The right heating system can turn your home from a chilly cave in the winter to a warm and welcoming abode and retreat from winter's harshest temperatures. Radiant floor heating may seem like the perfect choice for taking off the chill on a cold day, and it might be depending on your home, budget and needs. The following guide can help you decide if you should install radiant heating in your home.
Is your home suitable for radiant heat?
The best time to install radiant heat is during construction, since the water pipes that circulate the hot water can be installed at this time. Failing this, you can have most homes retrofitted with radiant heat, as long as they have a crawlspace or basement so the plumbing and heating technician can access the underside of the floors. Homes on concrete slabs pose a challenge. Sometimes a system can be installed on top the slab, and then a floor is floated over the top.
What are the costs of a radiant system?
Radiant heat costs between $6 and $16 per square foot, although the hydronic water-based systems are less expensive to run compared to forced air furnaces or electric radiant heat sources. This means there are also longterm savings to consider. A new gas forced air furnace costs between $2500 and $14000, so the costs can be comparable depending on the size of your radiant floor system. If you need to replace your furnace anyway, radiant flooring should be considered a viable option.
Does the existing flooring matter?
It's best to install radiant heat beneath hard flooring, such as tile or wood. This ensures that the heat can radiate out without being blocked by insulating carpet. Another concern with carpet and glued-down flooring types, like linoleum, is the glue and backing on the products. The heat can cause these to melt, which can result in smelly off-gassing or damage to the flooring. Meet with an installer to make sure your current flooring is suitable for radiant heating if you are unsure.
Will you be happy with radiant heat?
This is an individualized question, and depends both on your home and your personal preferences. Although radiant heat provides a more consistent temperature, drafty or poorly insulated homes will still be prone to periodic chills. On the other hand, insulated and sealed homes will maintain a consistent temperature, so you are less like to feel the chill. For some, this can make the air seem still since there is little movement, but a ceiling fan can provide some needed air movement. If you are someone that "feels the chill in their bones," or always has cold feet, then radiant heating is usually a good choice.
Contact a local plumbing and heating technician in your area if you have further questions on radiant heat.