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How Does Radiant Floor Heating Work?


Radiant floor heating (RFH) can be a cost-effective, efficient, comfortable and luxurious addition to your home. Instead of stepping onto a cold, unwelcoming floor the minute you get out of bed or the shower, you can keep your feet warm while saving money on your electrical bill, too. Not sure how radiant floor heating systems work? Read on to learn more about subfloor heating.

People have been using under floor heating as early as 5,000 B.C., when hot stones were buried beneath the ground to provide warmth. Later, the ancient Romans built hot water pipes beneath their floors. Today, we achieve this effect in similar ways by installing water-heated tubing or electric heating coils under home or office flooring.

The heat from the floor warms everything in the space from the ground up; hence the name radiant floor heating. It’s similar to the way the sun heats your floor from a window in the afternoon. Even if the room is fairly cool, you still feel warm as you step onto the heated floor.

Types of Radiant Floor Heating

Electric Radiant Floor Heating System – This method involves installing electric floor heating mats underneath the floor. The mats are made of heat-conducting coils, similar to an electric blanket. Electric RFH is typically used for single rooms and can be controlled manually or automatically with a thermostat.

Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating System – An oil- or gas-fired boiler or water heater is used to heat water that flows through pipes beneath the floor. Some systems involve installing a layer of concrete underneath the flooring above the pipes, which helps retain the heat. A much more cost-efficient option involves PEX tubing instead of metal pipes; the flexible plastic tubes are more versatile and are resistant to freezing. This method is best suited for heating entire homes.

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