Tired Of Cold Feet? Use Electric Underfloor Heating

There is nothing worse than getting out of your warm bed on a cold winter morning and then putting your feet down on an ice cold floor. Makes most of us want to jump right back into bed and get under the covers. With electric underfloor heating you can do a lot more than just get rid of those cold floors in the morning, in fact you no longer have to worry about cold floors ever again.

Do Electric Underfloor Heating Systems Really Warm The Air?

Electric underfloor heating systems are favored over forced air systems because of how they work. A forced air system works by blowing heated air through duct work and vents throughout your house. The air is then sucked back into the furnace through the return air vents, which helps circulate the air to prevent it from becoming stagnant. Many people feel that forced air is the only way to warm a space, but all it is doing is blowing heated air into a room. The biggest drawback to the forced air system is the variable temperature around the room; the hottest air is often located by the vents and the ceiling, while the coldest air is found at the floor and by the return air.

How exactly electric underfloor heating works will depend on the system installed in the house, but unlike forced air these systems do not just heat the air in the room. Electric underfloor heating systems warm the entire floor itself and then the heat rises to make the entire room comfortable. By applying the heat at floor level objects found close to the floor are warmed up allowing the heat to radiate from these objects to warm the room. Another advantage to electric underfloor heating systems is that they do not spread dust and allergens throughout the house, mainly because it is not disturbing the air like forced air systems do.

Different Types Of Electric Underfloor Heating Systems

As mentioned before there are different methods used for these underfloor systems, in fact there are three types of systems that you can choose from. As a homeowner, you need to determine what system is going to work best for you by finding out everything you can about the different configurations, including what systems there are to choose from and where they work best.

Low Voltage Underfloor Electric Heating

One of the most popular types of electric underfloor heating systems is the low voltage system. Many homeowners prefer this system to others because of how easy it is to install, and also because it requires no maintenance. Another advantage to this system is that it can be used in new or existing homes, but it will require a bit more work to install in existing homes.
The heating elements need to be placed under the flooring so you should really consider adding this if you are doing a reflooring project in your house. The low voltage system with the thin wires can be installed under any type of flooring, including carpet and hardwood. The flexibility of the system is what makes it so easy to install, no wrestling with tubes or pipes that must be laid in a specific direction.

Electric Cable Underfloor Heating

Although this system is not as popular as the low voltage system it too can be used in new and existing homes. The one drawback to this system is that it is not as versatile; it can only be used underneath tile, concrete, or stone floors. The electric cable design is more like electric underfloor heating mats, the cable is weaved through a flexible mat that is placed directly on the sub floor and covered with appropriate flooring.
If you aren’t sure about in floor heating then you may want to purchase a couple of mats for your floor and see what you think. It is easy it is to install the mats as they are self-adhering so all you have to do is lay them out and plug them in. If you like what you feel, and I am sure you will, then you can look into a more permanent system.

Hydronic Underfloor Heating

Hydronic is another popular system, but is not recommended for existing homes unless you have good access to the bottom of the sub floor. For example, if you have an unfinished basement with the main floor joists exposed then adding the tubes or pipes would not be a big problem. The main reason why it is not recommended for existing homes is that it would require destruction of the entire floor and sub floor to install if you cant’ reach this space from below.
The Hydronic system is a series of tubes that are held in place with a thin wire mesh and then covered with a concrete slab. The tubes are used to circulate warm water that is heated by a boiler; the warm water then heats the concrete slab to further heat the room. Something that makes it a rather attractive option for new construction is that it can be used with just about any type of floor covering.
New Hydronic systems can also be used with standard floor joist construction. The tubes are strung out between the joists and then insulated. This causes the heat to be applied to the bottom of the floor and not be dissipated into the basement or crawl space.

Are There Any Electric Underfloor Heating Problems To Know About?

If you talk to people who have electric underfloor heating systems they will probably tell you how much they love them, you will also find that information in your online searches. While these systems are for the most part great to have that does not mean everything about them is outstanding. Electric underfloor heating problems range from repairs to irreversible damage. Knowing about all of the potential problems is necessary if you are considering them as your heating option.

Repairs To Underfloor Heating Systems

One of the biggest electric underfloor heating problems is repairs. If something goes wrong with any part of the underfloor heating system fixing it can be quite expensive. With a forced air system, the furnace is easily accessible, but with an underfloor system, the floor usually has to be removed to gain access to the broken parts. The only time this is not true is if you have access under a floor joist type floor.
How much you need to remove is going to depend on what is broken and where, but sometimes it is a matter of removing the floor until you find the problem. If you are using a hydronic system in concrete and it needs to be fixed you must not only remove the floor, but also chip away at the concrete slab to expose the tubes.

Heat Penetration With An Underfloor System

For those of you that keep a cluttered home, electric underfloor heating systems are not the best choice for you. Now do not misunderstand, cluttered homes are not messy homes they are simply homes that have a lot of stuff inside. For example, a living room that consists of a sofa, coffee table, and wall-mounted television is not cluttered. However, a living room with a sofa, love seat, two book shelves, a coffee table, an entertainment center, basically the entire floor is covered is considered cluttered. Cluttered rooms are not ideal for electric underfloor heating because the heat cannot penetrate through all of that stuff. If the heat cannot get through then the room is not going to feel like it is being heated.

Costs Of Electric Underfloor Heating Systems

Electric underfloor heating running costs are perhaps the biggest problem. If you are considering this option, you need to be fully aware of just how expensive these systems are to run. One of the reasons why this is such as costly system to run is because not all of the heat generated by the system is going to go through the floor into the room directly, some of it is going to end up spreading throughout the structure of your home. Not only that, but some types of floors take a long time to warm up, so the system has to be run for an extended period of time before the room begins to heat up. These systems work best when the rooms are kept at a more constant temperature.
If you opt for a Hydronic system you will have to heat the water with some sort of hat water tank system.
This is not to say that underfloor systems are more expensive than forced air as far as energy usage goes. In fact, some people claim they are cheaper. Just be aware that this is not free heat.

Possible Floor Damage With Underfloor Heating

Another big problem, but one that is often overlooked, is the possibility of the system damaging your current floor coverings. Installing a system that can heat up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit might sound like a good idea, but the amount of heat those systems put off is more than enough to warp hardwood floors or even partially melt carpet. Even if you do not intend to turn your system up, if the floor gets too hot, irreversible damage can occur and can be expensive to replace. Putting in a system that only goes up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is a great way to try to prevent damage.

Overall, electric underfloor heating systems are a great option for homeowners who want an efficient way to heat their home. Not only do they help cut back on the dust and allergens blown through the house, but they also decrease the need for humidifiers. These systems do not dry out the air as forced air systems do!

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