Radiant Heating System Worth a Look
The days are getting longer and warmer, and you're day dreaming about your
vacation. Stop and think about home heating. No kidding, it's not a bad time
to consider installing a radiant heating system, especially if you're in the
market for a new-construction home.
Radiant heating is a water-based heating system not unlike a baseboard
system, except that it uses tubing under the floor to deliver heat. Nothing
beats the comfort of a warm floor, especially in colder climes where you can
freeze your feet walking between your bed and bathroom. Because it involves
fairly extensive work under the floor, the ideal time to install radiant
heating tubes is during construction of a new home, or during major
renovations. Typically, radiant-heating tubes are tied into the wire mesh
used to construct the concrete floor slab. The primary factor affecting cost
and practicality of radiant heat is the type of construction.
Slab-on-ground construction. A single-story, concrete slab home lends itself
extremely well to installing a radiant heat system. Heating tubes are easily
integrated into the slab prior to pouring the cement. Add a 1-inch layer of
high-density foam insulation board beneath the floor, and along the footing.
Voila, you've got a comfortable, efficient heat delivery system for very
little additional cost.
2-story, basement construction. Here the process is more complicated and
expensive. It's actually got a fancy name to go with the price: radiant
hydronic heat. The system has to be installed in two floors, so it can
double the cost. Plus the upper floor needs stronger framing to support the
1 1/2 inch mortar slab where the tubing will go. Your materials cost will be
higher because the slab is expensive, as high as $3 per square foot. The
total price tag could reach as high as $5 per square foot.
Compromises to slab approach. What if you want to retrofit your existing
home, or don't want the expense of slab installation? Try the staple-up
system. Instead of embedding the tubing in a slab, the heating contractor
will staple it to the underside of the floor between the joists, then fill
the voids with fiberglass insulation. Yet another approach, called sandwich
over framed floor, involves creating a separate flooring layer for the
tubing. Both approaches are cheaper and about as comfortable. What's the
catch? They're less efficient and lose more heat than a slab-encased system.
Sources used to create this article include Popular Mechanics Magazine.