Adding radiant heating to your home can be an excellent option to improve your comfort and the long-term value of your property. However, retrofitting any HVAC system into an existing structure always requires more work than installing a system into new construction. This extra work can potentially mean higher costs and more disruption of your day-to-day life.
If you're planning on making this upgrade, it's essential to understand what you'll need to do, how long it will take, and how much disruption to expect. Ultimately, the work you'll need to perform will depend heavily on whether you choose an electric or hydronic system for your retrofit.
Electric vs. Hydronic: What's the Difference?
Radiant floor systems come in two general flavors. Hydronic systems supply heat through hot water pipes, while electric systems use heating elements underneath the floor. Electric radiant heat requires the least overall disruption. You'll need to remove the floor surface for most installations to install the radiant heating mats above the subfloor.
On the other hand, hydronic heating may require more extensive retrofits and additional equipment. If your home doesn't already have a boiler, you'll need additional HVAC equipment and will likely need to install a substantial amount of plumbing. However, this work may require less overall disruption than electric mats if you have access to the floor joists below the rooms you will be heating.
It's also worth considering how you intend to use your radiant floor system. Electric heating typically provides less heat than a hydronic system, so these mats aren't always suitable as a primary source of heat. Instead, they work best to help keep floors warm and comfortable. Meanwhile, hydronic systems are more than capable of providing primary heat for an entire house.
How Long Will Your Installation Take?
Installing an underfloor radiant heating system is typically a straightforward job. The bulk of the work will involve removing and reinstalling your existing floor so that the installation time can vary depending on your flooring materials. Depending on how many rooms you're heating and the job's complexity, a contractor may be able to complete the work in a single day.
Hydronic installations can be more time-consuming, however. For example, you may need to install an entirely new boiler along with the associated plumbing and controls for heating zones. Even if you have easy access to floors below the rooms you're heating, it will still take time to rough-in new plumbing and finalize the connections.
Remember that every home is unique. Before deciding on the type of radiant floor system you want for your home, always discuss your options with an experienced installer. Your contractor can help you determine what heating style will work best for your house and budget.
For more information, contact a heating installation service.