Expert advice - underfloor heating
Whether you are considering a kitchen extension, new en-suite or a full scale renovation, it's worthwhile considering installing underfloor heating as an alternative to radiators. We catch up with Climate Solutions to answer everything you need to know!
Love Renovate: What different kinds of underfloor heating are there and what kind would you recommend to install?
Climate Solutions: There are fundamentally two types of underfloor heating systems, one is "Wet Underfloor Heating" and the other is "Electric Underfloor Heating".
Wet Underfloor Heating consists of an arrangement of water pipes laid in loops under a floor. Water heated by a gas, oil or a renewable heat source is then pumped through the pipe loops, which in turn indirectly heats the floor. Electric Underfloor heating is simply a reel of heat emitting cable laid under a finished floor. Electricity conducted through the cable generates heat which in turn indirectly heats the floor.
Wet underfloor heating is much less expensive in terms of running costs, more reliable in the long term, but is also a higher capital spend. However, given that the system will be operational for many years, the total ownership costs would always be best utilising a wet underfloor heating over an electric system.
Love Renovate: Can you install underfloor heating under any floor type (i.e. tiles, wood, vinyl etc)? What’s the best type of flooring to go on top?
CS: Underfloor heating can be installed under most floor finish types. However, when selecting floor finishes it is important to seek advice from flooring manufacturers to ensure that the specific floor product selected will not be damaged by the underfloor heating. In terms of best performance, in principle underfloor heating should work equally well on all types of floor finishes, however, tiled floors tend to be regarded as the best conductor of heat to the room.
Love Renovate: How much approximately would it cost to install per square metre?
CS: Installation costs can vary. A small installation can cost up to £80-£100+ vat/SQM. Typically, the larger the installation the lower the cost per SQM becomes. However, It is also important to consider and factor in the building work costs, especially with reconstructing an existing solid floor to retro fit underfloor heating. The cost of the building work falls outside of the per SQM price indicated above.
Love Renovate: Does it cost more to run than standard heating?
CS: Wet Underfloor heating is usually cheaper to run than standard radiator based heating, this is because the water temperature running through underfloor heating pipe work only operates at 45°C, a standard radiator based heating system operates at 82°C.
Love Renovate: Do you need any other kind of heating in addition to underfloor heating?
CS: Some older buildings have high heat losses, therefore, underfloor heating can struggle to raise temperatures during the depth of winter. In these circumstances it is important to carry out heat loss calculations from the outset, just in case supplementary heating is also required. Your installer should be able to ascertain this at the design stage of a project.
Love Renovate: Do I need a new boiler for my underfloor heating?
CS: No, a new boiler is not required, underfloor heating will operate on any boiler old or new.
Love Renovate: What happens if it breaks down? Is there a lot of disruption to fix it?
CS: Underfloor heating systems are very reliable, however, it is important to ensure the product specified is industry recognised and well supported. All operational controls and mechanical items are located on or around the underfloor heating manifold, so access to this is very important for ongoing repairs and maintenance. Therefore, the manifold location should be high up on your layout considerations from the outset.
The pipe work under the floor should not have any issues, however, it is important to get the screed laid very quickly after installation of the pipe work, this is because the new underfloor heating pipes are at there most vulnerable when they are exposed, especially in a site situation.
Love Renovate: Are there any instances where you wouldn’t recommend installing it?
CS: Underfloor heating is a great form of heating, it provides all round comfort without hot spots, it also frees up valuable wall space where radiators would typically be installed. However, there are some instances when it is simply not practical to install underfloor heating. Some very old houses with high heat losses can really struggle if general insulation standards are not improved. There are also instances when there is simply not enough depth under the existing floor to provide the correct screed depths and insulation.
Love Renovate: Anything else I should know?
CS: Underfloor heating is a great product. However as with everything, its important your installer has a good proven track record in this field. There are many considerations, all relatively simple but all very important, experience is everything when comes to achieving an efficient and reliable system.
Published: April 5, 2018