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Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating: The Basics

by Matthew Fields

Most homeowners use conventional systems, such as forced air heating, to keep their houses warm and comfortable during the colder months of the year. Another option, however, is to use a system known as hydronic radiant floor heating. This type of system uses hot water, not heated air, to warm a room. Here is a closer look at this innovative heating system.  

How It Works  

Radiant floor heating involves the use of tubes or wires placed under the flooring. In hydronic systems, special tubing is used to circulate hot water throughout the room. The heat from the tubes rises through the floor and warms the living space above. The hot water is typically supplied by a boiler.  

Costs  

Installing radiant floor heating in a home is generally more expensive than installing a forced air system. You will make up the cost over time, however, because the higher efficiency of hydronic radiant heating systems leads to lower energy bills. For example, forced air systems that use a furnace to heat a home need to run at higher temperatures to create the same comfort level as a radiant system. This fact helps keep your heating costs low and compensates for the higher installation expenses.  

Tubing  

Hydronic radiant floor heating systems use a special type of tubing called cross-linked polyethylene tubing, also known as PEX tubing. This tubing is made from a plastic that will withstand the high temperatures of heated water and it is flexible as well. The tubing can be placed under most types of flooring, such as hardwood or tile. It might not work well with carpeting, however, as a thick carpet might prevent the radiant heat from rising into the living space. The tubing can be installed either on top of the subfloor or beneath it. 

Boiler 

One of the crucial aspects of installing radiant floor heating is sizing the boiler properly. In many cases, homeowners use boilers that are larger than necessary. This creates a system that is not optimal and squanders much of the savings you would obtain with a boiler that is the right size. The size of a boiler is measured by how many British Thermal Units, or BTUs, it produces. You will find this information on a rating plate attached to the unit. 

Using hydronic radiant floor heating is a great way to warm your house effectively and economically. For more information on this intriguing heating system, contact a heating and cooling contractor in your city. To find out more, contact a business like Adams Plumbing & Heating.

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