Radiant Floor Heating Systems in West Michigan
Heatlink Floor Heating System
The number one reason consumers choose HeatLink hydronic radiant floor heating is comfort. The system eliminates chilly drafts. There's no need for fans to move air around.
In today's new home designs, hydronic radiant floor heating makes even more sense. Rooms (bathrooms included) are larger, with higher ceilings and lots of tile and other cold surfaces. With forced-air and radiator heating, these spaces generally feel cold. That's not a problem with radiant floor heating; even the hard surfaces will feel warm to the touch.
The system allows great flexibility when it comes to furniture arrangement, too. With forced-air or radiators, occupants must strategically place their furniture to accommodate grills or radiators. With radiant floor heating, furniture can go anywhere because there are no grills or radiators.
At its most basic, hydronic radiant floor heating involves heating a structure by pumping warm water though specially designed tubing laid under or within the floor. The heat in these tubes radiates to the surface and rises evenly throughout the room above. The surface itself stays comfortably warm to the touch. This tremendously efficient heat transfer results in even and consistent heating. Warm air rises, of course, and collects near the ceiling. In a home heated by convection, ceilings are always warmer than floors. With radiant floor heat, the opposite is true. The floor is warm, and so is the air up to the height sensed by the occupants. Thus, people within the space feel much more comfortable at lower temperature settings because the heat is coming from the floor.
HeatLink PEX tubing which delivers the heat is laid on the subfloor and covered with a flowable lightweight concrete. It can also be installed in the lower level concrete floor, or underneath the joist space-which is called a 'dry' or 'staple-up' installation. The system allows any floor surface to be placed above it, including carpeting, ceramic tile, vinyl flooring, and wood.
Comfortable & Efficient
The surface temperature of the floor is designed to be no higher than 88 degrees F (31 degrees C), so it's always comfortable to walk on. HeatLink operates at the lowest possible water temperature to heat the structure. This level provides the most efficient transfer of energy. There are no wide temperature variations that you experience with forced air or radiator systems. It's also quiet! There are no noisy fans or radiator expansion noises to contend with, just quiet comfort. Energy efficiency is one of the system's strong points because the system delivers heat where it's needed, with little waste. A thermostat can be put in every room of the house, and unoccupied rooms can be set back to save energy.
Radiant Floor Heating Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long will it last?
PEX pipe will last as long as the structure. PEX pipe has been in use for over twenty years in Europe and life cycle testing has demonstrated that PEX can last in excess of seventy years. PEX is an inert material, virtually indestructible by common elements. HeatLink warranties its tubing for 25 years and includes consequential damage protection of 10 years.
Q: What happens if a pipe breaks?
In the event that a problem occurs. HeatLink has a repair coupling that is used to repair the damage. Damage is very rare, but when it happens it usually happens during installation. The tubing is still exposed and repairs are made quickly and easily.
Q: Can I air condition?
Yes! There are several choices; conventional separate system, ductless mini splits, and high velocity. Essentially you would will end up with two systems, an air conditioning system and a heating system. There are cost and performance benefits to all three choices. We favor high velocity because, it uses very small air supplies and a central return. No large grilles, registers and noisy fans!
Q: How much does it cost?
Costs will vary by job and design. Most of the difference in cost from basic to deluxe is in the control options. A good example would be an eight room two story house, you could have two thermostats, one for each floor or eight thermostats one for each room.
Q: Do I have to do the complete house?
No! Today many people choose to do the "tough to heat" rooms or areas. Good examples are basements, garages, high ceiling areas, bathrooms and other tile areas. Additionally, this strategy keeps the costs down and still gives you the comfort of radiant heating.
Q: What runs through the pipes?
Water! Most systems are designed to use water, but in some cases glycol is used. Glycol would be chosen if snow melting was being done or for freeze protection.
Q: Does it heat up fast?
Radiant floor heating systems heat up and cool down slow resulting in very even heating. Once up to temperature the system will stay within one degree of the thermostats set point.
Q: What kind of boiler do I need?
Radiant systems can use a variety of boilers according to local code authorities.
Type Of Systems
There are two types of systems, "wet" or "poured" systems, where the PEX tubing is encased in a gypsum or concrete based topping, and "dry" or "staple-up" systems, where the PEX tubing is held against the underside of the subfloor.
"Wet" or "Poured" Systems - Installation on Top of the Subfloor
Installation for Ground Floor
This home made use of "wet" or "poured" radiant floor heating systems throughout the entire house. The installation on top of subfloor was used on the main and second floors (2964 square feet). The basement and detached garage used the ground floor installation (approx. 1500 square foot basement and 720 square foot garage). The picture to the right shows the PEX pipe rough in and TwistSeal distribution manifold. The inset picture shows the area after the concrete had been poured.
"Dry" or "Staple-up Systems
This home completely heated by radiant floor heating, consisting of 2254 square feet. Not shown in the picture is the mandatory foilbacked insulation that is placed underneath the pipe and plate assembly to prevent heat from radiating down.
Ceramic tile is the most common and effective floor covering for radiant floor heating, as it conducts heat well from the floor and adds thermal storage because of its high heat capacity. Common floor coverings like vinyl and linoleum sheet goods, carpeting, or wood can also be used, but any covering that helps to insulate the floor from the room will decrease the efficiency of the system.
If you want carpeting, use a thin carpet with dense padding and install as little carpeting as possible. If some rooms, but not all, will have a floor covering, then those rooms should have a separate tubing loop to make the system heat these spaces more efficiently. This is because the water flowing under the covered floor will need to be hotter to compensate for the floor covering. Wood flooring should be laminated wood flooring instead of solid wood. This reduces the possibility of the wood shrinking and cracking from the drying effects of the heat. - Information Provided by EERE
About Radiant Heating
Radiant heating systems involve supplying heat directly to the floor or to panels in the wall or ceiling of a house. The systems depend largely on radiant heat transfer: the delivery of heat directly from the hot surface to the people and objects in the room via the radiation of heat, which is also called infrared radiation. Radiant heating is the effect you feel when you can feel the warmth of a hot stovetop element from across the room. When radiant heating is located in the floor, it is often called radiant floor heating or simply floor heating.
Radiant heating has a number of advantages: it is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts. The lack of moving air can also be advantageous to people with severe allergies. Hydronic (liquid-based) systems use little electricity, a benefit for homes off the power grid or in areas with high electricity prices. The hydronic systems can also be heated with a wide variety of energy sources, including standard gas- or oil-fired boilers, wood-fired boilers, solar water heaters, or some combination of these heat sources.
Despite their name, radiant floor heating systems also depend heavily on convection, the natural circulation of heat within a room, caused by heat rising from the floor. Radiant floor heating systems are significantly different than the radiant panels used in walls and ceilings. For this reason, the following sections discuss radiant floor heat and radiant panels separately.
Types of Radiant Floor Heat
Radiant Floor Heat
There are three types of radiant floor heat: radiant air floors (air is the heat-carrying medium); electric radiant floors; and hot water (hydronic) radiant floors. All three types can be further subdivided by the type of installation: those that make use of the large thermal mass of a concrete slab floor or lightweight concrete over a wooden subfloor (these are called "wet installations"); and those in which the installer "sandwiches" the radiant floor tubing between two layers of plywood or attaches the tubing under the finished floor or subfloor ("dry installations").
Air-Heated Radiant Floors
Because air cannot hold large amounts of heat, radiant air floors are not cost-effective in residential applications, and are seldom installed. Although they can be combined with solar air heating systems, those systems suffer from the obvious drawback of only being available in the daytime, when heating loads are generally lower. Because of the inefficiency of trying to heat a home with a conventional furnace by pumping air through the floors, the benefits of using solar heat during the day are outweighed by the disadvantages of using the conventional system at night. Although some early solar air heating systems used rocks as a heat-storage medium, this approach is not recommended. For further information, see the section on solar air heating systems.
Hydronic Radiant Floors
Hydronic (liquid) systems are the most popular and cost-effective radiant heating systems for heating-dominated climates. Hydronic radiant floor systems pump heated water from a boiler through tubing laid in a pattern underneath the floor. In some systems, the temperature in each room is controlled by regulating the flow of hot water through each tubing loop. This is done by a system of zoning valves or pumps and thermostats. The cost of installing a hydronic radiant floor varies by location and also depends on the size of the home, the type of installation, the floor covering, remoteness of the site, and the cost of labor.
Types of Floor Installations
Whether cables or tubing, the methods of installing electric and hydronic radiant systems in floors is about the same.
So-called "wet" installations embed the cables or tubing within a solid floor and are the oldest form of modern radiant floor systems. The tubing or cable can be embedded in a thick concrete foundation slab (commonly used in "slab" ranch houses that don't have basements) or in a thin layer of concrete, gypsum, or other material installed on top of a subfloor. If concrete is used and the new floor is not on solid earth, additional floor support may be necessary because of the added weight. You should consult a professional engineer to determine the floor's carrying capacity.
Thick concrete slab systems have high heat capacity and are ideal for storing heat from solar energy systems, which have a fluctuating heat output. The downside of the thick slabs is their slow thermal response time, which makes strategies such as night or daytime setbacks difficult if not impossible. Most experts recommend maintaining a constant temperature in homes with these heating systems.
Due to recent innovations in floor technology, so-called "dry" floors, in which the cables or tubing run in an air space beneath the floor, have been gaining in popularity, mainly because a dry floor is faster and less expensive to build. But because dry floors involve heating an air space, the radiant heating system needs to operate at a higher temperature.
Some dry installations involve suspending the tubing or cables underneath the subfloor between the joists. This method usually requires drilling through the floor joists in order to install the tubing. Reflective insulation must also be installed under the tubes to direct the heat upward. Tubing or cables may also be installed from above the floor, between two layers of subfloor. In these instances, liquid tubing is often fitted into aluminum diffusers that spread the water's heat across the floor in order to heat the floor more evenly. The tubing and heat diffusers are secured between furring strips (sleepers), which carry the weight of the new subfloor and finished floor surface.
- Information Provided by EERE