electric mat is between two layers of flooring.

A hydronic system can be either an open, closed, or combination system. In an open system, the home's domestic hot water flows through the radiant system. This is permissible in some areas where antifreeze is not required.

In very cold areas with infloor hydronic systems, an antifreeze solution is added to the system to ensure that it does not freeze. In this case a closed system is used to isolate the domestic hot water from the water/antifreeze mixture. This is also used in systems for ice and snow melting on sidewalks and driveways.

A combination system uses both methods by adding a water to water heat exchanger.

In all the systems a mixing valve is installed. This valve prevents the temperature of the water that is supplied to the tubing from exceeding 160 degrees. Temperatures higher than that could damage the pex tubing.

It is important that radiant floor heating systems are properly designed. The type of flooring that is used can have a big impact on the effectiveness of the system. Also, the sizing of the equipment that heats the water in the hydronic system is critical. Special methods of insulation such as insulation under the concrete slab are required for economical system operation.