Keeping your feet warm is the key to comfort, which is one reason why homeowners are increasingly turning to hydronic radiant heating systems over conventional methods.
Conventional forced air systems trap heat near the ceiling, where it's least useful, while drying the air out by lowering its relative humidity. This dry air will always feel colder than more humid air at the same temperature.
Like the luxurious feeling of sunshine on your skin, the warmth of direct hydronic radiant heat can turn any home into a comfortable and healthy environment. A radiant heating system starts at the floorboards warming your entire home by delivering a comfortable, even heat without creating the drafts and dust problems associated with traditional heating methods.
The comfort of hydronic radiant heating comes from heated water being pumped through a network of piping laid beneath the floor. By turning the entire floor surface into a giant low temperature radiator, floors and objects in the room become warmer and more inviting to the touch. Like rays from the sun, hydronic systems put your skin in direct contact with its heat source, delivering a comfortable warmth that starts with the coolest part of your body - your feet.
In response to declining levels of indoor air quality, hydronic radiant heating systems are a healthy and energy efficient alternative. By raising your comfort level, you can turn your thermostat down and save up to 30% on energy bills.
Radiant in-floor heating systems can improve comfort levels anywhere in and around your home from basements and bathrooms to garage floors and more - so you never have to walk on cold floors again. It works well under concrete, hardwood, ceramic tile, carpet and vinyl flooring.
Questions and Answers
Does hydronic radiant heating require a special type of floor surface to be effective?
No, hydronic systems work under almost any type of floor surface... tile, wood, carpet, laminate, stone, even cement basements.
Can it be installed in an old home or just new homes?
Hydronic heating can be fitted or retrofitted into any building. In new homes the system can be installed throughout as the primary heating source. In older homes the piping is usually connected to an existing heat source.
How is the water heated?
There are a few ways... you can use an existing hot water tank for supplemental systems or an approved, dedicated water tank or boiler for primary systems. These heat sources can use oil, gas, or whatever fuel source is available or desired.
How is the system temperature controlled?
Temperature sensing devices, usually thermostats, monitor room temperatures. This signals the heating system when heat is needed or when the temperature setting is satisfied. It works the same way as any other heating system.
I'm thinking of putting hydronic heating in our basement when we finish it - how much head room will it take up?
Retrofitting the floor is always an option. If fitted on top of an existing floor it will take up no more than 1-1/2" This is for concrete or gypcrete topping pours. Using the 'sandwich' system adds only 1" to the floor level. This amount of change in the internal height is almost unnoticeable.
Gil Strachan is a professional home inspector, representing Electrospec Home Inspection Services in east-central Ontario since 1994.