Underfloor Heating


Underfloor heating is a type of central heating that is installed under the floor as the name suggests. It provides heat by method of conduction, convection and radiation. It is particularly effective when used under ceramic floor tiles as they are great conductors of heat.

Evidence of underfloor heating has been seen from as early 10,000BC. Archaeological excavations in Asia and the Aleutian islands of Alaska have shown how inhabitants set fires in stone covered trenches which heated floor stones that radiated heat into living spaces. This idea has evolved over the years culminating in the modern systems we employ now that make use of fluid filled pipes or electrical cables and mats.

Modern underfloor heating comes in two types; hydronic and electric. Either is suitable for whole building heating systems or just to heat one room where it is particularly cold underfoot or where it is difficult to install a traditional heating system.

Hydronic Systems

Hydronic systems work on the basis of liquid flowing through pipes to heat the floor. They use a mixture of propylene glycol ant-freeze and water which is circulated and re-circulated between the floor and the boiler. Various materials are available for the pipes in hydronic systems, the usual choice is polyethylene. Polybutylene, copper and steel pipes are still also used in certain places.

It requires some skill and a lot of knowledge of boilers, controls, circulators, fluid pressure and temperature in order to install a hydronic system and so this should only be undertaken by a professional.

Electric Systems

Electric systems are the more popular choice these days. They work by electrically heating flexible heating elements. These come in the form of cables, preformed cable mats, bronze mesh and carbon films. They are suitable to be laid directly under the floor finishing as they have a very low profile.

These systems require a lot less skill to fit and maintain and can be done yourself, although it is recommended to run your plans by a professional before commencing any work. These systems are particularly good for use under carpet, floor tiles or laminate flooring.

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