In Floor Heat – to get the safety and efficiency benefits you need to use the right system.
September 25, 2014
Every year the amount of in floor heat work we do increases. The benefits of in floor heat have been known for some time – more efficient, safer, more comfortable. So why are we getting more of the business? We think its because we pay particular attention to what kind of flooring is going in. Or more specifically, to get all the benefits you need to install the right system underneath and the ‘right system’ is different for concrete, hardwood, tile and carpeting. Unfortunately, we see so many installations where it is done the same way for all of them.
In floor heat is particularly common in new construction. Here you see a combination insulation/vapour barrier layer (in yellowy orange) with red pex pipe. This installation technique not only ensures uniform heat (evenly spaced) but minimizes the amount of heat that ‘sinks’ into the ground. We particularly like it because our technicians can install it quickly and safely without injuring their backs (bending down to tie off).
Main Floor Tile
Here you see an install where tile / marble will be laid. If you look closely, you’ll see that the pipe is held in place by little posts that not only allow us to install quickly (and safely) but allows for easy adjustments. A slurry will be poured over top of this and because the pipe is not attached to the floor but suspended in the sheets, the heat will come from inside the thermal mass of the slurry – not from the bottom. When doing this, it is important to ensure that the floor joists are capable of carrying the increased weight of the floor. When the flooring is laid, it will be heated by the whole slab, not just exposure to the pipes. Frequently we see systems where the pipe is sandwiched between layers of plywood. Wood is an insulator – not a conductor! For this reason, less of the heat will be transferred to the actual surface.
Here you see how different an installation is when hardwood floors are to be used. Note – this system WILL work for regular hardwood and does not require engineered hardwood (a very common misconception). The pipe is laid in channels that ensure uniform distribution in the space. What you don’t see is that underneath all the pipe is an aluminum plate that helps to spread the heat across a wider area (remember wood is an insulator not a conductor). This is why either sandwiching or routing a piece of wood is not a good installation practice. The pipe is laid in the opposite direction that the floor will be laid so the the flooring people can easily avoid nailing into a pipe.
Taking a little extra time will make all of the difference and ensure that you get the health, efficiency and comfort benefits you were hoping for when you decided to install your in floor heating system.
If you have any questions, concerns or require additional information please feel free to comment below or contact us at any of the sources provided. firstname.lastname@example.org, 519.579.5330, Twitter @HoggMechanical, Facebook Hogg Heating & Air Conditioning
By Peter Wagner
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